As a New Yorker this seemed like no big deal to me. Ethnic diversity was just a part of growing up. While most of us have moved on and some of us are dead, the hardcore center of The Crew are still alive and keep in contact.
Growing up in New York AKA The Melting Pot is a blessing.
I heard a comedian once say New York is no melting pot it’s a salad. Comedians may be the best philosophers we have in the modern world. You have a chunk of tomato here, cucumber there, a bunch of lettuce and some onions. After all, in this picture you have Spanish, African, Irish, Italian, Puerto Rican and god knows what else. New York is a salad. It’s segregated and integrated at the same time. We are all different but we mix well with each other.
I have friends of every ethnic and religious background, and I have dated women from every ethnic and religious background. In the words of Larry David “I go anywhere from, like, albino to, you know, Heart of Darkness Africa black.” Both friends and lovers have never been judged by me for anything other than what is in their heart. Although when it comes to women I am an ass and leg man.
See we have more in common than we don’t. Do not get me wrong I am not trying to sell you that crap concept the we are one race, the human race. The facts are we all love and our proud of our race/ethnic background and we should be. We have so much to learn from each other and plenty of common ground to work with, without having to give up our individualism.
Being Irish Catholic, I grew up with a tribal violent mentality. After all, it was that mentality that helped the Irish keep their own traditions while the English were taking over the world. The Irish are just across the sea from the English and for 800 years “we” fought to hold on to what we are. My Grandma had a bumper sticker on her car that read “Human Rights for Northern Ireland”. Her family was a part of the IRA and it cost them dearly. I was reminded daily about oppression and the need to stand up for what you believe in.
Out of all the guys in The Crew, I was the brawler. Growing up right down the block from a black neighborhood I was often targeted for being white. It was the same thing with my friends who crossed into my neck of the woods. But that is what we all had in common; we didn’t give a fuck what others thought of us no matter where we were. It was our friendship that mattered not the color of our skin, religious background or sexual orientation.
Being a good fighter has nothing to do with the color of your skin. It’s a skill you learn. I had three older brothers and a father that was special forces. I learned to lead with my left by kindergarten. My brothers kept me in training with beat downs and by backing me up on the streets. But as a white guy hanging out in a black neighborhood I was often judged as being soft because of my skin color. Those who judged this book by it’s cover learned the hard way that I had a ruthless right.
My dad loves this saying “Where your rights end, mine begin”. I love that concept as well. What I picture when I hear those words are people stretching out their arms with just their fingers tips touching. Individual links forming one chain. Each person holding onto what makes them unique but respecting the views and rights of others. The world could learn a lot from New York and a little gang of guys from the 80’s known as The Crew.
As I grow older, I realize violence isn’t the answer, but I also know that it’s tough to find common ground when all you see is your side of the tracks. Open your eyes people and seek out those that seem different from you. You may find out that you have more in common than you realize. It’s a belief worth fighting for.
*Picture copyrights Eddie Rodriguez