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?
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.
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