This week I’ve mentioned the economic hardships of growing up in Flint, but I’ve received some emails reminding me that I’ve failed to provide you with stats to back this up. According to a 2000 census, 124,943 people live in Flint, it has an unemployment rate of 12.9% and 18,832,000 residents don’t have a diploma or GED.
Coach Swain from Delta College told Davenport that, “we don’t have no $30,000 jobs no more here now. It’s just keeping it real now in the hood. All we now is the court. That’s where we’re working at now.”
Early into the documentary Flint hoops prodigy Mateen Cleaves summed up the plight of his community when he told Marcus Davenport that “coming from Flint you got guys that are hungry. You see friends here one day, the next they calling you to say their dead. You grow up and you see the drugs being sold. A Mercedes Benz? I never saw one as a kid unless I was out in the suburbs and I saw someone driving one down the street. I always dreamed about getting out of the neighborhood. I knew I wasn’t no rocket scientist. I wasn’t the smartest kid. I was decent in school but I knew I had to obtain a certain grade point average to play basketball, and that’s why I went to school – to play basketball. That’s why I went to school, to be honest, to play basketball. I knew basketball was my way out. I knew basketball was going to put food on the table for me and my family. Like I’ve said, I’ve seen drugs being sold, guns, violence and all that kind of stuff and I’m like man, this ain’t the lifestyle for me. This isn’t how I want to live the rest of my life.”
Flint Resident, and Clark Atlanta University student told Davenport that, “out here in Flint there’s already a high crime rate, without basketball it would be nothing but a ghost town. So many cats thrive off basketball, so many cats live off basketball down here. Basketball down here is a way of life, it’s a way to get out. A lot of cats struggle but they know that if they hoop and can get to college and get that degree than they can go anywhere in life.”
A coach at Genesee County Job Corps Basketball told Davenport that, “the reality is this right here, a lot of our males today come from single parent homes. The mother was working one job, now she’s working two jobs so now you have young males raising themselves. So in the process of raising themselves, if they don’t have a good foundation of positive peers around them, good positive community around them, what are you going to get? Nine times out of ten you are going to get something society that don’t want to see on a daily basis.”
Watching Marcus Davenport’s hoops documentary Flint Star reminded me of how fortunate I am to have grown up in a suburb in Ontario because I’ve never had to worry about money and I have been blessed to live a fortunate life.