Boyz N the Hood

I started a comment in reply to Cole Haddon’s and Simon Dillon’s articles when I realized it’s one of many memorable things I had the good fortune of experiencing.

Peter B.
4 min readJan 7, 2024

I lived along the boundaries of LA and Orange Counties in the late 80s the the early 90s. Singleton’s movie blew my mind as well for several reasons.
My first job out of college was in South Central LA. I lasted a year before I grew wary of the violence. I witnessed a few drive by shootings on my way to and from work and wound up altering my route to avoid trouble spots to no avail.

My usual route home was blocked one hot summer day, forcing me onto a back street I’d never driven before. A small Toyota came ripping around a corner 5 long blocks away, accelerating as quick as it could from what I could see. Then it slowed down and veered into a concrete pole, destroying the front end of the car.

Nobody else was around, so I stopped and pulled the driver out of the car and dragged him about 20 against the wall of an abandoned building. Then I helped his passenger limp towards his buddy and sat him down next to him. I noticed the driver’s kneecap was missing, went to the car, saw why, retrieved the kneecap and placed on the driver’s leg.

A jacked up purple car drove slowly past, 4 mean black guys apparently scoping their handiwork and smiling when one of them looked me in the eye 20 feet away and nodded his approval. Right after that they sped away as a fire truck arrived followed by the police 5 minutes later.

The all white firemen were besides themselves that I stopped to help out these two black guys without hesitation. I got blood on me of course and AIDS mania was in full force. They asked me what I witnessed and if I saw the shooting. Shooting? And that’s when I made the connection and saw the driver had been shot through the thin doors of his car. The firemen grew increasingly agitated with me, the victim, and the fact that we all were exposed. Rather than helping the victims they were on their radios and looking up and down the streets.

That’s when everything came together for me, so I told them that a jacked up purple car (I forget the slang) drove past to check the scene of their (?) crime and are long gone. Relieved, they started berating me about the blood on my hands, about pulling the two black guys out the car, about this, about that to where I was close to telling them to fuck off and help these guys. But they wouldn’t touch them.

When the police arrived they just rolled their eyes and looked down their noses at me. A black cop arrived and it was plain as day that he didn’t want anything to do with the white firemen and the two white cops who were standing around and doing nothing. He sighed, introduced himself and I gave him my account of events including how long it’s been since it happened.

When I described the car and the front passenger and his seemingly approval of my presence, he became visibly agitated. I braced for another lecture that never came. He hurried back to his cruiser, got in, looked at me and sped away shaking his head the whole way.

The firemen, still standing around near the two black men, blankly stared at me through their sunglasses, and then burst out laughing. One of them came over to me and mumbled about me not belonging there. “I don’t think any of us do, but here we are,” I replied.

I was late getting home and my then-wife Toni was starting to worry. She rightly freaked out when I arrived with blood on my hands, shirt and shorts. The blood freaked her out. She was caught up in the hysteria of AIDS, and like the firemen, she started berating me. I was stunned all over again by how such a simple act of kindness taps into people’s media-driven fear. I mean, where else does fear come from? And why do people believe what they believe?

The latter was and is my life’s purpose here.

A month later I landed my second job working for a Catholic charity a few blocks from the heart of Orange County.

4 years later I got to experience the racism of my fellow white Christians when Rodney King was beaten. Apparently he had it coming because he wasn’t saved?

4 months after the Rodney King beating, Boyz N the Hood was released. I got to see everything that most likely took place in the days, months, and years leading up this midwestern white man (26 years old) pulling two badly injured black men from a car.

I experienced again the blatant racism from white responders who couldn’t fathom a white guy doing what I did. Full disclosure: I’m legally deaf. Then as now, I wear one hearing aid that helps me lip read. 80% of communication is non-verbal. It wasn’t as much as the way the white guys said it as it was how they said it, the way their faces were positioned, the body language cadence and inflection.
(In that vein, Greta Lee should absolutely win Best Actress. You can tell exactly what she’s thinking, why she’s thinking it just by looking her in the movie “Past Lives” during the scenes were there’s no dialog. And the subtlety she gives to her dialog makes it crystal clear what she’s about.)

Nearly 10 months after Boyz N in the Hood premiered, I was driving down the San Gabriel Highway that separates LA and Orange counties when the Rodney King Riots erupted. It was unlike any traffic jam I’ve been in before and since. Everyone was super cooperative and patient. Traffic moved slowly but surely with very little stopping. There was a steady stream coming from LA into Orange County and it continued through the night and next few days as the riots continued.

Etched in my memory then and now was the look of approval or acknowledgment from the front passenger of the purple car directed my way.



Peter B.

Objective analysis of claims and incongruities against the rational axiom of how beliefs work.