“Buddy?” one of my team buddy members curiously says to me two Sundays ago,
“Yes buddy”, I say back, with my usual morning voice, as my two buddies hop in my pick-up truck and we start to head up to my properties on Lookout Mountain to do some yard work.
I own several properties in and around Chattanooga TN, so my fellas (my young black guys who work with me almost every day and who help me take care of my real estate empire) and I came up with the name “Team Buddy” about three months ago, in early Spring of 2013.
At the moment there are four members of “Team Buddy” (Little Darryl, Roscoe, JR and me), my goal by the end of 2013 is to have at least twenty five members of “Team Buddy” made up of friends, family, co-workers, business folks and anyone one else who wants to bring something “different” to my racial round table of young black brethren in Chattanooga, TN.
You see, for years I’ve been hiring men from all walks of life and of all colors, however, I’ve never hired a young black fella (say, under the age of 21) to work with any of my businesses.
Now some of you might be sittin’ there thinking, “well that sucks”, and some of you might be thinking, “well I understand why”, but I bet most of you are just thinking “Huh”?
Thus, the latter of your responses pretty much sums up where I stand on the question of “does the socioeconomic ladder exist for my poor young black youths of Chattanooga TN”, that was, until a year ago today.
Now I know most of you are thinking, what in the hell is Michele talking about now and what the hell is she smoking; but having come from what I would call, “the inter-racial capital of Tennessee” (back in the early nineties I had a black friend named Marla who went to UTC but whose boyfriend decided to transfer up to ETSU our junior year and later in the year Marla found out the hard way that a lot of white girls are color-blind in JC, I’m not sure which fact offended Marla more; that her fella cheated on her or that he stepped out of her race to do it? Marla always knew how to explain things to me so I’d understand her travails as a black woman) never really thought much of racial issues growing up in Johnson City.
I mean “it” existed.
I was just more worried about what kind of car I was gonna get for my sixteenth birthday than what kind of jobs my black friends were gonna have when we grew up. White folks verses black folks, black folks verses black folks, just seemed like an absurd notion when I was growing up.
Now don’t get me wrong, I knew most of my black friends were poor but I always thought I was poor too so I never really thought much about their “racial-economic-calamity”.
In fact, I probably thought more about my “female-travails” than anything else, because growing up in a town where; who you dated, what you drove, and what does your daddy do seemed to be the most important facets of my life back in 1985 Johnson City, TN.
Even the “working” poor (as some folks like to call folks who’ll work for minimum wage) always seemed nice and always fed me like my newspaper mommies, I just never really saw a distinction between the two.
I’m not gonna lie, I probably ate more Little Debbie snacks than any other kid growing up in Johnson City Tennessee during the eighties. It didn’t seem to matter which home I was in, whether I was in “the projects”, or the “Gump Addition”, these “little” snacks were on the counters of my youth.
Now I’m not sure when I decided to exchange my “Little Debbie” friend for my college buddy “Corona” but it happened sometime during my first year at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. I can’t pinpoint the exact date but I think it was about two weeks after I quit pursuing my dream of playing college basketball.