I’m Just Trying to Survive

Chapter from Philosophical Street Chronic (I’m Just Trying to Survive!) 

malcolm_x thinking The number one driving force behind a man’s actions is survival. When faced with situations that can lead to life or death we will fight to the death to stay alive no matter what is trying to kill us. Happiness comes in second and love/acceptance is third. The reason for this ordering is because you don’t really understand what acceptance/love is as a child because your parents are the only people that you really know, and they love/accept you unconditionally, notwithstanding those that are abusive, but you know what feeling happy is, so you search for that throughout your life. Then later in life you realize that being happy is tied to being loved and accepted by others.

So in the inner city survival within your environment is learned at a very early age in life and it stems from the activities that happen on your block and then later what happens on the blocks surrounding yours.  This is one of the major reasons Black youth join gangs, which will be discussed further in a later chapter.

One of the other reasons that this thought pattern is adopted by Black boys living in the ghetto early in life is because of an ominous warning by some adult, on TV, or the radio, erroneously stating that the life expectancy of a young Black male is 21 – 25. Add to that, the fact that most Black boys attended church on the regular as children, and one of the major things preached about in church is getting right with God, because tomorrow isn’t promised to you. So we tend to develop a subconscious thought pattern that says we need to get rich early in life so that we can be happy and experience the finer things in life before we die.

So at an early age you learn what it takes to survive in the environment that you live in, and if the things that you see are gang banging, drug dealing, and killing, you start to believe that this is how to survive. If you grow up in an affluent neighborhood and you see none of this, then you formulate survival in a different manner. Continue reading