Step Up 1: Perception, Reality

I CHOOSE TO WRITE THIS ARTICLE because as I look around, I see the wrong things being glamorized & as such; we as black people are becoming aliens in our country.  The negative representatives, whether it is hip hop artists, actors, or people that have a big impact on our communities give us a negative identity & all that is seen by main stream society.  I remember going to an all-white school as a kid & had this little blonde haired blue eyed girl approach me & say “Whaaaz Uuuup!”.  I looked at her like she was crazy & said, “How’s it going?”  She looked at me & said, “I thought that was how you guys did it.”  I then look at the black community & realize that the stereotypes I have to hear were based on what is perceived of us, and for the most part hold a large element of truth.  What’s worse are those of us that speak & dress well are identified as a sellout.  As if my success is dependent upon me giving up my black identity.  To be seen as equals in this society that we are all apart of indefinitely, we have to make it known that we play an integral role & will continue to play an integral role in society.

I have heard it all too often — a black person says “the white man is holding me back” or “…holding us down.”  Then I take a look at how this person is carrying himself.  His pants are sagging below his backside.  Why is that?  He speaking Ebonics & even worse, he can’t form a sentence properly anyway.  At what point I ask myself, “Would I want this guy representing my company?”  No.  I would not no matter how far down the chain the job may be…that individual is still representing my company.  Then I wonder why this person carries himself that way.  I realize oh, that’s how Uncle Pookie & Ray Ray wore their pants when they came out of jail & nobody in the hood messes with them.  Never mind the fact that sagging in jail means you are “available”.  If you don’t understand the reference, men & women are not housed together in prisons.

Then you have the negative influence from rappers/hip hop artists.  They say they have a story to tell, but they aren’t telling their whole story.  The vast majority of the most successful artists have some form of formal education.  Some completed degrees & some haven’t.  Either way, they understand the value of education and that is not what you are hearing in a majority of their music.  Do people really think that Jay-Z, Sean Combs, or Dr. Dre for example, would have record labels, clothing lines, restaurants, & other venture capital investments if they approached millionaires & billionaires without being able to form a sentence?  In many foreign countries English is the Business Language of the world, so why would anything change in America?

Lil’ Wayne & Lil’ Jon are pretty popular, but people do not know that Lil’ Wayne went to college & Lil’ Jon’s mom was a college professor.  What ghetto do college professors live in?  However, the kids do know and understand the negativity that is broadcasted & that’s what they are assimilating to.  I was at an airport in Memphis, TN & I wanted to smoke, so I asked a TSA agent where the smoking area was.  He told me to ask the manager & pointed in the direction of two people.  One person was clean cut, neatly shaven, & his suit fit well.  The other person’s suit didn’t fit well at all.  The jacket & pants were too long, his jewelry was too loose, he had gold caps (top & bottom), and corn rows.  Who did I think the manager was?  Of course, the clean cut guy.  I was wrong & I’m fine with that.  But am I really going to trust the security of the airport to a person running it who looks like a fool?  I mean honestly, who would you see as being more professional, Lil’ Wayne or Michael Jai White?

Onyx Contributor:  R.L. Knight
photo credit:  Thomas Hawk
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