Yeah, it’s cold, but I love living in a temperate zone where the seasons change. Or at least they did before climate change J
Fact: Some young Black and Latino boys are detained at Rikers Island — New York City’s penal colony — at the cost of upwards to $2000,000 per human being annually.
Fact: Public officials resist increases in education spending. A fraction of what it costs to lock a child up.
Fact: Overwhelmingly, children detained at Rikers Island are people of color.
As a young man, one summer I managed to get a messenger job at a small brokerage house on Wall St. One of my best friends, a darker-skinned brother, had been working there before me and he put in the good word. By the end of the summer, I had moved up (again, with the help of my friend) and was now balancing the sheets. That was a promotion and a raise.
I was very young back then and not too motivated. I wasn’t very responsible: I would miss days and I wasn’t all that inspired. Yet, when another promotion came up later that year, my friend was passed up and the promotion was offered to me. This was bullshit, and everybody knew it. My friend had been there longer than I had, had more experience, and was there at work every day. We both know it was because I was light-skinned and he wasn’t. I was going to quit because I couldn’t bear it, but my friend insisted that I take the job. He said they would only give it to someone else.
We learned early on it paid to look or be white!
I mention this because I spent most of my young adulthood working at various places on Wall St. Let me tell you: Wall St. in the 1980s?! DAMN! It was crazy out there! The culture of Wall St. and my love for the party life took me down hard. By the end of the 80s, I was blackballed from working on the Street, spiraling deep into my addiction. I worked hard and I played harder. It wasn’t unusual to go on a business lunch and instead of it being a two-martini lunch, it was acceptable — even expected — to have a three-line lunch. Cocaine was king on the Street. I can’t say it was all regret. I fact, I had a lot of fun. I partied a lot, used a lot, spent a lot — well, you get the idea.
I had two very close friends — crib brothers as we used to say back in the day. Where you saw one, the others weren’t too far behind. We grew up together, became men together and we worked on the Street.
Anyway, we would always meet at this park — Jeannette Park — at lunch on Fridays to drink rum and coke, and smoke weed, plan our weekends. One day, there was this older black dude who always seemed to check us out. I mean, we were pretty much out there, always surrounded by women, and dressed to the nines — young and cocksure muthafuckas. Anyway, this dude came up to us and shared some of this fierce weed he was smoking and he told us a story I never forgot. He asked if we knew the history of where we were standing and acting all cocksure and shit, and I told him, me always being the smartass, “Yeah! Fuckin’ Wall St.!” He smiled…
He said, Wall Street became the financial capitalist center because it was the first big slave trade center in the colonies, and, later, the new nation’s principal slave trading port, where the business of slavery was transacted (until 1862).
He continued, And as the business of slavery went, so did all other businesses. For about 125 years, there was a wall that separated the financiers, speculators and bankers from the stench, humiliation, and daily grime of young New York’s vibrant slave trade business and African and white working-class residential areas.
Hence the name, Wall St.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…