By Jineea Butler
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Harvard University estimated about 30 percent of inner-city children are affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, an illness commonly associated with soldiers who have returned home from war. Somehow certain content got lost in translation and was labeled a “Hood Disease,” a term the CDC and Harvard quickly disavowed.
They can change the name – but not the problem.
Let’s examine how MMG Recording Artist Meek Mill of Philadelphia tells the tale of PTSD in the ‘hood through two song series. On his DreamChasers mixtape, Meeks tells “Tony Story” to discuss PTSD in the hood:
Tony killed his own man Ty for a whole brick
Lined him all up and gave him the whole clip
Said he wasn’t eatin’, he wanted his own shit
And not to mention Ty was f—— his old bitch
Right away, Tony kills Ty because Ty had more money than him and was disrespecting him by having relations with his ex-girlfriend. Tony’s ex-girlfriend is now traumatized because the guilt she feels because she cheated on Ty and now he’s dead.
Got Tony at the viewing, Ty mom crying to him
He hug her, he tell her whoever did this, he gone do ‘em
Yes, he had the nerve to carry the casket
Strapped up before he went, he had to carry his ratchet
He nervous, walkin’ like he tryna carry him faster
Nigga even grabbed the shovel tried to bury him faster
In this stanza, we meet Ty’s mother. Though she never condoned violence, she gives her son’s purported killer permission to avenge his murder, not knowing he’s the guilty party.
The next week, with Tony flashing money and swinging with the local golddiggers, Ty’s cousin Paul gets suspicious. Tony has picked up where Ty left off and that has not escaped Paul’s attention as he plots to get even with Tony for killing his first-cousin. He used the golddiggers to find out where Tony lives.
Couple weeks later Pauly on Woodstock
Sittin’ in the minivan, tinted with his hood cocked
Tony just rode up, Pauly got the good drop
.44 in his hand bout to make the hood rock
Tony slippin’, Pauly all dippin’
Walkd’ up on his car like “What’s poppin’ lil’ nigga”
Tony Story, like some many other stories in the ‘hood, doesn’t end there.
Text him through her phone, found out where he live at
She woke up in the morning like, I never sent that
But she never told Paulie what she saw
She was running her mouth, fitting to start a war
Cause Tony’s little brother sixteen and up the wall
But Paul’s story didn’t have the ending he had planned. Tony’s little brother goes after Paul, but Paul ends up killing him, too.
In Tony Story Part 2 another explanation is offered for how young people can so easily experience the trauma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. (Go to Rapgenius.com to pull up the full lyrics and soundtrack to the Tony Story, Part 1 and 2.)
People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged. These symptoms can be severe enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life.
Everyone that we met in Tony Story is a high risk when it comes to PTSD. Many of these young men and women do not sleep at night because they are reliving the events that caused the trauma. They try to avoid the flashbacks by staying in the streets around people and things that help them forget. This works for them until someone or something arouses their emotions and causes them to react, in this case fatally, to the stimulus. At the end the day, they just want to cry and want someone to hold them and let them know everything will be okay. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet gotten to that ending.
Jineea Butler, founder of the Social Services of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop Union is a Hip Hop Analyst who investigates the trends and behaviors of the community and delivers programming that solves the Hip Hop Dilemma. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet her at @flygirlladyjay.