“Generalized reciprocity is a form of exchange in which there is no expectation for the immediate return of an item in exchange for something else; in the long run, things are expected to even out. An item’s value is not calculated, and no one keeps exact track of the transactions. This kind of distribution of food also means that a hunter does not need to go looking for food daily.” Barbara Nowak and Peter Laird, “Cultural Anthropology”
“Applied anthropology came into being as a kind of social work and community development effort for non-white peoples, whose future was seen in terms of gradual education and of amelioration of conditions many of which had actually been imposed by their Western conquerors in the first place.” (1968, p. 403) Kathleen Gough
Politically correct statements are still not my strong suit.
And I’m attempting to force my Self to write this disclaimer about how I’m not an organizer, but I’m working on organizing an organization. I’m attempting to force my Self to write this disclaimer about how I’m not a teacher, but I’m teaching. I’m attempting to explain how on a very small scale I’m doing what others do to get a piece of paper that says some one owes them. But nobody is going to give me that. I don’t do it for money. I don’t do it for points. I do it because I think the only way I’ll ever be fully cleared of these regrets that lie in my heart is if I open my hand.
And sure, even I think the money motive is a better one…but hey, I’ve got to live with this mind.
That being said…
The first lesson of a desperate person should be to never forget that there are even more desperate people than you. It is like the minute I woke up that first night in my car, a new world had been exposed to me. Now, I’ve been tied with homeless for years, but once you start having these fucked up thoughts about helping people(scary, right?), then things start to change. At first, I couldn’t pass up a homeless person without acknowledging them. Then I started getting upset every time a guy outside the liquor store ran up on me asking for change. Then I started noticing a very organized pattern of behavior from the homeless in my city: everybody had the same damn cardboard placard, and they started looking like they were rotating shifts on the corners of highway exits. Yesterday, a guy walks up to my car as I pull up to the St. Patricks center and asks me can I charge his phone. Anyone that knows me, knows my space is very precious to me. You will evoke the pettiness of a child being stripped of a toy they weren’t even playing with. I told him no. He thought I said it because of his thick African accent. I could give a fuck it was the voice of Joseph Weekly, it had nothing to do with that.
So, I’m promoting a culture around a band of people that says I keep my hand open. But, I keep finding reasons to not keep my hand open. Charity is a very funny word. I don’t have much, so whatever I have has to be rationed very strenuously. I have to consider my Self. And there has to be a system of reciprocity bigger than that Karma shit everybody has been selling me, because so far, Karma ain’t sent me no checks either.
Also, I’ve got a group of young brothers(ages 8 to 14) following my every Drake song recitation. And I’m caught between two ideologies here. I grew up in the belief that you can’t be a sucker(My first girlfriend actually dumped me for being “too nice”). That creates an understanding within me to avoid allowing them to be taken advantage of. But, when exactly is it being taken advantage of? At what point does my brother NOT have half of my bowl of soup? You know? Couple that with the practical side of my kind temperament: open hand is my survival. Without others, you simply aren’t going to get too far. We live by the bind of our generosity to one another. And I need these children to appreciate that as well.
Thusly, these are a few of the lessons I’ve learned:
1. Separate your personal upfront. This is an old hustler’s adage, if you are going to get high on your own supply, break your self off first. I have a pot for funds that I can use to assist others with. I don’t help the neighbors with their homework before my work is done. I don’t offer counsel until I’ve meditated my Self and worked on a few of my many personal issues. I am not a socialist or any of that shit. I’m a guy in a situation with others doing my part;I’ve got to have my life as well, though.
2. Titles get you in trouble. “Gentleman,” “activist,” “nigga off into that ‘black shyt'” will have you bleeding broke out here. All the people that I know in the public light that say they are “servants of the people,” don’t give out their private number. I can’t call Bro. Louis and ask for advice, a loan, or to check out my book. T.D. Jakes ain’t coming to St. Louis to help me show these children why “gh” is pronounced “f” in “rough,” but not “though.” But, the minute I hit the block with a book with an ankh on it, I’m expected to lift up people’s car with one hand. Define your standards for Self, I promise it will save a lot of time and energy.
3. With that being said, “No” is a comfort zone. When I was younger, I was in a tank with this older brother that always said,”No.” Now, he said this to every query where it could be applied. After some time, you realized it was practice. I know people that are serious about that word though. Sure, I don’t even consider the guys outside the liquor store asking for change seriously. You’ve got to supply your own poisons, homie. But, I do support the brothers and sisters that hustle their wares. I don’t do bootleg movies because I can do that my Self, but if I told every person selling clothing, incense, and other products,”no,” I can’t possibly be honest about the principle underlying Open Hand;namely, reciprocity. Reciprocity is circulation. This is how a community of foreigners can come into our neighborhoods, open a liquor store, and thrive amongst Blacks better Blacks doing the same. They know how to support their own endeavors. This is the root of subsistence economics. Sure, we are in a post-modern economy. We are also in a class strata that feels a lot like Indian caste. With close to 1 trillion dollars being earned and spent by Blacks in the Us and no major industrial players, it is obvious that we might want to consider our own form of economic exchange outside of the overculture.