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Posts Tagged ‘G.I.’

West Side Alumni Chris Hunter was signed by the Knicks after having a stellar season in the NBA D-League with Fort Wayne.  He is the first player from Northwest Indiana to play in the NBA since Glenn Robinson.

There’s no coincidence that both hail from G.I.. Though that area (or region as they call it) continues to cheat Gary youth by harrassing them and their teams in the Indiana High School Boys Basketball Tournament, Chris Hunter is Gary’s shining example of how to just “jump over” those road blocks.

He did it at West Side, leading them to a State Championship and he did it here, overcoming being relegated to supporting cast status during his playing days at Michigan and playing in Poland as well as the D-League.

Look for West Side’s Xavior Jones to make it there as well as Brandon Dawson and Dejaun Marrero of Lew Wallace and Bowman Academy. Goes to show you that playing in in the Northwest Indiana Conference preps kids for the D-1 as well as the NBA.

No other “region” conference can say this. Keep making excuses to avoid playing Gary schools. And keep hurting your players chances of getting better opportunities.

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That bang is on MY drum. That’s right. My blog is MY drum. It just took me reading several comments from (what I believe to be)  members of the white race to realize what my blog really is.

In 2009, I’m bangin on it like I’m at a ZULU tribal dance. I’m bangin on it like I’m at a South Miama Reggae set in Cutler Ridge. I’m bangin on it like the participants of the Gary Drill Team Competition stomps their boots on the floors of West Side High Schools gynasium.

Like FOREVER, I  become TOTALLY irritated whenever I hear someone white try to tell a black person what is or is not racist.  My blog sets free my voice on topics that affect ME and MY family, relatives and friends.

I don’t and I won’t qualify anything that I say about these concerns because I DON’T HAVE TOO! I know what the hell racist are. What a racial situation is.  And what constitutes a racist moment. Why?

BECAUSE  I’M A BLACK MAN.  EVERY SINGLE F__KIN DAY I DEAL WITH THE LITTLE SLIGHTS THAT ALL BLACK MEN AND WOMEN HAVE TO ENDURE. Hell, some days, their certainly not little.

I WILL NOT TOLERATE SOMEONE WHITE TELLING ME WHAT IS AND IS NOT RACIST WHEN IT COMES TO SITUATIONS WHERE A BLACK HAS BEEN AFFECTED BY A RACIST ACT!

PERIOD.

Most of the time, if your black, you get it.  I’d suffice to say that the majority of whites (I presumed they were because they’d start their comments off with ” I ‘m a white guy or a redneck girl…) get it- in reference to my 2008 blogs.

2008 is the year that I started blogs. 2009 is the year that I find my voice and say what the hell I want to say;  in whatever way I want to say it; and whenever I want to say it!

Check a brotha out…

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This blog represents the first in a series of blogs that will attempt to chronicle “what’s wrong & right with the City of Gary, Indiana”. The blog is written with the sole purpose of creating forward thinking dialogue on how to improve, not lambaste, the City that I grew up in.

No, I no longer live there. However, it’s where I was born and raised. My parents raised my family there. Worked and lived there for 30 years. I have a connection there that will and cannot ever be broken. The place has so much to do with who I am today as well as “how I am” as a person.

As I told my wife the other day in a conversation, I believe in laying blame. I know, I know. I’ve been around many a situation in the corporate setting where a “leader” has espoused the type of statement that “placing the blame is useless” when addressing a major issue that needs fixing.

The thing about the topic of Gary that differs from that of say a business setting is that what ails Gary is of a social nature. Yes, business or lack there of, is a major component of what ails Gary. But from a social vantage point, I believe, we first have to solve, or improve, the social environment of Gary before ANY type of viable business structured solution can be brought to the City.

In solving, or improving the social environment, we’ve got to call out those who seek to continue or contribute to the spiraling fall of the city where I was brought into this world.

Yes. Gary is a predominately Black city. I therefore feel that it’s problems are predominantly those of the Black citizens of the city. Essentially, I get the impression that my former neighbors who have decided to stay in Gary and “tough it out”, feel they are powerless at effecting change in Gary. They do vote. They pay their property taxes. They are not the problem. They have aged and contributed to the city and the elected officials there have let them down in return.

Sure, this sounds like the post is going into the direction of, say, a Post-Tribune or a NWI Times editorial written by some outsider person of the White race who, it seems, takes great joy in pointing out the ills of Gary.

However, I am not White. Though I am now an outsider, I still have a connection to that city in which life long friends and neighbors still traverse the mean streets of Chase St, 5th Ave, Grant St., Broadway, Burr St and Taft St., among others.

I understand when a friend who calls me and tells me he just came from Gary, helping his mother purchase a lawn mower and comments on how bad the city looks, or that someone I grew up with just died and how they died, I understand the sorrow in their voices. It’s different then the tone of a editorial written by some White resident who lives in Merrillville or Hobart or Crown Point who harbors a stereotypical mindset towards Blacks due to the history of the existence of Blacks in the Lake County area. Gary in particular.

That tone is one of innuendo and hate filled propaganda. The tone of my friends when they tell me things about the city they still live in, there is a tone of hurt, despair, and love. They dearly wish the place would see better days. The tone of the Post Tribune columnist is one that gives the impression they couldn’t care less if the people in Gary all killed themselves and died a horrible death.

So Fuck Them. (This the only time you will see such an offensive statement in this blog about Gary, I promise)

The emotions that I have on the whole issue of my UNDERSTANDING as to how Gary ultimately arrived where it is today, is fueled by my distaste for those people who essentially have kept a death grip on Gary financially while living outside of it’s boundaries. Those would be the “White Flighters”.

I have purposely, in the recent past, traveled to Gary with my daughters who for the first time were old enough to see Gary and remember it after the visit. I can argue that the place looks nothing like it did when I first took them there when they were very young, that type of thinking is directed towards the neighborhood I grew up in. More importantly, the house I grew up in.

I loved that house. I loved my street. I certainly remember the days, years, that everyone (well most everyone) took pride in how their homes looked. Kept up their quarters. I had a beautiful childhood on 8th and Taney. I would not trade it for any other type of childhood experience. And yes, it was a 100% and viable Black neighborhood!

There are some who think there was no way this was possible in the City of Gary. As far as most Whites in particular are concerned, Gary has been a  S-hole since at least the early 70’s. Well I can attest to the wonderful upbringing I had in the city. I take the good memories with the bad.

So I’m driving down Broadway with wife and girls and showing them our sparkling, dynamic downtown. Yes, the first thing they notice is that all, yes every building is boarded up. I ask them to take a CLOSER LOOK at the boards that were on the store fronts. I asked them to take a close scan of the buildings that were dilapidated. I then asked them to identify one sign that informed anyone as to how to purchase or lease any of those buildings.

THEY COULD NOT FIND ONE! Then I explained something to them that I found out when I returned to Gary years ago at a time that I myself was a business owner in Nashville, Tn. I had an interest in how one would go about purchasing one of those buildings. The thing I found out is that for the most part, they are not for lease or for sale!

Most of those entities who abandoned Gary in the 70’s under the guise of White Flight has retained ownership of the business store fronts they abandoned while relocating their shops and businesses in places like Hobart and Merrillville. They have a vendetta against Black Gary citizens. Yes the Black ones who essentially voted in the nations first Black Mayor of a major city, Richard G. Hatcher.

The way Hatcher ascended to power contributed to the lingering resentment that those former White citizens of Gary have towards Blacks today.  I explained to my girls that Hatcher ascended to the position of Mayor of Gary on the coat tails of the Black Power Movement of the late 60’s. I explain to them that even today, any type of black political figure that was or has been associated with the “Black Power” movement of the civil rights era, is a hated figure in the racist part of the White community and is often identified as examples of racist blacks by modern mainstream media and White politicians the like.

I explained to my girls, there is a deep hatred towards Black citizens of Gary by the suburban White citizens of Lake County Indiana who still own those store fronts on Broadway. Essentially, Blacks stood up to what was then a racist City of Gary government that treated black citizens as second class citizens much like the way Blacks were treated throughout the country at that time.

The big thing was that Blacks in Gary chose to use ideology more in line with Malcolm X then that of Martin Luther King to effect change.

You know. The line Bernie Mac used to use to open his shows on Def Comedy Jam.

Well for now, read this article in the Post-Tribune for an example of one our own (Black Men) who clearly has been taking the citizens of Gary for a ride with their tax dollars…

Glen Park group forgets about ‘that’ $100,000

Like I said. The Post Tribune does a good job at making sure the ills of Gary are on display. I’ll use it to make a point. I promise to dig deeper then the sarcastic tone the journalist who wrote the piece clearly has taken.

(to be continued…)

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Martin Luther King used the term “UpSouth” to characterize his thoughts of the State of Indiana whenever he traveled to it.  Essentially, he was inferring that unlike other non-southern states north of the Mason-Dixon line, the fervor of the racist climate was as negative in Indiana as it was in, say,  Alabama.

Having grown up in Gary , Indiana, I understand those sentiments all too well. It is not surprising to see that Indiana, though being viewed as a potential “swing state”, is polling in the favor of John McCain.

The term “isolation breeds ignorance” identifies with, in my opinion, the back roads of Indiana.

Essentially, outside of Gary, Indiana and Indianapolis, you won’t find too many Black Americans living amongst back roads the great John Cougar Mellencamp sings about in his songs. While this is also true in places like the back roads of Iowa, white citizens of the State of Indiana have carried a prepackaged 20th Century anti-black vantage point of blacks into the 21st Century, while citizens of the back roads of Iowa have not entirely, evidenced by Obama’s win there in the Iowa Caucus during the primaries.

Why did Iowans not display the same type of behavior towards Obama as Hoosiers did during its primary as well as in today’s polls, I cannot answer. I have a limited knowledge of Iowa, so I have to take a pass on that. But I do have a take on the behavior of Hoosiers then (during the primaries) and now, pre-Nov. 4th election day.

To put it bluntly, white lower class and middle class citizens of the State of Indiana have had to compete with black citizens for industrial jobs since the industrial revolution brought hundreds of thousands of them to the State of Indiana via textile mills and steel mills. I truly feel that this “factor” has had a great deal to do with a lot of the animosity that White Hoosiers have towards Black Hoosiers (trying calling a black person from Indiana a “Hoosier” and watch the odd look on their faces).

Though agriculture has remained a large part of the makeup of Indiana, quite a number of Hoosiers who grew up on farms and in small towns throughout Indiana, migrated to places like Gary, Hobart, East Chicago, Fort Wayne, Hammond, Crown Point and Portage to snag good paying jobs in the steel mills of the then second largest steel producing area of the United States (to Pittsburgh).

In my opinion, it’s the City of Gary itself that fuels most of the animosity towards blacks in the entire State of Indiana. Iowa has no “Gary, Indiana”. To be honest with you, I don’t think there is another Gary, Indiana in the entire United States of America. It is a unique place that’s full of civil rights history that, to me, has never really had it’s story told as it should be told. The quintessential misunderstood city.

It’s my home. I take it with the good and the bad. It’s painful to see what it’s become. This of course, is exactly what most Whites who either previously lived in Gary or nearby points to whenever they want to provide an example of “how blacks really are”. This sentiment has “trickled down” throughout the State of Indiana and most White Hoosiers are resolute in their belief that blacks are dangerous, “Just look at Gary”…

I will one day break down my critique of that vantage point, but now is not the time. In fact, I’d probably have to pay for extra space in WordPress to provide such a vantage point. Maybe in a book. Who knows.

For the sake of the upcoming election, I’m calling the State of Indiana for McCain. I have no confidence that the White citizens of the State of Indiana, collectively, CAN set aside their animosity towards Blacks and vote a Black man into the White House.

If I’m wrong, which I hope I am, it would be a great day for that State. Racial polarization, especially in Northwest Indiana, is a cancer to the State. I fear that it will never be able to move ahead collectively until the issue of race is put to rest.

I believe this is true for the entire country. If we can EVER put aside the issue of race collectively, we will see that this country is still the best in the world. THERE IS NO OTHER PLACE LIKE IT.

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I recall reading about John Boyd (Coach of West Side) sounding bitter about the circumstances of a charter school (I think Bowman) affecting where the ever thinning basketball talent pool goes to high school in Gary.

Having been born and raised in Gary in an era where charter schools were not a problem, I can only speak on this subject from the “outside looking in” perspective. I will also attest to having limited knowledge of just what a charter school is.

From what I understand, Gary now has 5 high schools remaining: West Side (always 1st), Roosevelt, Lew Wallace, Wirt and then Emerson.

Horace Mann was closed some years back and I believe I’ve read about whispers of “HISTORIC” ROOSEVELT HIGH SCHOOL closing this year. Whew…

That’s hard to imagine. Especially when I read about Bowman Academy.  With Gary’s dwindling population, I’m sure that Bowman’s siphoning of students from the rolls of schools such as Roosevelt is contributing to the chatter or need for a school such as Velt to close.

Am I missing something here? Keep in mind that I was born and raised in G.I. and I completely understand the challenges the citizens of Gary face in the area of getting their children a quality education. I will say this, for all the negative critique of the Gary School System, I sure do have a lot of former classmates and hear of a lot of former classmates and friends doing some good if not great things with their lives.

When I left West Side, I did so with an ability to read/write/think with the best of any other 18 year old in the country. I don’t care what the Post Trib or NWI Times says. In my adult life, I see it everyday in what I do for a living, people of all walks in life, degrees from the best or 1st tier universities, especially white , who simply don’t impress me with their ACTUAL ABILITIES” to do white collar tasks on a consistent and quality basis.

Sure their degrees are from UNC or NC State or Duke, but I’ve learned to look beyond that and focus on their actually abilities. You’ll be surprised what money or a legacy can buy…

Back to Bowman. Of course the issue comes down to Gary’s past time: HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL! I saw last year how Bowman, I think, beat Roosevelt and played West Side and Lew Wallace tough (they may have beat el dubb).

I guess I’m a traditionalist when it comes to this topic. Seeing the Gary Holiday tournament won by Bowman Academy instead of Side, Velt, El Dubb, Wirt, or Gary Mann is like WTF?

From the sounds of the chatter coming out Gary, this is a possibility this upcoming season.

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