Ya’ll know how much I love Brooklyn, and how I stay in the neighborhood I grew up in, Crown Heights. Some of ya’ll might have also seen how my home was featured on that HGTV show. Crown Heights is on the come up, gentrification is in full swing. Shit is looking sweet ’round here.
In reality, I still dunno yet how I feel about all this new excitement. I see cops standing on every corner now, but it’s bittersweet. Only because I know deep down inside that they’re not there to serve and protect me and mines. More like they’re there to serve and protect the neighborhoods new residents. Like the woman who brought the building three doors down from me, for like a million dollars, or my new tenant, a sweet white girl from Iowa, and whose first time it is living in the big city. She always makes it a point to tell me, when I see her, how “awesome” Brooklyn is. How it’s so not like anything she’s seen or read about in the news, because of how it’s so safe. How it’s so sweet.
Last Wednesday, my wife took my daughter to Nairobi’s Knapsack, this new toy store/ play shop/ cultural studio located on Franklin Avenue. Baby girl loves it there. At the same time, and in broad daylight, some shit popped off up the block and across the street, no more than 100 yards away. On the corner of Franklin Avenue and Lincoln Place. Shots rang out, running, ducking, yelling, blood shed. After the nines stopped screaming, there was a body on the ground. Ronald Alexander Robert Lee Glover II was his name. I don’t know Robert, don’t know anything about him, I tried to look it up in the news, but unfortunately there was nada. Boy’s life wasn’t newsworthy enough for prime time.
Wife was understandably shaken. She was there, tells me she even saw Robert’s blood, freshly spilt, on the concrete. Sunday afternoon, I ran out on an errand, had to pick up some seltzer water, juice, paper cups and plates as my mother-in-law and her sister were over for an impromptu Sunday dinner. They opened a new health food store on Franklin, where I could cop some natural juice, free from that poisonous high fructose corn syrup ingredient that I’m most certain Robert used to drink. That’s when I noticed the vigil. I copped my all natural Looza mango nectar, with the seltzer water, put in the whip, pulled out the blackberry and started snapping pics from my uber cheap camera.
There were still mad cops out, serving & protecting. There were also a small group of people manning the vigil, keeping the candles lit. It soon became obvious that the group were family and or friends of Robert. All of them Black, a young woman, in her 20′s, how deep the hood ran in her blood, as betrayed by her dress, sneakers, jeans, head wrapped, and a face that told stories of a harsh life from day one. Crazy how any woman’s face tells their story better than a man’s. She was on the cell, cussing someone out for not coming out in person to share their condolences with her, her voice hoarse, maybe from the mourning, or her hard life, or both. Two brothers stood nearby, one mumbling, even within earshot of the po po, of how he had had enough of this shit, and how he was ready to “run upstairs, grab that, and to start clapping on them faggots”. The other dude telling both of them to chill out, he calmly taking the lighter that he just used to light his Newport to re-light the small candle that had been blown own by the wind. All of them together painting a universal portrait of loved ones after a death. Emotions raw, eyes stunned as to the preciousness that is life.
As I snapped, I learned two things about Robert. That he was gang affiliated, as evidenced by the red shirt that draped the light pole’s power box. The shirt was signed like a cast, with names “Born Reality” and “G-Shine” spelled out. Maybe Robert was Born Reality. Remnants of how niggas ran with them names from the ’80′s, a lost by product of the Five Percent Nation. And how the Bloods have long replaced the Gods. Secondly, that the crew that stood by his site loved Robert, missed Robert, wanted to turn back the hands of time so that Robert was still alive. I felt kind a ways, taking pics while their drama was unfolding. Like I was some new buppie resident studying their pain like it was on National Geographic. I stopped, hopped in the whip, and resumed dinner with my peoples.
Dunno why I felt compelled to drop this. Like I said, I didn’t know Robert. I guess maybe because, whoever he was, his life wasn’t good enough to be documented on our local news. You won’t find a god damned thing about him on Google. Well, maybe now. Last month, I had been stopped by police while driving home with a car full of kids. Undercovers. They saw my car filled with children, but still kept they flashlights flashing, in my baby boy’s face, still took my license to run it. When I came up clean, they informed me that a black jeep was driving around in the neighborhood, “terrorizing” citizens. No biggie, I bounced. I knew what time it was, made sure my sons knew too. Police was just doing their job. Protecting and serving. The new residents. The ones that were deemed to be valuable citizens in the community. Like my new tenant. At least I can lay my head down at night knowing I’ll stay getting a rent check from her, as long as she’s here, because her life is way more valuable than Robert’s.