"Got my glock cocked, runnin this thing, ya understand We be steamin.. blazin.. nines, pumps, and K's, and Holly Grove 17th, (what) tha hood where I (what) was raised in (what)Niggaz bustin heads and, runnin duckin Feds and rocks under they tongues and, ki's under they beds and Hood fulla real niggaz, twenty-four seven hustlers EHHH, until we shove a barrel down ya pipe suckers Ain't no love for no busta, no fear for no coward No respect from no stunt, and no money without power" ~ Lil Wayne~
"You ever been hungry lawyer man?"
I had to think about the question for a minute....no, I had never been hungry. Not unless I chose to be. But I have met people who were. I lived in a Third World country, so I saw real poverty first hand. The truth of the matter is, I never really imagined real hunger being a problem in A-merry-ca. And I never imagined poverty here in A-merry-ca being real poverty. Poverty, after all, is a relative term.
But as I looked around this Southwest Philly neighborhood, I could never have imagined that a place like this could exist in the land of the free. It was, in a word, hell. Every other house was boarded up, graffiti was on damn near every wall, and I am thinking that when Bob Marley sang about "concrete jungle", this is exactly the type of neighborhood he was talking about.
Still, I felt somewhat comfortable here. I had done wills and other forms of transactional legal work for quite a few grandmothers in the area. And I had represented a few of the grandsons with criminal cases; including the young buck who was running this particular set a few years ago.
I was leaving the home of a client, when, as is always the case, I was approached by one of the young heads from the area. They always like to mess with me, and pick my brain about legal issues. I, in turn, try to counsel them about life, and quiz them about school and getting their life in order. It's a shaky truce that we have, and everyone knows the rules. I won't charge them for legal advice, and they will (at least pretend to) listen to me.
"Naw man, I don't think I have ever been hungry". "I have". He said. "I remember when I was in foster care back in the day. Man I used to put toothpaste on writing paper and chew it for candy. I swear some nights I would go to bed and my gut would feel like it was going to explode. I don't ever want to feel that shit again."
Why was he telling me this? I knew there was a point, but I couldn't figure it out. Was he trying to confess to a crime, and justify why he did it because he was hungry? "Well you not hungry anymore right?" "Naw, Mr. Lawyer man, I can eat now. And I got a young jawn (That's Philly speak for any pronoun you want it to be. In this case he was talking about his child) I gotta feed too. I ain't trying to go to child support court." I knew what the answer was going to be but I asked the question anyway: "Do you have a job?" "Naw Mr. Lawyer, not no nine to five jawn, but I do alright." At this point he was laughing with me , but I didn't feel like laughing back. "You know you are probably going to be calling me one day right." "Naw lawyer man, not unless you do federal work." I couldn't resist. "Oh that's the kind of weight you moving around here?" "Naw not yet, but soon. I mean you cool and all lawyer man, but when I go down it will be for some big chumpy (another one of those Philly words) type shit. I will need a lawyer that stays up in federal court." ....I started to try and preach to young blood, but what was the point . Besides, it was starting to get late, and while some folks in the neighborhood might have some love for the field, it's still Southwest Philly.
"Alright young blood. I am out. Try to settle down with your shorty though and think about your little one. You won't grow old and get a pension running these streets. " "Yeah but I am young lawyer man, I got time."
Amazing, his ambition in life was to get a lawyer who specializes in federal cases, because he plans to move enough drugs to get the federal government on his case. But he was hungry once, and he doesn't ever want to feel that way again. To him, selling drugs and living a life on the street is the only way to keep money in his pocket. Most of us know that it won't last, and he probably does too. But to him, tomorrow doesn't matter. There is no future. And that little "jawn" he just brought into the world, will have to live the vicious cycle all over again.
President Obama. It has a nice ring to it. I wonder if he will come to Southwest Philly?