<![CDATA[Pasaro - Blog]]>Fri, 08 Feb 2019 10:43:49 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Living in a Room With a See Through Door]]>Wed, 12 Dec 2018 19:59:08 GMThttp://thepasaro.com/blog/living-in-a-room-with-a-see-through-door
Four years ago, on a cold moonlit night, the cycle of injustice was breathing without difficulty and roaming the streets just as it is today. The noise on the street emerged from the corner in front of my barbershop where entrepreneurs operated their business. Approaching them, hand extended, I dapped them up before heading inside.

The Barbershop's door creaked as I pushed it open with my shoulder. "When is this nigga gonna fix this door" I thought as I met the bright lights and crowd of conversation inside. When I nudged the door closed, my barber, Devin, said "I got two ahead of you brotha, it'll be quick I know you gotta get out around 8". Normally, since I come at our scheduled time, this would've irritated me; however, today I wasn't in a rush so I sat down. 

Inside were six regular non-customers there strictly for the conversation and a few others who sat waiting to get their haircut. Standing was a guy that left prison a week ago so he was the center of the conversation. While I was thankful to see him free, I wasn't in the mood for talking that night so I split my attention between listening in and writing poems. 

Amidst conversation, red and blue flashes pierced the window that displays the street to the right of the shop. Police drove by often so I didn't think much of it; however, those lights weren't moving. Every face in the barbershop read the same thought, "someone is getting pressed out". The police came to do their job; however, their job contradicted the job of the entrepreneurs. 

Like the cops, the entrepreneurs were there to feed their families. However, unlike the cops, selling drugs was all the entrepreneurs knew how to do. Their reality was birthed from their parents doing the same, attending schools riddled with adults that hate them, and the unavailability of resources made available elsewhere. Regardless of those facts, in the minds of many, what the entrepreneurs do is wrong. However, to us, it isn't.

Then, another set of lights came beaming in. "Another police car? Man, they annoying" I thought. Both the conversation and the clippers stopped as we heard an aggressively toned conversation become a shouting match. We couldn't understand the argument; however, the cops made it a habit to harass entrepreneurs so we knew what was happening. To confirm our assumption, we went outside.

When the door opened our eyes panned from left to right. Everyone who owned a cell phone had it out, verbal attacks were directed at the cops, and lastly, Tae stood with his back against the wall. One policeman stood in front of him while two others stood to his right. Cops were screaming at Tae and he was screaming back. They wanted to search Tae; however, unlike some, he understood that without a warrant or probable cause he had the choice of no, so he said no. Tae and the other entrepreneurs on the corner are experts so when they saw the cops coming they hid their drugs. Nonetheless, Tae's rights made no difference to these seemingly cold-hearted cops. According to them, their ask was a demand.

After a few minutes of arguing passed, in an attempt to turn him around and cuff him, a cop grabbed Tae by his right arm. Left-arm free, Tae punched him, hitting him on his right cheekbone. Tae took his fighter's stance and prepared for a brawl because to him, and the rest of us in the community, this wasn't just a fight to avoid prison, it was a fight in the defense of our rights. The cop stumbled back with a bloody cheek and fell to the ground. The power of the punch froze the other two cops, but they soon reacted once Tae's attacks targeted them.

​Tae threw a right hook that one cop rolled under and countered with a punch to Tae's ribs causing him to stumble. As he was stumbling, he grabbed the shirt of that cop and hit him with a hard uppercut to knock him down. As this was occurring, the cop on the ground began to climb the wall in an attempt to stand again. With only one cop left standing, Tae saw this as his opportunity to escape.

Although the cop left standing had now pulled his gun out, Tae still pushed past him and took off without a care to what direction he was heading. However, he didn't get far before that cop shot two bullets into his leg. Luckily, those shots sent him to the ground before more shots made contact. All three cops jumped on him, two began to beat him while the other forced Tae's hands behind his back to cuff him. The streets were in an uproar.

Women fell to their knees while holding their chest as they gasped for air in between their wails, men held back those wanting to strike back, and children sat with their faces covered in tears and snot. There was one baby girl that sat with here rattler in hand as she cried so hard that I thought she was going to pass out. Screams for justice erupted because, once again, they shattered our peace exposing our vulnerability.

Although we knew the cops were wrong, we couldn't stop them. An attempt to intervene would've been met with either cuffs or bullets. People recorded the entire incident, and although it displayed how the cops abused their power, our belief in the system had diminished to where many of us knew it wouldn't matter. The video went public. 

Charged for the possession of a weapon and resisting arrest, the court sent Tae to prison and declared his bruises and wounds as justified.

Those policemen still drive through the area, the recently freed Tae still hangs on that same corner, and I still get my haircut at that same barbershop. It's a continuous cycle where one day it was Tae and the next it may be me because to some cops, we're all the same.

Comment below your thoughts on some being more vulnerable than other.

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<![CDATA[Beefing With the Ice Cream Man]]>Wed, 14 Nov 2018 16:13:34 GMThttp://thepasaro.com/blog/beefing-with-the-ice-cream-man
Back when Kevin was still counting his chin hairs, the best time of the year was summer. The sun was out, girls traded pants for shorts so hormones were rampant, and no school so all the neighborhood kids would meet up in the morning and hang until sunset. 

In Kevin's neighborhood, their favorite part of the day was getting ice cream from the ice cream truck. That iconic ice cream truck song placed them in a trance as it beat on their eardrums. Immediately they would stop whatever they were doing to run home for money where they either begged their parents or searched every couch. Even if in an emotional tie-breaking basketball game with few points to go, they would still run to the ice cream truck. 
To those kids ice cream was a delicacy; moreover, it was cheap so it wasn't an item they needed their parents to buy. As I said, they searched the crevices of their couches and though it was never much, that lint covered money was often enough. To this day, neighborhoods everywhere love ice cream trucks because they satisfy the sugar tooth of kids. However, this loving relationship with the ice cream man would change for this group of kids.

Kevin and his friends, Tj, Trevor, and Herb had an additional reason for their love of ice cream. They made a habit out of watching the girls eat their ice cream and when the girls had no money the boys gave them theirs. This group of boys was filled with boys that were suckers for girls.

One girl, in particular, caught everyone's eye, her name was Kaela, a 5'4 girl with skin the color of honey. In her neighborhood and at school, Kaela was the leading lady. She was smart, kind, and though she didn't care for social status, popular too.

In the past, Kevin hadn't viewed her as a potential girlfriend. However, it was as though something changed, whatever it was, it made his stomach fill with butterflies and knees weak every time he saw her. When he would try to speak his words tripped over each other and he resorted to a slight laugh with a smile to cover the awkwardness.

It didn't take long for her to go from the friendly dap up to the hug that lasted longer than when he would hug other girls. "A weird, good but bad feeling," he told his crew. From that day, his mission was making her his girl. This was a pretty hard task to take on considering she didn't care to have a boyfriend. 

Every summer day, excluding Saturday and Sunday because of Saturday morning cartoons and Sunday church, the kids would be outside by 1 pm. To start every day, Kevin's crew met up at swamp at the top of the hill. The crews' hangout spot where they played football, skipped rocks and used the woods as a shortcut to the neighborhoods of their friends.

Today though, they were just chilling and waiting for the ice cream mans arrival. All day, for what seemed like every 10 minutes or so, Tj mentioned his craving for a Bugs Bunny Popsicle.

The Ice Cream man came cruising in at his usual time of 3 pm. The sun was bright, the wind blew through his cracked windows, and the streets were lively, it was an enjoyable day. When the crew heard the truck they ran and met him at the usual spot—in front of Kaela's house. 

They all got their ice cream, and Tj's talk in anticipation of getting the popsicle made Kevin want the same. There wasn't enough time for Kevin to run home and search for money, so he dug his hands down in pockets and under the lint in his hands rested a wrinkled five dollar bill. Saliva began building up in his mouth as he handed it over to the ice cream man for the $1.50 popsicle.

The popsicle came; however, the change didn't. "I got you tomorrow lil man, got no change today" said the ice cream man with a smirk. A V-shaped mouth and eyebrows met that smirk because Kevin knew he was lying. No change was an excuse he used to avoid giving change and that tomorrow he mentioned, doesn't come. 

Embarrassed and afraid of Kaela seeing the tears he fought to keep in his eye, Kevin marched off to the park knowing that he wouldn't get his change. Moreover, he knew that everyone's parents ignored their ice cream man related complaints. The parents had two reasons for this, first being that the ice cream man was friends with all the adults in the neighborhood and the second being that the parents assumed the kids were lying about not using the money for themselves. The latter wasn't an assumption without evidence because on occasion that was what the kids did. 

All but Kevin sat by the swings and indulged in their ice cream. The rest of the crew wasn't mad because they all learned to give the ice cream man exact change or a little over. However, so did Kevin but this time he didn't have exact change but he still wanted the popsicle.

Stomping on the ground with all the force his pre-teen body could muster, Kevin proclaimed "I'm tired of this shit y'all, that ice cream man is trippin and we needa do somethin about him keepin our money!". 

They all agreed, but what could they do? After a long silence, Herb said: "let's rob his ass". Everyone's head turned, all eyes were on Herb. He continued "it can't be hard. I mean y'all know when he parks he always gets out to stretch and he leaves his car door unlocked. Remember that time we opened it as a joke? I'm sure it's like that every time". Herb was right; however, Trevor, worried their parents would catch them, disagreed. "Na, won't happen, all the parents are still at work during that time, so ain't nobody gonna be able to snitch " said Herb successfully putting Trevor's worries to rest. Wanting to strike soon, they gave themselves two weeks to prepare. When the two weeks passed, they were ready. 

The ice cream man parked in front of Kaela's house, and, as usual, they all came running. Things started off well. After his stretch, the ice cream man got back into his truck, this prompted Trevor and Kevin to signal the initiation of the plan. To distract the ice cream man they questioned his journey to his current life stage. It was the perfect distraction because the ice cream man told his story to anyone with ears.  They faked their interest thus allowing Herb and T.j. to sneak by the drivers' door.

The ice cream man was bigger than them all so they knew they couldn't go in empty-handed. Therefore, Tj brought his pocket knife. As Tj rested the duffle bag on the ground, he held the handle of the unlocked drivers' door. He commenced a three count then at three he swung the door open so hard that it sprung back and hit Herb as he jumped into the truck.

Tj held the knife and Herb demanded money and ice cream. The ice cream man wasn't afraid, he tackled them both and they tussled over the knife. Kevin and Trevor ran to provide back up. All four boys were in the truck and the ice cream mans' hopes of leaving unscathed diminished. Punches and kicks were coming from all directions, Tj grabbed their duffle bag from outside the truck and threw as much ice cream as he could into the bag when the unexpected occurred. 

During the fight, Tj's assumption that the adults would be absent was incorrect. Kaela's mother, confused and enraged by the noise, came screaming outside asking what in the world was happening. The boys sprinted as they hoped the eyes of Kaela's mother didn't catch their faces. That wouldn't have mattered though—the ice cream man told her everything. 

Down the street, Kevin and the crew celebrated knowing they committed the heist that every neighborhood kid has been wanting to pull off. A bag full of ice cream and pride intact, all four boys were ecstatic. But then, the street lights came on and it was time to go home. 

Kaela's mother didn't call the police nor did the ice cream man. Still, what she did was something that could have ruined their crews' alliance. She told all four of their parents and each received the most severe beating in their life. Moreover, their parents forbade them from hanging together for months. However, that didn't matter much to them because as clever as they were, they found a way to meet up.

​What they couldn't avoid though, was Kaela's mother forbidding her from hanging with Kevin. Convinced Kevin was a bad influence, Kaela cut him off. This momentarily stopped Kevin's pursuit but it didn't take long for him to set out again on his mission of making her his girl. After all, he couldn't take a loss and move on.

The plan didn't go how they hoped. However, they achieved revenge and though no ice cream truck has since reentered their neighborhood, they found refuge in standing up for themselves.
<![CDATA[One man's good is another man's evil]]>Wed, 31 Oct 2018 19:11:07 GMThttp://thepasaro.com/blog/onemansgoodisanothermansevilDecember 1953.

For around 200 years there's been an old abandoned house way up north. Nowadays, rumors are spreading about the people that once lived there. Although rumors spread daily, none ever resemble the truth. Back in the mid-1700's, a man named Tom Crow owned the property, and he was a slave owner with over two dozen slaves. Additionally, he had a son named Jimmy, who was a young boy of age 11 with a sadistic sense of humor. 
​Jimmy loved to play, as he called them, tricks on the slaves and found amusement in their illiteracy. Either he was stealing their clothes, tripping them, spitting in their food, lying to them about the meaning of words, or dashing ice cold water on them to wake them out of their sleep. These tricks took place on a daily basis, and he sometimes created new tricks to catch them off guard.

Still, of all his tricks, the slaves despised the water the most. The ice-cold water would shock them out of their sleep and cause them to gasp for air. They would sit on their beds for several minutes, soaked from the water. With water dripping from their bodies, the veins in their forehead throbbing, and their teeth clenched, they scowled at the little boy as he exploded with laughter on his way out of their room. 

Any person aware of Jimmy's behavior would assume that he hated the slaves; however, that wasn't the case whatsoever. In fact, he was never shy in his expression of love for them. Jimmy would run to his room with tears racing down his cheeks when his father would sell one, beat one to death, or if one died for some other reason. All night he would stay up sobbing and twisting around in what was a soft, cloud-like bed with several pillows that on any other night he fell asleep in seconds in. This one-sided bond formed primarily because Jimmy was an only child. 

He yearned for friends because he lived in a quiet area with a few neighbors. None of which had children around Jimmy's age. Moreover, his father didn't help in relieving Jimmy of his feeling of isolation, he actually made it worse. Tom never expressed love or compassion for his son. The closest thing Jimmy ever got was the head nod, he received every morning. Tom's priority was increasing his wealth so spending time with his son never fit into his schedule. The weather was of no help either. Where they lived had brutally cold winters that kept him inside the house. Consequently, without the slaves, loneliness and depression would've filled his days.

In spite of what Jimmy thought were good intentions, the slaves saw Jimmy as an insane child. It never occurred to them that he was under the impression that they enjoyed his company as much as he did theirs. Surely that was the last idea anyone would have had while having to endure daily torture from a child. One slave, named Frederick, often found himself at the center of Jimmy's attention. He harassed Frederick first and last in both the morning and at night. 

Frederick never grasped why Jimmy abused him the most. Nor did Jimmy consciously realize that he spent most of his time with Frederick. The reason for Jimmy's attraction to Frederick was because he was the only father among the slaves. Jimmy was envious of how much attention he gave to his son who was the same age as Jimmy. Frederick's son received all of his father's free time. Frederick was either playing with him, teaching him, or resting with him. Jimmy yearned for this kind of relationship with his father. However, he knew it was impossible. As a result, he sought to have Frederick to fill that void. 

The slaves prayed for the day to come when they could escape that malevolent child. After several years crept by, the opportunity to escape came and they took it with haste. Despite the fact that they were limited to a week for the development of their plan, it was still one in which they could place their confidence in. As they escaped, per usual, Jimmy was heading to their room before he went to sleep. When he got there, he caught Frederick leaving. 

The other slaves had left. He had come back because his son had forgotten the blanket his mother left for him at birth. Leaving it was unthinkable since she died during his birth. In the tone of a heart-broken child witnessing a betrayal being committed by a parent, Jimmy asked "Are you leaving? Why? Don't you love me?". Frederick, taken aback, stood frozen struggling to digest the obscenity of what the boy had just said. Slowly taking backward steps his throat became dry and it felt as though it was becoming tighter by the second. Unable to speak, he quickly turned and ran faster than he ever has in his life. As he ran, he thought, "this boy is the devil himself". Nonetheless, he continued to run while checking behind him, hoping that the boy would not give chase.  

In spite of Jimmy seeing, Frederick was able to escape that day. However, he was never able to escape the memory of Jimmy's words. Those words sparked an ever-burning hate for white people in him. "How can one do so much evil and think he is doing good" continuously repeated in his head and haunted him for the rest of his life. 
<![CDATA[Baltimore City's journey out of poverty]]>Sun, 09 Sep 2018 17:00:00 GMThttp://thepasaro.com/blog/baltimore-citys-journey-out-of-poverty

Baltimore city's poor economic state was caused by incompetent government planning during deindustrialization. For years the city's residents, especially the Black population, have suffered from their negligence.

​However, leaders and social entrepreneurs native to the city as well as outside organizations are leading the city's journey out of poverty.

The rich past of Baltimore city

During the second Great Migration, Baltimore City was a hot spot for Black Southern migrants because of  job opportunities. The manufacturing industry served as a pathway to financial stability for the migrants and many others. It provided a decent wage without the requirement of a higher education.

Baltimore once accounted for nearly 75% of all Maryland workers’ jobs, most of which were in the manufacturing industry. However, once globalization appeared in the mid-1900s, it popularized the outsourcing of labor and jobs decreased.

Bethlehem Steel, formerly located at Sparrow Point in Baltimore County, was once the largest steel mill in the country. At its peak, it employed around 35,000 Baltimore residents.

From 1950-1995, in combination with Baltimore City’s other major factories of the time, the city lost over 100,000 jobs. Moreover, Baltimore lost another 25% of its manufacturing jobs from 1999-2005. This decline was the
7th highest among all U.S cities and more than the country’s average.

A rise in unemployment

The good news is, the city replaced the lost jobs. The bad news is they were replaced by limited low-wage service sector jobs that barely cover basic needs. By the end of the 20th century, Black people accounted for 71% of low-wage service workers.

As a result of unsatisfactory job availability, the city’s poverty rate increased. It has consistently been nearly double than the average of both the country and state.

Effects on today's youth 

Unlike the middle and upper class White people and Black people, who relocated during deindustrialization, lower middle-class residents, many of which were the recent Black migrants, were forced to stay. Consequently, primarily Black people have been affected by the poor economy.

In the last 27 years, Baltimore’s lowest unemployment rate has been 5%, and the highest has been 12%. Baltimore has consistently been one of the country's most poverty-stricken cities. Moreover, low-wage service industry employees experience long and sporadic hours. That being the case, youth often go without supervision.

According to a Harvard study, a substantial percentage of kids left without guardians have suffered physically or mentally. The same study states that parents in Baltimore are more likely to leave their children home alone sick all day than parents in Vietnam.

For parents to provide their children with their basic needs, they are having to risk their child's mental and physical health in the process. Undoubtedly, this decision eats at the heart of those that must make it.

A city full of leaders!

The city needs jobs, and the manufacturing industry has become archaic; however, there are various other industries that can flourish in Baltimore.

John Hopkins has become one of the leading organizations in providing new hiring and contracting programs for residents.

According to the Baltimore Sun, in 2016 their Hopkins local program has steered more than $55 million in construction spending to disadvantaged or minority- or women-owned firms. To date, they have made more than 300 hires from underserved Baltimore neighborhoods for entry-level positions.

Progress is occurring in their education system as well. Recently, the city voted to change dollar allocations to traditional public schools based on poverty levels rather than standardized test scores. This shift should result in more money in the schools of underserved students.

Throughout this period of economic disarray, the spirits of the city’s residents have remained high. Communities are working together to elevate the city. As a result, beneficial organizations like SAFE Alternative, B-360 Baltimore, and Tha Flower Factory are making an impact! 

These, and similar initiatives  by other social entrepreneurs native to the city,  have assisted in the decline in poverty from 24.2% in 2014 to 23% in 2016. It is their efforts that will secure a bright future for Baltimore City and demonstrate to people everywhere how unity can create change.

<![CDATA[Watch Those Around You]]>Mon, 09 Jul 2018 05:44:19 GMThttp://thepasaro.com/blog/watch-those-around-you]]>