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From the Editor / Parenting / Single Moms Talk / October 19, 2012

While watching the news, last week as the space shuttle, Endeavour, made its way through the streets of Westchester, Inglewood and South Central Los Angeles (all my stomping grounds growing up), my son asked, “What or where is Inglewood?”  I explained to him that Inglewood was a city near Los Angeles.  At that moment it dawned on me that my son, at 9 years old is growing up so much differently than I did.

Currently, I live in the Inland Empire, which is about an hours drive east from Los Angeles.  I guess it is what one would call the suburbs.  It is quiet, no graffiti and if there are gangs here, I have never seen them.  It is much different then growing up in Los Angeles and Inglewood, like I did.

When I was 9 years old, we lived on 61st street between Broadway and Main.  The sound of helicopters and sirens were a constant thing.  So constant, you learned to tune them out, unless the helicopters had their lights scrolling over the windows of our house or the police cars and ambulances were on the block.  While walking to the corner store,  we walked past graffiti telling us which gang was claiming the neighborhood that we lived in and who their enemies were.  I was used to the gang members that hung out on our block and even knew most of them.

As I grew up in that neighborhood, until the age of 15, I became very street smart and could maneuver my way around the city on the RTD buses.  Back then we called them, The Rough, Tuff & Dangerous because that was exactly what they were.  I knew what neighborhoods to go to and which ones you had to be careful in.  Even though I lived in a Crip neighborhood, I proudly wore my red vans and red tie from my All Girls Catholic High School uniform with pride.  No one ever bothered me.

Back then, things were so different from the way they are today.

When I go to Los Angeles today to visit friends and family and I drive through the different neighborhoods, my son asks, “Why do they write on the walls in this city?”  While driving through certain neighborhoods, he will say things like, “This city is a slum.”  When I asked him if he would want to live here, he yelled out, “NO!” 

I always said that I wouldn’t want to raise my son in Los Angeles because there are so many things that you have to worry about when raising a Black Male Child in the city.  You have to not only worry about gangs but the police, as well.  Contrary to popular belief, police are not always your friends!  They can very much be the enemy of black males.  Don’t get me wrong, just because we live in the suburbs does not mean that the police will not be a threat to my son.  I am fully aware of that.  I pray that he does not fall prey to a crooked cop because of his skin color.


From the ages of 7 to 17, we moved 8 times.  Whenever an area got bad, we moved, especially when my brothers were in their preteens and teens.  My mother feared them getting involved in gangs.

As I look at my son, I cringe at the fact that he may never have the “street sense” that I had. He has never walked, anywhere by himself, let alone the corner store (we don’t have a corner store, but you get what I mean.)  He will probably never learn how to take public transportation, learn what to do when you see two groups from opposing sides start to clash, etc.

At school they teach them that when someone hits you, you tell a teacher.  We were taught that when someone hits you, you knock the hell out of them.  I have tried to instill this in Timothy but he is just not that kinda kid.  He wants to be friends with everyone and will make a friend wherever we go.  I call him, “The Friend of the Friendless,” because any child who is looking for someone to play with or a friend…Tim will find them.  His feelings get hurt when someone doesn’t want to play with him at school or if someone doesn’t want to be his friend.  He says, “I was really nice to them and they still didn’t want to be my friend.”  Maybe it’s an only child thing, but I try to get him to have “tougher skin.”  Hopefully, he will .

While there are certainly benefits to raising my son in the suburbs, as opposed to Los Angeles, i.e. better schools, safer neighborhoods, etc., the bad side to it is the cultural differences between Tim and his classmates.  This school year, he has 4 other African-American kids in his class, when he is usually the only one.  He talks proper English (this is not a bad thing) but is often questioned about the way he speaks when we visit friends in LA.  He has been asked “why do you talk so proper?”  To that question, he responded with a confused look on his face, because all the kids that he knows speak like him.

He is not familiar with “slang words,” the latest dance or the newest rap song but he can tell you about the structure of a cell, biomes, how to multiply 3 digit numbers and the latest, “Diary of a Wimpy  Kid” book.  Because of that, I have to say that growing up in the suburbs is not so bad and if my son never learned all the “cool” stuff that his counterparts in Los Angeles know but continues to get good grades, earn scholarships to college and becomes an educated, honest, respectful African American man, then I will know that I made the right choice in saying, “No Hood for Timothy.”





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Ty Knighten
Ty Knighten knows a thing or two about relationships and dating. A single mom from Calif., Ty decided to turn her experiences in love and relationships into a blog. Written with plenty of sass, her mission is to help women empower themselves to realize love, success and confidence through her articles. She writes about dating and relationships from the perspective of a single mom but adds insights that will help women and men as they maneuver through the confusing world of dating and relationships. You can reach her on Twitter @UHeardMeRight, on Facebook at The Sexy Single Mommy or connect with her on Google+ and Instagram at chocoty.

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on October 19, 2012

This so sounds like my sister and newphew. We grew up in the suburbs but it was a mixture of children, and by the time we graduated from school it was primarily black. However, my nephews experience has been much different because he is raised in a primarily white neighborhood. But when we go to church and he is around children that are from the city they often question him, but thats just him! He is doing better with his street sense now that he is 13 but I get exactly what you are saying!!! This blog makes complete sense!!!

    on October 19, 2012

    Thanks, Carissa. I’m glad that you understand what I was talking about.

on October 19, 2012

Ty I just loved this post! I can relate so much. I grew up in DC and I think about how I took city transportation to school and all the other things that my daughters will never experience living in the suburbs if Nashville. Some things I’m sad that they’ll miss out on like all the different cultures, etc. But I know where they are being raised is best for them. Kudos to you for being such a great mom and not feeling like you have to “keep it real” with your son.

    on October 19, 2012

    Thanks, Alisha. I am glad that you can relate. As moms, the decisions we make, as they relate to our children, affect them for the rest of their lives and Like, I think that he will “miss” some of the things that we experienced as children, he is in the best place for his well being and future.

on October 19, 2012

Very good blog and you make a lot of good points. I’m sure there are plenty of parents who feel the same way. I will say this though, no matter where you live, “the hood” or “the suburbs”, if you don’t have a solid family with strong family values, you can end up on the wrong side of the tracks. I know people who have moved away from LA to the I.E. to give their family a so called better life. Only problem is they took the hood with them. I wish you continued success in raising a young black man in today’s world.

on October 20, 2012

So glad that you are in a position that you can make the choice of where you will raise your son. Lots of folks don’t have that choice. As a counselor in the DC school system I have heard and witnessed so much negativity, bad choices and even the deaths of my young male students. I am already thinking about where I want to be when my kids go to school. It will def not be in this public school system unless their is a major overhaul


on October 21, 2012

I can relate to this as well. I grew up in the hood the first 10 years of my life, where I was use to the little ghetto games and everything else that came with it. Then we moved to the surburbs and I got a taste of that. The only thing about it is that, my home life was in a normal setting, but I choose to go to school in the hood district because of the fact that all of my friends was there. I was used to being around certain types of kids, but I went home to a more formal community. I got the best of both worlds, I new the streets slang, and grew some balls because many of my friends were in gangs.When I went home, I was surrounded by a strong family. I think that it is good that your son will not have to come up in the hood, but one day he will be introduced to a rough character and gain some type of street smarts. I think that it is good to have some, but the best way to learn street smarts is for you to teach him. As boys, they have to learn how to deal with all sorts of things, and not to get their feelings hurt about things that they will have to accept. Just teach him that some people will not accept him, and it will be fine. Just keep it moving! Keep him out of the dam hood tho, its one thing to have to be there, but if you dont, stay out!

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