I just read David Simon’s obituary for DeAndre McCullough (1977-2012).
Please read it now.
Are you done yet?
I couldn’t finish it. I was too moved by the story and too moved thinking about all the people in East Harlem that I saw every day that had the same story. I didn’t know them, I didn’t hang out on the corners with them but they are all a part of me. The people you see every day are a part of your life whether you speak to them or not. The kids I grew up with and the junkies seemingly holding up lamp posts forever are a part of me. Every last one of them seared into my experience. They live forever tucked into my memory banks. When I read something that talks about them, the memories flood back in. Every single kid who hung out in the “D” in Washington Houses, every heroin-dance-zombie and every single face-scratching crackhead pour out.
DeAndre’s eulogy is the eulogy for every single person who doesn’t make it. For every kid who deals and does. For every junkie and for every smart kid you knew that simply vanished into the ether of either prison or death. They all vanish and are forgotten. These people have always exisited. Whether they be drunks on the Bowery, heroin addicts on the Lower East Side or crackheads in Harlem – the underclass always exist and always struggle. We pretend that we’re making it better…. but we aren’t. Occasionlly they are made into fables when ONE of them makes it out by writing a memoir every or when someone like David Simon depicts their lives on his monumental televsion show “The Wire”. Fundamentally, we don’t care – if we did as society we’d make raising all boats a priority.
What struck me is how we are all completely aware of these worlds and lauds them. Every hipster on Bedford Avenue wears his “I watch ‘The Wire'” badge as a sign of enlightenment. Like they are somehow down. News flash… you aren’t down. You will never be down and you shouldn’t want to be down. No one wants to feel the feelings that the underclass feel. No one wants to really know, REALLY know the pain that goes on. Being part of the ghetto and the no-hope-no-way-out-why-should-I-give-fuck-about-anything class is awful. The struggles aren’t just survival they are deeper and psychological. You struggle with: Am I worth anything? Do I matter? If I disappeared would anyone give a shit? Who really cares if I live or die? Why should I go to school? Why should I get a job? There are real and difficult hurdles to over come – aside from the addiction, violence, depression and poverty.
I don’t have the answer – I don’t know how to be a part of the solution… I am still just as scared as I always was – happy to have made it. Happy to have said — hey? I don’t have to be a loser? Wow! I’m still struggling and feeling the feelings that every ghetto kid feels but I’m faking it until I make it.
Rest in peace DeAndre… rest in peace all of you.
Originally appeared https://laurent-courtines.com/eulogy-for-a-street-corner-kid-i-miss-you-all from http://laurent-courtines.com