As I mentioned last time, my father was a pimp. He had 15 girls working for him at any given time. Generally his girls were loyal to him because he treated them well. He ensured that they had adequate protection when they were out doing their jobs.
There were a couple of times when he had to really step in to protect his girls. He told me that he only ever had to shoot 5 people in his life. He didn’t shoot to kill; rather he believed in shooting to send a message. He would shoot them in the knee-cap – which makes a very long-lasting impression.
My mother was well-aware of my dad’s activities. But of course, Strawberry Mansion was a tough neighborhood and jobs like this were quite common. We’d have people from all over Philly coming to our neighborhood to get a piece of the action. Afterwards, they’d go back home to their cute little families.
I always loved seeing the suburban white people come to our hood. I imagined that they all lived with their white picket fences and dogs and shit.
I was envious. I knew that was the life that I had wanted. The American dream. However, as a black man growing up in the 50s, it was rare for any person of my kind to have that kind of dream.
Instead, were were expected to help the white people live the lives that we wanted. We were their servants.
There were some black folks that made it out of the hood and had that white person dream life. Those people were the ones that started their own legitimate business on the out-skirts of the hood and catered to white folk.
I knew that was what I wanted to do…