Let’s pretend you’re black:Ty’Qwonne Blacksten (Part 4) of short series

The Felon’s Point of View

WARNING: Foul and inappropriate language is used in the following story.

It is Grandma’s birthday and all of your family are showing up to the event. Grandma will be 68 years old today and is still alive, despite diabetes complications. You are talking with your best friend/cousin named “Skooby”, a local blood member from the Ballstone Boyz. Skooby is 4 years older than you, and has done time in juvenile hall and youth authority. Skooby and you take a walk around the block and light up a blunt filled with marijuana. You guys pick a spot near a dumpster in an alley and talk about how crazy things are getting in Troose.

You:”Shit gettin crazy out here Skoob, niggaz is straight savages killin in broad daylight!”

Skooby:”That’s why I always keep that Nina Ross(gun) on me, in case these niggaz wanna try me wit that fuck-shit!”—(Fuck-shit means, weird or strange behavior)

You:”I gotta find a way to get me and moms up outta here. Im getting tired of making 170 bucks a week on this part-time shit. I’m tryna ball like Trump or Bill Gates one day. Create some shit like Steve Jobs. I am tired of being poor. Mom’s getting older, and pops getting out in 6 years. Im tryna have shit laced by time Pops get out so he can never have to work again”

Skooby:”I feel you bro. Thats why a nigga out here getting it. I stay on the come up getting that Guap (money). You think a nigga posed to get up and go to work for only enough money to pay the light bill and eat canned food. Nigga fuck that. Squares out here working at McDonald’s for a whole month just to buy some Jordan’s. What you make in a month, I make in a day.”(laughing hysterically)

You:(disturbed and uncomfortable look)

Skooby:”I used to be like you. Listen to the white man, wanna get a job and go the right path. That shit is for suckas B. The white man want you to work for him till you old and grey and aint got shit but diabetes and a social security check. Fuck that! My squad starting our own enterprise out here. All my niggas got new whips and bad bitches. Look at FatBoy Troy. That nigga used to wear the same Jordan sandals er’day. No money, hummin and bummin. Look at him now, he got his own turf, a brand new Challenger on 24’s with a bedroom full of Jordan’s. Bitches jock him now. You need to stop depending on the white man. That shit will hold you back bruh-bruh.”

You:”Don’t you fear going to jail and dying? Niggaz is droppin like bird shit. Goin to jail and doing 25-to-life bids.  Black men are incarcerated at high rates. I’m not trying to be another statistic. They say we either end up dead, jail, or paralyzed. I can’t walk that path. What if you die?”

Skooby:”youz a scary ass nigga (puffs the blunt). You gonna die anyway! you could drive your car and get into an accident and die. Fuck them statistics. Them statistics aint taking care of me and my niggaz. You brainwashed TQ. That’s why you ain’t gonna be shit. You wanna regular job to be a house nigga and never have shit.”

Unknown voice:”TEEEEEEEEEE-KYOUUUUUUUU!!!!”

Skooby:”Ah, shit, I forgot to tell you that cousin Stretch got out!”

Stretch, a black man with a svelte, muscular figure, standing at 6’4, is a cousin of yours who went to prison when you were 5 years old. He was a member of the 45th St Ballstone Bloods, who went to jail for armed robbery. He was 18 at the time of the crime, coming off a botched college basketball career. He was a 4-star recruit who earned a scholarship to a NCAA Division-1 basketball team. During his freshman season he averaged 20 pts a game. Stretch, had a problem with who he surrounded himself with. He was always around his childhood friends from the hood. They convinced him to participate in an armed robbery. The event was captured on a surveillance camera and became national news. Stretch, real name Egypt Browne, was sent to prison for 15 years. Due to good behavior, and prison overcrowding, he qualified for early release.

Stretch:”Wassup Black MEN!!!”

You:”Wassup”(in an estranged and aloof tone)

Skooby:”Whattup Stretch! You done got buff. You used to be a twig, nigga!”

Stretch:”Yeah, that’s what that prison food will do to you. You youngstas got a  lot to learn. T.Q, you was too little to know who I am, but I am your big cousin. You are a grown man now, and Skooby you got big too.”

Skooby: “I’m tryna tell this nigga about making money off tha block, but he ain’t listening.”

You: (Looking uncomfortable)

Stretch:”That shit is stupid Skooby, Jail is not a place for boys. It’s a lot of shit that goes on in prison that you guys don’t understand. I have seen grown men get raped, stabbed,  and killed in prison. Yes, you can die in prison. Skooby you are a knuckle-head that won’t listen to anyone. But I am telling you guys, prison is no joke! I have seen grown men cry in prison.”

Skooby: (growing irritated)” Youz a old head. You don’t know what shit is like on the block right now. Shit has changed. Mezza’s and the Troose 13’s is running shit. Aspey’s are fucking wit crabz (crips) and shit is all fucked up. Niggas is out here getting killed like Iraq. You don’t know shit!”

Stretch:”First of all, Im your O.G.!! Nigga don’t get it twisted. I used to run wit some of your lil homies uncles. You a poo-butt snot nosed wanna be. I’ve lined it up (fought) wit Crips in the chow hall, 2 on 1. I served time for puttin in work for the hood. You just went to Juvie (Juvenile hall). Do you know what it’s like to not have none of the homies write you or put money on your books (commissary)? Do you know what its like to not have a relationship with your child, because of a fuck up you did when you was 19? My baby momma moved on to another man, who my son calls daddy, and won’t acknowledge me or my phone calls. You don’t know that pain, Blood!”

Skooby: (puzzled look)

You: (involved and intrigued)

Stretch:”I have been looking for a job for the past two months I’ve been out, and can’t get hired. I have tried everything. There is no equal-opportunity for an ex-felon. I have to register wherever I live.  My P.O (probation officer) is my fuckin baby sitter. I have to piss in a cup and check in with her at a moments notice. I have no rights. Cops can harass and take me to jail, simply off of suspicion. I can’t hang with none of my homies cause of gang-injunction laws. The White man won’t hire me. The Black man won’t hire me. He is just as scared of me as the White man is. I can’t even get a job doing construction. The Mexicans and Latinos are taking over the labor industry. They come into our country with skilled trades and businesses. We barely have a culture, we don’t wanna help each other out. The million man march and Black lives matter shit is cute, but we don’t wanna help each other out. The ex-felons don’t have a voice. Especially the Blacks. Mexicans and Whites get a job working for their cousin when they get out of jail. Where do the Blacks go? Back to the block to sell some crack and end up back in Prison. It is an invisible caste system that never gets publicized. So, for now, I have to stick to these temporary jobs I get at the local “Labor-Ready”. I am removing roof shingles and digging holes for less than 40 bucks a day. You young bucks got a lot to learn!”

Part 5 coming soon…

Thanks for sticking it out with me to the end of this story. If you feel compelled by this story, please like, follow on wordpress, and share on whatever platform you feel comfortable with.

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5 compelling books that will change your life.

 Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl

One of the illest books ever written, SON!!!

Nothing has ever made me feel transformed like this book did. As a man who suffers from depression, I have to read this book at least twice a year. This book was originally going to have no author, Frankl, originally intended for this book to be written as Anonymous, or his assigned prison number. Frankl, was a psychologist who endured a German Nazi concentration camp, and had the gumption to write a book recalling all of the mental/physical tortures done to his community. The details and descriptions of the masochistic psyche of Nazi’s were so perverse it planted you inside of the author. The tension was so palpable in this book, it made my stomach turn. The psychological terrors were so visceral that a man suffering from his worst nightmare would be in Paradise in comparison to reality. Not only the psychologist is a compelling writer, he is an actual survivor of the reprehensible concentration camp. Losing almost everything that was associated with him to the abysmal hell -family, friends, everything- he comes out with a mind clear enough to write a thorough masterpiece that is a classic for the ages. If this man can survive a calamity, and have a clear mind after such a dark tunnel, he absolutely understands the meaning of life.

Spittin’ that ether!

The Republic, Plato

The man behind religion.

Republic, by Plato, is so far ahead of its time, it is ridiculous. The book starts with a spirited debate over who holds more power, a just (righteous) human being, or an unjust person. Plato commences to verbally emasculate the guy in front of his squad of mentors and comrades. The book goes on and on about how a society should be built from scratch and what logically makes sense for the greater good of mankind. I found myself shaking my head several times in disbelief of the crazy assumptions that Plato held. As crazy as it seems in current times, these ideas were the inception of laws, military, and religion. He started the argument for what is morally correct, and what is immoral before the celebrated Christianity came into existence. His teachings were what spawned Aristotle into surpassing him. Aristotle is responsible for writings that would inspire Eastern philosophy and religion. So, this one book would eventually ignite some of the greatest minds to ever write. St. Augustine, the creator of Western Christianity, was inspired by Plato. St. Augustine inspired Martin Luther, creator of the Lutheran bible . The Republic, is responsible for the ideology that inspired Western culture and religion.

Black Like Me, John Howard Griffin

Talk about black-face, for real.

Many people from other races automatically assume that African-Americans don’t have it that bad. Countless amounts of conservatives fall under the assumption that America is a country that is based on the content of one’s character. John Howard Griffin is an exception to the rule. Griffin, underwent several dermatology procedures to darken his skin. Griffin literally becomes a Negro in the Jim Crow era, traveling to the deep south, and facing the ugliness of racism. Ladies and gentleman, you may ask yourself “What is the difference between him and Rachel Dolezal?”. This man did it for 30 days and continued to fight as a white man for racial equality. Dolezal intentionally beguiled people who genuinely trusted her. She continued a facade of Pan-Africanism, and never remained true to herself or others. Griffin had the gumption to face the ills of his own race, and internalize the insecurities that a black man carries within him. He recognized not only the burdens of the white gaze, but also a coded black behavior that is implicated among the race. Griffin comes in constant conflict with the white privilege he is afforded, while being deprived the right as a black man to use a restroom. The fear of southern white backlash was so great among whites that liberal whites were afraid of being civil to African-Americans in public. In those times, it was more acceptable to be known as a white racist, than a “nigger-lover”. The repercussions for inter-racial relationships were violent. Griffin, had the balls to face the ugliness of white supremacists, while risking his life fighting for a cause that he knew was absolutely correct. He marched alongside blacks in the prime of racial turmoil, and received local death threats that put him and his family in peril.This is the definition of death defying courage.

Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Too much awesomeness contained in one book

Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner and psychologist, opens up your brain and splits it in two. Not literally, but in the philosophical sense by making you examine the two operating systems in your brain. System 1 is the FAST system that is sheer reaction. These are the things that you do instinctively without apprehension. System 2 is the system that is SLOW. This is the system you use when you play a puzzling strategy game, or use to fix a broken piece of equipment. Kahneman, sheds light on the flawed biases that we involuntarily assume are correct.He dissects the situation and uses algorithms over imagination. Everything that you believe is true may not actually be constructed as such. Pundits and so called experts can actually be the worst type of advisers due to the inability to admit fault. A pundit will almost automatically assume he or she knows best, because of expertise and intuition, which is nothing more than a gut feeling. Perhaps using algorithms over experts could’ve prevented the economic collapse of 2008. Kahneman, reveals the issues of  the anchoring effect, and how framing a question could elicit predictable answers. One of the most compelling books that I’ve ever picked up to read.

Damn Gina!!

The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

The original cynic. King of keeping it 100!

Niccolo Machiavelli, is the original king of keeping it real. Machiavelli specifically speaks on autocratic systems- ran by one individual ruler. In the book he expounds on the failures of past rulers with errant tactics that either got them impeached or banished. Furthermore, he talks about the importance of appearing to have the citizens interest at heart. The appearance was more important than truly giving people what they wanted. His ideology was “it is better to be feared, than be loved”. Say whatever it takes to gain the people of the town’s trust, and then stay true your personal values. My favorite example he uses in the book is of a General who hires a henchman to carry forth a violent act in another part of town. The people of the town claimed the henchman’s act of violence was so brutal that the public called for the General to execute him. The General orders the same goon – that did all of his dirty work- to be beheaded before the crowd. Is that example far fetched from the backstabbing and posturing that goes on in today’s politics? I don’t think that it is. A politician will say whatever will capture the citizens vote, while concealing ulterior motives. The Prince, offers compelling points that aren’t morally acceptable, but nevertheless true in many cases.

a.k.a reality shows and publicity stunts