All too often, many in the Black community are quick to call foul play as per the media in the negative way Blacks are categorized or depicted. It is surprising how some Blacks see derogatory and demeaning behavior popularized by some in our young, Black hip-hop culture as acceptable, even ingratiating. I am referring to the sexual exploitation and objectifying of Black women in songs; the disrespectful flaunting of one’s bottom with sagging pants; and the sexual message generated in dances, such as tweaking.
Laugh and joke as if these actions are a sign of the times. Say that people who are appalled are dinosaurs opposed to generational fads and changes. But one must remember and acknowledge that all changes are not good. In fact, some changes contribute to the moral and spiritual downfall of a people or society. Few things are as sad or incomprehensible as a group willingly and voluntarily contributing to their own exploitation, degradation and dehumanization.
Many African American adults literally cringe at how some of us portray ourselves, but acquiesce because they are afraid of confronting our youth. Instead, they contribute to a sense of powerlessness. Make no mistake, we are often contribute to our own dehumanization and mockery. While we should be working hard to counteract the emaciating narratives of those who oppress us by manifesting a strong, positive, drive toward upward mobility, making the world recognize our greatness—we are being bamboozled by a handful of our own who put money and their own personal agenda before the positive, productive advancement and good of our people.
I guess I must sound like a self-righteous prude, but I don’t feel like I have to apologize for wanting the best for people who look like me. I cannot shuffle and jive, and rationalize that what I do doesn’t affect the way I am judged and characterized. Yes, I believe in freedom of choice and individualism as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. But we have a young generation that is being influenced and made insensitive to behavior unbefitting strong, beautiful, spiritual and intelligent African Americans.
We are finding more and more young, conscious African Americans who know their history and are working to educate their peers to the buffoonery and negative-image-programming taking place to devalue people of color. But we need more people to speak out and detest some of the offensive behaviors and practices that are becoming normalized. Older African Americans need to come out of their comfort zones and confront our young men and women when these young people are wrong, especially when representing us all.
Many Black communities have a history of standing idly by, looking the other way when they know they have detrimental elements within their communities (rapists, drug dealers, pedophiles, car jackers, thieves, murderers and domestic abusers) taking advantage of their communities’ vulnerabilities. These self-serving parasites are killing and destroying our communities. But they are often heralded as victims because the system and institutions we are taught are there to protect us have historically proven to be corrupt and oppressive toward people of color, especially African Americans. Therefore we have negative elements taking advantage of communities with a history of not trusting law enforcing agencies, making it possible for corrupting agents within to comfortably maintain fear and literally wreak havoc.
We cannot hope that the system oppressing us will eagerly bring about positive change concerning how we treat and feel about each other. We must have private and community meetings to educate our people about our real history, promoting self-love and positive upward mobility. We must understand the contrived plots that have affected our psyche as to how we feel about each other.
While we have social and church organizations working assiduously as mentors and conduits to change negative narratives and promote self-love, academic and professional excellence and the building of an African American economic base, we need more help. Fraternal guidance, e.g., mentors and scholarships, have proven invaluable to our young generation. But much more community involvement is needed. We need a resurgence of the ‘village.’
The mere fact that we as a society have come to accept our young preschoolers and teenagers tweaking, calling each other bit..hes and nig..rs, and baring their butts in public should signal an urgency to address the need to collectively evaluate our willingness to accept and participate in negative and dehumanizing depictions of ourselves. We, as African Americans, have a responsibility and obligation in controlling and contributing to our own narrative in a positive light.
We must call out and dismiss those African Americans selling us out for personal gain, especially when it affects how we as a race are judged and perceived. As a strong proud race, let’s play a collective role in denouncing and disassociating ourselves from self-destructive contributors and appalling practices outside and within our communities. Let’s go back to monitoring, supervising, and providing constructive, productive leadership to our own communities. We owe it to our children.