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The Troublers

Note: This piece was written a couple of weeks ago.  I decided to post it here as an official blog entry.  The motivation behind this piece is obvious, I was thinking about my people in the ‘hood and this is what came forth….

The Troublers are the people who stay on the other side of town; not the side with the well-manicured lawns or the freshly painted houses.  The little boxes on the hillside belonged to the folks with the pockets full of presidents and the floral print check books.  They have a Starbuck’s on every corner and a grocery store filled with gourmet foods, some domestic and imported.  That’s them people.  The Troublers live in the rundown neighborhoods that used to be suburbs, now they are inner city cesspools filled with the downtrodden.  Empty lots line the streets and broken down people with nappy heads and lost expressions walk right past them, admiring them for their…..emptiness.  Those lots remind the people of themselves; weeds grow high, choking any sign of plant life-just like them people, life had choked them…they couldn’t grow.

It ain’t all depressing though; the Troublers did have some bright areas of vitality that drowned out the sound of abandoned babies, yelling mamas, and the depressing sound of daddies missing.  If you listen closely, some conversations speak of hope-and philosophers with Ph.Ds in Living Hard would spout their anecdotal remedies for surviving with little; making something out of nothing and getting by because it’s at least better than not making it all. Gray-haired men and women who remember better days wave to each other from their porches, speaking in broken English indicative of their poor education but a resounding wisdom rests within them.  They fully move in the vocation of Village Elder.

Children still managed to laugh, only because they  were unaware of their inheritance as being the next generation of Troublers.  In their eyes, a certain shine is present as if they actually had expectations for their existence. How dare them.  After long days and dusky nights of playtime near the broken glass, the babies of the Troublers would clamor inside of the unkept purple, pink, and grey colored houses; snotty noses, allergy irritated eyes and all.  State sponsored health insurance won’t allow allergy medicine; so the babies’ noses are filled with infected mucus.  Home made remedies bought from the Herb Lady down the street eases the symptoms and the babies keep playing, tearing down the curtains and scattering to the wind when tired and lonely Mamas start chastising.    Then, the Mamas bathed these babies in hard water with cheap soap and dried them off with course bath towels, ragged and old with a stench of sourness from the washers at the corner laundry mat.  Ain’t no bedtime, the babies just lounge around the house with the babysitters from BET until each one falls off to sleep.

See, the Troublers are famous; making cameo appearances in mug shots on nightly news shows.  If not, then they are mentioned regularly as the progenitors of misery and cast into spotlights as undesirables.   Mockery on sitcoms, movies, and comedy skits fits the Troublers as they always seem to be the brunt of some kind of joke.  They fill up governmental assistance offices wearing Baby Phat outfits and struggling to read the convoluted documents or sign their names properly. At most times, they are scapegoats used to release the guilt of the well to do; they are excuses that rank high on the list of indifference.  Their songs are heavy on the bass; light on the lyrical content and idolized by privileged children wanting to play Pretend. But if you listen closely, you can hear the tears; their bouncy, spirited, high hat heavy, hand clapped rhythms are actually modern day slave spirituals.

All of them on the other side of town pass by the Troublers at the bus stop; standing in the rain with broken expressions, looking for the number 42 Crosstown.  At traffic lights, the Troublers are ignored as them from the other side of town look straight ahead, avoiding their gaze.  Meanwhile, the Troublers sit motionless on bus stop benches, watching their reflection in the shiny rims bedazzling Benz and Bimmers.  The Troublers get accused of everything but seldom are they revered or admired.  Does anyone know how hard it is to move about breathing the air of death?

For most, living as a Troubler will render them insane, but the Troublers have a spirit of resilience…a quiet power that allows them to rise each day, hoping for a better moment in time for themselves.  If a Troubler were to get a hand up from the muck and mire, the world is usually astounded by their ability to overcome. Well, see the Bottom ain’t crowded and the Way Up got walls made out of dirt; making it easier to claw with raw fingers.  The only thing that the Troublers have to do is follow the light and coming up is inevitable; and they are unstoppable.  Once on top, the eyes of the Troublers clear of the mist of depression and smiling becomes contagious.  Yes, that’s them people.


About Chandra Kamaria

Chandra Kamaria is a playwright, essayist, culture maven, educator, entrepreneur, and activist. To learn more, visit


One thought on “The Troublers

  1. As a former “troubler”, all I can say is thank God: that he shed his blood for all of us, that intelligence is not linked to social class, or that social class, at least in this country, is not linked to birth-right, for letting me live in the greatest nation on earth, for having two loving parents that wanted more for me, for that small little shotgun house on the other side of the tracks, for the teachers of “troublers” who believed in me, even when I did not believe in myself, for all those folks, white and black, who gave me second chances. I guess I thank God that I was born a troubler becuase the experience has given me knowledge, ability, and as you say resilience beyond compare. The experience has taught me that I can make it through “whatever” but only by helping others up. It has caused me to dedicate my life to helping those in trouble.

    Posted by Iam Robert | January 4, 2009, 8:08 pm

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