Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Is This What King Would Think?
Did Aaron McGruder go too far with this?
I'm not so sure that he did. While I know that he pushes the envelope to the point where you wonder if he truly has a message or is being gratuitous, outside of the language, I'm not sure that Dr. King wouldn't feel this way.
I came to this realization recently while attending Black Bike Week a couple weeks ago. Now by no means am I an elitist, and never considered myself bourgie. I grew up in the country in a typical black Southern family. I hung out with mischievous kids who many would say "had no home training." Many of them did not go to college and to be honest, a lot of them have fallen victim to the "dead or in jail" fate that so many of our young black males fall into.
The only difference between me and them was that my mother put a MAJOR emphasis on education as a way to a better life. While I could relate to my peers on so many different levels when I was younger, I prioritized and managed to stay away from the evils that plague black youth. Even still, I could relate to my peers in every way.
While in college early-on, I came in contact with like-minded people with similar goals and aspirations. Eventually, college life and the people I met there became my reality.
Fast forward to Bike Week '07...
While at this event, I literally came into contact with every negative stereotype of destructive behavior that there is about black people--that we are extremely oversexed (women in bikinis and stilettos pole dancing in the middle of the street), that we kill each other (there were 2 drive-by shootings and numerous altercations), that alcohol and drugs are our kryptonite, that we don't take care of our communities (there was trash everywhere), that we invest heavily in materialism etc. There were policemen with bullet proof vests on every corner. Local businesses closed down for the weekend. It looked like the Apocalypse.
I was a little upset about it. Never have I felt so out of place amongst my own people. Never in my life have I felt like I couldn't relate. After all, these could easily have been the people I grew up with. It seemed like everyone was in their second-childhood (i.e. 30+ year-old men with over sized white tees and jerseys smoking weed in broad daylight). I realized that what I was witnessing is exactly how all black people are portrayed in the media. While I've always felt that we as African-Americans are grossly misrepresented around the world, I actually witnessed a concentration of these misrepresentations personified.
I realized that I've changed over the years. Does that make me a sellout? Does this make me "bourgie?" How can we change attitudes in our communities? Should we try to? Is it dangerous to lump us all into one box as a homogeneous entity? What would Dr. King think about the State of Black America?