I will breathe - Part 6.5 (The court)
Written on May 8, 2020
Prior to 1996, I spent most of my summers playing sports and hanging out with my friends. I am extremely grateful for how sports have contributed to the person I am today. I attribute a great portion of the development in my leadership, work ethic, sportsmanship, discipline, stress-management and competitive spirit to organized sports. However, I also enjoyed playing sports less formally. Most of the kids my age who did not join an organized team were often left with the option of presenting themselves on the neighborhood basketball court every evening to compete against each other. The organized and recreational formats had very distinct dynamics but were both fun. I learned a lot in both contexts, but interestingly enough, as I reached my late teenage years and entered the 2000’s, it was on that exact neighborhood basketball court that something about my experience gradually started to change.
The basketball court was where I began to see the most violence, substance abuse and egocentricity. The more freedom I was given to stay out late, the more madness I got introduced to. I started to see MEN exploit young WOMEN. I witnessed a MAN hit another MAN to the head with a baseball bat, leaving him with an open bloody forehead. A MAN once ‘’G-checked’’ me for having a blue flag hanging out of my pocket even though I was not part of a gang. Young MEN and WOMEN drank 40-oz beers until they got sick, smoked weed every night, you know…typical stuff. Nonetheless, through it all, I did enjoy playing basketball. However, for some of us, that playground also became a place to establish our respect, affirm our manhood and go through our share of teenage experiences. On top of being an ego booster, the basketball court was a place that we would attend with curiosity since we knew that there was always something entertaining that would be taking place. We were simply a group of young MEN and WOMEN thirsty for action!
Have you noticed how I wrote that we were all young MEN and WOMEN? Not a single time did I mention the skin color nor the ethnicity of the individuals involved in those activities, because it is simply irrelevant. What IS relevant however, is how we analyze cultural plurality and how big of a societal obstacle it is. From my point of view, what used to happen at the court is the result of a society that, naively or with misplaced opportunism, solely saw diversity as a great asset to lead to more prosperity.
Put simply, I see it cultural plurality as a problem. What I saw at the park summarized a phenomenon that went beyond just playing ball. It was the manifestation of our freedom; a condition that was handed to us without warning. In consequence, the various kinds of events that took place, whether they were good or bad, were simply an inescapable part of the human experience.