In the midst of this struggling economy, many use crime as an outlet for relief. The excuse of “I’m just trying to survive” is hollering out relentlessly as if it justifies the assault on the community, who is also “just trying to survive.”
At the start of this school year, an event occurred in St. Paul that made me acutely aware of just how absurd and unnecessary crime can be sometimes, even in a poor economy. A young mother set out on the task of teaching her nine-year-old daughter how to get her hustle on out on the block. The mother brought her daughter to a local connect to purchase some weight.
When they returned home, the mother taught her daughter how to measure the powder out in ounces, cut it up, and break it down in increments that would ensure a lucrative profit. Then the mother talked to her daughter about the task of hitting the streets to move the weight she just cooked up.
Given a great responsibility, the nine-year-old girl dove into the hustling endeavor with great enthusiasm. In just one short afternoon spent on the corner, the little girl made nearly $200. Apparently she was a natural.
She waved customers down, executed her fast-talking skills with charm and precision, and even hit a few customers with a two-for-one deal just for good business. When the day of grinding was done, the young girl hit her security with a respectful cut of the profits and went home over $100 richer.
All this occurred without raising the slightest suspicion of the St. Paul Police Department. Contemplating a nine-year-old girl with a knot of cash and a mother who encouraged her daughter into the hustling lifestyle, one has to wonder what in the world the parent was thinking.
Well, I’m proud to write in this column today that the hustling nine-year-old, Ms. Jhana LaRose Young, is my daughter. Jhana’s “security” — her mother — devised the plan to teach Jhana self-reliance, accounting, marketing and investment skills.
Oh yeah, let me not forget to mention that she also taught Jhana how to bake some delicious cupcakes — the “weight” she was peddling on the block. I share this very proud moment in my life to send a wake-up call and challenge to all those who are too cool to play it square and are enticed by the criminal paper chase.
Jhana, a fourth grader, was very content being a square for getting her hustle on the legal way. She got her hustle on without looking over her shoulder for the police. She hustled up on almost $200 without ducking bullets from rival competition trying to take over the cupcake trade in the hood. And she did it without raining death and destruction on her community.
Now, I’ll be the first to say that my daughter is quite savvy and intelligent. But are you young brothers in the street willing to let a nine-year-old girl outwit you? Think about it: If Jhana can make that kind of money selling cupcakes, what could you make selling a t-shirt you designed, operating vending machines, driving a truck around and selling pizza and snacks out the back or ice cream in the summer, or organizing an art exhibit and selling your art work?
It’s no secret that you have the necessary talent and ambition. It would be a shame to let your hustling skills go to waste on the dead-end dreams of a stick-up kid or a drug dealer. There is no chance of sustainable success or security in that lifestyle.
Death and prison will always be nipping at hour heels, and it’s only a matter of time before you will be devoured by the game. Your life is too precious to recklessly gamble with it.
The community needs you too much for you to waste your talent sprinting down a dead-end road. A difficult economy doesn’t mean you must commit crime. Just ask nine-year-old Jhana Young. You just need to be innovative and use your talents to get your legal hustle on.
Jeffery Young welcomes reader responses to Jeffery Young #213390, 7600 525th St., Rush City, MN 55069.