Daddy Lessons #5: The Hustle

“You can steal more with a pen than you can with a gun.”

-Richard L. Bush (1948-1998)

My Daddy wanted me to be able to write my name by the time I went to kindergarten. Not only could I do that, I had been reading since I was 4.

“You know the best place people think to hide stuff from Black people is? Books.”

I grew up hearing this, overhearing this and wanted to know why my father was so hard on me about being able to read and write and do math well. He was also a stickler on how his children looked. My father thought if his babygirls were beautiful and brilliant there would never be any door closed to them.

For the most part, Daddy was right. The appearance is just the gift wrapping for everything else! That, and a college degree along, the ability to count your own money and the sense to know how to code switch helps a lot. A whole lot!

But there’s this matter of the politicking, right? My Dad reminded me that the hustlers I saw, were all potential businessmen. He reminded me that there was never a need for me to steal anything that I wanted–I had to either ask, save for it, or go without. Whenever he heard of some big white-collar crime? He would always say this quote and laugh. It took me till I was good and grown to under the gravitas of it.

The street level hustle is nothing, bruh. It’s what you can harness your mind to that will always produce lucrative spoils. I never wanted to be a mafia doll (not longtime anyway!). I wanted to be a godfather! I kid…but the principle is the same, really.

Daddy told me that nothing was going to be handed to me. I was going to have to work for it. I was going to have to sacrifice. I was going to have some long nights. Frustrating days. And I was going to want to quit more than once. But it’s the vision of what I wanted that was to keep me focused. Keep me studying. Keep me grinding! Keep me from doing drugs. Or hanging out with the bad kids he saw.

The hustle was the degree–the master key to unlock my destiny. And I got it. And now, I have a knew dream. A new vision. A new reality to fuel and fund. And I didn’t have to bang Ray J to get it.