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Ain't gonna have it here.

Recently, a stranger over the phone struck up a conversation with me. It wasn't news to me. I'd seen her kind before. She was a transplanted northerner distressed over the situation in our city.

Why? she said, do we put up with it?

We duke it out in this gritty city because there is much to love. The hearty history of workaday men and women seeps from the pores of a culture built on dreams and determination. "Blues, Beale and barbeque" only scratches the surface.

The failure began generations ago with the shadowy enigma of inequality. And we haven't quite recovered.

"Believe", they say as I call and write to the powers that be to no avail. Why is this graffiti allowed on my street? What aren't these parks maintained? Why does this 'hood within miles of mine have speed bumps while we tidy up every week after trash collection? Paint over the tagging yourself only to find it fresh the next week. Pick up the trash and it falls again come the very next day.

My northern friend suggests we lack a strong middle class. This is a new theory worth considering as the white flight argument is tired because where's the error in morality when families, regardless of color, desire better for their children? Why wait the system out to provide what we can find elsewhere?

If that makes a villain, then count me among every independent spirit who braves the seas for the American dream. To have a better life. To give their children a chance. To allow them the opportunity to experience life beyond an inner city war zone. It's unfair, really, to ask the kids to suit up and go where we would not.

In this town, we do what we wanna do.

The time comes to recognize that is, indeed, a drug dealer next door. The signs those young men flash today are the same as yesterday and the day before. Those are not fireworks at 3am. This neighborhood school is most definitely not producing the leaders of tomorrow. Someone will pull a gun on your neighbor for his pocket money.

When the shootin' finds it's way across the street from Beautiful Daughter's window and my bed of yellow lilies and pink roses, we fly.

But, that don't mean I don't love you anymore, M.

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