When it comes to the streets, you are on the outside looking in. You are white, dude. There ain’t nothing hood about you.
Not everyone knows my history, where I’ve been, what I’ve done, or where I come from. However, I think that I have done a great job burying a turbulent past. So much so, that people make assumptions about me based on who they see I am today. That’s not a bad thing though, is it?
I grew up in the South Bronx. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years there. Eventually, as an adult I began to move around. First, when I joined the military, they moved me around for a bit. Then I came back and I bounced from the Bronx, to Brooklyn Heights, to Woodside, and ultimately to Kew Gardens here in Queens.
One of the stops that I made during my holiday family visits was to 155th Street in Harlem. The D train stop there leaves you by the projects. So my wife and I came out of the train, and the streets were hot! Literally, and figuratively.
We saw police lights, crowd upon crowd hanging out. People were bbq’ing, and blasting music. Nothing out of the norm when it comes to a warm, summer night in the hood. Wait, what? See what I did there?
In any case, my wife was wearing a glittery, shiny shirt, she dressed up. You know how it is. Me, well, I looked how I look. My wife said “Honey, that lady is staring at us really hard.” Well, my love, I hate to break it to you, but everybody is staring at us pretty damn hard. We stand out like sore thumbs!
A white Puerto Rican in Harlem, walking with a small, shiny and glittery shirt wearing Asian woman, well, yeah, that stands out. These kids don’t know that I grew up playing basketball on these courts with my cousins. They have no idea that I know exactly where I am going, or that my aunt still lives here. All they see is two people who don’t belong, walking around their neighborhood like they done lost their minds. Two people who got off on the wrong stop!
It is funny to me, but sad and scary at the same time. My wife is usually pretty oblivious to that kind of thing, and when she actually notices that she is being stared at aggressively, well, then you know it is real and not a figment of your street trauma.
I guess the hood rejects us.
Growing Up Bronx