The Yard-Man Who Gave Up His Liberty

By TLB Contributor: Ken LaRive

Author’s note: There is no doubt that the black man in this country has been betrayed. What they were before equal rights were far superior in some respects to the vast destruction of family, motivation, moral compass, and their economic standing today. They have become, by far, the most violent and antisocial element America has ever witnessed, except perhaps for the Indian wars, thought today to have been justified… Extrapolation methods done by the FBI state emphatically that the male black man between 15 and 35 are 18 times more likely to commit a violent racial-inspired act on a white man then vice-verse. Now that is a staggering statistic, and one that must be addressed… Still, few in our media want to bring it to light…

Talking about black men on a personal level is mostly a taboo in this country. It’s far more than a fear that we might hurt feelings or be labeled a racist. It is portrayed by the leftist media that a white person’s observation of such things might be mistaken… That they could not possible be sensitive, unbiased, or objective enough to find the truth of the matter… But in spite of this taboo, statistics is telling this American story with balance shows something is indeed horribly wrong… Horribly wrong, and dangerous to the very core of what makes us America. And as some races have tried to move on, the black race has produced unprecedented racism, and it is growing.

It is suggested by advocacy groups, to quell the discussion, that another culture or race might not be able to understand the subtle elements of another culture without actually living it… Still, I’d like to try, and I’ll do it by just revealing my personal contact with just one man, my yard man. A man I truly liked, but who I found over a period of time so enslaved by the system and his lack of personal conviction and self worth, that he finally paid the ultimate price, his Liberty. It will show the hypocrisy of a convoluted system, a Progressive government mindset that would do anything to stay in power… and the price paid is beyond comprehension for the loss. So, here’s to you James.

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

Ken 1

Its amazing. The world we live in is amazing and so beautiful! With a morning mist of pink and gold settling over new spring grass, I look out from my balcony sipping my first cup of coffee… One can tell a beautiful day in the making, and this one has all of the earmarks…

The day is planned in my head. I have it all mapped out. My worker James and I are going to clean up the gardens, plant some flowers, cut spring grass and clover, and who knows what else as this day wears on… Its always fast-moving when I work with James. He is an amazingly hard worker, and I try to keep up… and we, over a period of time, have learned to work together for a common cause… but, I have to say, and it is the first point that has to be made to tell this story with truth… Everything that happens throughout the day, and from start to finish, is the effect of my design. I am the boss. Sorry if it sounds pompous, but that is the way of it. I orchestrate everything…

Over the years I have grown to know James, and have found that it isn’t just his life’s choices that are different from mine… It is not only his reactions to life by his hard-wired social norms, but it seems evident that his very brain is wired differently… He processes information, but the conclusions he gleams are at times 180 degrees different from mine… so wait! I’m not saying that mine are better on face value, but that the value can be understood entirely in the outcome… Again, to be fair, I can’t say that James is atypical of all black men, so I suppose I am just observing his particular way of dealing with life… And if it can be seen, perhaps it can be dealt with… because, without a doubt, James is a primary reflection of his culture.

I’ll start off, since I am a student of politics, by saying that he knows nearly nothing of the process of our government, and what I consider everything about sports. He knows the stats of every player on the NFL, and basketball too. And since I know nearly nothing about that, there is little or no connection there at all. But there are other connections, and viable ones, and the biggest one is that of a boss and a worker, and the many differences, subtle nuances that connect us for a common cause, is what makes it work… James does have a since of justice, of love and honor, even such lofty ideal as Liberty, but they do not match mine.

And so, at this point, can I say that James is considered a friend? No, I can’t say so, according to what I consider the definition to be, as there is, I must emphatically add, a great social gulf between us… What hold it all together, is not what one might consider mutual respect, but my need to get work done, and his need to work. And as I move through life by a specific set of social rules and obligations, James is in constant odds with it.

I will state here the first obvious dilemma: James cares for little or nothing but to try not to screw something up, and to collect his crisp one hundred dollar bill at exactly 04:00. Now I’m not saying he doesn’t work hard, but when he thinks it is time to go home, little else can be gotten from him. He does not want to work over eight hours, and I’m speculating it is for two primary reasons: calling for his ride to pick him up, and something he has planned for the evening. It seems to me that a truly successful person puts his job first, but the job is secondary to him, and so advancement, like starting his own business, or moving up in a company on merit, is difficult if not impossible to materialize.

Every day he works with me I serve him coffee and as many boiled eggs he can eat for breakfast, and I give him lunch. Sometimes it is left overs, but sometimes I’ll make a sandwich with chips, a hamburger on the grill, and several times I’ve ordered pizza, and sent the leftovers home with him. I pay him $100.00 for eight hours, and that includes his smoke breaks and a half hour lunch where he makes calls and chills out. He drinks bottled water, and anything out of my drink refrigerator, and energy drinks like Monster are his favorite. Every time he works I have a bag of clothes, or something like a vintage sound system, and he makes a pile of these things all day long to put in the back of his uncle’s pickup at about 16:30 hours.

The last time he worked with me I gave him a vintage timing light I had had for forty years, a pair of work boots given to me as a safety award and never worn, a cashmere sweater too small for me, a lounge chair needing to be restrung, two cans of white paint at least six years old, and a pack of smokes I bought when we were filling up my car with gas. When we stand on the front lawn talking before he is picked up, it is usually light conversation with a beer from my bar. And we both seem to enjoy this banter a lot, both tired from hard work, and each time, every time, he tells me how much he enjoyed working with me, and hopes I will call him again…

He no longer has a car, and he pays his uncle 15 dollars a day to bring him to and fro. His car was wrecked a year ago, and as he had no insurance, or a steady job, he has hope to buy another from his cousin for $2500. He has been saying this for at least a year, but admitted to me that he had lost all of his savings, $800.00, in a Saturday night card game.

James is 57 years old, and though I like him and trust him to a point, he is overtly untrustworthy on several levels… First and foremost, he spent over eight years of his life from his middle twenties to early thirties incarcerated for drug possession with the intent to distribute. He survived the experience, so he says, because he stayed to himself, and trusted no one. I asked him once if there was any opportunity there to better himself, by education, or even to learn some form of trade, and he told me emphatically no. Those things, he said, were for those who could buy them, and he had nothing of any value to trade, and yet, he talks of those times with something akin to pride, or something like that… perhaps he is stating that he had the strength and verve to survive the experience…. I don’t know.

Once, when we were working cutting a tree in front of my home, we saw a group of prisoners a few blocks away cutting grass in the park. I said I didn’t understand how they could be laughing among themselves… that I would be so embarrassed I’d have to wear a paper bag over my head… and he thought that was the funnest thing he had ever heard… “You would not last long there Mr. Ken…” But let me bring something else up at this point, to make a connection… I have tried to teach him how to attach a trailer to my Expedition half a dozen times, and he doesn’t seem to have the ability to remember the steps in the correct order… and then, if I ask him if it is done, if the hookup is finished, he gets nervous and says “Yessir!”… but when I check, the cotter pin and cap are not secured, and most likely everything would have disconnected in transit… One would think he would get extremely embarrassed, as I would…. but he takes it all in stride, like that kind of mistake is normal…so I have to check after him on all important matters, and he can’t be trusted in that regard. But in spite of that I like him… And I think I see something in him that he can not. Something I think he can not comprehend… There is goodness in his heart, along with all of the negativity… and I know there is a battle being waged every waking moment and well hidden, and so with every conscious act the outcome is unknown to the both of us…

James lives in a small wood-framed home of weathered florescent green, in one of the worst neighborhoods in this area… The grass is cut choppy and knee high, and weeds grow over my head around the several spindly trees on his front lawn… the screen door is broken off the hinge, the steps rotten, and there is what looks to be an ancient recliner on the front porch… and all of the homes in the area look the same… I think there is a window AC unit in the back, but the front door is wide open showing a dark interior and wood floors reflecting from an open back door, and one of the side windows were opened to the day through ancient broken blinds that blow in the wind… I asked him once if he ever had a garden, to grow some vegetables, and he told me that everything in that garden would be taken in the dead of night.

He quit school in the sixth grade, and often tells me, mostly as justification for something he doesn’t know or understand, or a mistake in judgment: “I was raised on the street you know.” For instance, James does not know the name of any insect, any bird, can’t tell a flower from a weed, knows nothing about anything mechanical (no trade skills whatsoever), and can’t answer any question about current events, history, and seems incapable of projecting himself into a future with a goal or plan… Except for knowing he is scheduled to come here on a Monday, he has no personal thoughts on the matter that I can see, and comes to work without gloves, a coat, or a game plan other then waiting for my direction. He lives entirely for the moment, and that is a defining difference between he and I, and that, along with our very different sense of responsibility is like a vast chasm that can’t be broached. In the yard, he is deathly afraid of any spider, any bee, even a love bug, and just the thought of a lizard or snake sends him into something akin to convulsions. If this was taught, I do not know. But I learned about nature from the Boy Scouts, and he learned his skills from the street, as he emphatically describes. Never, not once, has James ever been on time.

James has three daughters, from three different women, and has never paid child support. “They get government money for that.” he says, and justifies it all saying he was in prison when they were all young, and he doesn’t know any of them now. “I probably wouldn’t know them if I saw them on the street.” he said. And he hates his father, still alive, who he said abused his mother and his family with violent alcoholism… And because of his personal failings in the past, is alienated from his brother and sisters, who he says have good jobs, and a “life” far away.

His mother died at 41, he once told me, and he inherited her little green house. He wanted to put a trailer behind it because the house is very old and has no insulation. I asked him why he didn’t want to just fix it up… but he told me that his uncle could sell him a nice trailer cheep… He also told me more than once that if his mother had not given that to him he most likely would be dead, living under a bridge, or back in prison, and that turned out, in retrospect, to be very prophetic.

He has no savings, and when I first hired him my two days of work a week was his only income. He finally secured a job washing dishes at a diner, and he says it suits him, so long as no one gets in his way. He doesn’t know that I know his boss, and have asked about him at times, but really, that is none of my business. I am not responsible for him, and although I do care, as he is at times so painfully truthful, trusting, and child-like, I could never think to do him harm… It seems, to me, that at times he wants my opinion on things, but soon disregards it as being too hard… To incorporate them would put a damper on many of the most destructive elements of his life, and he just can’t stop them. He is pulled in an external direction, and can’t muster the inner strength, the conviction to take control.

The social norms of his race and culture controls his every action… But there is something much more emphatic, and it was put there very early on in his life…. there is what I will call a wild card in his personality that can not be denied, and I do wonder, if the chips were down, if an opportunity would present itself, knowing his lack of concern for his other responsibilities, if I could really trust him? Can I really trust him? No, I don’t think I could. Not when the chips are down. I think he is far too selfishly motivated for that, and that is the primary reason, I think, he has had so many problems in his life… trying to get “up and over” instead of becoming responsible for his actions.

He has a girl-friend who lives with him with a small child, and one would think this, in and of itself, would inspire him. She works as a “sitter for old folks,” he said, and gets a government check that helps too, for the child. He told me he does not take her money, as most all men do, and he was emphatic to have me understand that. She saves it “in a sock.” he said, and that is hers. He has pride in this area, that he provides for her… but it isn’t a clear-cut standard, and depends on factors well hidden, and I think denied.

I tell him constantly to pull his pants up… It is a subconscious act, it seems, and one day his belt broke when he tightened it. I went in my closet and gave him one of mine… It was to me a simple gesture, but something about it sticks in my mind. He thought of that act as a gift, and kept that belt without a thought of returning it… That thought, that mindset, flows from him as natural and normal, and nothing like what I hold inside… He is a taker, not a giver, and everything is weighed for his own good, for his advantage… without any other consideration but self fulfillment.

He talks about his life with what looks to be pride. …but all of it is wrapped in a tight knot of past failure and an overwhelming bewilderment for this world and his place in it. He can’t seem to comprehend or formulate what meaning it holds for him, or what steps to take to bring it to another level. Beyond planning to smoke some pot, have some beer and “Crown Royal”, or watch “big screen sports”, there seems to be little beyond. With an optimistic laugh, he tells me he is the master of “craps,” and yet hasn’t two nickles to rub together, and somehow, can’t make that most evident connection. He says he believes in Jesus, but has never read the bible or ever goes to church.

He doesn’t seem to be jealous of me or my life, or seemingly what is found in my neighborhood, but that, I think is not the norm for the average black man or woman, and I respect him for that…. However, I don’t think that is a conscious act… It is like it (my world) is so big, he can’t focus on it all. He seems overwhelmed, and because of that is a danger to himself on so many levels it is hard to fathom… I correct him constantly, from balancing on the top rung of a ladder, to spraying the water hose on a live and open outside outlet… something that children are taught, or should have been taught, has never registered.

James has never voted, nor has he ever watched the news or read a newspaper but for the sports page. He has no insurance, a credit card, internet access, has never taken a picture or wrote a letter… and yet, if I asked him if he had a full life, he would without a doubt say yes,,. And I’ll bet he sleeps very well at night.

But is seems the same for all men, and all around the world… We can work together for a common cause, and put away our differences, for a time.,, but it all comes back to that, doesn’t it? The United States has more people incarcerated then any other country, and Louisiana is at the top of the list… Some might say that the laws were designed to thwart the black man, and others say it is a magnet for just this kind of man, as James is now serving another eight years for selling drugs, caught red-handed in a Wal Mart Parking lot sting. His girl friend is still living in his mother’s old house with her daughter, with another man, so I was told, and that James does not know about it…

He will be about my age when he gets out… And I hope by then his nature will change… but I doubt it, and though he only has himself to blame, inside of his twisted perceptions he will cast himself as a victim. No doubt, another victim of the white man’s law.

And yet, in spit of it all, I really miss him…What a tragedy. What a waste. And I wonder… if he would have been my son, what would he have become? Is what he is inside innate? Is it a genetic difference? I don’t think so. I think it is a flaw in the culture…

When I travel to Europe I see blacks incorporated there, with the same norms of the culture, the same accent and values, but here they revel in the differences, as promoted by an industry feeding on lust and hatred, and the antisocial violence that digs deep into the soul. It is a powerful force, and it takes an amazingly strong and profound person to overcome that allure. He never could, and he is working in the laundry there, without Liberty, as he sacrifices the very prime of his life.

There are many ways to be enslaved, from a tyrannical government to a propagandized media system based on lies. The days of a cracker-whip and chains are over, but there is now a slavery method far more horrific and profound, and that is slavery of the spirit. And finally, as a last word, it seems that none of it would exist if we could just take responsibility for our own lives… but that would mean accountability too, and that is the rub.

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