I will make a veiled confession.
I think it is never a good idea to date someone associated with your job. Never. Yet I broke my rule and went out on a couple of dates with a former client. I won't say whether he was associated with the current law firm I work for or a previous employer. None the less, I did date him. To be honest, we had been communicating via email and phone for months before he was considered no longer a client. We had become friends of sort and then came the day I could feel was coming - when he asked me out on a date.
Although I liked almost everything about him, I didn't like the fact he was preoccupied with how others perceive him. I am Black, he is White. I am poor, he is extremely rich. I am liberal, he is conservative.
After a couple of dinner dates in which I had some of the best conversations of my life, we found ourselves back at my apartment. He, a rather tall man, sat on the arm of my sofa as I stood in front of him. In the dimness of my living room with the Milwaukee skyline just outside my windows, he kissed me. It was a wonderful kiss. I have not been blessed in my life with men that know how to kiss, but he does. We stared at one another for what seemed like minutes but I am sure was only seconds.
The silence of the room was pierced by words that would change everything between us.
"Bee (my nickname) I am so attracted to you, I wish we weren't from two different worlds...."
I was livid. I'm not a stupid woman, I know what that expression means and I also have always been insulted by it. There is only one world. Say we are different, say we are opposites, but don't give me the tired crap about being from two different worlds just because we have aspects of who we are that differ. I hate that. And in that moment I told him to leave. I never explained why. He called and emailed repeatedly and I ignored him. He had done what I decided I would not allow men to do me.
Flash forward to January 2, 2013. After being out of the office for almost 5 days over the holiday break, we have returned to the office. Back to routines, ringing phones and work. I had called for a 9 a.m. staff meeting of which I would be facilitating. Before the meeting started I chatted with our Office Clerk about his New Year's break. He shared with me a movie he watched called Snow on tha Bluff. Little did I know an innocent and serendipitous conversation about a gritty, street thug life movie would change my life and how I think.
I watched it over lunch via NetFlix and after it was over sat at my desk transfixed. Unable to move. Unable to think. Stunned.
It is a movie that I suggest every American watch.
It is a reality film about a drug - gang - thug from "the hood". It starts out with three college students in a car driving to the hood to buy drugs. They were giddy about it. Videotaping what would be their first venture into a community that was foreign to them "The Hood". They come across a drug dealer who convinces them to take him around the corner to get a stash of drugs from the drug house. When they get there, he pulls out a gun, robs them and takes their camera. The rest of the movie takes off from there as the drug dealer gives the video camera to a crack head and tells him to video tape everything he does....ordering him to keep the camera on him at all times.
The movie shows the life of Curtis Snow in all the raw, graphic, gritty reality it is. From the foul mouthed friends and associates. Women that have no concept or meaning of what it means to be demeaned or to have self respect. The fights, guns, drugs and drama one would expect from the hood, only this movie because the video is real, is more profound. There is no beautifully shot camera work. There is no make-up on Black actors and actresses. No indeed. These are scarred and damaged people. Zits, blood shot eyes and rotten teeth."Nigga" is used so much it takes the place of the word "the" because it is said so much.
I grew up on a tree lined - middle class community of Germans and Blacks on the North-side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My father was clergy and the closest thing I ever came to drugs was when a close friend of mine fell in with "the wrong crowd" and told me she had smoked a joint. What I watched in this movie broke my heart. Because in listening to Curtis Snow you can see the evolution of how he got to the place he had in life, and how his own son was going to grow to live the same life. How could he not?
Once I finished watching the movie and regained my composure, the immediate thought that came to my mind was of the "client" I dated and his remark. The world Curtis Snow lived in is a world miles away from what I know and will ever know. I can not relate to where he comes from or the people he associates with or his mindset about life. We can (it appears) be from two different worlds.
Is it judgemental? To be sure it is. However I am forever changed about a segment of society I have always turned my nose up at and questioned why it is so hard for them to live a life that so many of us take for granted. I get up every morning take a shower, get dressed and go off to work....why can't they? I often say. I keep my home clean, have food in my cabinets, wear clean clothes.....why can't they? I never say "ain't, gonna, ax instead ask or refer to anyone as Nigga".....why can't they?
This movie answered all of those questions for me. With all the dysfunction within my family, I thank GOD I was born who I am. I now see I am not better....but I am more blessed.
This is a must see movie. If not for any other reason it will make you appreciate how you were raised and where you are now in life; and it will make you have compassion for people that far too many of us write off as lazy, unmotivated the scum of our society.