Growing up in Black America

A chillingly matter-of-fact “piece in Salon”: today about what could get you killed in the inner cities of America twenty years ago — wearing anything that made you look rich or successful. Today, however, you will get killed and they won’t even bother to rob your corpse. Being a known killer conveys worthwhile status, whereas the kind of possessions which can give status are now completely out of reach — Bentleys, for example. You can’t steal one of those from a corpse in the streets.

That this story should be the latest example of nostalgic writing about how things were better when the author was a boy — because then he knew what might get him shot — is not something I might ever have imagined. Absolutely everything I believed about progress when I was a child was wrong, except, perhaps, that it can always go backwards.

The interesting question is how we might stop such a development in Europe. Clearly, American model capitalism won’t do it. Prosperity on its own won’t do it, either, even if it is on offer, which may not be the case.

This entry was posted in Journalism. Bookmark the permalink.