There is a video going around that shows Lil Reese, a rapper from Chicago who just got signed to a major label, beating the life outta some girl. Lil Reese claims the video was filmed a year or two ago. I don't listen to Lil Reese's music or know anything about him, but I read a few tweets from hip hop blogs that claim the girl Lil Reese was beating is actually his baby momma. According to statistics, one in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime, and one in five teens in a serious relationship reports having been hit, slapped, or pushed by a partner. So if she is a battered baby momma, she is not alone.
Man... Watching that video made me realize something bad about myself. I realized that I've seen so much domestic violence and tears and blood growing up, that I am completely desensitized to it now. It's just not shocking. At all. I've seen my dad do worse to my own mom.
These days, reporters love to talk about Chicago, and they're mostly discussing the gang violence and drug busts. I think journalists like to discuss that stuff because it's interesting and dramatic to people who are not from poor, mostly minority neighborhoods, a.k.a. "the hood." One thing that gets ignored, though, is the fact that people who grow up around all of that stuff, even if they don't participate in it, are affected by it. They never discuss how desensitized you get when things that are wrong become normal, and how hardened it makes you. To the world, it seems like people from the hood don't exist unless they fit into some sort of statistic.
In the battered women's shelter that my family lived in for about a year, there were women of many different races, so I know that domestic violence isn't something that only happens to black folks. Women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, and a lot of people don't know that women of all races experience it equally. But what most folks don't acknowledge is that African American children are three times more likely to live in poverty than white children, and that fact is consistently listed as a factor for a lot of the problems in black communities. Not only do people like me grow up seeing domestic violence, but we also see gang violence, drug dealing, assault by the police, thieving ass crack heads, and the occasional prostitute, too. That's a lot.
I grew up in a really tough neighborhood. I went to a magnet school with friends whose families were well off. I never, ever invited friends over because I was embarrassed of how bad my neighborhood looked. I witnessed all kinds of crazy stuff growing up, and had some bad things done to me. I was a really sensitive kid. Then one day, I just wasn't anymore. I don't know if I'll ever be a sensitive person again.
To this day, I still struggle with apathy, I just don't care about so many things. Seriously... I'm supposed to feel compassion for how often black guys get beat down by corrupt cops when so many of them feel it's okay to knock a chick up and bail, so many feel it's okay to beat a chick just because he feels disrespected, so many feel like it's okay to call women bitches and hoes and treat us like we're less than them because their own parents never taught them otherwise? Screw that. I don't give a damn about them or the chicks who stick around for it. And not giving a damn feels normal to me. Maybe the same lack of giving a damn that I feel as a result of growing up in the hood might be the same apathy a guy feels that makes him think it is okay to beat a female. I dunno. Maybe it's hard for a hood ass dude who sees people dying everyday to understand that its NOT MANLY for a man to hit a woman.
And do you know what I can't stop thinking about after seeing the Lil Reese vid? There was a time when a dude putting his hands on a woman around other men like Lil Reese did would result in that dude getting stomped, because the men would not stand for it. And while there are plenty guys in our communities who consider dudes that hit women to be "fuck niggas," there are just as many who think that it's justifiable to beat a girl just for being mouthy.
Seeing that video of Lil Reese made me remember a bunch of stuff that I like to forget. There is just so much stuff that goes into a hood mentality, so many things that you can't even define as right or wrong because no matter how you judge it, the reality that it exists can't be disputed. There is a lot I wanna say about this topic, but I feel like it would be pointless for me to try to put it into words because only the people who share a similar background as me will understand. I don't think it's possible to empathize with a lack of empathy.
I have to be honest, my lifestyle right now is the farthest thing from what I experienced when my family was poor and living on the South Side of Chicago. I consider every dollar I make as a recording artist to be a blessing, because it keeps me being able to maintain my lifestyle. I'm proud of how far removed I am from the stuff I have gone through, some of it is so messed up that I still can't even discuss it with the people closest to me. I have known for a long time that I'm a bit detached from the negative aspects of growing up in the hood, and I sort of thought that I had grown beyond it. But today, once I noticed how desensitized I am to seeing a female getting the Chitown beat down, I realized that the old cliche phrase is true: You can take the girl out of the hood, but you can't take the hood out of the girl.