Monthly Archives: August 2018

Today’s Word is… COMMUNITY

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I remember way back in the day, me and my friends were walking home from school and the police roll up on us. They had said something about thefts in the area and needed our information. We were in like 4th grade none of us had IDs. So one of boys immediately lies about his name the officer picked up on it and then demanded we empty our book bags for something with our names on it. An older black woman pulls over and asks what’s going on, the officers explain they are investigating something and she’s like, well I don’t know what’s going on but I was just headed to get them from the bus stop and she tells us to grab our stuff and come on. We’ve seen her around but didn’t know this woman but in the moment we knew exactly what to do,

“Yes, Auntie”.

We grabbed our bags and got our asses in that car. She spoke with the officers a little longer and she drove us around the corner to my house. It’s what my mother would’ve done, what any of my friends mothers’ would’ve done. We all we got.

There’s plenty of things I don’t miss a out living in the “hood”, the aforementioned police harassment being one, but I do miss that particular sense of community that came with it.   The neighbors, the corner store that would let you pay them back on Friday, block parties, basketball tournaments, simply being able to go outside and all my friends were there.  For the reputation Boston had as a racist city, I lived in a bubble.  I didn’t see the 900% income difference in neighboring towns outside of Halloween.  As an adult, I read more about Mandela, Massachusetts; a proposal in the late 70s that would’ve had my neighborhood of Dorchester, as well as the predominantly black nearby areas of Roxbury and Mattapan simply secede from Boston altogether and form it’s own municipality.  The city never came into fruition but existed unofficially, as black people in Boston largely lived in our own bubble until one day, white people realized they were commuting 30+ minutes everyday and we lived 10 minutes from downtown with 2 subway lines.  Fast forward to now, I live 30 minutes away from my childhood home which would cost at least $650,000 if I was ever feeling so nostalgic.  Jesus be a GoFundMe.

I think about all this as I see more and more news stories of ________ while black and having the police called on them.  It’s what happens when there’s no community; Susan and Spencer just moved a few weeks ago and doesn’t get how and why people are just on the stoop all day kicking it, or why it’s 9pm and they’re still barbecuing, or they see me walking home in a hoodie and feel uneasy.  They don’t even attempt to ingratiate themselves into the community they’ve moved into, they try to force into it’s own likeness.   So Fernandez Grocery is turning into a Trader Joes (Full Disclosure, I love Trader Joe’s but that’s not the point).  That Jamaican spot that only has oxtail from 11-2:30 on Wednesdays but you love them anyway…now it’s a coffee shop.  Didn’t that used to be a dollar store? Well now it’s a froyo spot.  And those black people that were on the stoop, well they just keep getting harassed and arrested until they just stop coming around.  Now that 3 bedroom that had a family of 4, now is being rented to 3 rad professionals, that totally like the work hard, play hard.  One guy cycles a lot and another is in a band.  No worries, he doesn’t practice at home.  They come, Thanos snap, turn us to dust and brew cold brew with it.

Then there’s me, middle class? Eh, let’s just go with “mid” class black man who can’t afford to buy, can’t afford to rent but can make just enough to get the hell out of there.  There’s no soil to sow roots, Boston is becoming more and more the city you just spend your mid to late 20s then go.  Racial AND income inequality is a mighty strong cocktail, and so you have a major metropolitan city where the median net worth for a black family is $8.00.  Eight.  Yes, one digit.  Leave or struggle, such a far cry from the city my parents moved to and started a life in in the 80s.  I long for the Dorchester that once was, and the Mandela that could’ve been.  Where I’m not the only black person on my block, where the corner store at least has a cat.  Or maybe we should just all move to a city in Montana and don’t tell *them* about it.  What the weather hitting like over there anyway?

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… FORGIVE

 

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Adulting trash, B. Ain’t nobody ask to be grown with bills, in the working class no less. The working class?!? You know how damn brilliant I am?!?  I need to see a manager, someone get a sorting hat, reset the game.  I have to get up go to a job where I’m well aware that I’m underpaid just so I can pay other people for survival essentials like food, shelter, and Netflix.  It’s something you can’t possibly understand until you get *there*, especially not as a child. To work all day, come all the way home and the chicken isn’t thawed. To spend your hard earned money on clothes they gonna tear up playing. To pay for them to explore passions and interests and having to be just as supportive when they  end up quitting. Failing a marriage and feeling like they resent you for it. (okay, maybe I don’t want kids, not without like a 100% pay increase, or a wife that makes way more than me.  I’m walking in the spirit of a Stedman.)

So on my birthday last month, I took a vacation. My father called me to wish me a Happy Birthday and we chopped it up for a bit.  He reminisced about where he was when he was my age; Married, working 2 jobs and they just had me even after wanting to stop at 3. (he did have 3 more kids after, and I mean…yikes.). Now that the youngest is grown and he’s nearing retirement he’s finally at a place where he can live his best life and even better he’s happy to see that I am.  After that talk, I decided to go visit.  He usually flies up to see his grandkids but we rarely bother to go see him, especially me. Our dynamic has always been a little strained.  Still a little strained, really.  Not much unlike him and my grandfather.  Even while you “get it” as an adult, you still become indifferent.  Forgiving parents isn’t easy, but sometimes necessary.  They affect our entire lives even subconsciously, the adults we become.  Me and my father are a lot alike; intuitive, reticent, stubborn.   It’s perhaps why we butt heads so much as adults.  We both recognize there’s…something wrong here, while also feeling like it’s the others’ to fix.  He’s not getting any younger, I’m not the one who broke it and so, stalemate.

As I approach the steep hill that is my 30s, part of me worries I’ll be him.  From our eerily similar decor choices, to my approach in relationships.  He’s a lot more expressive and open in his later years but that wasn’t the man I grew up knowing.  His love was assumed, shown through a roof over my head and Jordans every first day of school.  I was too young to really remember my parents in love, but with my step mother it always felt like, service.  They were together for 10 years because they were together for 10 years, in hindsight it mirrored my longest relationship.  We been together this long, why not see this through.  More recently, I had someone I’m with ask me that if a complete stranger was watching us right now, would they think we were in love?  I couldn’t answer.   I did love her, but clearly I sucked at showing it.  It wasn’t being expressed, it was assumed. Damn, I am him.  He lived through the civil rights movement, the military and having a whole ass family in the Reaganomics era, I can’t possibly be this way already.  I won’t allow myself to be.

Maybe, it starts with forgiving in the first place.  That’s a journey in itself that I’m still working on.  Without going too deep, there’s a lot about my childhood that I’m still processing but as an adult I at least find myself at a place where I see and empathize with him as a man; imperfect but steadily trying to grow as he prepares to embark on the next phase of his life as just as I’m trying to do with mine.    I usually try to end posts with a pretty little bow but there isn’t one, at least not yet.  All I can do in the interim, is work on improving our relationship and myself to become a more open, vulnerable man that believes in accent colors.  Oh, and no babies til like, 33?  35?  40?  Yeah, maybe 40.

-Stan-

 

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