My husband’s band had a show in Richmond, Virginia this last weekend. I went with them. It was the second time in the last two months that we have gone to this venue “Alley Katz” to play a show.
I have been many places. Different states and even different countries. I have to say that this area of Richmond, VA had to be one of the most poverty stricken cities I have ever personally seen. It was worse then Brooklyn and downtown Denver (both of which have bad areas). I honestly fealt like I was in the ghetto in California.
I only saw one police officer out of both trips there. He was riding a green and white dirt bike which had to be one of the strangest things I have ever seen. Otherwise, the police were nowhere to be found.
We got there really early after driving all night so we stopped at a nearby park to rest and kill some time. There was a really beautiful river with these uniquely shaped rocks throughout it that we went walking on. We first noticed the signs everywhere that said “Do not leve belongings in plain site.” “Do not leave items in vehicles”. And things like that. Basicly, they may as well just said “you’re likely to get robbed here”. We went walking on this trail and instead of fixing the hand rails, they just nailed little signs everywhere that said “hand rails not safe”. Along the trail was trash and graffiti everywhere. We walked across the rocks where the river was and it truly was neat. It was just a shame that there was trash everywhere and you had the constant feeling that you had to watch your back. That there was danger lurking in the shadows. There was a strong odor of urine all along the walkways and you could see where homeless people had been living.
We stopped in at a gas station at one point. My husband went in to use the bathroom and found a used hypodermic needle in the trash. You could say that maybe a diabetic used it, but it was highly unlikely in area where the walls are painted in graffiti “crack is back”.
Many of the buildings were abondoned and needed demolished. Sidewalks and streets were crumbling and falling aparat. We stopped in a little Mexican restaurant called La Bamba for Margaritas and they had what smelled and looked like raw sewage draining out of it and into the street. The whole city smelled horrible anyway.
On both trips here we walked a block from the venue to the McDonalds. There’s a concrete sort of “cubby hole” where several homeless people hang out. Down at the corner there was a man in the thick heavy fur coat (in 90 degree heat) dancing around, holding a sign, begging for money. At the McDonald’s is another old man sitting by the door begging for change. It seemed like they were everywhere.
It’s interesting to me to see how people react to homeless begging for help. One band member walked by and gave the homeless man at McDonald’s 50 cents. My hubby walked by and said he had no change when he really did. I too had some change, but chose not to give him any. Shortly after, we all got in the van to leave and the same homeless man walked up to the van and asked for money again. The band member who gave him the 50 cents was in the driver’s seat where the homeless guy was. He said “look dude, I just gave you my last 50 cents.” Then one of the other members in the back of the van yelled “get a fuc***g job!” That shocked me and I wanted to smack him for it. The homeless guy looked shocked too and said “I do get a check, but it’s not enough.” and he walked away shaking his head. The band member who gave him the 50 cents yelled at the other member and asked “what the hell is wrong with you?! Shut up! You’re embarrassing me and yourself!” Then my hubby said he agreed that it’s BS when people are begging for money. They argued back and forth about it for a bit and dropped it.
I agree with both sides to an extent. There are times when you see someone who looks physically capable of doing work and you know that there is some job somewhere that they can be doing. Even if it’s just picking up trash for the city. I am a firm believer that there is ALWAYS something on this planet that you can do to make money legally. So if I see someone who looks like they are capable, I don’t have much sympathy for them.
Then there are the people who clearly have problems and you can see how they would really be in need of help. Most of the homeless people I saw in Richmond looked like they were either alcoholics, drug addicts, or had mental problems. You could see it in every ounce of their being that they’ve lived a horrid life and that they were miserable. That their life was ruled by some scary evil dark thing. Sure, maybe it was their fault that one day they chose to try drugs, but even so… addiction ruins lives in the blink of an eye and so can mental disorders. Something innocent can turn into a nightmare and many times, it’s out od that person’s control. There are so many situations a person could be in and I don’t presume to know… so I also don’t make the assumption that they should suffer. Even if someone made every wrong choice in life, I would never wish that type of life on anyone.
And because I don’t know what a person’s life has been like or the choices they have made… I would NEVER belittle them because they were homeless or begging. Never.
Anyway, not all of Richmond was a slum. If you go several blocks one way, things become more upper class. You go several blocks the other way… and you’re in the ghetto. It kills me that America let’s these places exist. We are busy blowing all our money on wars to help other countries and we can’t even take care of our own people. Society has it’s priorities all screwed up. Our entertainment industry is booming and all that money is blown on living the lavish life. Why aren’t we using it to improve our communities? Doesn’t anyone realize how much stronger and independant we could be if everyone got the care and education they needed?
I personally believe there needs to be more emphasis on educating people on how to live properly. Including maintaining property values and keeping their neighborhoods clean. People just don’t care. And we can’t just assume that everyone should know how to live the right way. There just isn’t enough education.
I know that I personally was disgusted with Richmond. I know they don’t want people to see that or feel that way about their state. I sure hope they pull it together and try to clean it up. Don’t get me wrong, Columbus has it’s ghetto too. I guess we just need to bring light of these things. Now that I think of it, I wish I had taken more pictures of these things. I guess I was partly scared to take out my camera for the sake of being robbed. How sad is that?