A co-worker recently old me that she moved to a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn, not realizing that it was a neighborhood I’d been raised in and still go to regularly to do community work. I was confused because the neighborhood never read rough to me and I wanted to know what was happening to terrify her so. She said she was forced to run home from the subway station because of all the random black men (her neighbors) just standing around at night. I always thought a street full of people at night was a great way to make it home without getting robbed or assaulted because of a thing I like to call community-accountability. Criminals don’t tend to want to get seen by a street full of witnesses.
Some black people go to college, speak “proper” English, listen to things other than gangster rap, and wear pants that fasten securely at waist height. But that 16-year-old black girl talking too loud on her cell phone on the bus with her baby on her lap doesn’t deserve your racist crap either. Neither does the black guy who is sitting on his (your?) stoop at 11pm drinking a 40 with his boxers partly exposed.
There is nothing inherently dangerous about having a loud mouth & tacky fashion sense or drinking a comically oversized beer after work. And not raising children as a teenager is a relatively new and bourgeoisie concept too. My grandmother had her first child at 18 or 19 (she was married but don’t get me started about marriage). So the real issue with these “bad” neighborhoods where these folks live isn’t the deviant behavior of the residents, it’s the fact that bigots tend to be terrified by anyone that isn’t like them.