Thursday, May 1, 2008

Madeleines and tea

I've been out of the ghetto for more years than I care to remember; with the exception of a few friends I have little contact with the black community any longer, but reading this confirmed something I knew deep down: that community will always be who I am; I will always understand it, always be in sync with it, the way a musician who hasn't played his instrument in years can pick it up and get out the reasonable facsimile of a tune. The skills might not be perfect, but the understanding of what the instrument is, what it will do, and in response to which actions, will remain. That comes at some cost, which I won't go in to here, but it is who I am, and I have to pay that cost like it or not (usually I don't like it).

A couple of months ago I used the Google neighborhood thing to look at the place where I grew up. It was a satellite view, but I could still recognize the area, knew the corner store, the park, the hospital where I was born, the elementary school I went to, all within a couple of square miles (someone should write an academic paper on the immobility of the poor. It has to have a huge impact on the cycle of poverty). The only things I couldn't see were the people still stuck there, leading stunted, 70% lives. At least, I couldn't see them on the satellite image. But in my mind they are there, and always will be, long after those streets and buildings themselves are demolished in the name of progress.