If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I have few pet peeves. Aside from the glorification of no-talent young starlets who get into accidents and use drugs, I can pretty much deal with anything. However, last night on the streets of Pittsburgh I was reminded of the one thing that drives me crazy. And it happened not once, but twice.
I’m walking down the street Thursday afternoon when a guy tries to get my attention while I’m on my cell phone. I put it down for a second and he says, “Hey brother I need bus fare”. I keep walking and get back on my cell phone. As I’m walking away, he starts shouting “you the guys on the news”. After several shouts, I finally wave my acknowledgement and move on.
Fast forward to last night on the South Side. I’m shooting a segment for the 11pm news, when some guy who’s not all that together yells at us “put me on the news”. Then, he proceeds to come up and tell my photographer and me about a fight with his old lady and shows us what he says are stab wounds and not to worry about him. Then, of course, he asks for bus fare. I politely tell him no – twice. He leaves saying as he walks away, “Why aren’t you helping a brother out?”.
For the uninitiated, the term “brother” is a term meaning that he is black and I am black .. and because of that connection, I should help him out by giving him money for bus fare. Now, these may seem like isolated incidents but it happens to me almost every time I’m downtown. At least one “brother” will ask this “brother” for “bus fare” .. and usually it’s a person who looks able enough to be working or at least be able to earn bus fare on their own.
Folks, I am a compassionate person and give money to those less fortunate through charitable contributions or volunteering my time. You can look at my bio and see my list of charities and causes. I have people who can vouch for me on this score as well. However, I am sick and tired of men coming up to me asking me for money, believing that because I am black ( and the “brother” reference makes that point ) somehow I should give them money because I am helping out my people. To use this line of logic is not only insulting but also unfair to the thousands who could use my help and any financial contribution I could make. I consider it a low-level “guilt trip” and I’m not interested in getting on board.
I wish there was a way those who accost me ( and that is the way I see it ) would read this blog and understand my frustration, but the truth is they do not have access to computers or the internet. If they did, perhaps they wouldn’t be asking for bus fare .. especially from me.