Out of the ’Hood—A Derrion Albert Parable

Out of the ’Hood—A Derrion Albert Parable

Out of the ’Hood—A Derrion Albert Parable

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Veronica-Marche Miller, The Root, October 4, 2009

My parents made a choice to keep us away from black neighborhoods. Now I realize it may have been a choice between living and dying.

I think about the very things my dad was working to protect us from when my siblings and I were growing up in the early ’90s. Our home was in Beechview, at the time a quiet, mostly white, working-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh. It made us the butt of jokes from a lot of our black friends, who lived on the east side of town. “No one can find your house!” they’d say. “Y’all live waaaaaaaay over there! Y’all live with the white folks!”

But living with the black folks—in Homewood, Wilkinsburg, East Liberty or on the Hill—was not an option in my parents’ eyes. Yeah, our people lived there—but so did the local news.

Gang violence, drug wars, fights and assaults at schools—all of it showed up on our television screen every night at 11 and every morning at 6. Or we heard about it through firsthand accounts. “Someone got shot across the street last night,” our childhood friends would tell us. “My neighbor’s brother got stabbed last week.” Drives through the neighborhoods, for the occasional visits to see our acquaintances, showed us dilapidated houses, broken windows and groups of men huddled on the corners. Our church sat right across from a rundown housing project, and we were never allowed to venture beyond a one-block radius from the giant cross—because that would put us in gang-ridden Larimer.

But even the sanctity of the church grounds couldn’t fully protect us from what was going on in the neighborhood. I remember being 8 years old and going to the lawn to play it-tag with my friends from the youth choir after a weeknight rehearsal. We were running, giggling, laughing and trying to tackle each other with a glee that you hear only from little kids in the summertime. Then the gunshots. They came from across the street. Now we were really running full speed into the church, into the safety of our parents’ arms. Seeing a group of little ones run into the sanctuary, crying hysterically, was enough to send our parents into hysterics themselves.

It became the norm for my family to venture to the other side of town only when necessary, to go to church and visit friends. We wouldn’t go over there if it got too late. And as for us kids? Well, there was no way we were going over there by ourselves. If our little friends wanted to see us, Dad would say, they were more than welcome to come to our house.

Dad didn’t mind being the occasional butt of jokes for living among the “others”—because at least in our home, we didn’t have to try to sleep amid sirens and gunshots. And he didn’t have to worry about whether his children would make it home.

We loved our people, but we couldn’t live with them.

6 Comments

6 years 41 weeks ago, 6:07 PM

Ebear

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yeah

here in Chicago, people are 'nt blaming society anymore..they are finally blaming themselves.......and the Puerto Ricans too

...check... G-AZ
6 years 41 weeks ago, 6:11 PM

samD

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The Bro Leaders keep telling the minorities that they ain't as good as the white man. They divide us and hold the minorities down... Tis a fucking shame.

"All men were created equal" Thomas Jefferson

If you want something make it happen.

6 years 41 weeks ago, 6:19 PM

Ebear

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the thing is

nobody gives a shit about the race card and boycotts....everyone is lookin out for #1 and letting people fight there own battles....notice , when there is no profit to be made the land sharks swim away......

...check... G-AZ
6 years 41 weeks ago, 8:40 PM

photobear6

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God helps those

who help themselves. It your neighborhood, city, state, country. before asking anyone else you and your neighbors should be trting something first.

America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war. America is at the Mall. If you don't stand behind our troops, PLEASE feel free to stand in front of them!
6 years 41 weeks ago, 9:29 PM

runawaygun762

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No samD,

God made men, Sam Colt made them equal. I would like to see a study done on the differences in violent crime rates between poor, predominantly white neighborhoods and poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. Somehow, I doubt I'd be surprised at the results. But boy, wouldn't THAT be a politically incorrect study to publish.

"I have always been a soldier. I have known no other life. The calling of arms, I have followed from boyhood. I have never sought another." From The Virtues of War, by Steven Pressfield.
6 years 41 weeks ago, 9:52 PM

BluesHarp

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this is going to be the most politically incorrect thing that I have come up with in quite some time, but it is true.
The black man is not inferior in any way. If he is a descendant of slaves then he has a superior genetic make-up than most white men. He can run faster, jump higher, work harder, lift more and generally out-perform any white man out there. Just ask some of those German master race olympians that Jesse Owens took to school. the white slave owners gave them a gift. They were bred as super men. My ancestors didn't give me that kind of advantage. I had to use what I have to get where I am. Why can't the black people do the same? You are what you make of yourself. If you wish to be a victim, then you will be one. If you wish to be king of the world, then you will be. We all had the same opportunities to get an education and better ourselves. If you chose to use what was provided, then you got the better life. If you chose not to, then you got nowhere and are destined to use the wellfare dime to get by on. It is time for people, ALL PEOPLE, to take responsibility of themselves and stop waiting for me to do it for them. I got mine, now go out and get yours. But if you try and get mine, you a liable to get shot.

Go ahead punk, Make My Day!
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6 years 41 weeks ago
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