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Recession Justifies Shady Dealings

New America Media, Commentary, Charles Jones Posted: Jan 08, 2009

Editor's Note: "It's a recession out here" is the code of the streets these days, the justification and motivation for any lack of charity, act of shadiness or desperation, writes NAM contributor Charles Jones. This article is part of New America Medias ongoing coverage of the underground economy.

"It's a recession out here," is the code of the streets these days, and for better or worse, it seems to be the only code by which the hood abides.

Our current recession has become the explanation, justification and motivation for any lack of charity, act of shadiness or desperation.

It's the only explanation a crack dealer receives when he complains about the recent price-hike while "copping" product.

It's the phrase the dealer uses to justify to his knocks why he no longer sells $5 crumb sacks. "Man, the price of this shit done doubled," a neighbor tells an irate addict on a budget. "Them days is gone, auntie."

The recession is also motivation for those who can't afford the doubled price of cocaine to kick in the doors of those who can. And rob them for it, sometimes with deadly results.

And that's not to mention the countless other hustlers who have been forced to change their game, hustlers like Kisha, a 23-year-old mother of two boys, who earns a living as a "booster" (someone who steals, and then sells just about anything your heart desires) who, up until her sons fathers recent arrest, was financially dependent on him, a crack dealer.

Before his arrest, Kisha hadn't boosted anything for nearly two years at his request, but since then she's done nothing but. "Man I ain't got no money!" she replies incredulously when I ask her why she got back into boosting. "And at first I was only going to steal my kids a coat and some shoes for Christmas, but once people saw that I was stealing, they just started ordering stuff.

Clothing, shoes, toys, electronics -- a good booster could get you anything! For half price! And Kisha's family was always something like the neighborhood thieves' guild. Her mother, aunt, and older sister are all masters of the trade, and were famous around the 'hood for how quick and affordable they were.

For Kisha, however, it's different this year, because unlike her mom, sister and aunt, Kisha is a functional illiterate who can't read and has never held a real job for more than two months. Boosting is her only marketable skill, and her only chance at any material gain. Now that she is solely responsible for her household's finances, not even the threat of jail-time is enough to hold her back.

"Man, I just need to feed my kids. I ain't even thinkin' about no jail.. Is you gon' get these shoes? She places the shoes back in the trunk. "I'ma need $50.

"Yeah, Ima get emIf you'll take $40.

"Maaan," she says as she nods her approval and takes the cash from my hand. "Alright then,
blood," I reply and we part ways.

I couldve given her the $50. These are, after all, $80 Jordans.

But I have five kids to shop for and it's a recession out here.

Related Articles:

Bootleggers Feel the Pinch in Recession

Pinched by Economy, More Bay Area Residents Seeking Social Services

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