Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Just Another Punk On The Street

My time with my young friend yesterday underscored my conviction about the importance and blessing of relocation as a strategy to reach the people that you feel called to minister to. Had I not lived in Glenwood and I had seen Sherman on the corner, he would have been just another punk on the street, a small-time dealer that I wish would get lost. But knowing him, having some semblance of relationship with him, changed that. It led me to talk to him, to have lunch with him, and by doing that, I got to know his friend as well, moving him from “punk” to “person” in my categorizing mind. Also, I keep thinking about the other guys on that strip, their life consisting of dealing and getting by, and I am so sad. I know, now, that they use to be little kids. They have moms and dads and grandmas. They want a better life than what they have. They are not faceless dealers, problems to be erased.

And it’s interesting how these guys who are dealing, supposedly to get paid and make money, don’t seem to have the best living situations. It’s not like their business is moving them out of the projects, into nice houses or better cars. The guys on the street level persist in the same circumstances while those over them, I imagine, prosper.


Macon said...

Regarding the economics of drug dealers, you should read Freakanomics. Illuminating reading, that. He explains that it's not a lucrative line of work for the guys who are on the street dealing.

The real money is in the distribution.

Sean said...

i came over to say what Macon has already said

Dayna said...

One of the things we talked about in my hip hop class was the issue of the dealer-turned-rapper. While not all of the major rappers have as much street cred as they say, some do. And now, they're big money makers...for example, 50 Cent prides himself on how many times he's been shot and stabbed, and that image has aided the success of both his music and other ventures - like G-Unit clothing, etc. Jay Z is another good example...while he's moved out of the "gansta" arena somewhat, it is still well-known about him. He grew up in some of the worst projects in the US, and started "hustling" at a pretty young age. Now, he's the co-owner of Roc-a-fella Records and Rocawear fashion.

All this to say, the struggle on the streets is glamorized in deeper ways than we could ever understand, simply because we didn't grow up in this culture. It is okay to get caught up in the hustling game...drugs, pimping, etc., if you're making a living. Not quite an honest wage, but as skewed as it is, it's almost accepted as that. One of the comments that was made in the course of our class discussion was to the effect that it's okay to be caught up in the drug game, and to live a crappy life, if I can make it in the end. Regardless of the fact that so few actually make it big in the hip hop industry, it still manages to cloud people's eyes.

brandon said...

some really good thoughts in these last two posts marshall. i often get pretty cynical and hard-hearted from being in the city and looking at these problems from the world of academia (im an urban studies major remember!). these thoughts are very refreshing. thanks!

Marshall said...

Thanks for commenting and checking in, Brandon! Great to hear from you.