Your Hood Bias Is Becoming A “Hood” Problem That Needs Unpacking

Your Hood Bias Is Becoming A “Hood” Problem That Needs Unpacking

It’s always easy to point out the individuals who have never actually been in the hood, been around the hood, dealt with people from the hood on a platonic or romantic level, or spent time with people from the hood. They typically give themselves away as soon as they open their mouth.

Photo by Pedro Henrique Santos on Unsplash

Generally speaking, and to get this out of the way, yes it is true that there are a large number of individuals from low poverty and low income neighborhoods a.k.a “the hood” that do indeed fit the very popularized Hollywood-esque assumed stereotype of what a person from the hood would be. We see them every day. We go out of our way to avoid them and they proudly live up to/try to live up to every single negative attribute they can. That’s them. We aren’t talking about them right now though. Who we are going to talk about is the even larger percentage of individuals within these hoods that do not fit the “stereotype” and are trapped and/or stuck in these low poverty areas due to lack of resources, money and opportunity. The people who are unfairly stereotyped and labeled. The ones blocked from opportunities merely for not being about to afford an extra $400 a month to rent in a nicer neighborhood just two blocks over.

Not the neighborhood drug dealer who chases 12 year old girls up and down the street after school of the 35 year old gangbanger trying to recruit kids off the playground. I am talking about your aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmas who worked 30 years at the hood post office. The school teacher whose 40 year career as the elementary schools history teacher who has seen three generations of one family come up through her classroom.

You do realize that not every person living in the hood or coming out of the hood or coming from the hood has a criminal record, or is a dead beat, or is abusive, etc., right? You do realize that just because they are dressed a certain way, or dressed in what is viewed as “hood apparel” has absolutely nothing to do with their ability to communicate effectively, function in a way that most with deem to be socially acceptable, or no is it an indication of their intelligence or level of education, right? You don’t think the hood has books? Do you think the internet stops working on MLK Blvd?

Some of the most hard working and intelligent people I know are the same people others would ignorantly assume to be uneducated, lazy people. But because they slur their words when they speak, because they don’t enunciate properly, because they wear their nails a little longer than most, because they said their jeans just a little bit lower than what you feel is appropriately they are automatically closed out of discussions and automatically counted out as useless because they don’t fit the criteria laid out before them.

If it weren’t for the dangers that come with living in these areas in today’s social climate, I would have no problem living in these areas particularly because it has been my experience that some of the realist and most loving people I have encountered have been from “the hood”. This includes men that I have dated.

I said all of this to make you aware of the fact that when you make comments about someone not being able to do something because they are from the hood or are a hood person you are basically stripping them of the same humanity that you require.

As I’ve said before, it is natural for you to feel as if you are better than someone or a group of people based on your current status or where you are currently in your life. But it’s another thing to try to go out of your way to strip people of that group of their humanity because you have a disconnect.

Someone left a comment on one of my statuses stating that “men from the hood don’t know how to communicate their feelings and because of this we need to be OK with the fact that these men will never tell be OK with the fact that these men will never tell a woman that he loves her or how he feels about her.”

This is one of the biggest lies that continues to spread not just throughout the (American) Black community but throughout society in general. Because (American) society mimics Black culture. It is intellectually dishonest to say that only hood men (no need to specify that I am speaking about Black men because we all know that the reference of hood is usually associated with being Black). Black men from the hood are not the only group of men who have a hard time communicating their feelings effectively and it has absolutely nothing to do with them being from the hood.

Men in general have this problem regardless of social class or upbringing. I have dated hifalutin, pretentious black men who were equally, if not, worse at effectively communicating with me. I am talking all I’ve ever known was private school, the only sport I played in school was cricket, grew up in a mini mansion and went to summer camp faithfully.

These were the type of man who looked good on paper and presented well in public but behind closed doors they were some of the rudest, misogynistic, sexist, abusive, controlling, everything has to be my way and I know what’s best men I have ever had the displeasure of encountering. I have friends who could share stories of dating these type of man and the level of abuse and hoop jumping they had to do just to be able to stand next to these men in public. These men came from well-groomed backgrounds, two parent homes, everyone in the family has a degree and is doing something with their lives. But emotionally they are unable to connect for whatever reason and they refuse to acknowledge it.

  • “Educated” men and women can’t spell.

  • “Educated” men and women can be trash.

  • “Educated” men and women can have records (because Although some love to pretend it is if they never did anything in their life I have found it to be accurate that the ones who front the most are usually the ones trying to hide and conceal damaging information about their past.

  • “Educated” men and women are some of the most pretentious, uptight, God complex having people you could ever meet outside of church folks but that’s a different story.

This discussion isn’t about dating. But this is relevant…

And as I sit here and put this into words I see that I have some “unpacking” to do as it relates to this because I, like many, have a bad conditioned habit of associating “hood” with things that I don’t find socially acceptable and I SHOULD know better. I do know better. Because I know that it is a lie but it’s like one of those bad lies our parents told us when we were little that always stuck with us no matter how old we get. I mean, to this day I refuse to eat a watermelon out of fear that I will accidentally swallow a seed and have a melon baby. (thanks Dad btw..totally a great way to traumatize a 6 year old)

Some of the most important people in my life are from the hood. Including my mama and my granny. I’m also reminded of how I felt when I first relocated to Dallas, separated from my then husband, and the only place I could afford to live at the time was dead smack in the middle of Oak Cliff (South Dallas). I remember being embarrassed to invite people to my home or tell people where I lived because the few times that I did disclose that information I legit had people who refused to visit because of where I lived. After a while I became so ashamed that I completely stopped telling people where I lived and automatically agreed to meet them at the destination. It did not matter that those who did visit my home complimented me on the fact that I had one of the better looking homes on the block and that inside my home it was comforting and warm. The conversations never ended without someone asking what “a woman like me is doing in the hood”. Because in their mind I did not fit their idea of what a typical hood chick was. Because I didn’t “act” like my biological fathers family is split between Homer, LA and Watts, CA. Because I didn’t act like my mom is from South Central. Like I didn’t spend half of my life roaming through the streets of Baltimore. Because I didn’t act like Park Heights and Perkins Projects were where I spent most of the time my mother thought I was spending at BCCC (sorry mom, lol).

Even now people will try to strip me of my experiences and tell me I’m not from the “hood” because I am well spoken, educated, and seemingly doing well for myself. Because obviously a person from the hood cannot speak well or read a book, memorize the information, take a test to prove that they can memorize information accurately so that someone can validate them and tell them that they believe they are what they already know that they are.

Understand, that the gag is… it’s all an act. I am well-spoken because I have to be in order to go out on these interviews and impress someone enough for them to say I am willing to pay you to work for me. I am “educated” because someone is always trying to play with me because of what I look like so I have to know certain things in order to be able to once again prove myself worthy. But when I go home at night, when I snatch my wig off, when I pour me a glass of wine and get on the phone with my home girls, I am an ignant, loud, dramatic, long nail wearing, 26 inch wig swinging, AAVE using, long eyelash wearing, laid out baby hair slaying, trap music blasting, Crime Mob lyric reciting, around the way girl. I just got lucky enough to have a few mentors who were willing to teach me the game early on and I had the chance to take advantages of the right opportunities granted to me through association/networking.

We really need to stop making it seem like the only things coming out of the hood is violence, drugs and destruction. We have talent literally pouring out the deepest corners of the hood. Fueled by pain, desperation, desire, passion, fire and hope. Some of our most beloved came FROM the hood and those experiences helped shape them into the men and women you idolize today.

  • Black boys grow up to be doctors after watching their homeboy die from a stray bullet and there was nothing they could do

  • Black girls grow up to be lawyers after watching their peers be taken advantage of by the legal system

  • Black boys who turned to playing ball as an alternative to joining a gang grow up and turn that after school street ball skills into a multi-million

  • Black girls who use dance expression and art to escape the reality they currently live in grow up to tell their stories via books, film, music, art, comedy, etc.

You want to know why so many young folks look up to people in the “hood” and want to emulate their moves, adopt their attitudes and just “be around” them. Well, let me speak for myself…

Because I felt free. There is a spirit of freeness that flows through the hood that literally swallows you up and embraces you. You look around and you see people simply living. Because that’s all they can’t do and because they know that they will probably forever be in this “hell” they do the only thing they can do. They “make it work” and let it go. There’s no pressure. No concern about what others think, or how they view you. You just wake up and live everyday like it’s your last. Even in the midst of living on a block where 75% of the homes are boarded up and abandoned, you drive through the neighborhoods and you see vacate lots with uncut grass and you immediately know that inside that lot you will find all kinds of drug needles, used condoms, hair and probably some other unmentionables. But then you drive up a little further and you see people outside on their stoop smoking, having a drink, dancing, laughing, you may one or two fights and you are trying to figure out “how” they do it. Why are they so “happy”? And that is a mystery most will never figure out.

Truth is, the majority are upstanding individuals who got the short end of the stick hoping and praying that the next generation makes it one step closer than they did to getting out. Hoping that those of us lucky enough to get out will pay it forward and light the path for them to do the same.

Owner of Love My Black, LLC + Eighty5OH8 -Award Winning Blogger/Author | Viral Troublemaker | Mother of One | Brand and PR strategist