Why I feel most safe in “the hood”, and you could too!
Recently I had the pleasure of connecting with old friends from Georgetown. Admitting I’ve a hard time bonding with my classmates post graduation. I had a hard time truly bonding while I was there. A sentiment not unique to me, but easily unpacked, but that’s a different tale entirely. To be honest I feel as though those four years were in someways a hiatus from the cultural cleavages of our home soil, where people attempted saw success, lessons learned, and failure in bridging realities.
And in the case with these folks it was different. Yes, there were still differences in culture, community, and experience; at the same time we shared the collective reality of being black at Georgetown, which is a powerful through-lines in my life.
Yes I am part of a long legacy of Soul Hoyas, generations Black folks who have not only adopted the Jesuit ideal of curis personalis but we’re raised in the essence of “each one teach one”, “don’t get too comfy around white folks”, and “you always have a plate waiting for you at my house.”
How tethered we are to eachother.
That unique combination of idioms ideologies and ideas bridged the gap of five years, of scattered reconnections, and forlorn attempts at building a consistent postgrad collective identity. By no fault of our own, in fact by the fault of nature, we had moved forward. At the same time our bonds, more threads of tensile-strength spiderweb, were practically invisible, yet tangible and unbreakable. So when we gathered for tea in New York the resonance came naturally as we bounced from thread to thread and story to story, discovering sticking points that reminded us (me) of over kinship.
He spent the time discussing our present situation and future affirmations. Our collective repass, grieving our pre-pandemic lives was an appropriate passing of our time, which left my soul nourished. We were all here exchanging the bread of life, sipping tea, and breathing.
I was last to this party of 7, as such I was peppered with questions and seasoned with expressions of support and astonishment given my journey this past year. It became clear to me that my pandemic experience and the experiences of my community were on par with le struggle. And that my life now was worthy of a deeper dive during tea time. So I quietly stilled myself, having unlocked Pandora’s box.
Where do you live?– the table
The question of where I live is one of my favorite universal reminders of how commonly we all think when we choose not to think. Regardless to color, creed, or cash account folks really can’t hide their artless shocked expressions when I say I live in Southeast, more specifically Anacostia DC.
Since moving here I’ve had to share that information with a few folks and I admit that I myself intentionally mask the full identity of my home, not for safety but out of learned shame. One of the few truly black neighborhoods in DC left Anacostia has a reputation, primarily due to white supremacy standards of normalcy and excellence, which leads others and myself from time to time to pause.
Frankly, I love Anacostia. I’ve loved Anacostia years before I even set foot on its soil, but I still carry this learned shame. But much like a boy, blood peeking from a crush during our discussion over tea, I spilled my heart out.
I grew up in the hood.– Rob Jackson
I was born in Wilmington Delaware off of fourth Street where my great grandma lives today; owns her own home and has raised three generations—Sorry, four generations of brilliant and creative kin, myself included. The hood was the first place I learned how to play, learned how to cook, and how to pay attention to the world around me. My Delaware family is full of entrepreneurs, cooks, and black hippies who migrated from VA and created a community for me and those like me.
Truthfully I am privileged to have grown up on my block, there I grew fruits, picked berries and roses alike, embedded in stone only to wonder how they all grew so sweet and elegant despite man’s poorly manicured concrete and deficit inducing neglect. I also bled on these blocks and learned to appreciate that not all blood bleeders stays warm after a spill.
I grew up in many places, picked and replanted, often in the depths of places left behind by the artlessly uncurious.Rob Jackson
Wilmington and Anacostia are familiar waters. A bull shark like me, able to thrive in briny climates, has found tranquilly here. As I told my friends then, “next to the black dentist with the Mercedes, is a dealer with the same Mercedes. Both paid for, I assume, and both deserving of life on this soil.”
Where is your hood?
My hood is where the people are. People committed to teaching one another. People committed to protecting one another. And people committed to providing for each other indiscriminately. I don’t believe that every neighborhood is for everyone, in fact most neighborhoods a cultivated from inside out not from outsider coming in.
Honestly Anacostia feels like one of the last nougats of chocolate city, a black banshee wailing in remembrance of a city long dead. Her second line consist of gogo, keening still between drum pattern at the loss of Marvin Gaye.
Fredrick Douglass in the Balcony section, humming, “what’s goin on?”, in disbelief and awe.