Wednesday, March 31, 2010

save your war stories for private ryan


Florence, South Carolina

That's where I'm from.

It's a "big town" that is geographically located as the midway point between Miami and New York. Growing up, it was a great place to live. It was a place where I could be a kid. It wasn't dangerous. It was easy living. For the most part, blacks and whites got along. It was also a place were it was common to see successful black men who were active in the community. We were your typical middle class family.

Everybody lived like that, right?

Wrong!

I wasn't naive enough to think that everybody lived like those of us who grew up in Florence. My experience growing up was normal to me but wasn't typical.

Or was it?

As I grew older, I learned about the bruthas and sistas across this country who grew up on hard times. Many of them grew up in poverty. They grew up in the crime/drug infested neighborhoods. Some even grew up in areas where they dealt with gangs. Was I shocked to learn this? No...I always knew that there was a world outside of Florence. I had traveled and had seen a lot.

I think I got confused when the crime/drug infested/gang related/gun violence culture became solely...all of black culture. When did it happen? I dunno? Was it with the explosion of rap music (yeah...let's blame rap...lol)? It just seemed like overnight...being from the hood/slum/ghetto was the story of every black person. Especially black men. You were considered HARD if you grew up in the hood. Hmmm. Interesting concept that I couldn't get into.

Then you had those who had the war stories. You know...the ones who talked about how the grew up mired in a life of crime. The ones who sold drugs like Tony Montana. The ones who shot at more people than John Rambo. The ones who did more time in jail than Nelson Mandela.

Hmmm

The last time that I checked...the issues of cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Atlanta...were the same issues in that little place called Florence. Only to a lesser degree. In a town that has a urban population of 90,000 (it was far less than that when I was there), it has the same issues with crime, drugs, guns, and gangs (the mere thought of gangs in Florence makes me laugh).

Life is a struggle. No matter where you come from. While your experiences help your growth, they don't define you. There's no need to believe that we all grew up the same way. We didn't. We are all different and that's what's great about us.

So to those who are concerned with perpetuating stories about how hard your life was...the drugs that you sold...the time that you did in jail...the hood you grew up in...the homies that died in your arms...save your war stories for Private Ryan

6 comments:

rashida said...

This is funny. I had a similar conversation with a close friend the other day. We grew up in S.E. DC, which people tend to think is a dangerous area, but I had a typical middle class upbringing, that just happened to take place in an area that also included drugs and crime. I moved to the "Burbs" at the end of the 11th grade and would always hear people brag that they were from the area I had just moved from. It was always something negative dealing with fighting, selling drugs, or hanging out on the corner and getting into shit. I got into plenty of fights and could spot a jump out quicker than most, but I also travelled often, and went to a couple of overpriced private schools. So when people brag about the negative parts of growing up in "the hood" I just have to laugh. We're adults. Either get a life or try to make the most of the one you were dealt.

LadyLee said...

"While your experiences help your growth, they don't define you."

You got that right, bruh...

BrokN_RecorD said...

"(the mere thought of gangs in Florence makes me laugh)." <~~prob not as hard as it makes me laugh.

I'm from NJ. My Dad, is from Florence, SC, did everything in his power to make sure I was shielded from the "hood" life. We didnt live in the best neighborhood but it wasnt all that bad. I never went to public school until Undergrad; Catholic and expensive ass private schools all the way. In 7th grade I started attending boarding school, it considered a private school but compared to the other schools I went to this was a public school. Boarding school exposed me to fighting, cussing A LOT and whole lot of other "hood" ish. The school is located in the heart of North Philly so the surrounding area is not the sticks or the suburbs. Who I am is a combination of the upbringing from my parents and family, the environments in which I grew up and the decisions I have made throughout my life. Everyone has a story but I def dont have any war stories to tell.
""While your experiences help your growth, they don't define you." <~~TRUE STORY

Tha L said...

Good post, Kyle. This reminded me of a young lady I work with who's always talkin' about how she "grew up in the hood", and "in the hood, we did this, that or the other thing". It's so irritating. From time to time, I remind her that she hasn't lived in "the hood" in about six years, so she needs to get over it.

Keith said...

Good Post man. There is a saying or rather there was a saying...Real Bad Boys are silent, they don't talk about their past.
If you think about it, it makes sense..They are not trying to go to jail.

Most cats who "Murder Mouth" as we used to say probably didn't do nothing..They saw somebody do something or know somebody, but they haven't done nothin...

A number of today's rappers fit that charactoristic!

Redbonegirl97 said...

Aah, nothing like coming to Florence. I don't think I really go anywhere when I come to visit my family down there. We hit the grocery store and my uncle thinks the Golden Corral is the best thing since sliced bread. Hopefully I will make it down there this year to see my family and maybe we will get to Pamplico too. What fun, lol.

Tiffany
http://liferequiresmorechocolate.blogspot.com