Voices From the ‘Hood


Ask 325 people in Bed-Stuy—plus one hip-hop advocate—about the reparations movement, and you’ll get an earful.

“If it means that we will be treated fairly, I’d like to learn about it, but older people never talk to us about anything, that’s the problem.” —Tanya, 16

“I don’t feel all that connected to slaves, so I’m not interested in reparations on that front. If they started fighting to get these cops off our backs, and fix these dumbified schools, then I’d be interested.” —Geoffrey, 30

“I have no idea what you’re talking about—repa what?” —Malik, 23

“Yo, you trippin’, lady. There is no way that white people feel guilty enough for slavery to give us money. What drug are you on?” —Trey, 35

“I’m supposed to be living in the shelter, but it’s safer to sleep in that broke-down Honda over there. Why would I care about a movement? I got my own damn problems.” —Bottle Eye Billie, 37 (crackhead and squeegee man)

“We don’t need no ol’-school movement; hip-hop is our voice. It took a lot of us out the ghetto and put us in mansions right next to the white people. If we handle it correctly, they’ll never be able to hold a brotha down again.” —Kaliq, 32

“Are you going to pay me for this? Then I ain’t got nothing to say.” —Shante, 19

“I ain’t trying to hear about jack that don’t got nothing to do with me.” —Kim, 19

“I don’t believe in reparations. We’ve already overcome by emancipating ourselves from slavery, so we should just move on. But I do believe that our youth should be educated about our great contribution to world history because that is where the power lies.” —Keila, 22

“We tired of hearing how everybody and they mother gonna save our poor black asses. We been hearing that forever. Where they at?” —Jennifer, 37

“It’s all hype—the people that need the money the most never get it, and it’s no different this time.” —Kevin, 37

“I don’t know enough about the issue to have an opinion. I do know that blacks have struggled for too long for all the wrong reasons, and anything that can put an end to it should be shared with all of us.” —Shanee, 25

“Just show me the money, baby, that’s all that matters.” —Tony, 22

“I see which direction this generation is heading in, and we have to reach them. I’m going to work to engage these people, and I won’t be alone either, because I expect others to follow. We have to find a way to endear ourselves to the community and make them a part of this process.” —Russell Simmons, age 44

Return to “No Masses, No Movement” by Adamma Ince