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The Hood Taught Me Well Essay

1784 words - 8 pages

“…Violence has always been around, usually concentrated amongst the poor. The difference is that we never had so many guns in our inner cities. The nature of the violent act has changed from the fist, stick and knife to the gun…” (Geoffrey Canada). Born January 13th, 1952, Mr. Canada would never have believed he would reach such great lengths in life. Raised by a single mother and growing up in the South Bronx, you can say that Canada had somewhat of a rough childhood. Not letting that deter him from a path of success, he attended Bowdoin College to study psychology and sociology, later becoming a director of the Robert White School and eventually an author. He wrote the book “Fist, Stick, ...view middle of the document...

Enraged, their mother sent John and their oldest brother, who was only 6, back to the playground to get the jacket. After they refused her request she said “…You go out there and get your brother’s jacket or when you get back I’m going to give you a beating that will be ten times as bad as what that little thief could do to you…”(5). After they returned with the jacket their mother sat all the boys down and explained that she would not allow them to be victims. Don’t let people take something that belongs to you because it shows a sign of weakness.
The weak are usually at the bottom of the food chain, deemed the lowest being possible because they are conquered by the strong. The world is structured in a hierarchy. As much as we want to believe we are all equal, we classify ourselves by our race, economic status, place of employment, etc. and when you are lacking or at a disadvantage in certain areas you are considered weak. Union Avenue, a neighborhood the Canada family moved to three years after the jacket incident, had structured their block much like a hierarchy. If you were new to the block you have to fight your way in, literally, then you were ranked based on age. Young adults (19-17 year olds) ruled at the top, older boys (16-13 year olds) were next in line, boys (12-9 years old) were after that and last children (8 years old and under). Even within those groups the individuals had a ranking of their very own. Geoffrey, had to fight a boy named David, to be accepted by the older kids of the block. By winning the fist fight, he secured his spot at the top of the children’s group. No different from real life we have to fight to establish ourselves in many aspects. Take for example a job in Corporate America. You may have to start off as an intern, however, as you do your job well you give yourself a reputation in the office and thus earn promotions and meet people who have influence in the workplace. Though it may not have been taught in the best way possible, Union Avenue taught Geoffrey to establish himself, make his presence known to those around him, which gave him a sense of self confidence and empowerment.
Even at school Geoffrey carried the lessons he learned as a young boy to P.S 99 Elementary School. Many of us are certain that school is the only safe place that you can go during the day, but it is more dangerous that we are lead to believe. “…Many children quickly learn that the teacher or principal might provide a sense of order when he or she is standing in front of you, but no one can really protect you in school except your fists and your friends…” (29). From the block, Geoff had learned the basic essentials of fist fighting and slap boxing, but on Union Ave the fights are controlled by the older kids. There is no one in school to say, “Alright, Alright, break it up” unless there is an adult around. At school children picked fights for little to no reason at all so you had to choose your friends and words wisely. Because...

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