Can You Live

by Young Che on January 30, 2008

Yesterday one of my tenants called me in tears.  As soon as I realized it was her I wished I’d ignored the call.  I was halfway expecting the call because she’d informed my wife that she wanted to get out of the lease early.  She wanted to move out of New Orleans and back to Houston.  When I first answered the call she asked for me, I acknowledged that she had found me and after a brief moment of silence she started crying while talking simultaneously.  Her words were barely understandable as you could imagine.  She said that she couldn’t take it here in New Orleans anymore.  She said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I just can’t take it here.”  I don’t think I have to tell you that part of the tearful performance was nothing short of theatrical genius.  Even though the performance was very predictable and highly anticipated considering her circumstances whatever they may be because they’re still a mystery to me.  I don’t know how many times she’s used this technique to inch a little closer to her goals but I do know that she used a very similar technique when she was trying to move into my unit.  Who am I fooling?  I’m a sucker for tears so I told her that I would accommodate her however I could if she absolutely has to get out of the city.  I told her that I was at work and to try me later that evening after hours. 

I called everyone in my circle of power trying to gain insights into the best way to handle the situation.  Man, I gotta tell you – it’s always something.  This life is full of decisions and it seems like the older you get the more decisions you have to make and the more lives are affected by the decisions you make.  So recently I’ve really taken to governing my affairs by committee.  It makes a lot of sense for me.  It’s like putting all of the tough decisions before a trained committee and then weighing out the pros and the cons before settling on a choice.  The only downside is that I have personality quirks that I have to work out because most times I make decisions that benefit other people more than they benefit me.  This trait makes me look good sometimes like a selfless champion for the people. But it also makes me look bad sometimes especially whenever I look at my bottom line too closely.  Whether the tears were strictly a charade or not is beside the point because she wants out and for whatever level of my involvement I was one the obstacles in her way.  I have to admit she really had me wondering why she had to leave all of a sudden. 

She called me that evening and we talked briefly.  She explained what she needed from me in order to try to move on with her life and I assured her that I would oblige her.  She requested I write a letter to the temporary housing assistance program granting her a release from her remaining obligation on her lease.   I probed a little into what the problem was and she tried to explain a little.  She said that she has even been to counselors and she says it’s so bad that she doesn’t even get out of bed most days.  She thinks she is grieving like she just lost someone close.  In New Orleans this is very possible.  I remember when she moved in about six months ago she was in the midst of burying the father of her oldest daughter.  She didn’t seem to out of sorts at the time.  We didn’t get into much detail about what else could be upsetting her world to the point that she feels like she has to move to Houston to try and solve her problems.  It could be anything.  She’s trying to raise three teenage sons here in a city that chews up young Black men and spits them out if their lucky.  That is a tough business to be in.  She almost started crying again saying that she just doesn’t know what it could be.  I told her that it is not surprising at all considering the amount of stress that is present here in the city.  It’s literally in the very atmosphere.  Stress is in the air we breathe down here.  I told her I went through a stretch last year for about four to five months straight where I suffered with headaches almost daily.  I’ve had headaches every now and then but nothing so significant that I had to deal with them on a regular basis.  She could very well have some real issues affecting her.  She probably also doesn’t have a clue about what to do in order to gain a measure of sanity back in her life. 

I almost made a suggestion that I am sure would help her if she would only be willing to try taking the medicine.  I almost invited her out to our Mosque.  I almost asked her if she’d ever heard of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.  But I didn’t.  I’m not sure exactly why I didn’t follow through with the thought to offer her the opportunity to access a teaching so powerful that she could change her own reality.  Part of me didn’t think she was in the proper mental state to respond to what I could have said to her.  I paused and I gave up on her.  Not only did I give up on her but I let myself down by not trying to offer her the help that I know would put her on top of not only her situation but on top of civilization as well.  Doubt interfered with my ability to properly offer her that which could have significantly helped her out of her current situation seemingly overnight.  I’ve seen it work numerous times on all types of individuals with all types of debilitating circumstances.  The “it” that I’m referring to are the Life Giving Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.  Why doubt?  Either doubt or I’ve given up the hope that our people can be pulled out of our wretched condition.  Not to mention the fact that I feel like I need someone to minister unto me because I am living in this very stressful environment as well.  These are stressful times all over the world for the Black Man and Woman.  These are stressful times all over the country for the Black Man and Woman.  But I can definitely bear witness that these are extremely stressful times for the Black Man and Woman of New Orleans. 

The stress is most definitely in the atmosphere.  It’s in the air we breathe.  Living in Post-Katrina New Orleans is an ordeal not for the faint of heart.  I easily understand her desire to get out of this city at all costs.  I’ve shared this desire numerous times during my lifespan both prior to and following Hurricane Katrina.  Katrina left destruction in her wake and after effects sure to last another ten years as the city struggles to rebuild physically, mentally and spiritually.  There are advertisements for mental health specialists all over the place while the news reports that we do not have enough mental health professionals to service the area as it should be serviced.  Most people in the city are suffering from some form of post traumatic stress or another.  I know I am struggling to put the pieces of my life back together personally.  In addition to the Katrina related stress factors I am still battling depression over a personal loss in my life that happened exactly one year before Katrina.  If I felt like the health professionals could have been some real help to me I would have sought them out by now.  I am thankful that my help is from Allah and His Messenger.  I am so thankful for Minister Farrakhan and the loving community we’ve been able to produce by God’s grace because if it were not for the Brotherhood I don’t know where I’d be right now.  If any of you out there have been in any sort of fraternity, band, gang, sorority, organization, platoon, corps, army, air force, navy or any bond forming group or association I want you to multiply that feeling of oneness you experienced at the height of your operational unity tenfold and that’s what the Muslim Brotherhood is like.  We have love for the Muslim Brotherhood. 

In my line of work I deal with people everyday who have a story to tell.  Everybody has these harrowing tales as it relates to Hurricane Katrina.  There are so many stories both told and untold.  Whatever you have heard about Katrina you have only scratched the surface.  You have not even begun to understand this saga and how it continues to unfold unless you are down here dealing with the various elements that contribute to the landscape of Post-Katrina New Orleans. We have one of the largest homeless populations in the country.  And if you’ve noticed a decrease in the homeless population in your city it’s because we’ve now embraced the country’s homeless with open arms and tent cities.  Not only do we welcome them but we will help feed, cloth, bathe and care for your homeless so send them to New Orleans.  The murder rate is staggering once again.  Even though our population numbers still aren’t close to that of pre-Katrina our murders in actual killings and for the size of our city are right up at the top of the charts year after year.  At least murders aren’t something new for us to have to deal with in New Orleans.  What about Black on Black crimes?  Who do you think is killing everybody?  We still have crooked cops, politicians for hire, racial injustice, high taxes, potholes that will tear up your off-road vehicle, a deplorable recovery school district, poor performing schools in general unless you can afford the best, little to no health care, and of course I can go on and on.  A lot of this probably describes your city as well.  This is because the country itself is on a steep decline.  Hold on because the worst is yet to come.  Keep in mind that Islam comes after all else has failed.      

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