Bokeem Woodbine: Boy From the Hood Goes Hollywood



“Hi, Ms. Lady. How are you? How are the kids,” was my normal greeting. “Don’t forget to pray for me,” another one would shout. These familiar faces were the local distributors — of illegal pharmaceutical substances — I encountered every Sunday morning as I made my way past them.

After 20 years of living in this area, one starts to know who is who with an increased awareness of what they do. At least you suspect what they are engaged in and decide to just go about your business.

I have never underestimated the intelligence of these young men. They have crafted their own operation within a trillion-dollar industry and profit from all sorts of illegal transactions. It takes a certain type of genius to stay under the radar of the law, maintain a normal life and keep yourself and your family somewhat safe. But, I often wondered, what causes a person to take such risks? Why would someone want to constantly look over their shoulders and exist under the pressure of endless danger?

One morning I had the opportunity to ride the train with one of the local entrepreneurs. He noticed how shocked I was to hear he was on his way to his janitorial job. “Oh yeah, I work,” he said. “Street life is not what it is all cut out to be. I was getting too old for the streets and couldn’t keep losing my freedom. Now I go to work, do my shift, keep it simple, stress free.” He paused, “Nothing compares to the stress of street life.”


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