Everything I have ever done I've done from a place of love. If I don't punish you, the world will punish you even worse. The world doesn't love you. If the police get you, the police don't love you. When I beat you, I'm trying to save you. When they beat you, they're trying to kill you.
The hood was strangely comforting, but comfort can be dangerous. Comfort provides a floor but also a ceiling. He saboraged himself so that he'd get accepted back into the group again.
The hood has a graviatational pull. It never leaves you behind, but it also never lets you leave. Because by making the choice to leave, you're insulting the place that raised you and made you and never turned you away. And that place fights you back.
One of the first things I learned in the hood is that htere is a very fine line between civilian and criminal. We like to believe we live in a world of good guys and bad guys, and in the suburbs it's easy to believe that, because getting to know a career criminal in the suburbs is a difficult thing. But then you go to the hood and you see there are so many shades in between.
In the hood, gansgers were your friends and neighbors. you knew them. You talked to them on the corner, saw them at parties. They were a part of your world. You knew them from before they became gangsters. The hood made me realize that crime succeeds because crime does the one thing the government doesn't do: crime cares. Crime is grassroots. Crime looks for the young kids who need support and a lifting hand. Crime offers internship programs and summer jobs and opportunities for advancement. Crime gets involved in the community. Crime doesn't discriminate.
I'd found my niche. Since I belonged to no group I learned to move seamlessly between groups. I floated. I was a chameleon, still, a cultural chameleon. I learned how to blend. I could play sports with the jocks. I could talk computers with the nerds. I could jump in the circle and dance with the township kids. I popped around to everyone, working, chatting, telling jokes, making deliveries.
I was like a weed dealer, but of food. The weed guy is always welcome at the party. He's not a part of the circel, but he's invited into the circle temporarily because of what he can offer. That's who I was. Always an outsider. As the outsider, you can retreat into a shell, be anonymous, be invisible. Or you can go the other way. You protect yourself by opening up. You don't ask to be accepted for everything you are, just the one part of yourself that you're willing to share. For me it was humor. I learned that even though I didn't beling to one group, I could be a part of any group that was laughing. I'd drop in, passout the snacks, tell a few jokes. I'd perform for them. I'd catch a bit of their conversation, learn more about their group, and then leave. I never overstayed my welcome. I wasn't popular, but I wasn't an outcast. I was everywhere with everybody, and at the same time I was all by myself.
The animosity I felt from the colored people I encountered growing up was one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with. It taught me that it is easier to be an insider as an outsider than to be an outsider as an insider. Try being a white person who adopts the trappings of black culture while still living in the white community. You will face more hate and ridicule and ostracism than you can even begin to fathom. People are willing to accept you if they see you as an outsider trying to assimilate into their world But when they see you as a fellow tribe member attempting to disavow the tribe, that is something they will never forgive.
When apartheid came, colored people defied easy categorization, so the system used them - quite brilliantly -to sow confusion, hatred, and mistrust. For the purposes of the state, colored people became the almost-whites.