Don't let the nice facade fool you. It's ninjas behind those houses.

Don’t let the nice facade fool you. It’s ninjas behind those houses.

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.

Glory day.

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?


Filed Under: ,
Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at

  • 2Rawtid

    *sips tea*

    • To quote the woman singing on the song by the great Aaron Hall, “is it good to you?”

      • 2Rawtid

        love my tea :P. how do i put my pic up? i feel incomplete. :(

        • camilleblu

          go to

          • 2Rawtid


  • That shopping cart bit is GOSPEL. Especially my block hustler. Think I blogged about him. Anyway, he once tried to sell my mom and I a toddler’s winter coat. In July. I was in high school.

    Maybe he thought I was having a baby? And if I was… it would be Jesus.

    • Sea Jay Bee

      Notice how Dominick’s/ Safeways/ Walmarts have that sensor strip at the outer edge of the parking lots that is supposed to lock up the shopping cart front wheel? I don’t think those work too well. People just pick up the cart and carry it over the yellow stripe and just tear off the wheel cover.

      The shopping cart scrap metal hustles continues as evidenced by the Bubbles reenactment I saw earlier today on Vincennes and 69th.

      • LMAO yup!!

      • One day I saw somebody by my grocery store push their cart all the way to the bus stop. Which is way outside the parking lot. That amused me greatly.

        • LOL Definitely common occurence in the Chi. Or at the El stations.

      • Rewind

        I used to work at a Pathmark in 99 when they first started having those electronic wheels that lock up.

        There’s one thing you have to know about Blacks, Russians, & Indians: They’re all ignorant as f*ck when it comes to basic knowledge because YOU WILL NOT STOP THEM from doing things the way they think they are supposed.

        I remember seeing one dude carry the cart with his bare hands, talking about “they think this p*ssy ass wheel gonna stop me?”

        • I didn’t even know about the electric wheel lock up until it happened to me. I was tryna cart mine across the parking lot because we parked far and the cart was like… “girl you tried it.” I failed.

          Welp. One of the adorable employees had to tell us and I’m like… Oh. The car had to be driven to the cart. LOL

          • Rewind

            You were lucky. We used to clown people, coming up with the electronic cart, talking about “the sign is on the cart, will lock before removing 20 ft”!

            Nothing quite like stunting on an old Russian lady and some hood nuckas at the same time about their reading comprehension.

        • Sweet GA Brown

          “they think this p*ssy ass wheel gonna stop me?”

          I live for the day they have those carts here. Lol. This is too funny!

          • Rewind

            I laughed my ass off when I heard that, I can’t even lie

  • Charcoal Burnt Brother Lover

    always have extra sugar….and food coloring on deck

    • why food coloring?

      • Actually, this is a good question because my grandma STAYED having food coloring in her pantry. But… never used it. It was always in the back of the cabinet.

        Wait… I DO remember using it to color eggs on that PAAS gangsta ish. Good times.

      • Charcoal Burnt Brother Lover

        Long story short, food coloring makes water look like juice. So therefore, when a visitor stops by (which they tend to do in droves, back home)and all you have is water to offer (in African households you MUST offer a passerby something, even if just the air you are breathing), you can fancify da water…ya dig!

  • mizzcruz

    walking home one night and there’s a guy in front of me. he and i probably got off the same train but he walks faster than me so he’s in front me. so far, so good.

    we turn on the same block and then he turns around, stops walking and says to me in a not super aggressive manner, “don’t walk behind me. walk in front of me. i don’t like people walking behind me.”

    i simply said “okay” (in my head: this mofo is crazy) and started walking faster. in front of him, then crossed the street. welcome to my hood. good luck gentrifying this place!

    • The hood is paranoia central.

    • HerMomaGotAssToo

      This is hilarious.

    • Rewind

      If I could count how many times per week some woman over 50 years stops walking in the middle of sidewalk to let me pass for fear of what I’m plotting as I’m walking behind her…just to pass her slow ass by.

  • I don’t know why, but I’m overcome with sadness about them believing your daughter is pretty, at least partially because of her fair skin is intensely depressing.

    It makes me want to start a Brown is Beautiful campaign, sponsored by Dove, Gabrielle Union and maybe Tatyana Ali. I know grown 30+ year old women who are still intimidated when a light skinned, long haired woman walks into the room.

    But anyway, water is also wet.

    My “hood” aka Los Feliz, is in the northern part of Los Angeles, between Glendale and the Dodgers Stadium. It’s a bit hipster, but not as bad as H Street NE in DC. Also, I saw Channing Tatum in the Best Buy here and Blair Underwood in the brunch cafe down the street from my spot. I won.

    • Edit: I’m overcome with sadness about them believing your daughter is pretty at least partially because of her fair skin. It is intensely depressing.*

      • IcePrincess3

        Girl, at least they’re being nice to P’s daughter, even if it is somewhat of a back-handed compliment. My son is mixed, & when he goes to da hood in Decatur, ATL to stay wit his godmother, she says the kids are mean to him. She said they be hating on him cuz “he the reddest thang out there.” Her words, not mine lol. But it makes me mad that they would try to dis my baby cuz of skin color. My baby has the kindest heart. But he gotta deal wit bay bays kids pickin on him cuz he light? Crazy :-(

        • Todd

          Youcouldhave just been Black IP! ;)

          • Sweet GA Brown

            +One hundred trillion

      • kid video


        I have a neice, about 12, who’s going to have “lite skin girl” problems…a few years ago her classmates were calling a “bottle of bleach”, but her parents tell her its because she sticks out…shes pretty well adjusted.

        • kid video

          *were calling her…

      • mena

        That’s life and always has been. Panama wrote an entire post on light skin points and I agreed with that post 100%.

    • “I know grown 30+ year old women who are still intimidated when a light skinned, long haired woman walks into the room.” That’s just a sad statement. These women need to be in therapy.

      I am light and have wash-n-wear hair and I am envious of women with beautiful brown skin. I, however, should probably be in therapy as well because I’m happy that my daughter is brown. I’d love her to bits no matter what her color, but I so adore her pretty color.

      I guess we all want what we can’t have.

      • GypsyCurl

        “I am envious of women with beautiful brown skin”

        I am envious of women and men with flawless, acne-free, scar free skin. Although guys always liked me and thought I was pretty, I didn’t understand why they would like me with my acne.

        And ya know how they tell ya not to pick at your acne because you will leave a scar? Well that ain’t true. I get scars when they are left alone!

        And ya know how they tell ya you will grow out of it?. Well, it may not be as bad as when I was 12 but I still have acne problems and I am still self conscious about my face.


        • Sweet GA Brown

          Thanks for getting that off your chest!

          But like I tell my friends with varicose veins that don’t want to wear shorts, embrace it because if you dont somebody else will.

          • GypsyCurl

            LOL Since I can’t hide my face with pants (although I could wear a burka), I have no choice but to bare it.

        • MimiLuvs

          I loathe the “change your nutritional intake” suggestion.

          • GypsyCurl

            Part of acne is hormonal and is going to occur regardless of diet. However, I will say that, as an adult, when spent time in Ghana (3 months), my face improved so much. I my diet consisted mainly of fruits (breakfast and lunch) with very tiny portions of freshly killed chickens (dinner) that had never been feed hormones.

            • Eps

              Maybe it is the hormones we put in our food. That could be having an effect. You know meat in ‘Merica is all steroided up.

              • Todd

                Hey! There are people who feed their kids off of I that. Some of them are Negroesu from my alma. #upstreamredteam

              • Sweet GA Brown

                Aha! The steroids cause acne which provides business for companies that produce acne fighting face cleansers and such. Just like the potholes never get fixed so that the automechanic business stays booming despite the decreased amount of maintenance needed for newer vehicles.

        • amber l

          I hear you. As a 30 yr old woman who also suffers with acne I understand. I’ve heard all of the advice and paid for a lot of it. So I have no cures but I pay a lot for the products I use because even good insurance doesn’t cover “cosmetic” prescriptions which is a shame bc acne is really a symptom of internal issues. Treat your acne from the inside out. Find a great dermatologist and it always to vent to a listening ear.

      • A little therapy never hurt anybody.

    • WIP

      “Also, I saw Channing Tatum in the Best Buy here…”

      I agree. You win.

      • GypsyCurl

        I saw Panama in DC. Do I win?

        • No, I saw him first

        • mena

          No. He is not Channing.

          • camilleblu

            lol…mena you stoopid

            • mena

              We are talking Channing Tatum. Let’s keep it real.

              • afronica

                Yeah, but he got skripper face. Killer body, don’t get me wrong. And from his GQ interview, sounds like a decent fellow. But definitely a Magic Mike face.

                • WIP

                  He does look a little like a caveman but I guess some of us are into that. :)

          • You cut me real deep, Mena. Real deep.

          • h.h.h.

            wow, that’s a blow to his #shelfOfSteam.

          • GypsyCurl

            IDK, Mena. I saw PJ and he was looking all kinds of skrumptious (yes with a “k” and not a “c”).

            BTW, Panama are your eyes amber?

            • mena

              I think I saw him once. But it was from afar and he is lightskint and the sun hit him a certain way so I was all types of blinded by his soulglo.

              I’ll take your word for it though :-)

              Still Channing is a beautiful sexy specimen of a man.

              • GypsyCurl

                Channing is nice looking.

                But I tend to feel some kinda way about white dude celebrities who are swooned over by black women and are said to have swagger, but ultimately, their girlfriends are not black. (ie- Justin Timberlake, Channing Tatum, etc.) Then they are not really as urban as they want like to seem.

                • WIP

                  It’s not his urban that makes me swoon. Have you seen Magic Mike?

                • mena

                  Oh. They are both just fine to me. I’m with WIP. I prefer darker white men (of the white man spectrum) so if you can get a tan and have dark hair, you are cool in my book.

                  Also Channing is just hot. Like HOT. Lol :-)

                  • Brother Mouzone

                    “I prefer darker white men (of the white man spectrum) so if you can get a tan and have dark hair, you are cool in my book.”

                    How about just go with a brotha? lol..”Dark white man”? oxymoron

                    • mena

                      LOL. Nope. On a black guy spectrum I prefer dark men. On a white guy spectrum, I prefer darker guys. It’s really not that hard to process what I am saying. Think brunette or black hair with a nice tan. Totally not an oxymoron.

            • well thank you. and no my eyes aren’t amber. LOL. my eyes are just regular ole brown.

        • Yes. You win lots. All types of win is in your life.

          • GypsyCurl

            With glitter and Ghiradelli’s chocolate!

  • *I’m well versed in how to survive in South Central. <—- a place where busting a cap is fundamental.

    I'm STILL salty the politicians formally changed the name to "South LA" to help with South Central LA's image. They didn't do anything to help the area, just the image

    #1 – That shopping cart story is SO REAL. When I moved into my apartment, a bog box store was under construction, and the area was pretty clean. Now, there's shopping carts going a full d*mn mile away, and Starbucks cups all over the place.

    #2 – My area is mostly white, and apparently raves and garage bands are still what's hot

    #3 – In my actual area, I've always felt safe. But outside the 2 mile radius there's been a rash of sexual assaults. I'm not going to blame the victim and say woman can't jog in the predawn hours, but WITH AN IPOD IN LADIES? You gotta be able to hear the crazies coming

    • I’ve often believed that truly crazy people moved in silence to maximize their crazy surprise factor.

      • IcePrincess3

        Rite!! Just like dat crazy azz white dude you wrote about yesterday. I bet that lady had no idea he would get it poppin like that when she called him a f*ggot. Allegedly. Lmfao

  • nillalatte

    “So tell me what lessons you’ve learned about where you live?”

    When I was living the South, I knew the time of seasons. I love spring and autumn. I know how to drive in ice (& snow on occasion). White folks do crazy things in hot arse July & August like family reunions. Everyone is miserable, but they feel compelled to spend the day getting a sun burn, eaten by bugs, chasing kids, and talking to folks they only see at weddings and funerals. Mostly funerals.

    Black folks on the other hand, have more sense. Sorry, yeah, some do (at least the folks I hung wit). They has parties starting right before the sun goes down. There was always someone who aspires to be a DJ in a night club, and they play awesome line dance songs. :) Everybody is invited, family or not, but you can become an honorary family member if you bring some food, drink, or a lil sumpn’ sumpn’ to the party. Oh, and don’t forget, ridin’ deep and slow through Centennial Park. That was THE place to hang (when Panama was born). :D

    Fast forward, desert life. Ugh. Okay, in Vegas, everyone hangs out in their garage. In fact, garages are set up almost like an extra living room. Folks put down carpet, move sofas and card tables out there, put up dart boards, have an extra frig, and a big screen television. Super Bowl? BLOCK PARTY! I’ve seen like 50 people hanging out in someone’s garage for Super Bowl Sunday.

    Everyone is nocturnal in the summer. It’s too damn hot to be out in the afternoon and you won’t find many people out in the hoods. But, as soon as the sun goes down, folks start stirring like bats coming to life. Since there are a mixture of peoples in Vegas (black, white, latino, asian) you really don’t get to know your neighbors. In fact, the only guy I knew for the three years I lived in one house was the black guy two doors up who was from Nahleans. *shrugs*

    My Latino friends used to love to have neighborhood gatherings. On holiday like the 4th of July, everyone used the streets as launching pads for all fireworks. Have you ever celebrated the 4th of July to Mexican music? It’s kind of an interesting mix.

    Well, now to BFE AZ. I think this place is like 99.9% white and these white folks are MEAN– to other white folks. You lucky if you are not white because, seriously, they are nice to non-white folks. Everyone drives a pick up truck or a cross over car. Folks own boats and have super huge garages for them. Half of the average home has 2 maybe 3 garages and an RV parking area. I have never seen more gun shops and shooting ranges EVER! I think these folks are also paranoid as hell or there must be some really threatening wild life in the middle of no phucking where that I don’t know about yet.

    • amber l

      I lived in Nashville for years and loved Centennial park.

    • GypsyCurl

      “White folks do crazy things in hot arse July & August like family reunions.”

      Everyone has family reunions in the summer. And why is that crazy?

      • camilleblu

        shiiiit…cause it’s hot as hale and errybody knows the heat puts the crazy on swoll….

        • nillalatte

          True. I do not know how, but I can’t recall many reunions where something crazy didn’t happen because people were so damn irritated due to the heat.

      • I know right. My family reunion is every year in July. In an outdoor park. In Atlanta. If any of y’all show up you BET’ bring some drank.

    • I remember when they finished Centennial Park. Actually, I remember them tearing down Techwood – Clark Howell Homes…I almost shed a tear.

      The good ole days of the A.

      • GypsyCurl

        I just got back from the A and I am in love with it. I have been many times but this last trip just brought something out of me like “I need to live here.” But then when I was in DC, I felt the same way. I am so in love with DC.

        Which one do I choose?

      • GypsyCurl

        I just got back from the A and I am in love with it. I have been many times but this last trip just brought something out of me like “I need to live here.” But then when I was in DC, I felt the same way. I am so in love with DC.

        Which one do I choose for my next move?

  • TheGoodGirl

    This is the closest I’ve ever been to the top. But I’m just going to say this was hilarious, I never thought about where crackheads put their shopping carts at night time. Now I know. Anyway, I’m over hear in upper Northwest DC, nothing exciting happens, ever. Somewhere in my heart I miss the excitement of hoodlife. Sort of.

    • Interestingly enough, I’ve had a few people question why I live in the hood. Even though its “hood” perhaps by definition, its really not that bad. Or exciting. Things don’t happen that frequently and I don’t feel unsafe at all. Anybody who has ever been to my house often wonders why I reference it as the hood b/c they’re like, man this is such a nice area.

      People come to my house and inquire about buying in the neighborhood. Hell, we have free Wi-Fi. Point is, you ain’t missing much. It’s only “exciting” in spurts.

      • 2Rawtid

        free wi-fi?, let me count my coin…

  • naturalista88

    “So tell me what lessons you’ve learned about where you live?”
    I’ve learned that they be thirsty to BBQ as soon as the thermometer rises above 50°.

    • Who needs weather forecasts…..just smell charcoal and know it’s nice out

      • True Life. Eff a local weatherman (Tom Skilling in Chi’s case lol) just smell that charcoal and you like, Oh I gotta be outside today.

    • Yeah…ain’t nothing better than walking out your back door to multiple neighbors grilling.

    • Todd

      White people STAY on that BBQ steez. Heck, where I lived, it was more like 45!

  • IcePrincess3

    My current hood is lil Mexico. Buford hwy in Atlanta, to be exact. I moved over here from a mixed black& white area in buckhead when i got kicked out my apt cuz my BF got into it wit my BD & the BF emptied his clip in the parking lot smdh *face palm* ANYhoo… I like it. It’s quiet over here. Nun but SA’s, but they self segregate like a mug. Plus I don’t speak Spanish, so that doesn’t help lol. It’s cool doe. Awesome authentic restaurants that sell margarita pitchers for cheap that will creep up on you & have u on your azz quik. I’ve heard they bang out here, but I haven’t seen it. You might here some shots here & there, but it’s rare. Plus my apt is way big for the money compared to my old one. So all in all it’s straight. Side bar: my son looks so cute when he plays wit all the lil Mexican kids cuz he looks jus like one of um.They don’t realize he’s American till they see me :-)

    • IcePrincess3


    • Buford highway is def MexicanLand….my mom took a bus that dropped her off up there and i was like what in the heyl….i think english is the second language up there lol

    • This is the Blackest comment I’ve read on VSB in a while. Which considering the source, as we all know, makes this truly impressive and non-surprising. Good job, IP. lol

      • IcePrincess3


    • Datalore

      Alll the good food is on Buford Highway. Mexican, Korean, Vietnamese, the random crawfish spot. All they need is actual sidewalks and crosswalks. I swear they don’t build them because they hope folks get hit.

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