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?


K.B. said...

News Flash - We are the bourgie people we never wanted to be in high school. We are the black elite - the sellouts, if you will. I didn't think education would be the force that separated me from the rest of my race, but it has. It was all so sudden. I mean, all I did was read Souls of Black Folk. Next thing I know, I've transformed into the sellout. I think I'm gonna join Clarence Thomas's fan club next week.

There's a battle going on in Black America - The educated versus the non-educated. And, I don't think one side has an advantage as far as population is concerned. It's evening up.

But, at the same time, we Clarence Thomases must check ourselves. Whenever we have a problem with something "black," we need to analyze that. If there is something morally wrong with it, that's one thing. Or, if it's a bad financial decision, that's an issue, too. But, if we're just hating "black" things because they're black, that's another problem. And even with moral and financial judgments, we need to examine ourselves. Because, we've made/are making bad decisions ourselves.

JustMeWriting said...

I love Aaron and the Boondocks and I really think this was accurate. My oldest son (15) watched it in awe; he sat there on the couch with this blank look and said..."wow"...that was so true...that's how we'd look to him.

I think Aaron showed Dr. King with the same anger held by most BLACK people in today's society, thus prompting the thoughts contained in the Blacks vs Ni$$as mind struggle.
I think it's no different then the disdain that's given to Bill Cosby for his approach and remarks, but like my quote for this week says: "Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change" and at the end of the day...the change is what's needed.

Ticia said...

Good Post...

My mother and I were talking abt this the other day. People call us bourgie all the time, but hell, I rather be than ghetto, filled with corrupted morals and no self worth, responsibility, etc....

No, you are a not a sell-out, you grew up and matured. You are fulfilling your God given purpose..yet we all have our set-backs, you are reaching higher...

Screw this black folks that talk about us, I bet you they would trade places with you in a second.

I look at our people and wonder, what went wrong. Where did they miss the lesson? What happened? Most importantly, why is this accepted.

Okay, enough

Gene said...

WE didn't sell out, Cogdell. THEY sold out!

We embody the dreams of our ancestors. They embody those of our oppressors.

Their definition of blackness will never negatively affect my perception of my own. I am closer to being who I am supposed to be than I ever have been and am still pressing. They are the "lost" that so many have talked preached and prophesied about before.

If embracing my destiny is "elite" to them, than so be it. I'm not that interested in being defined by them anyway. I've already been defined. I spent too much time not living up to that definition because of what they thought.

Those days are ove.

gene said...

"I look at our people and wonder, what went wrong. Where did they miss the lesson? What happened?"

A combination of things - 1) not having the same opportunities as you and 2) not taking advantage of the opportunities that they had.

A Beautiful Life said...

Excellent post.
You are not a sellout. You are just mature enough to realize that the battle isn't about bourgie vs. being down or acting black vs. acting white. You realize that what's going on is so much bigger than that; it's about ignorance versus intelligence, wisdom versus folly, freedom versus and enslaved minds, and moral versus immoral. You could have tried hard to befriend some of those people at Bike Week based off of your racial category, but the intelligence in you clashes with and repels the ignorance in them. One can’t be in a decent mental state and think that grills are cute, wear close to no clothes and dance in the street (seriously), wear white tee shirts to the ankles, kill people, or have pink, blue, or purple hair, don’t have a home, but drive a 40 to 60k car, and rap these dumb songs written by white men telling these artists how to act urban, hood, and ghetto. It’s sad!

While African Americans may share some ideals and traditions as a collective, overall, we are not heterogeneous. I also feel that you could have spent the weekend with the black elite and seen much ignorance, just in another and more accepted form (i.e. children acting like thugs even though their parents are principals or well-known attorneys, scandals, cocaine use, colorism, affairs, envy, materialism etc.).

This isn't what Martin Luther King imagined. He might feel guilty since we've seen a break down in the black community with the end of segregation. He would wonder if he went wrong in training his mentees like Jesse Jackson. At the same time he would also realize that the more good he tried to do, the more the majority group would do to oppress and enslave. Laws forbid them to do it physically, but they've been able to enslave mentally. He would be upset that people couldn’t see this strategic oppression and act like the trash they see. He would be upset at the breakdown of the family and mentorships. He would wonder how respect and uplift were placed with discord, anger, rage, individualism. Since times have changed and we are past the "one black leader" era, he would urge everyone to lead to by example and make a difference.

Do car commercials, check cashing commercials, and payday advance loans come on “white” radio and tv stations? I don’ t think so. I’m tired of hearing and seeing commercials for new cars to the beat of R&B and Hip Hop talking about bad credit, it’s okay, we can work with you. I'm smart enough to realize that this is a game and advertisement exec are trying to get into the minds of black people, but many black people don't.

Gene-- I really like your points.

Rell said...

Yea I'm with KB -- we are who we hated in high school.

It's a fine line to hate something because it's stupid or ignorant -- then hate it because you think it makes you look bad in the eyes of the mainstream culture.

This is one thing I'm constantly at battle with. Do I not like it because it's bad? Or do I not like it because I think it makes me look bad?

There is a HUGE difference in those two questions in my opinion.

Andrew The Asshole said...

why is is being black and educated with goals being a sell out? That seems really ignorant!!

Black people don't like NIGGAs nobody likes niggas

The rolls royce doors are sound proof and the private plane is too high to hear niggas of any color

Limited Edition said...

Why is ignorance associated with blackness? I'm confused. At what point did receiving an education make me a sell-out? So if I were dumb I would be maintaining my roots? That’s ludicrous and it’s the mentality the oppressors want you to have. They want you to believe that being educated sets you apart from blackness. So if you achieve an education you develop this self hate because you don’t want to be associated with such ignorance as Black Bike Weekend (perceived blackness). But if you are an active participant in BBW, you probably hold some other self hate issues (because you are black). Either way, you hate yourself and the oppressors win again!!!!! (This is probably confusing. Can anyone help me to make this point?)

I refuse to believe that if I don't dye my hair hot pink and walk around pole dancing in dental floss that I'm not black. That is not blackness people. HELLO, that is ignorance. I cannot believe the educated people who have responded to this post have called themselves sell-outs for getting an education. Are you serious? What were you supposed to do? I say that in this day and time, if you don’t get your life together and get an education (or least some form of wisdom. Just because you didn’t go to college doesn’t mean that you’re ignorant.), you are selling out and coming up short. You have sold your soul to the oppressors for a cheap price.

Again, if those of you who have responded are now sell-outs, what did you sell-out to? Who did you sell-out from? What makes you a sell-out?

Gene said...

Thanks A Beautiful Life.

KB and Rell, how did ya'll hate the type of people that you've become?! These 30 year old ignoramouses were the same ignorant folks I went to high school with and they were IGNORANT then! So I knew THEN that we weren't on the same page. And neither were ya'll based off of what I know about them.

Limited Edition is right. We have to realize that their perception of "blackness" is not THE perception. Like I said, I didn't sell out. THEY sold out.

Uh ... but did Brandon tell ya'll he tried to holla at one of the bike week girls?! *joking*

Andrew The Asshole said...

Gene ~ B must have told you about the gold bikini with the heels he got at in walmart. They hit the strip that night. He is just writing this post to she what we would think of his new girlfriend.

these "niggas" are sell outs, they are selling themselves on underacheivement and ignorance... slavery of the mind.

Gene said...

Andrew, you and I can see through Brandon like GLASS!!! He probably got on one of them ankle length white tees right NOW!

K.B. said...

As far as being sellouts, I'm just saying don't be surprised when you get with old people from your neighborhood dressed in your khakis and button up and find you don't fit in. Education and occupation can create a gap.

Which leads me to my next point - just because one is educated and has a nice job doesn't put us in a position to judge others. For example, is there anything really wrong with rims? Is there anything wrong with dyeing hair certain colors? Is there anything wrong with listening to "ignorant" music? (because ALL of us have done it and probably still do it.) Is there anything wrong with wearing a big white tee?

And, I, too, know Brandon hollered at numerous females during BBW.

Gene said...

KB -
All of those things are wrong ... within a certain context.

I had to interview a family yesterday who lived in a trailer park. They had an Expedition and a new Ford 150. THAT is wrong.

And I'm not surprised when I get up with people from back in the day and see differences. Truth is we weren't that similar from jump.

Brandon said...

li·bel: Pronunciation[lahy-buhl]

a. defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures.

b. the act or crime of publishing it.

c. anything that is defamatory or that maliciously or damagingly misrepresents.

... litigation is forthcoming.

@ KB... there definitely is a fine line between classifying something as ignorant and just hating on it because black folks do it.

HOWEVER... I have to take a stand on this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with oversized white tees... unless you're a grown ass man, such as myself. Some things you have to leave with the youth.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with rims... unless they cost you $20,000 for the set, but you have bad credit from not being able to pay your bills.

I wouldn't call the colored hair ignorant, but if you go into an interview with blue hair (regardless of race), chances are you're probably going to be filling out more applications. That view doesn't make me better than anyone, but it just shows the difference in mentality and scope. To their point, they may consider us sellouts for assimilating and letting society dictate our actions.

There's nothing wrong with ignorant music... unless it's Lil' Boosie.

That is all

4EverJennayNay said...

i remember when this particular episode aired and how pisT folk got about it. To hear the N-famous word uttered sparks an uneasiness inside of me. The word feels wrong, but its soooo familiar.

At any rate, I can only imagine what bike week looked like. You always see the pix of unfathomable foolishness that that went on posted up on the net (hotghettomess.com). I've never been to Black Bike Week but last year I asked three of my closest friends-girls if they wanted to go and their responses were all similar: "I'm not sure if I'm in the mood for that many black people in one place." And after I thought about it, I already knew they were right.

I just dropped my head when I read your words - businesses were closed for the weekend- DO WE REALLY HAVE THAT LITTLE HOME TRAINING???? Unfathomable foolishness indeed...

Now see, there ain't NOTHIN new under the sun, so I'll rest soundly this evening knowing that the same mess that goes on today, was going on during the Civil Rights struggle. But, it was undoubtedly more discreet. It's not just black folk, the world has changed.

Andrew The Asshole said...

Well I'm sorry I field niggas didn't go to my private school so no can't say that people in my neighborhood acted like BBW.

extra large white t's and diamonds in your teeth are ignorant at any age!!!!

mark said...

Good post Brandon. You are right we need to take care of our communties and the disrespect and immature behavior you talked about is all to often a trait of us when we congregate in large #s.

Rell said...

Again, I'm with KB -- me and him discussed a lot back when were lived together.

It's something I'm always at constant struggle with.

Just because I'm doing my thing and educated and ascending toward a higher class, so to speak, in the sociological stratosphere doesn't mean I can call some things that are in my culture and I don't like "Ignorant."

I hate terrible music and I hate terrible music with bad lyrics about nothing made by Black people. But it is what it is and if it's a part of us, then we have no right to judge.

Like I said, it's something I do all the time but that I need to work on.

Being educated doesn't make us better people, it makes up people with degrees.

"Without love, benevolence becomes egotism." - MLK (one of my favorite quotes that I constantly try to remember).

Anonymous said...

Judging is not good. Holding folks accountable is. Unacceptable things need to be called out!

Limited Edition said...

I do agree with Rell and KB in that we shouldn't judge others just because we hold different values; however, my main concern is that I don't want people associating certain behaviors (i.e. what occurs at BBW) with Blackness.

Ivy said...

I'm sad at this. Being black makes me so tired sometimes. Half the time I find myself internally rationalizing ridiculous behavior, the other half is spent checking myself to make sure I'm not acting too foolish.

I don't care what anyone says. Some things we do are totally OUR ignorance. Grillz are us. Expensive rims and no house and bad credit - that's us. Skrippin' in the skreet. You guessed it - us. There's no use in being hyper-sensitive or defensive about it. That's part of the reason why we don't get real with US and create change in our communities.

Such backlash when Cosby said what he said. But everybody with any sense knows he was right. And don't get me wrong - I do things that are out of pocket myself. But I do not go around this city acting so silly that you can imagine faintly seeing the words "Damn Fool" inked into my forehead. So, yes, we can judge. We can judge these crazy people just like we judge Bush, just like we judge the KKK, just like we just slave owners, just like we judge drug dealers. Just like we judge all things dysfunctional in our society (including the batty-ness that is Paris Hilton - and she ain't even black).

Lord, help the people, pleez...