When I was coming up, there was a “crew” of sorts which was sort of on its way out, not too active, but apparently still around. They were called “People’s Party.” There was an older fella on our block who people called “The Godfather.” He was very thin, extremely tall, and very soft spoken. Whenever he walked down the block towards his building many people greeted him and showed him respect. His name on the street was “Che.” He always wore color beads, I forget the exact color, but they were similar to the African colors that Zulu Nation wore back then.
For some reason this man took a liking to me. He’d spend time outside shooting the crap with me on occasion, and even invited me over to chill at his place a few times. In hindsight, I don’t think it was very smart of me to go over to a grown man’s place alone or with only one friend. But for some reason, I trusted this dude completely. He never disrespected me or tried anything even remotely inappropriate. Everyone in the block knew and respected him, he was sort of like a legend, so being taken under his wing was cool. I had no reason to distrust him, so I didn’t.
I recall one day I was at his crib and he started smoking a joint. He knew me as one of the “good kids” from the block and he caught himself and said, “This is for medicinal purposes, it helps with my eyes and headaches.” I don’t know if he was being truthful about that, but I wasn’t some ignorant kid who didn’t know that people smoked weed. I had already tried weed myself, so I was like “It’s all good man, do what you gotta do.”
In any case, I can’t remember much about our conversations, I wish I did. He would talk to me about People’s Party and what he did for our people and so on. I lost touch with him when I moved out of the neighborhod when I got older. This was pre-cellphone and pre-facebook times.
At this point, I don’t even know if he’s alive, I’m in my 40s, and he was already quite old back then. Also, I don’t know his “government” name to try and locate him. If you search “People’s Party” or “Che” online, you’ll find lots of info, but none of it relates to this man.
In any case, this dude showed love to a lost, young street kid during a time I required that guidance. He gave me some much needed older, male advice about staying away from gangs and stuff like that. I think he had mentioned that People’s Party was cool because they were about community, but he didn’t want me to get involved with that, and definitely not some of the other crews in our area. He said it was dangerous for a “good kid like me,”he said he had my back if I needed it. He was a cool dude to me and this is my way of saying thanks. Thanks brother!
Growing Up Bronx
Please note the date on a post as it may be an old viewpoint. I keep old posts to show my evolution. The opinions and views expressed here are solely those of the author.