Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I will never get tired of reading Ta-Nehisi Coates

Growing up where I did, there was a different code you lived by; and a different way you handled yourself and those who challenged you. I didn't grow up in Baltimore, as Ta-Nehisi did, but the principle (though certainly not the level of violence) is the same. This later incident is reminiscent of how a confrontation might go down:
The gentleman kept after me, even following me out the tent, and by this point, taunting.

At the door of the tent, and I looked at him and said, "You really need to back off." 

He looked back and said, "Or what." 

I closed in on him, and quietly but seriously, responded, "You really want to find out?" 

 He walked back inside. 
I was recently recounting to someone how I threw a football player up against a concrete wall for cutting in front of me in the lunch line in high school. He could have easily beaten my ass, but my gambit worked. But the projection of violence was essential to that moment--that "don't fuck with me" moment--after I had finally, after so many years of being picked on, attained enough self-confidence to stand up for myself. I was proud of that moment, and would do it again--if I was back in my high school.

TNC's latest gem about the stupidity of his moment in 2008 screams Truth to me. "Civil" society, where fistfights aren't commonplace and projections of power are exhibited by displays of earned (or, just as often, inherited) professional and educational status, will not tolerate the behavior that separated the "men" from the "punks" back home. Now, though I have been away from that life for a decade and a half, the temptation remains. But wisdom and forethought win out, because they have to. Those of us without Ivy League credentials and trust funds to fall back on don't get to bounce back like they do. I can't take a swing at someone just because they deserve it--and trust me, they do--because I am living my one chance. I got out, and I'm not going back.

If you want to get into the mind of a kid made good, you have to read this.