114th street

March 18th, 2012

I sure missed 111th street, where everybody acted, walked, and talked like me.  But on 114th Street everything went all right for a while.  There were a few dirty looks from the spaghetti –an-sauce cats, but no big sweat. Till that one day I was on my way home from school and almost had reached my stoop when someone called: “Hey you dirty fuckin’ spic.” (Thomas 814)


This small passage from Piri Thomas’ From Down These Mean Streets Alien Turf details his life as a child who moves into an Italian neighborhood. Piri brings to light the discrimination that he has experienced while living in a primarily Italian neighborhood.  This type of discrimination was quite common when Piri grew up.  Piri and his family moved from an area where everyone was just like him to an area where he felt alone.  He wrote this particular essay in 1967.  This was shortly after the civil rights movement where people were probably more vocal about their views where race was concerned.  Nowadays, racism is still very much alive but we live in a more “politically correct” era where those types of situations do not happen as often especially not in the North/East coast.  He recalls being called a “dirty fuckin spic” by the neighborhood children, just because he was different than they were.  Piri wrote about his life growing up and having to deal with racial and social conflicts that plagues America even to this day.  I enjoyed reading this particular story because I found the style in which Piri writes, grasps the reader like a movie does.





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