This idea of young people being set out to beg of money has always bothered me. (I don't like it when churches do it either) I have long suspected these "programs" were a fraud and asked general questions about why adults would have young people outside "hawking" for money. Immediately, the young man step just out of arm's reach and tried a answer my questions, by restating his original pitch.
Now from his safe distance, he ask for a donation again. I said, "I don't have any cash." The frustrated young man replied "You asked me all that, ain't don't have no money?" He started to walk back to his companions, other teens, and said "Broke Ass."
My shock, turned to laughter as I went on my way. Then I felt very sober for the young man, his companions and the possible future that awaits them. I know the struggles I have in life and I had a good upbringing, family support and a good education. I feel confident this young man hasn't the same fortune.
So what to do? I've been here before you know. It was a few years ago, I was approached by a young man. One of my best friends and I would leaving an event about 9 or 10 in the evening. We crossed the street together, but parted because our cars were separated by several other vehicles. We walked past two young men sitting on a wall next to the sidewalk. Apparently, one of them tried to get my attention. But, it was late, dark and in an unfamiliar neighborhood, I filter him out.
That's when the youth upped the ante, "That's why Black men can't get no where!" Now he had my attention. They are off the wall and me and my boy are approaching them, "What do you mean, Black men can't get nowhere?" The young man was frustrated and tried to shew us away, but I persisted. He offended my cultural ego. "You wanted our attention, now you've got it. What do you want to say? I'll listen and you talk."
A slight smile grew on a nineteen year old face. He explained how his baby needs diapers. The grandma, who is caring for the baby back in the apartment, kicked him out and said don't come back without diapers. He works at a shipping company, but payday is next week. Behind us, across the street is a 711, which he was thinking of stilling diapers from. When we walked by, the young man asked if it was Ok to steal out to take care of your family.
Wow. After that explanation, I was moved and get him the twenty I had in my pocket. With the pressure lifted from his shoulders and this young man told us stories of how he mentors other youths, goes to church, tries to do good in the community. I'm not patting myself on the back, that's the minimum I should've done.
There's no comparison of these two young men, I don't know their circumstances. I do wish I could've have helped both of them and that more substantially. Perhaps shared some meaningful bit of experience to help them along the path. I tried, but the only thing they were interested in was cash. I don't blame them, poverty has a way of limiting one's tolerance for ideas.Photo caption: Why is this bottle of chocolate syrup outside the McDonald's? Taken with on board photo app and my iPhone 4S.