Growing up in the hood, yeah boy 1984, was the year my peers didn’t know what was in store. Probably because we were all 5 and didn’t care, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact is, when young, you don’t realize how good or bad your surroundings are. They just exist as your playground.
And oh how we played.
I’ve had the benefit of living in many different types of areas in my life. I’ve lived in the suburbs, overseas in a major world city, the inner city, some projects and in rural ass areas where I’ve never felt more uncomfortable once I found out that I was actually black. It’s amazing what a little bit of knowledge can do to your psyche. I’ve also done some time in the country; as in the town gets a street light and its news country. Well right now, I live in Washington, DC. This is news to no one. Almost a year ago now, I purchased my first home.
Seeing as the average home price in DC proper sells for around $400K (you read that right) and I didn’t have that in my wallet in my good clothes, I purchased a home for somewhat less (not a whole lot) and bought in a neighborhood full of people who resembled myself. Now, if you’ve been reading this site for a good length of time you know that Atlanta, GA, and more specifically the West side of the city on MLK is my former stomping grounds. I’m not stranger to living in the ‘hood. In fact, upon telling my family members I was buying a home, they all immediately assumed I’d be buying in the hood. I’m not sure if this says something about me or them. Let’s just say they’re racist. Yes. Do that.
Anyway, so I copped a house in Southeast DC (SE). From the outside looking in, SE is known as a hood destination for hoodboogers, hoodrats, and career criminals. And while there are plenty of all three there, it’s also a place full of working class people doing working class things with their friends. I do however, live in the poorest ward in the city. I do not, however, feel unsafe at all. I’m well versed in how to survive in South Central. <—- a place where busting a cap is fundamental.
All that was a long ass introduction to what I wanted to share with you all today. Since moving in almost a year ago, I’ve been privy to some very entertaining things. And since the closer I get to youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, the more you make me feeeeeeeeeeel like we should all be best friends, I decided to share with you all some of my tales from the hood. Basically, in case I wasn’t sure I lived in the ‘hood, here are some proof positive indicators. We could call this guess the race, but, well, come on. We know this one ends. You gon’ learn today.
(And no, I will not say exactly where I live. I recently had a situation arise with somebody trying to pinpoint my location. He (yes, he) was apparently attempting to stalk me to my home. I stay strapped. No Trojan. But yes Trojan.)
PSA: Panama Jackson does not condone gun violence. Blocka blocka.
Hmm…let’s call this things I’ve learned about living in the hood that I didn’t remember from the last time I did it…
1. You can’t fully prepare for some things that you will see. At all.
Yesterday morning while coming home to get ready for work after dropping my daughter off at school I pulled into my driveway. I opened the door and stepped out. I basked in the sun. It was delightful. It kissed me. The sun. No…solaro? I picked a dandelion as it was sitting there waiting to be picked. Then I looked up and saw one of my neighbors push a motherf*cking shopping cart OUT of his house. The end.
This does beg the question though. You know how ninjas be out in the streets selling stuff out of carts? Well, when you go home you can’t really just leave it outside can you? Some other crackhead might steal it. Then you got to go steal ANOTHER one. It’s a vicious cycle. In the house it is. Bong bong.
2. It’s always time for a block party.
Since I’ve lived in my house, nearly EVERY warm weekend has consisted of a block party. I’m talking moonbounces and balloons. And quite a few of my neighbors own club quality PA (speaker) systems. How do I know this? Well they compete. Yes. Compete. They will all place their speakers outside and blast their own music. You all familiar with go-go? Well its 90 percent treble since its all club recordings for the most part. That shit pings through your home with piercing velocity. Add to the fact that folks are always outside and there’s always a party going down.
3. Crime is never too far away, but it isn’t always scary.
Only one violent crime has happened on my street since I moved there. I’m chalking that up to coincidence since a fight that happened up the street somehow ended up on mine and a teenager ended up stabbed. He’s alive. But one time at bandcamp, I was sitting in my house with my boy and we’re watching Say Yes To the Dress or some other manly show. A Ford Expedition speeds by. Except its leaning. Why is it leaning? It only has 3 tires. Yes. Not 3 and a flat. Nope. Only 3 tires. But its doing like 45 down my street. I’m a bit hood so I shrug it off as, “eh, I’ve seen worse” (it’s true, I’ve seen a dude drive down MLK in the A on two tires). Well, 10 minutes I go to leave my house and walk out my back door and in my back alley are 5 police cars and the dude in the Expedition is laid out on the ground in handcuffs. Apparently he was doing 45 because he was running from police. Which never goes well. Trust me.
4. Intra-race Color issues persist
In case you ain’t know, I’m lightskinnded. So is my child. Every time we go outside to play “play” or something, some of the little kids always come up to tell me how lightskinnded my child is. Or talk about how pretty she is and about her eyes (I make pretty babies…call me now!). I don’t mind them calling my daughter pretty, but the constant mentions of her being light throw me off. Once while getting ice cream from the ice cream truck that comes year round…literally, one of the teens who lives by me told me how pretty she was and that the light skint babies are so pretty. She also told me I needed a gun. I told her I was holding. She shot back, “respect”. Dead ass. Nows as good a time as any to mention that I live in a neighborhood that is mixed income and has some section 8 homes and some market rate homes. I hate to point out the obvious for fear of pointing it out for a specific reason, but let’s just say, you tend to notice that most of the folks in the hood are sunkissed like a motherf*cker.
That’s enough. I’ve said too much. But we’ve only just begun. So tell me what lessons you’ve learned about where you live? Help us all learn about where you live. Could you tell me how to get…how to get to Sesame Street?
-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. TERRACE HOMES COURT aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3