The Wall: Do You Know What Made Wall St?

Fact: Some beds at juvenile detention centers cost as much as $100,000-150,000 annually. Fact: Public officials resist increases in education spending. A fraction of what it costs to lock a child up. Fact: Overwhelmingly, incarcerated children are people of color.

As a young man, one summer I managed to get a messenger job at a small brokerage house on Wall St. One of my best friends, a darker-skinned Nuyorican, had been working there before me and he put in the good word. By the end of the summer, I had moved up (again, with the help of my friend) working in offices, balancing the sheets at the end of the end of the day. That was a promotion and a raise.

At the time I was in my early 20s and I wasn’t very responsible: I would miss days and I wasn’t all that motivated. Yet, when another promotion came up later that year, my friend was passed up and the promotion was offered to me. This was bullshit, and everybody knew it. My friend had been there longer than I had, had more experience, and was there at work every day. We both knew it was because I was light-skinned and he wasn’t. I was going to quit because I thought it was bullshit (and summer was fast approaching), but my friend insisted that I take the job. He said they would only give it to someone else.

Lesson learned? It pays to be/ look white! LOL!

I mention this because I spent most of my young adulthood working at various places on Wall St. Let me tell you: Wall St. in the 1980s?!! DAMN! It was crazy out there! The culture of Wall St. and my passion for life lived on the edge eventually took me down hard. By the end of the 80s, I was blackballed from working on the Street, spiraling deep into my personal hell. Don’t get it twisted: I earned to work hard and play harder. It wasn’t unusual in those days to go on a business lunch and instead of it being a two-martini lunch, it was acceptable — even expected — to have a three-line lunch. Cocaine was king on The Street. I can’t say it was all regret. In fact, I had a lot of fun. LOL! I fucked a lot, used a lot, spent a lot — well, you get the idea.

I had two very close friends, Jeffrey and Freddie — crib brothers. Where you saw one, the others weren’t too far behind. We grew up together, fought battles together, became men together, and we worked on The Street. Jeffrey was the friend who got me my first job on The Street.

Anyway, we would sometimes meet at this park — Jeannette Park — at lunch on Fridays to drink rum and coke and smoke weed, plan our weekends. One day, there was this older black dude who always seemed to check us out. I mean, we were pretty much out there, always surrounded by women, and dressed to the nines — young-dumb-and full of- cum, cocksure muthafuckas. Anyway, this dude came up to us and shared some of this fierce weed he was smoking and he told us a story I never forgot. He asked if we knew the history of where we were standing and I told him, me always being the smartass, yeah! Fuckin’ Wall St. LOL! He smiled and he said…

Wall Street became the financial center because it was the first big slave trade center in the colonies, and, later, the new nation’s principal slave trading port, where the business of slavery was transacted (until 1862!).

He continued…

And as the business of slavery went, so did all other businesses. For about 125 years, there was a wall that separated the financiers, speculators and bankers from the stench, humiliation, and daily grime of young New York’s vibrant slave trade business and African and white working-class residential areas.

Hence the name, Wall St.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization.