Who This Belong To

“ was he was a faggot?!”

“I think so, I’m saying the nigga was walking over on Southern Avenue in a dress and shit.”

“That don’t make him a faggot, Cliff.”

“Yea? When you ever seen niggas in dresses and they ain’t gay? I ain’t never known a regular man to come out dressed like that.”

“Shut up, Cliff.”

“I’m just saying…”

“It coulda been a woman, dummy!”

“Brenda! Where you come from?! I’m over here talking to Roy. Don’t laugh Roy that broad ain’t funny.”

“She telling the truth though, you know you old. Coulda been a woman. People used to say the same thing about Martha. That she looked like some man cause she was big as all get out, but you still messed with her.”

“What that got to do with anything? I’m not talking about her. Im talking about these crackers coming up on Southern Avenue in them new condos and taking over all the space. You never seen that shit before.”

“Yea, you only seen niggas in dresses and Matha.”

“Shut up Brenda. Goddammit, for the last time, mind your business. And the shit ain’t funny, Roy!”

“She right, Cliff.”

“I know she is but none of them never got too far without the police stopping them. You know them punks was all walkin’ round- trickin’. The crackers is all over. NO POLICE.”

“That’s cause they is the police. They just in orange vests and what not.”

“Yeah, they come in once that television says a place is bout to be worth a cent…”

“Or when the downtown crooks fix up one of these ole’ holes in the wall and make it into a fancy spot to drink. Or even before then they come in when its still crooked looking sometimes cause they want to be seen in someplace they figure is interesting or dangerous. Them crackers sure do love it when they feel like they wading in some water they ain’t all the way allowed to swim in. Then they want to control it- start with this damn neighborhood watch thing. Man, I remember I was coming off the bus to my house and I sat a spell on some porch to rest. All of a sudden I’m seeing five or six of these fools- with the orange vest talking this none-sense about robberies and asking if I stayed near.”

“like they ain’t robbing us out of our space…”

“Amen, and when I told them to walk off into Hell, they called the police. And here I am, a 56 year old man explainin’ to the police about how I grew up here-in these streets. We used to be able to just sit.”

“And when an old man such as yo-self sit down, it used to be respected.”

“There you go, talking like she just was. Talking two statements at the same time- at once agreeing and knocking my age. Can I finish please?”

“hahaha. You brought up your age but go head Cliff, finish.”

“I brought it up cause I was making a point. I was here when King was shot and this whole thing went up in smoke. I was here when we had to build it back with no help- not that we asked but still. It was our hands which made them bricks pile and it was us who sang spirit back into them stores By ourselves we did that and when it went south again with the crack and the young folk guns …  hell, I hope’d to be here to fix that but it don’t look like there’s gonna be anymore fixin’ to happen.”

“Well, they fixin’ it alright.”

“Mhmm. Like we was never here. They coming in like a cavalry for something they never cared to save and causin’ all kinds of hell. And that don’t sit right with me. I’m a man …”

“and I’m a woman!”

“Don’t look like that Cliff, you know she was going to throw herself in. She live here too. Ain’t just men who been fixin’”

“ … yea, we is folk. Good folk. We came here, built us something. Gave taxes, ate, laughed, got fucked up, and made life in this city. This here is our space. We ain’t got much more than this…”

“ and we made it special too. They wouldn’t be so pressed to come over here if there wasn’t good enough reason to. We gave this place something. All these clubs and stores they so quick to run into, they was ours.”

“yep, and I told em’ that after the police left me there. I said ‘ya’ll would do good to remember who this place belongs to.”

“Alright Cliff, you bout to be another nigga in jail. You know them folk don’t like to be talked to like that.”

“Well I don’t care no more. They bout to move me out anyway and someone should say it.”

“You right. As the day is long, you right. ”

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