- What are some of the “rules of the street” in the Baltimore of Coates’s youth? What does “toughness” mean in that context? What’s the price of toughness? How are those rules a response to the American Dream? This is a Text+Me question.
In the article Coates’s youth was one filled with fear and protecting your own self. His neighborhood and others were run by gangs that ruled using others fear of dying to create power for themselves to create reputations that they were known by. In the article Coates says “ In other cities, indeed in other baltimore, the neighborhoods had other handles and the boys went by other names, but their mission did not change; prove the inviolability of their blocks, of their bodies, through their power to crack knees, arms, ribs.” Coates talks about how the rules of the street like you don’t associate yourself with anyone who was related or knew a gang member, you went with a group to parties and they were rules that were amoral and practical. They were made of a basis of power by these different gangs. To live in these neighborhoods you had to have a sense of toughness which Coates described as “ any toughness I garnered came reluctantly. I think I was always , somehow. Aware of the price.” Coates refers to being tough to being street which is abiding by the rules that these gang members had but he was tough but it came with a price of not following these rules which could lead him to loosing his body.
- Speculate, to what degree might Coates’s son’s experiences in his neighborhood be similar or different to Coates’s? This is a Text+Question.
Coates touches upon the fact that his lives is living a different experience as him. Coates talks about this saying “ I think of this as a great difference between us. You have some acquaintance with the old rules, but they are not as essential to you as they were to me.” Coates life when he was his sons age was very different but some of those old rules have carried on to their kids and his son has probably experienced some of them. He also talks about how his son has probably had a situation were he was roughnecking somewhere but when he was a kid he was worried about if he had control of his body and how he walked, talked or smiled. He was concerned with issues if he practiced the culture of streets would he have security of his body or would he start to be tough. His son has been able to see the wonders of life and doesn’t have to worry has much as he did when he was a kid. He references “ You have seen so much more of all that is lost when they destroy your body”. His son has been able to explore more of the world than he ever did because he wasn’t always able to walk certain places or go down different streets in fear of loosing his body to the gangs that rules his neighborhood.