‘Hood Talk.

If where you come from taught you to disrespect where I come from, what’s so great about not being from the “hood”?

In my definition education encompasses more than what we are taught at school and through textbooks, for the textbooks have forgotten to mention a lot of the history that has created my presence in the United States. I was born and raised in an urban center, less politically referred to as the “hood”, and I learned how to be a woman of morals, respect, wit, and intellect in this place. I have encountered situations that have challenged my naivety, at the same token my city has instilled in me an innocence and a childhood filled with an imagination that created and nurtured my talent for reading and writing. In the ‘hood we don’t swim easily, but for the most part…we refuse to drown.

I am disturbed by the amount of ignorant comments some folks make when referring to people that come from these communities. Some like to call us “uneducated” because our people react negatively, sometimes violently, to abandonment, discrimination, racism, stereotyping, etc, on a daily basis. Some like to judge our culture, and call our style of dress and music “thuggish” or say we are “gang bangers”. Some, especially, like to remind us that because our school systems are “failing”…so will we. I am a product of this very neighborhood that taught me to not be so outlandish with my judgements of people because one day I would find myself needing them. And for the people who judge us as though we have created this bad reputation for ourselves and state their opinions strongly…I strongly suggest you create more consciousness for yourself. Most of our history isn’t in the books.

We epitomize human behavior in the ‘hood. Acts of violence, need for family, love of pride, attachment to an escape factor. Mine was art over drugs, that exists in the hood too.

It is true we speak loudly, we learn to be defensive because sometimes we are judged just a little too easily and a little too harshly in a society that should know better.

I am a graduate student, an entrepreneur, an idealist…contrary to popular belief, I am not the only one of my kind. The spirit that drives me can be found in the heart of your favorite revolutionary figure. The odds were against them, the odds continue to be against the “hood”…folks around here just fight the cause a little differently. Malcolm X vs. Martin Luther King, Jr. There is not a way for our streets to constantly be clean and our individual issues to consistently be solved and monitored.

I was taught to value my family, to question my neighbors, work hard to move forward and gain respect, and keep my head high at all times so people don’t take advantage of me. As a woman, I was taught to be a little less friendly so a man would take me a little more seriously. As a spirit, I was taught to humble myself…I never know where this life will lead me.

Hip hop is my culture and its poetry and integrates me to popular society. I’m afraid it’s the only thing greater society may respect of me.

I’ve never tried drugs, but went away to college and witnessed most of the action there…from kids who weren’t from the ‘hood.

My mother is a big believer in Christ and as a result I am too. I carry her words constantly in my brain because I trust her.

I am not better than anyone because I am a college graduate, rather I am better equipped to fight administrators and continue to uplift the younger generation of my neighborhood. We respect each others history in these parts, and we take the time to listen and get to know the path which we all come from.

I understand that gang violence is detrimental to our community, but I also understand that a lot of our mothers and fathers need to work beyond 9-5’s to pay for rent and food, and I also understand that more public programs need to be implemented to occupy the time and minds of children so they can grow in purpose, and I mostly understand that the outside world needs to stop doubting where we come from. As we all know, school is forced upon us in our early age and a lot of students have greater issues than getting an A. I AM proud to say that more and more of our children are learning about college, career, and a world outside of their own. They are finding more mentors to look up to, more books they can relate to, and listen to stories that keep them motivated.

This piece is a personal one. I share my thoughts as a woman who was born, raised, and still resides in my neighborhood. I come from an immigrant family who started their work in factories as they saved enough money to own businesses and perfect their craft. I don’t condemn those who express their disdain negatively, I don’t congratulate them either. I speak a certain dialect, it does not make me less capable of communicating and understanding my surroundings. I have a different and more flexible way of adjusting to the world. I don’t hate it.

I am openminded and opinionated because I want to extend and explore my intellect across different worlds. The lack of respect for mine has created my will to learn as many cultures and worlds as I can. 

My pride comes from a sense of confidence I have in myself. I know I could not be who I am without my knowledge of how things work in the ‘hood.

Mary B.

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