Lessons From The Hood

Lessons From The Hood

The lessons that I keep with me today are the lessons I've learned from my (neighbor)hood.
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"It takes a village to raise a child."

When I heard that phrase back in middle school, I began to reflect my whole life and what kind of environment I grew up in.

It wasn't the cleanest.

There would be abandoned furniture, puke on the sidewalk, ruined murals, and unkempt grass. But that hardly bothered me at some point -- it was part of my daily life.

It wasn't the nicest.

That time someone came up to me ripped my gold necklace and ran off left me stunned and paranoid for most of my life (even today). You'd walk down your street and meet the nice old people or your neighbors with whom you bonded with over music, but you'd also pass by predatory eyes.

But I'd be lying to you if I told you that I didn't learn anything from growing up in the hood.

So I've decided to write 4 things that I've learned from the area that I grew up in: South Central LA. While I could go on forever on the lessons I've learned, I think these 4 main points stick out the most to me. (While most of my articles include gifs and images, I wanted to have this article be serious and word-based.)

1. Safety/Security

I've learned that even with all the locks and bars in my house, the chances of me getting hurt (in any way) is plausible. Whether it's by someone in my family, someone on my block, or some stranger who's walking near me. I learned this at a very young age, but since then -- you can never prevent something from happening. You can try. But that's all you can do.

2. Money is a Necessity.

Many say that money isn't the key to happiness. While I do agree with that -- it's only to a certain extent. Money was the root of my housing, food, and clothing. I'm sure I can say that for most people. But without it -- there was anxiety in the house. Anxiety in my mother. In me. My father. Siblings. I envy those that don't need to worry about finances. What a privilege it must be to not decide whether to buy clothes or food and not both.

3. "Things Could Be Worse"

Yeah. Things could be worse. Yeah, I had to live in my living room with my 4 siblings, but at least I wasn't starving. There's this ideology within families similar to mine (low-income, first-gen, POC), that we should be grateful for what we have. And while I do appreciate what is in my life -- I can't help but want more. And that's ok. It's okay to want more. I'm not entirely sure if this was a good or bad lesson. I find myself forcing appreciation and gratitude more than I find myself striving for better things. A better life.

4. You Don't Have to Be A Statistic

Even though the hood isn't always the nicest or cleanest, there was always someone who proved that wrong. A kind soul, dressed like a cholo (will matter further in my writing), spoke to me when I was crying my eyes out. He came up to me and told me that I'd be okay. That I would get out from these streets and have a good life. He asked me if I wanted to give back to the hood -- I said, "Yes, of course." He said that that's what life is about. Doing well in your life and sharing that wealth with others.

Harmony. Unity. Compassion.

And it was from there on out that I realized it doesn't matter what you dressed like (my mother often told me to stay away from people dressed in a specific manner/colors), looked like, or what area you lived in. You can have a better life. You don't need to be stuck in this cycle of a "terrible" life. I learned this at the age of 10. And this lesson has always stuck with me. And now I'm here. Studying English Literature at a prestigious 4-year university. Studying so that I can give back to my community and create this new cycle of student flourishing and understanding their worth in this world.


Because that's what life is about. Doing well in your life and sharing that wealth with others.



Cover Image Credit: Juanki

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another—not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that. Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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Even As A Feminist, I Can't Deny That Feminism Can Be Toxic Sometimes

Claiming to be a "feminist" these days doesn't just entail supporting women for what they choose to do.

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I was at a Starbucks a few weeks ago, meeting up with my best friend after months of separation. The college atmosphere was fairly new to both of us, him being an art school student while I attended one of the most liberal universities in the country. We were talking about our day-to-day activities and lives when he popped one of the questions I've come to dread over the months.

"Aren't you a political science major? Ugh, please don't bring up politics, it's such an annoying thing these days."

I wasn't surprised. Myself and other political science students have been told this many times. Politics have evolved over the decades. There used to be a time when people with different ideologies could engage in civil discussions about current events. Now it's turned into an ongoing debate of what is right and what is wrong. People don't put aside their differences as easily to find their happy medium.

I asked my best friend why he thought of politics in that way when his answer took me by surprise.

"It's all of this feminist talk. I'm sick of it. Since when did some feminists find it okay to blatantly hate men as part of "supporting women?"

I couldn't find myself disagreeing. That's when I knew that feminism isn't always what it strives to be. Claiming to be a "feminist" these days doesn't just entail supporting women for what they choose to do. Many feminists have changed that definition to include degrading the majority of men for the actions of a select few. It's not uncommon for people to claim that all men are rapists, for example. Good men exist too. It's unfair that this thinking extremely present in feminist ideology, and often causes many feminists to debate their stances using flawed arguments.

What many feminists fail to realize, is that equal opportunity does not always relate to equal outcome. Just because women are given the ability to do something men do does not mean they will be treated exactly the same for those things. This is the sad reality that we live in. Look at promiscuity, for example. Why is it that when a man is promiscuous, he is awarded for his behavior? A man could have had many sexual partners in his past and still find it possible to settle down with a female at some point. Look at it from a female's perspective, however. If a woman has had multiple sexual partners and tries to settle down with a man, why is it that many of these women are looked down on? They've only done what men do, after all. This is what I'm arguing. Feminists need to realize that it's a huge step in itself to be able to do the same things men have been doing for years. A woman wasn't even allowed to go to work at one point. Now, the CEO of PepsiCo is a woman! However, it will still take more time for women to be able to elicit the same responses and outcomes as men.

Some feminists also need to understand that just because someone doesn't believe in something they do, it doesn't make that person their enemy. Feminism isn't about just believing what you think is right. Just because a feminist believes that a woman can have sexual intercourse with as many partners as she wants doesn't make it right in everyone's eyes. Yes, that woman has been granted sexual freedom but it is wrong of people to assume that everyone should be okay with it. I certainly believe that a woman can have sexual freedom. Free the nipple! Do I necessarily believe that it's right or do I partake in it? No. But this is what feminism should be about. It's about understanding that different people have different opinions but that it's okay. As long as women are focused on progressing and creating change, that's what is important.

In no way am I undermining the effects of feminism or the strength of feminism in this article; I believe that feminism is a unified force that has allowed for a lot of change to take place. More women are making themselves visible in political affairs as are women in the workforce. It's wonderful, really. Feminism is what has empowered me to write this article. I'm writing this in hopes that feminist ideology will change, that it will become more inclusive. Here's to hoping that when a male calls himself a feminist, he isn't made fun of for it.

Here's to hoping that when people declare themselves a feminist, they aren't looked down for it.

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