Since working for VICE, my black friends think I’ve been turning white. I find myself going to events that I wouldn’t normally go to. I’m more like R&B and hip-hop. The underground bands? That’s just not my music. They have a lot of noise. I like rhythm, not a lot of jumping up and down with skateboards.
When I travel to the Bronx to see my family, I start to realize I would never move there. It is like the pit of hell. I rode that D train and I was like, Where is my gun? When you’ve been out of that element for so long and then you ride the train… you can’t compare the L train to the D train. It’s like two different worlds. The L is like riding first class to Vegas. And the D is like you’re a hobo on a ship or freight train.
So I’m up there riding this train, and I didn’t even realize Jamaicans took over the Bronx. Jamaicans and West Indians took over the Grand Concourse … it felt like a prison move. Like I just came out of prison and there was the Bronx, and everything had changed. It’s a sad sight, but to my family it’s Boyz n the Hood. It’s normal.
This is home to them. This is all they know. If they rode the L train, they would think it’s on the Long Island Railroad. That’s the comparison, it’s like riding the Long Island Railroad to Connecticut or the suburbs or something. My friends are like, “Come hang out.” And I’m like, “Nahhh, I’m gonna stay downtown.” And they’re like, “How come you gonna stay downtown?” I’m like, “Because if I do something, or have a drink or two, I’m not planning on getting my pockets cut, falling asleep, and missing my stop.” I’ve seen people get their pockets slit when they fall asleep. The whole pocket is missing when they wake up. Over here if I fall asleep, the worst-case scenario is that I missed my stop. Not: I’m missing my watch, my wallet, my dignity.
So I find myself hanging out with different people, and it’s like I’m always doing things in Williamsburg. When I hang out at this sports bar so close to my gym, it’s predominantly white. For me, now, to go any place else is ludicrous. I can walk a block, jump on the L train, go home.
My family calls and they’re like “Hello… Hello? You sound different.” It’s wrong. They think I’ve evolved into something else, other than who I am. I tell them, “You don’t pay my bills, mind your damn business.”
They want me to come up and hang out with them more, and I told them last time I was up there there was a shoot-out over somebody stepping on somebody’s shoe. I’m not up for that, man, I just want to have a good time, talk to a couple girls, and go home. So now the people that I hang out with, it’s all predominantly white. I hang out with people after work on Fridays, they go to white places. That’s cool.
I find myself in certain clothes that I wouldn’t normally wear. Like if I was living in the South Bronx, there are certain things that I wear, that I just wouldn’t wear there, cause it draws attention. Not my watch, because it’s not gold. It’s rolled gold, to be precise.
But you know, it’s just a different vibe you get. I go to certain places, like the VICE music events, to show support. This one a month ago was 90 percent white, and you got some Indians or whatever but they white. If you listen to them talk, everything about their speech, their demeanor—they’re white. It’s like somebody told them, if you’re white, you’re gonna make it through life OK.
At the end of the day, there are two things my family won’t mess with me about: People I hang out with, and the N-word. They use the N-word to addresses themselves, but they don’t use it for me because I don’t care for it. You could tell me, “Here’s a million dollars my nigga,” and I would still get upset because I do not care for the word. But I will take the money, don’t get me wrong.
Previously: Joining the Masons