When a New Yorker Leaves the Hood

Let’s face it. When your friend leaves the hood, it’s a bitter-sweet spectacle.

Many in the hood want to obtain absurd amounts of wealth to buy all the luxury clothing that will juxtapose their habitat. To flaunt the audacity to walk in urban decadence with the new Ghost Whites on their feet and a gold chain pounding no fear on their heart with every step. In the Hood, you look good;  you feel good. The ‘Hood Rich’ mentality is one of consumerism– the idea that you are what you wear. We place value on ourselves based on the things we can afford to buy.
But there’s a catch.
You can’t keep that title if you leave the Hood. Because we simultaneously worship wealth while romanticizing “the struggle.” The struggle of surviving in a dangerous environment… of living paycheck to paycheck… of eating hypertension-inducing instant ramen noodles everyday… of having to sell drugs, sell ass, or both when no one wants to hire you. So when you finally escape this social prison, your childhood friends are bound to feel resentment.

Society has been engineered to keep you poor. So if you’re lucky enough to be granted the right opportunities to leave, chances are your friends are not going with you. Your friends may blame you for not being able to take them with you. Maybe even blame themselves even if they work harder than you. We continue to look at each other and point the finger at everyone. Everyone but the warden and his guards that turn a blind eye to your implosion. The cold truth: the system was designed this way.

How do we cope when the people we love can’t leave the hood?

We celebrate with the hood. Party with the hood. Feed the hood. We treat them like charity cases to cope with the guilt of our success. Because in a way, these are the people that have contributed to who we are and what we’ve become. They deserve more than what you can give them and you know it. But we know damn well everyone can’t fit on the life boat while the titanic sinks. Otherwise, you’ll all drown. And capitalism has taught us that suffering is all worth it as long as one of us makes it. The ones that “make it” become the new-money Gatsby to absolve their guilt. After the entourage, they indulge in their new lavish lifestyle alone while their friends go back to the hood to tell braggadocios stories of their old friend that came back to the Hood to share a taste of his newly found wealth.

And Chopped Cheese.

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