When I think of fresh strawberries, I think of my house in Detroit, walking barefoot in the gardens, picking them right off the vine and putting them in a small barrel. But then I also remember looking out of the corner of my eye, seeing a man, crouched down in the alley, doing things that were unknown to me at the time, but now I know them. And despise them.
I feel my face heat up and become red at the mention of Detroit, our fair city, being spoken of with pride, like it’s a whimsical world where magical things happen. I can tell you what kinds of magic things happened there.
When I was 8, we had bars on my windows because the alley that faced my bedroom housed so many junkies; I’m sure my parents were fearful they would try to break in. They were right. Countless nights, I saw a dark anonymous face breathing heavily, peering in to my window with soulless eyes. I didn’t budge; I laid there motionless, hoping those steel bars would deter them. Thankfully, they always did.
When I was 9, a 12 year old down the street tried to blow my head off. I thought little of it at the time, but now, I recall the mother of 8 who let her child have a gun. Thank God I was resilient. It was an adventure, hiding in my friend’s cellar as the maniacal child shot at us until there were no more bullets left. Why, you ask, was I being shot at? Because my friend called that kid a nigger. Now that I think about it, rightfully so.
When I was 10, A man was murdered on my front lawn. I hid between the couch and window, fearful of stray bullets, thankful my mother was at the bank. It took the cops 30 minutes to arrive, blood seeping out onto grass I once rolled around in.
Pride? It lays in ashes where many of the houses once stood as well.
How can you have pride in a place where racism, violence, and ignorance are the dominating traits in those who reside there?
How can you say that you’re proud to come from Detroit when all that remains are memories of times that were once good?
Being forced to leave your house as a child because the neighbors that smile so sweetly at you are involved in molestation.
Being forced to leave your house as a child because New Years Eve means you have to lay down on the floor at the stroke of midnight for fear of being a victim of a renegade bullet.
Proud I got the fuck out a bad situation while I was still breathing.
So next time you say that you’re proud to come from Detroit, think of all the kids that can’t leave.