Am I My Brother’s Keeper? (Facilitating the Comeup)

It seems that when you are born in an area stricken by poverty or an area with a high concentration of low income workers, there is an unspoken contract that you consent to. It states that if you are fortunate enough to move beyond the status quo, you have an obligation to assist others in their journey out of poverty. In other words, if you are one of the proverbial plants who manage to grow out of concrete, you do not simply stretch your roots out and enjoy the sun; instead, once you have made a hole or  crack in the seemingly impenetrable barricade that is poverty, you move to the side and let others attempt to come through your hole in order to grasp at some sunshine for themselves.

I say that it is unspoken, but that is not true. It will be spoken of if you do not abide by this contract. Some people will be bold enough to come out and say that you should help them because you made it  and it is the right thing to do, while others will insist you owe them something because they “knew you when.” Some will mask their endeavors towards riding your coattails  in phrases such as: “you are not the same ” or they lament how much you have changed.

I do not agree with these notions. I believe that if you make it into a better position and life and choose to use that position to give back to others, then that makes you a wonderful person. If you choose to donate to hospitals, schools, your local outreach program, etc., that is great. You are putting money, effort, and/or time into a system that you existed in for quite some time. However, you do not owe a job to “Joe Blow” down the street because he gave you a birthday card when you were eight.

People who are in no way qualified or people who will be a detriment to what you have made for yourself will not care that they are these things. “Joe Blow” could not keep a job at McDonald’s, he/she was always late and  unnecessarily took days off. Now he/she wants employment at your place of business. What do you do? Armed with an understanding of their conditions and how difficult it would be for them to transition to where you are without your help, do you give in? Do you just “give them a chance”? I mean “come on mane, everybody needs a chance.” “Some one had to give you one, right?”

To tie this into what we have covered in class with the film Hustle & Flow, I do not believe that Skinny Black owed it to DJay (spell it right) to listen to his cassette. I know many people see it as just a listen, but that is looking at it with rose colored glasses. DJay was invited to the party for other business and tried to pimp Skinny Black. He sat down at his table after convincing himself that they were in some way friends because he had heard of him. He played up this imagined friendship not out of admiration, but because he wanted something from Skinny Black. Skinny Black owes him no listen and could have felt slighted by the move. Think about it. You sit down and begin to converse with what you think is someone who likes you for who you are and not what you have and then they reveal their ulterior motives.

Did DJay support Skinny Black by buying his mixtape? Yes, but so did a thousand other people, hence his fame. Does he owe something to each and every one of them? No? Then why does he have to give anything to DJay specifically? He is not his brother’s keeper, nor is he the keeper of some guy down the street who saw him in the hallway of the local high school sometimes.

14 thoughts on “Am I My Brother’s Keeper? (Facilitating the Comeup)

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