One of the unfortunate truths about the Black experience in America is that the playing field isn't always level. No doubt the moment Kunte Kinte realized folks of a different color were being handed things that he had work 22 hours a day for, the hustle was born. For those not in the know, the hustle is not about criminal enterprise (though some people have taken it there). The hustle is about doing what needs to be done to keep it pushing. I don't know a single black man who doesn't smile when K.R.E.A.M. (Kash Rules Everything Around Me) comes on. Dollar, dollar bills, ya'll. To illustrate my point, a few BougieTales:
BougieDad was a doctor, so it's not as if he didn't have socially revered means of earning income. But BougieDad loved to cut a corner or get in on a bargain. He was ALL about the hustle. From as early as I remember, BougieDad had friends who could provide any number of goods of services not necessarily advertised in the yellow pages. We learned not to ask any questions. He had a friend named Frenchy who ran a restaurant food delivery service. Some days he would come home with a trunk full of t-bones, sausage, shrimp and pre-cut burgers. He had a friend named Snake who could fix any car manufactured. Way before anyone else I knew owned a VCR; we had a huge wood grained Panasonic sitting on top the TV in the den. When Sam's Club first opened, he was in there weekly buying things in ridiculous bulk and snickering on his way out the door like he stole something. Example: My father passed away in 2000, the aluminum foil he bought that year from Sam's ran out in 2008- no lie. We had a commemorative ceremony when we took the container to recycling. God bless the hustle.
A friend of mine from my college days was always coming and going at odd hours. We never saw him dressed to go to a job but he always seemed to have money from somewhere. I finally broke down and asked him exactly what he did. One night when he was at a club, a couple of drunk college kids stumbled up to his vehicle (he drove an old van) and asked for rides home and offered to pay him. He took them home, got paid and arranged to have their vehicles brought to their houses by the next morning for an additional fee. Word spread, he handed out cards with his pager number on it, the side gig grew into a full time business. He added food delivery and hangover remedies and expanded to four other college towns. As it grew beyond his control, he sold The Tipsy Taxi to some bus company for nine figures and is working on his next thing. Gotta respect the hustle.
When I moved back from Austin to Dallas, I was strapped for cash and asked my then boyfriend to help out (he was as broke if not more than I was). I assumed he was going to load up my stuff onto his truck and haul it up I-35 himself. The day of the move I answered the door to five big old Southern boys with boxes, tape and dollies. Before I could even figure out what was happened, they had my apartment dismantled, on a big truck and headed to North Texas. Later I found out he bartered with the other guys, they would do this for him and each of the next five weekends, he would be working on their projects. Reciprocal hustle – love it!
Now wait, yes – I do realize that sisters are getting their hustle on and folks of other races are out on that grind too. But this week ain't about them. It's about my brothers out there trying to make it do what it do. I don't know what it is but in my experience even the laziest, least motivated brother in the world turns into Hu$tleMan when his back is against the wall or a loved one is counting on him. Now granted, his hustle may not be anything we like or approve of but the spirit behind the hustle is usually admirable.
And the floor is yours BougieLand, got a favorite hustle story to share? Agree, disagree?