06 Jan Khalid’s Corner: The Streets Is a Lie
By Khalid Elahi
I was the best comedian at every school I went to, from elementary to high school. Waiting at the bus stop to go to Portola Junior High, I started talking about people’s Jheri curl bags on their head. This was in ’81, but people laughed like it was Def Comedy Jam. Those laughs meant I belonged. Because I had a Muslim name, the kids weren’t ready for that and they gave me the business.
I was busy being funny when most other students were concentrating on going to the next level with their education.
But there I was, concentrating only on the moment. My jokes came to an end when everyone from my class and football team went off to the military or college, and I was devastated when I realized I was set to serve a life sentence in the streets of Richmond.
I never wanted to be a street guy, selling drugs and playing with guns, but time ran out on me. I was 18 when I realized I wasn’t going to college. I wasn’t ready for the bell of life while everyone else was moving on.
When you run out of options and your best choice is the worst thing in the world, it’s like, Houston, we got a problem. I figured I could hustle my way out. I thought what happened to the ones before my time couldn’t happen to me. Before long, it was feast or be eaten.
When they put the handcuffs on me and took me to jail in 1990, I knew it wasn’t fun and games anymore. I couldn’t just laugh and shrug it off.
When a close friend of mine got killed in 1991, I took life more seriously. He was a strong brother. They always said real niggas don’t die, but that was a lie. The strong die, too. The streets is a lie.
My eyes have seen it all: people got killed in my neighborhood, and we kids looked at the body on our way to school. We just went to school like it was a regular day. No therapy. No counseling. There is nothing under the sun that is new to me. My tank of tears dried up years ago. I hardened at a young age. It all started from telling jokes and wasting valuable time. Until life got real.
I guess you could say that I am a lucky one because the Almighty still allowed me to turn right and keep straight.
My advice is to not rely on luck. Handle your education so you can get yourself into a real position.
There’s nothing wrong with laughing at life sometimes. But there’s nothing funny about not handling your business on a day-to-day basis because relying on luck only increases your chances of failure.