I come across this photo from time to time. I've posted it before. It's a crazy one.... now for me to look at. It triggers lots of emotion, joy, regret, struggle, and hope are just some of those. My upbringing was quite different from many people i come across. Not anything super abnormal just the fact that my Dad lived in the suburbs and my Mom lived in a ghetto. That alone, made me really see the world with a different set of eyes. The train ride in between these two homes was about 40minutes, it was a really reflective time, in either direction of travel. For such quick commute, it bridged two different worlds. Of course the skate to moms house was more about keeping my head down and avoiding conflict, where as the skate to my dads i kind of dragged my ass knowing i was safe most likely would make it to his house unharmed..... which is funny because i probably had more things yelled at me from passing cars in the suburbs than the city. That experience and it's contrast taught me compassion for the people in life that have never had a chance and possibly wouldn't know what to do with a better way of life it fell into their lap. I tried to show these boys a better life.... i hugged them when they needed it, fed them, helped with school work, yelled at their worst teachers, disciplined them, protected them, and tried to show them a world outside of a West Oakland that to them was about a ten block radius. In the end the streets held the weight.... standing on the corner gave you status, shooting, robbing, and being a thug was more exciting than loading boxes on a loading dock or other jobs their Oakland public schooling left them qualified for. You ever try to do homework in a house with 10 other kids, and a Grandma that is taking care of you because your dad is dead and your mom is on the streets? It was hard enough to just have a conversation in their house. You can point your finger at this type of life and say "get off your ass and get a job" and i understand that, but i'll tell you what, even walking into a restaurant with these two boys, i could not believe the negative judgment in the eye of the onlooker. When they were little kids ....."they're so cute" when they got bigger, "sir are these boys with you, could you keep an eye on them". No surprise. But still i tried, even as i lost my hold on them, till finally one day i let go. They ended up in jail, one for life, one in and out. I often look back and can really only see the good times. Trips to burnside with them skating beside me, skating various parks, or maybe a day trip to santa cruz to hit the boardwalk. It's sad how it all ended up, but that's just the way it worked out.
My opinions, my point of view, my lack of patience or sharp tongue.... they help protect me. I don't want to lose the things that help make me, me. I couldn't really play with whacky costumes or be a complete phony and live in that neighborhood, not only would i have probably taken a beating, but people around there would not trust me. It helped shape the person i am today, i think it's part of the reason I'm so critical of others, because i had to be very critical of myself in order to feel genuine. Trust who i am. I don't relate to many folks, i don't like to do things in big groups,....... i still just kind of like to skate though the neighborhood alone and take it all in. The things that have found me that i love, have done me well. They've challenged me and brought me many interesting places. Man i wish those boys could see some of them. So if i get too opinionated or call you out on being an imposter, it's only me protecting myself but i should know better.We are living in a culture where you can just download a new personality app, and then find the people that have downloaded the same. Ive began to TRUST who i am, to be more comfortable with myself. Experiences like having those boys in my life really showed me how lucky i am, and that having a caring mom and dad... even if separated was huge jump on life.
I'm shocked to see to see level of ignorance bigotry in this world right now. Shit there was one guy who was invited to born free that i will never sit in a room with again, due to his views. This is fucking America we stole it, then we made it from people from so many parts of the world. Maybe point the finger a little bit less and use that energy to keep an open mind and help someone. If it fails tell me that you learned nothing from it.
"and things very few other people have done" there are things we've learned at age 16 through skateboarding.... one is to never say stuff like " (the photographers name) took this amazing photo of me" i know some were not packed into vans full of 10 other -peers- that were ready to pounce when things like that were said..... so i blabber it out here as a free idea.
i'm only ok at the doing things like photographed below. but hey they run.