Archive for December, 2004

Playahata: Thugs, Pimpin’’ & Revolutionaries

by Morpheus Reloaded of Playahata.com

This is a true story. Honest.

Quite recently I was talking to a second year college student who declared with beaming pride that he was about to become a member of a new black campus group. Congratulations I told him, and asked what student organization had he joined? He scoffed and stated that student organizations weren’t for him as they were all filled with “Negroes.” I made certain to tuck away the flyer I was holding, which urged students to attend an affirmative action debate, from one such “Negro” infested organization. Having side-stepped that minefield I inadvertently however walked into another, asking the individual if he meant he had joined a fraternity? This resulted in a number of expletives and the declaration of a profound abhorrence for Black Greek-letter fraternities and sororities, denouncing them as elitist, subversive and dangerous elements. I nodded to confirm agreement as I kept a wary eye on the insidious Greek-letter wearing fiends nearby. Even then they were up to no good: putting on a drive for Sickle-Cell Funding and creating a sign-up roster for TASP testing tutors at a local public school. Infidels, I muttered in disgust.

After the brief suspense the student informed me that the group he had joined was both Negro-free and dedicated to the uplift of the black community. It had its own hairstyles, assorted forms of jewelry, slang and other cultural affects. The student informed me proudly that he had come to the realization that he was “conscious” and that this was now the group of which he was a member.

For those outside of black popular slang, “conscious” does not refer to this individual being awakened from the Matrix by the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar – at least not literally. Rather the term “conscious” has taken on a meaning in the black community relating to one who is politically, racially, culturally informed, knowledgeable and aware. As this student had decided (through some form of self-declaration) that he was now conscious,” he wanted to know if I had any advice for him – as he suspected that I was an old head/O.G. within the group, despite my mild-mannered everyday posture.

I politely informed the student that not only was I of lesser rank among those who consider themselves “conscious,” but that I wasn’t really a spokesman. But the student persisted. Surely he said, I could tell him something. He had caught me reading some Franz Fanon before and noticed the Boondocks cartoons plastered in my office. Certainly, he begged, I could give him some advice on becoming “conscious” – show him the ropes so to speak. No I said, attempting to hide my cowrie shells, I truly had no idea what he was talking about. Yet the student refused to be put off and I realized – like a Beatnuts track – there was no escaping this.

Looking around to make sure there were no prying eyes, I jostled the student hurriedly into a dark corner and put on a stern scowl. These matters were not to be discussed so openly I admonished him! There were rules and protocols to be followed! One didn’t just wake up and declare openly that one was conscious! Didn’t he know that there were extremist and fringe fanatics in the conscious crowd waiting to snatch him away to some cult compound? Was he not aware that the road he was embarking upon had driven some mad? The “conscious” crowd was filled with insightful, informative and positive peoples dedicated to what they term the “struggle” – but there was a seedy underbelly that preyed on recently opened minds, eagerly waiting to assimilate them into the hive collective. Every community has its fringe. The student stammered an apology, shocked and fearful at my Keyser-Soze-type change in demeanor. Shut up and listen, I told him! A quick backhanded pimp slap across the mouth let him I know I meant business. Leaning in closer, cloaked in the concealment of the shadows, I opened up some files I held and spilled the precious information like that black-ops agent in Oliver Stone’s JFK (played by Donald Sutherland), detailing the more extremist factions of the “conscious” crowd, their ideologies and suggestions by which to navigate through them.

The following is an excerpt from those files. And I warn you as I warned him, this information is classified… Read at your own risk.

Identifying the Fringe in the ‘Conscious’ Community:

A Brief Dossier & Guide Manual

The 1960ers: usually consists of leadership by older conscious members with a few young adherents. This group will constantly and consistently stress the importance of 1960s radical Black Power movements, personalities and organizations. Their main goal it seems is to bring about the level of political awareness that existed in the black community near half a century ago.

Pros: means well; are genuinely concerned with the plight of black people; are very good at organizing protests; marches and informing the younger generation on the monumental importance of history from near a century ago (from BAM to the plight of Assata Shakur).

Cons: it was near a century ago; many of the staunch 1960’ers seem unable to deal with the realities of the 21st century; too few understand that different times require different tactics; they mean well but are generally antiquated (i.e., attempting to mimic Mao Tse Tung’s disastrous agricultural communal farming ideas, though they caused millions of Chinese to starve to death) and unable to reach the masses.

Suggestions: Adapt and change or perish. As the urban philosopher of Shaolin would say, these analog cats need to get digital.

The Doom Projectors: usually consists of older and younger “conscious” members. Their main focus is to inform us about all that is wrong with black people, in their perspective. Doom projectors know every negative statistic relating to black people and disease, the prison system, homicide, economics, dysfunctional families, teen pregnancies, drug abuse and just about any other social ill plaguing the community. In their estimation nothing is getting better for black people, rather we are steadily marching towards an apocalyptic abyss.

Pros: shock and scare therapy sometimes works; can motivate and spur people into action; are human computers (like black Mentats) when it comes to statistic number crunching and predicting dire forecasts; help inspire really great Hip Hop songs like “Self-Destruction.”

Cons: scares the beejeezus outta you; by the time you’re finished listening to these horrible statistics you don’t want to get mobilized, you want to crawl into a hole and listen to sorrowful songs from 2Pac’s “Me Against the World”; can’t always trust their stats.

Suggestions: Discuss the negatives with a balance of the positive; point out black achievements and progressive steps. By all means keep us abreast of what work needs to be done. But the world already tells us “we ain’t sh*t.” Another spokesman isn’t necessary.

The Conscious Thug Consortium: mostly consists of younger members who have managed to intertwine two seemingly unrelated words, “conscious” and “thug,” into an actual national movement. Conscious thugs shun scholarly political work but instead embrace the philosophy of “street knowledge.” Believing that no one truly understands the plight of the black masses but the thug, these individuals extol the virtues of the street team lifestyle but lace it with pro-black ideologies. Thus in one sentence they may quote Donald Goines and in the next Malcolm X. Conscious thugs can be found on numerous street corners, where they tend to blend in with the more common thug variety, but “kick knowledge” every now and again. They have proliferated in the modern Hip Hop community.

Pros: unlike regular thugs they can truly see that there is a struggle to be fought; in the current “Thug Renaissance” sweeping the black community they are quite relatable – especially to the street crowd.

Cons: being pro-black doesn’t always equal being “positive”; have hyper-patriarchal ideas of masculinity; they are proud in their sexism; their over-inflated ideas of manhood can’t really allow them to accept black women as equals, but rather in stereotyped categories of saints, gold-diggers or freaks; not above reverting to a common fratricidal thug over the slightest beef or insult; their dueling ideologies (thug vs conscious) makes them seem contradictory and garbles their messages often into incoherence; refuses to leave their limbo state but instead revels in the freedom it creates; the totality of their struggle seems to consist of greater access of every black man to more Cristal, bigger Jesus-pieces, phatter Escalades, even phatter prime choice booty (preferably in a thong) and the really good, good weed.

Suggestions: There’s a ready-made place for thugs. It’s called jail. Society does indeed help make thugs, who in turn contribute to their own oppression by playing the role and then filling the jails. It’s a nice little cycle, but only the “real” thugs (who build and profit from the jail) make a profit. If you know about this pimp-o-logical system, break it. Trim the thug-fat from your waistline. It’s unneeded and unhealthy. That would really be revolutionary.

The Lumpen-Proletariat Reformation Movement (LPRM):consists of members who adhere to the belief system that the “revolution” will come not from the upper, middle or even lower class elements of society – but from the absolutely bottom rung: the lumpen- proletariat of Marxist ideology that occupy the underclass of society, often typified by their inability to find consistent legal work and thus resorting to criminal and other undesirable activity. The LPRM can at times be aligned with the conscious thugs, though they do not generally claim the appellation of thug themselves. Rather the LPRM asserts that inside every thug is a revolutionary waiting to be born. In the minds of the LPRM, thugs represent the greatest potential as revolutionaries as their pride in criminal activity is deemed rebellion against the system/society. Furthermore, the LPRM generally accuses anyone who works within the system (from those who hold a 9 to 5 job, to teachers in the school system, to black politicians, to those in academia, to the old woman who calls the police when some thugs break into her home) of being the sworn enemies of the lumpen-proletariat and thus traitors to the “the revolution.”

Pros: are following a well-known methodology that is based on some semblance of sound political ideology; highlights intra-racial class issues; speaks up for a segment of society that is often neglected or regarded as refuse or hopeless; is a firm champion of the underdog; advocates many of the positive attributes of visionaries like Huey P. Newton.

Cons: creates enemies out of potential allies by declaring anyone involved in the system (which can again include simply having legal and gainful employment) a capitalist oppressor (not seeming to understand that the owning of capital is rather key in this definition, which the average employed black person does not have); holds thugs accountable for nothing, rather placing the blame for any and all of their actions on society (including black teachers, civil rights activists, etc.), thus negating self-discipline and self-empowerment; often never lived in the hood and have simplistic romanticized ideas of philosopher pimps and accountant wizard crack dealers; when their “noble-savage” fairytale of ghetto hoodlums is shocked into reality (by becoming a victim of crime or the like themselves), there’s a serious chance they’ll devolve into Black Conservative Republicans.

Suggestions: Realize that the revolution isn’t happening over night. Change will have to come from more than the criminal element. If you went to college, lived in the suburbs or hold a respectable job – be proud of it. There’s no need to hide or feel embarrassed about those things. If the revolution happens tomorrow I would want a society filled with professionals, scholars and intelligent, strong, moral leadership – not pimps, pick-pockets and hustlers. Ask the criminal element you so love and admire; I bet they want to live in a place like that too.

We Hate Whitey Federation: these individuals don’t like white people, white holidays, white culture, white music, white food, white dogs, white umbrellas, etc. This is pretty much the sum totality of their belief system. Often they will get together to discuss all the ways in which they hate whites and a few will even call for white extermination as the solution for all the world’s ills.

Pros: can reveal many interesting and bizarre factoids about white people (i.e., white hygiene, or lack thereof, in medieval Western Europe) that can be useful at parties, barbershop conversations, etc.; has found a way to use the rage that society’s racism creates within us all and isn’t afraid to express it; sometimes, especially against hardcore white supremacists, they’re invaluable and indispensable; really cause reflection upon the classic line by Paris, “who’s to blame for the hate that hate made?”

Cons: their existence is predicated upon the existence of white supremacy (translation: they hate whites, because whites hate them); they lose the moral high ground by sinking to the level of the white supremacists; hatred eventually leaves them as bitter and hollow as the catalyst they hate; their movement does very little in the way of productiveness for the struggle in the long run; a significant number of them work for white people (including being in the US military) and might probably just be acting out frustrations at a superior/boss rather than actually having concern for the struggle; worse thing about these individuals: you can’t take them out anywhere.

Suggestions: Hate is a natural human emotion. It can even be useful and is understandable. However getting trapped at that level of existence only tends to stunt your growth. Though race as a social reality is quite powerful (and I do NOT advocate the false move to some colorblind society anytime soon), at the same time race the biological construct is a white supremacist fallacy. We’re all members of the same species, though the way we act sometimes you wouldn’t know it. Don’t allow white supremacy to turn you into a mirror-reflection in black-face, because at the end of the day you really don’t have the stomach to gas little white children or toss them into crematories – and you know it. Save the supremacy business for the folks that do it best.

White Supremacy Analysts: can sometimes be allied with the We Hate Whitey Federation, but really focus more so on the study and power of white supremacy itself than engaging in the hatred of whites. These individuals tend to not only read works by Frances Cress-Welsing, Neely Fuller or Marimba Ani, but make such things their literal bibles – often above and beyond the intentions of the actual authors. They stress the need to critically analyze white supremacy, its affects, mores, means and application. What makes white people tick and do what they do consumes every waking moment of these individuals lives. According to many of these self-professed scholars of “Caucasian habits,” white people are the most powerful and intelligent force in the known universe (due to their current elevated status in the world) and it is black peoples’ weakness in the face of this power that has allowed us to be oppressed.

Pros: recognizes the role of white supremacy and its affects on the black psyche; usually a highly intellectual bunch; seeks out white supremacy in nearly everything for critical analysis; can spot racism from at least a hundred yards; are believed to possess extra-sensory racism perceptions: allowing them to see a racist act, before it is actually committed.

Cons: seeks out white supremacy in nearly everything, to the point of seeming ludicrous; blames black people for being victims of racism in the past, as we were supposedly simply not strong or smart enough to save ourselves; in the end has actually bought into the basic premise of white supremacy: that white people are the most powerful and intelligent force in the known universe.

Suggestions: Gods aren’t gods if they don’t have worshippers; ergo white people are only gods if you worship them. Don’t believe in white supremacy; try believing in your black self; its healthier.

EANS (Extremely Angry Negro Syndrome): it is hard to place this category, because it is more like an affliction than actual type. Symptoms usually include a high degree of anger and the belief that making everyone as furious as they are will bring about mobilization and spark instantaneous “consciousness.” Though a great deal of their anger is directed against “the man” (who they take great pleasure in telling off or scaring at any given chance), most of this rage eventually is turned upon other black people. If one does not quickly accelerate to these individuals’ level of anger, there is the strong possibility you will be denounced as an Uncle Tom, traitor or “honkie-lover” (the latter is a direct quote).

Pros: a significant amount of these afflicted individuals are new to the struggle (in fact some may have grown up in lily white venues before), and the shock of seeing things through “conscious” eyes causes the onset of disease as their worldview is challenged and thrown into imbalance; most will calm down over time and channel their anger in a more productive means; EANS is a natural phase nearly everyone who becomes “conscious” goes through; though it may cause some to lash out at friends and family members for being “deaf, dumb and or blind,” it is best these latter individuals wait out the disease of their loved one as it will normally clear up with maturity.

Cons: if left untreated, EANS can develop into a chronic disability. Some clear cases may include standing with bullhorns in black urban venues and screaming at other black people to get as angry as ones self; verbally insulting and lashing out at black passer-bys for not reaching a desired fever pitch of fury; brandishing weapons (empty) and jumping in front of television cameras at any given opportunity to show white people how angry you are (synonyms include “show-biz revolutionaries”); will more than likely turn off ten times as many black people as they turn on; all this anger will probably result in hypertension and high blood pressure, both of which are deadly.

Suggestions: St. John’s Wort, prozac or anger-management. Perhaps watch or read Malcolm X and see how he channeled anger into pro-active philosophy/action.

 

The Blackness Gestapo: a rogue and more extremist wing of the Blackness Police whose primary goal is to seek out, expose and verbally abuse other black individuals that are deemed race-traitors, Uncle Toms, etc. What places the Black Gestapo apart from the Blackness Police is the extremely high standard they set for what is deemed appropriate black political and cultural behavior, leaving little room open for deviance from this line (i.e., one offense can render a lifetime of work in the struggle null and void). Their usual targets are black political leaders, black political groups, black entertainers and most especially a black social group called Sigma Pi Phi founded in the 1900s by black professionals and oft-criticized for their elitism (also known as, the Boule).

Pros: highlights elitism in the black community; holds black leaders, entertainers and others socially responsible; not afraid to level criticism.

Cons: their idealistic idea of what it means to be black and proud is unreachable by just about anyone; they focus more attention on harshly criticizing other black people than dealing with numerous other worthy issues; incapable of building any type of encompassing black coalition with anyone outside their grouping; cause more disunity and chaos than anything approaching a semblance of black unity; have created a type of “Black McCarthyism” in their hunts for race-traitors; their dangerous rhetoric can at times often call for intra-racial violence directed against the accused; their focus is rather narrow, somehow only going after politicians, leaders and entertainers for acts of “betrayal” but silent on deeds of black drug dealers, gangs and others who sow seeds of destructiveness in the community; may be afflicted with severe EANS.

Suggestions: The Black world is multi-faceted and diverse. While criticism is certainly valuable, making blanket comparisons of a noted Black Conservative who works on behalf of white foundations to dismantle black progress (Ward Connerly) with a social activist, Pan-Africanist, anti-lynching crusader (WEB DuBois) because of disagreements on some issues (namely the entire Marcus Garvey feud), and thus labeling the latter a “race-traitor” is simply extremist, erroneous and shameful. Try to find what we agree upon before picking apart the differences.

Anti- [Place Word Here]: these individuals are typified by their uncanny ability to be anti- [any and all things]. Their backpacks are probably dotted with buttons detailing mostly what they don’t agree with: anti-globalism, anti-war, etc.

Pros: they are public activists and bring issues to light that need to be discussed.

Cons: where they stand on an issue, beyond being against it, is uncertain; and when they do make a firm stand, there’s hardly ever a solution offered; when a solution is offered, it is so impractical that it is made moot; often have a “with me or against me” attitude, often failing to entertain or examine shades of gray; they tend to support anyone that is anti- [what they are this week], without at times fully inspecting who they’re allying with; eventually their cries become a monotone of rhetoric that no one pays attention to.

Suggestions: Opposition movements work best when viable, practical and sensible alternative solutions are offered.

Black Anti-Intellectualist Movement (BAIM): these are individuals who have adopted the Jacksonian Era philosophy of anti-intellectualism, married them with 1900s positivism and applied them to an ideology of being “conscious.” BAIM emphasizes the idea that intellectual pursuit and methodologies used in modern disciplines such as science, history, etc. are the sole creations of whites. Blacks therefore should shun these academic methods of understanding and rely instead on what are deemed “African” or “Black” ways of understanding. Some BAIM adherents even adopt a form of Negritude, declaring logical pursuits the domains of whites and artistic (deemed emotional or spiritual) matters the domain of blacks.

Pros: highlight serious culturally inherent flaws with academia and the scholarly world that should be addressed.

Cons: make white people the architects of everything in the modern world; falsely believe that prior to white people blacks and others were not using systems similar to the modern scientific or historic methodologies; falsely believe that non-blacks have not contributed to what is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding in the modern world; falsely believe that somehow white people “own” science or the like; take non-understanding of a subject as evidence of a flaw in said subject; are clueless as to the nature of evidence as a method of making a case; will engage in debate not by presenting evidence, but speaking from emotion and critiquing any evidence presented, again from a stance of emotion; all conflicts in their mind boil down to “opinion” as to them there are no facts; employ methods and ways of understanding or gaining knowledge that are individualistic rather than collective (in other words, their methods only work for them – you thus can’t verify or deny it; it is un-test-able); will try to make others drop out of school or belittle their academic accomplishments as reliance on the white man’s pedigree.

Suggestions: Engaging in debate with them is pointless, because you will be the only person presenting evidence while they pull the most improbable opinions out of thin air (without evidence) to present as fact. Best thing to do, avoid them.

Wide-Eyed Religious Fanatics: may come in various spiritual persuasions, though the more fanatical and feverish tend to adhere to specialized and small black sects (often with an established membership merely in the dozens) of the three major Western Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). What separates them from other black religions is an extremist fundamentalist perspective, often declaring their miniscule, minority belief system the only true path for black people to find salvation, freedom and liberty, and denouncing all others as heretical and/or Satanic. They can often be found in the black sections of urban areas standing on platforms/benches screaming verses from a particular holy text. A cult of personality is often established around one individual in the group that borders on the level of cult, if not fully crossing over that line.

Pros: Given that you can hear them screaming from blocks away, they have a good set of lungs.

Cons: Their fundamentalism isolates and prevents them from working with others, religious or non-religious. Their venomous dislike for traditional African religions (calling such things as Ifa the practice of “pagan heathens,” or declaring they don’t worship “rocks in the mud” like their African ancestors) competes for something out of a Neo-Nazi handbook. Beyond the self-hate that denigrates Africa and glorifies Western Asia, there’s also a high probability that these individuals are certifiably insane.

Suggestions: Don’t anger them or make sudden movements in their presence.

Supa-Dupa AfriKans: a segment of the conscious population that has taken the Afrocentric and African-centered academic movement, and adopted these scholarly pursuits as an everyday lifestyle and way of living. Though many have done this, these individuals represent a more extreme caste. Members will usually dress in a mix of African and modern African-American garb; wear assorted bits of African jewelry; make greetings in one or two African words (normally Kiswahili, Pharaonic Egyptian or Akan); sport a claimed “Afrocentric” hairstyle and extol Africa.

Pros: have a devout love and pride about themselves as black people and Africa; may be quite informed on aspects of black history and elements of culture; often push for a healthy dietary lifestyle, fight against racism and more.

Cons: makes everyone else feel they are somehow lacking in their own African-ness; thinks walking around with a licorice stick in one’s mouth is acceptable at any venue; have never stepped foot on the continent of Africa but have been planning to go there for the better part of a decade; often think they can out-African even black people who live on the continent of Africa; a lot of what they think is African, really isn’t; have grand spiritual, economic and political ideas for Africa but have a general misunderstanding of traditional or modern African spiritual, economic or political institutions; romanticism of pre-colonial Africa may leave them very unaware of political, social and other events in modern Africa; horrific occurrences like Rwanda’s genocide completely shakes their foundation.

Suggestions: Africa’s complex. Don’t treat it like a singular entity. Make the trip, meet some people, get some connections, cause some real change on both sides of the Atlantic.

Fantastical Fact Fellowship (FFF): consists of individuals known for their ability to offer historical facts that often seem quite fantastic. Examples of their work include the now famous Willie Lynch document, the etymological origin of the word “picnic” from the common 20th Century American lynch era phrase “pick-a-n*gger,” or even the assertion that the first President of the United States was a black man (John Hanson). These types usually occupy online groups, forums and listservs.

Pros: mean well; may often highlight interesting historical matters in the context of their “facts” (i.e., the brutality of slavery associated with discussions of the Willie Lynch letter; the normalization of extreme violence in the lynching era associated with etymological investigations into the word “picnic;” providing insight into the Articles of Confederation that preceded the government structure as we know it when addressing the John Hanson assertion).

Cons: a little research often discredits their claims (i.e., the Willie Lynch letter is not only most likely a modern forgery, but its seemingly well-intentions actually obscure the importance of black resistance to slavery and absolves the role of post-1700s racism in understanding issues of the modern black community; “picnic” is a French derived word, piquenique, that originates in the 1600s and thus some 300 years before the lynching era of 20th century America; John Hanson, the first US president, was very “white” and is often confused by the FFF with a black Liberian senator of another era who shares the same name); damages the work of accomplished African-centered scholars by making fantastical claims of the ancient world (Africans sailed everywhere and built everything – including supposedly Atlantis); will make the most spurious links (often through linguistics) to assert positions that all other forms of evidence deny; all their sources come from 19th Century Europeans but will label anyone who critiques their assertions as Eurocentric, brainwashed by “white” learning, etc. (including other more moderate African-centered scholars).

Suggestions: The drawback of a literate society is that if something is written down we tend to assume it must be true. Any assertion you read should be followed up with research, especially if it sounds overly fantastic. The key tool here is critical analysis; employ it. Realize that no matter how well the intention, misinformation is detrimental in the long run – especially when those who seek to discredit Black Studies (Eurocentrists) seize upon these fringe claims and use them as representative of the discipline as a whole. There are a lot of black facts out there in the metric tons; there’s never a need to make up anything.

Black Conspiracy Theorists: generally adhere to belief that any and all conspiracy theories, even when they contradict, are true. [Note: Conspiracies are not to be confused with conspiracy theories. Conspiracies are usually events with evidence that have been revealed often during or after the occurrence (i.e., COINTELPRO under J. Edgar Hoover). Conspiracy theories are more extraordinary claims based on circumstantial evidence (i.e., a secret group called the Illuminati has been controlling world events since the medieval era and caused a tornado with alien technology from Roswell in Kansas last week).

Pros: are natural skeptics of authority; some of their claims make you ponder the plausibility; serve as great fodder for anyone who wants to write speculative fiction.

Cons: scares people into paranoia; evidence for claims are often shaky if not completely bogus; no actual solutions offered (i.e., storming the next board meeting of the Illuminati and demanding redress for a few centuries of wrongs); conspiracy theory scares often turn into a witch-hunt that can become destructive to the black community; with Anti-Semitic Czarist created fables like the “Protocols of Zion,” they and David Duke could share a booklist.

Suggestions: Critically analyze any claim and pick sense from non-sense.

Malnutrition-ists: individuals who hold fast to the ideology that the revolution begins in the mouth and ends with the colon. Malnutrition-ists are a more extremist branch of the wholistic health movement that espouses a complicated belief system which centers around and ends with food consumption. Among their many assertions are that any type of edible meat is evil; cooking vegetables is wrong; mixing foods of various colors or types is an abomination; liquid-food diets are best; somewhere in India there are humans who live off only the breathing of air.

Pros: are aware that dietary nutrition is important; stress the need for healthy living for longer life; great weight loss plan.

Cons: filled with factual errors about biology, health and diet (i.e., think non-meat eating is a big African trend, when it’s really more so Asian; claims humans aren’t meant to eat meat, despite the fact that we have canines and the small stomach of an omnivore rather than the large one of a herbivore, etc.); can’t eat as much as a single French fry in their presence without enduring a graphic digestive lecture; the more extreme live such rigid dietary codes that they are unable to adapt to a rigorous lifestyle (took one of them with me on a trip to Africa once; his refusal to eat anything made him so weak he had to leave early and fly back home); no good in physical combat as they weigh about a pocket-full of loose change and might pass out from the first blow; often forget the exercise part of diet; Child Protective Services will come and take your kids away and stuff a cheeseburger down their throats if you have them living off his grain pasted onto a stick.

Suggestions: Eat to live and be healthy, not to adhere to some idealistic non-reality based standard.

Space Cadets: individuals who reject most of the earthly matters of the black community and define “consciousness” by adherence to a convoluted belief system that claims (among other things) that there are gray skinned extra-terrestrials that chirp like birds and walk on the moon with liquid shoes; that aliens built most ancient cultures; speak in recently created languages with an inordinate amount of Z’s” and T’s; urge their followers to journey to compounds in certain southern states; believe their leader is from another galaxy and numerous other ideas.

Pros: beyond a form of extreme escapism, NONE! Did you not read what I wrote above or what? Run as far away from these individuals as possible!

Cons: everyone will think you are crazy and brainwashed, but you will think everyone else is crazy and brainwashed; friends will avoid you like you’re selling Amway; your leader, your kids and R. Kelley might film a video.

Suggestions: Crack kills. Switch to a big phat blunt of SANITY. Roll it up with some REALITY for best results. Keep an eye on children.

The Blunted: segment of the more extremist conscious community who used to be very knowledgeable and intellectual on matters of politics, society, etc. but was introduced to weed and now views the herb as salvation.

Pros: always got one ready for you.

Cons: 95% of the time you have no idea what in the hell they’re talking about.

Suggestions: Rehab

Blame-Black-Women Foundation: typically males, though a few black women join in (i.e., Sharazad Ali), who lay any and all problems of the race at the feet of black women. According to this philosophy, there is not a problem in the black community that is not caused by black women (typically African-American black women). According to this type, sexism does not exist in the black community. Feminism, woman-ism or any other attempt by black women to assert power, identity and self-awareness is deemed a subversive plot hatched by white women. Some of the more extreme members of this group advocate physical violence against black women for perceived verbal transgressions.

Pros: at least they usually claim to love their black mothers.

Cons: are unable to have healthy, working relationships with black women unless they can control and dominate the situation; blame black women for their lack of occupation, schooling or some other shortcoming in life; jealous of success of black women; some openly promote domestic violence; can’t help but wonder if their strong hatred for black women is a projection of some deeply concealed opposite emotion: perhaps a homo-erotic love for white men; will eventually either end up in the clink, on COPS or get their ass beat when the sista they’ve been abusing sees the end of “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

Suggestions: Read some history books on the role of black women in the black struggle. Read a few books on sexism. Get counseling and deal with your issues. You’re embarrassing the whole gender here.

Blame-Black-Men Foundation: typically women, though a few black men join in to make blanket apologies on behalf of all members of the racial-gender. Tend to lay any and all problems of the race at the feet of black men. They will use black men as their reason for inter-racial or even mono-gender relationship habits.

Pros: at least they usually claim to love their black sons.

Cons: take out grievances (justified and unjustified) on the wrong black males, usually not the transgressor(s); uses sexism as a shield for any short-coming, thus negating self-responsibility or any level of blame in any conflict with black men; allows one or several black males’ actions to define her attitude towards black men everywhere.

Suggestions: Even understanding and acknowledging the multi-faceted effects of sexism, blaming all black men for the transgressions of one or few members of the race is about as sensible as racial profiling – in fact it is racial profiling. If one chooses to date/marry/or mate with another black woman or a non-black male, make it ones own choice, not the fault of all black men from here to Borneo.

Conscious Pimp Brotherhood: typically male, charismatic and generally knowledgeable. Unlike many other members of the more extremist and fringe elements in the conscious community, these individuals do not espouse any grand yet narrowly focused political, religious or other platforms/philosophies. In fact their main mission is to spread love – to as many black women as possible, by using the struggle and their “consciousness” as a skillful tool of seduction. They can often be found in coffee shops and can infect minds with the aid of a microphone and a few skillful words. Jill Scott’s “Love Rain Down” is an ode to this type while Common’s “A Film Called (Pimp)”” and The Coup’s “Me and Jesus the Pimp in a ’79 Granada Last Night” parody the concept with symbolism that touches on numerous other matters.

Pros: Ask ya’ woman.

Cons: this type trivializes the struggle by using it as a means to achieve some ass; causes massive dissent and eventual dissolution of black political groups/organizations by using the women within as a personal playground; every other brother with dreads and a cowrie shell necklace gets blamed for his actions (though oddly enough we never told anyone to sleep with him); when he gets bored with sistas, he may take the revolutionary-between-the-thigh exploration committee over to Becky (again leaving the rest of us to take the heat); worse still, he might catch something and pass it on; you might be friends with this type, laugh at his exploits and even enjoy listening to them, but one day you’ll find out he pushed up on your woman and you’ll have to beat his ass – naturally.

Suggestions: None. Ya’ll is grown folks. Do whutchalike. Just be safe (physically) and adult (mentally) about it. Note: Contrary to persistent rumors, the author of this article has never been a member of this brotherhood. Any assertions to the contrary will be vehemently denied and result in pending legal action.

On a more serious note:

Okay, okay…this story was kind of made-up in the beginning. And the groups up top may not be as stereotypical as I make them out to be. Yet anyone who hangs around the conscious community knows I wasn’t lying about the gist of those beliefs in the least.

Does this negate the entire conscious” community? Of course not. Fringe is everywhere – no movement or group is free of it. My long winded point with this bit of satire? Just showing those who say that we “conscious” types can’t poke fun and critique each other (or think that we all agree on each and everything), that we have a sense of humor, level criticism and have competing ideologies.

For those in the “conscious” community whose necks may have bulged till ya popped your cowrie shell choker or your head-wrap unraveled as you read this article, try the St. John’s Wort prescribed above. To paraphrase the Madd Rapper in 50 Cents’ best joint to date, don’t take this sh*t serious, cause I’m just buggin out but then again…y’all can take it how you want it, word!

Morpheus stakes his hometown as Universal, USA. His PhD specialty is World History. He won’t tell us much of anything about himself, except his dislikes: Simps, Sambos, Coons, Negroes, Niggaz, Wiggaz, Wannabeez, Pimpz, Ballaz, Shot-Callaz, Gangstaz, Thugz, REAL Thugz, Playaz, Hustlaz, Bytchez, Ho’z, Keepin’ It Realaz, ThOw’d YuNgTaZ, Hot Boiz, Hot Gurlz, bustaz and other related mythical creatures.

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What Do 50 Cent and John McWhorter Have in Common?

by Anthony Gaye

What does Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) have in common with someone like John
McWhorter? You might be tempted to think that they have very little in
common. However, a closer look reveals that they are more alike than you
might think. John McWhorter, who received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from
Stanford University, is seemingly opposed to all things Hiphop. Curtis
Jackson is a Hiphop star that has sold millions of records. They have vastly
different backgrounds, and they lead very different lives. McWhorter likes
to rehash his story of being bullied because of his intellect while 50 Cent
likes to recount his tale of being shot nine times. What could they possibly
share in common? I’m glad you asked.

They both work for wealthy, white men. McWhorter is Manhattan Institute
Senior Fellow in Public Policy. The Manhattan Institute is a conservative
think tank that is chaired by Dietrich Weismann. Curtis Jackson works for
Interscope Records (Jimmy Iovine). You could quibble over some details.
Jackson is actually signed to a subsidiary of Interscope (Shady/Aftermath).
McWhorter makes a great deal as a so-called public intellectual. However, if
you follow the purse strings, then you’ll find that they ultimately lead to
wealthy, white men.

They are both known for their inflammatory rhetoric that can cause quite a
stir with African Americans. Last year, Jackson received some criticism for
reviving, or perhaps for reveling in the pimp image. 50 Cent raps in the
chorus:

I don’t know what you heard about me,
but a chick can’t get a dollar out of me,
no Cadillac, no perms, you can’t see,
that I’m a mother!!ing P-I-M-P!

Not to be outdone, McWhorter constantly makes reference to a “cultural
disconnect” for African Americans. Ironically, McWhorter does not recognize
the disconnect between his own words and the reality of most black people.
50 Cent, on the other hand, does not care.

One could argue that they are both pawns. 50 Cent provides the means by
which white suburbanites can live out some perverse ghetto fantasy.
McWhorter grants them absolution for indulging in such fantasy. After all,
what role does white racism have to play in 50 Cent’s decision to promote
that image? They have both exploited a market made available to them by a
mainstream (read white) audience. John McWhorter found his niche by
recognizing that African Americans are typically[..]ociated with a liberal,
progressive agenda. Consequently, there is a greater space for conservative
voices. If he did not follow a conservative agenda, then he would most
likely toil in obscurity, not unlike many underground rappers. The ability
to curry favor with a mainstream audience is the incentive for black
conservatives. Does McWhorter actually believe his own inconsistent
rhetoric? Does 50 cent believe he’s actually keeping it real? I suppose it
depends on the person answering the question.

They both espouse individuality and personal responsibility. Unfortunately,
50 Cent rarely does this in his lyrics. He speaks of these issues only
insofar as it can deflect criticism away from him. For instance, he urges
parental responsibility, but does not acknowledge the possibility that his
music could affect this issue. McWhorter often conflates the issue of
personal responsibility with social responsibility.

They both serve a very similar function even though I doubt either one of
them would agree. Ultimately, it isn’t what they say that’s important. One
can always agree or disagree with them, or me. The most important thing is
that we create a space for dialogue in spite of them. We need to prevent the
hijacking of the debate by people who would profit from our misery. The
question isn’t who should speak for us, but if any one should speak for us
at all.

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Has the Hip Hop NBA Become the Thug League?

by David Wharton

The face of professional basketball no longer wears Magic Johnson’s familiar smile. It no longer has Michael Jordan’s classic elegance. Today, the game has a hipper, edgier persona. Tattoos and baggy shorts, a thumping beat.

‘It goes hand in hand with where we’re from,’ Laker forward Lamar Odom says. ‘Guys who come into the league, they’re the hip-hop generation.’ Players are only part of the cultural shift.

The National Basketball Assn. has sought to boost its popularity among young fans by playing rap music at games and promoting street-inspired fashion such as throwback jerseys. But though hip-hop can be an effective marketing tool, those who follow the business of basketball say the NBA is walking a tightrope. The league’s image has been tarnished by the recent melee between players and fans at an arena in Auburn Hills, Mich. The association with hip-hop similarly plays into concerns about a growing disconnect between the NBA and a portion of its audience.

The head of a grass-roots fan group says that in the minds of some middle-aged ticket buyers, the music has helped perpetuate the notion of a ‘thug league.’ With Christmas Day having brought one of the marquee games of the young season — Shaquille O’Neal and his new team, the Miami Heat, in Los Angeles to play the Lakers — marketing experts and sociologists say the NBA must take care in pursuing two very different generations of fans. ‘How do you create an environment where you entice young people without alienating your core customers?’ asked Artemisia Apostolopoulou, a Bowling Green State University professor who has studied the phenomenon.

‘The real question for the NBA is, how can they take advantage of the economic power of hip-hop without having the negative connotations?’ To understand where the league is headed, it is helpful to look back. The game had grown moribund in the 1970s until the arrival of Johnson and Larry Bird. They not only reignited the rivalry between the Lakers and Boston Celtics but also set the NBA on a marketing path that showcased individual players over teams.

Jordan was the logical extension of that strategy, an extraordinary talent and equally savvy at presenting himself to corporate America. The league more than doubled its franchise values to $265 million over a decade and saw annual revenue approach about $3 billion, according to the Sports Business Journal. The challenge came when Jordan retired and television ratings declined.

‘The replacement parts came out of the hip-hop generation,’ said Jim Kahler, marketing director for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1991 to 2002. ‘We were looking at more tattoos, a different dress code.’ This was the first generation of players to grow up with hip-hop, a cultural movement that started in New York during the late 1960s and early ’70s, eventually flourishing with its own sound, language and fashions.

Rap music has been the most visible component and — like rock ‘n’ roll decades earlier — at times divisive. Gangsta rap, in particular, features violent images and derogatory language toward women. On court, the new wave of players brought a defiant attitude. ‘It’s the way they carry themselves,’ said Todd Boyd, a USC critical studies professor who wrote ‘Young, Black, Rich and Famous,’ a book about hip-hop and the NBA.

Professor Todd Boyd

‘Guys from impoverished backgrounds who, once they make the league and start making money, say, ‘Look, I’m not interested in changing who I am. I’m not going to participate in this charade you’ve set up.’

‘ Instead of Jordan in a meticulously tailored suit, fans got Allen Iverson in sweats and a cap worn sideways, talented and rebellious. To some degree, the league had no say in this change. Clipper forward Elton Brand echoed Odom’s assessment when he said: ‘A lot of the players love [hip-hop]. They’re immersed in it.’ The culture’s influence was immediately apparent if only because players are so exposed, no baseball caps or football helmets to hide their cornrows, no sleeves to cover tattooed shoulders.

The association between basketball and hip-hop grew even stronger when NBA sponsors began making use of rap in their promotions. Consider the case of Jay-Z, who signed a sneaker deal with Reebok and is also among a group of investors that owns the New Jersey Nets.  The rapper is a marketing director’s dream, connecting with millions of young fans who listen to his music. He can also be problematic among older fans, given that his lyrics have been called misogynistic and, three years ago, he was sentenced to probation for stabbing a record producer.

‘Obviously, a lot of people have been distraught about the relationship between the NBA and hip-hop,’ said Boyd, the USC professor. So it should be no surprise that the league has taken a nuanced approach toward this partnership.

In 2000, Commissioner David Stern publicly reprimanded the Philadelphia 76ers’ Iverson for recording a rap song that included lyrics derogatory toward women and gays. At the same time, the NBA recognized the marketing value of the medium. Research suggests that using rappers as endorsers can be particularly effective in reaching the 12- to 24-year-old demographic, said Apostolopoulou, the Bowling Green professor.

She pointed out that rap music has crossed racial boundaries, drawing fans among blacks, whites and Latinos. So the NBA has carefully incorporated hip-hop. That includes playing the music in arenas and signing deals with apparel manufacturers such as FUBU and D’Funkd.

The group Nappy Roots is currently performing as part of the NBA’s ‘Rhythm ‘n Rims’ promotional tour. Other relatively tame hip-hop acts such as LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige and OutKast have performed with the likes of Elton John and Michael McDonald at recent All-Star games.

‘We’re always trying to pick the right music, trying to associate with the right people,’ said Gregg Winik, executive vice president of NBA Entertainment.

‘We know we’re constantly being judged by things like that.’ The league executive acknowledged there is inherent risk: Some people hear a heavy beat, the spoken words, and immediately think gangsta rap. ‘I think it’s worse than that,’ Winik said. ‘I think once you see a picture [of a rap artist], there are certain segments of the media and certain segments of the public that draw conclusions.’ This tension surfaced after last month’s altercation involving the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons, when players charged into the stands and fans pelted them with drinks and other objects.

The brawl touched a chord with fans across the nation, said Robert Hutcherson, founder of Sports Fans of America Assn., a group claiming to have 850,000 members registered through its website. ‘When you go to NBA games, it’s dominated by hip-hop,’ Hutcherson said. ‘Basically, the perception we’ve gotten from our membership is that, with the NBA, it’s a thug league.’

This sentiment resonated through the media. Shaun Powell, writing for Newsday, called the fight ‘an extension of the hip-hop culture [the players] embrace, which promotes and encourages anger, violence, selfishness, bling-bling, excess, the exploitation of women and showboating.’

Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon, sensing a disconnect between fans and players, wrote of hip-hop: ‘It is a life based on getting ‘respect’ at any cost, including going into the stands and administering a beat-down if somebody ‘disrespects’ you.’ But, with the Pacers and Pistons scheduled for a Christmas rematch, others have come forward in defense of the league and the music.

‘Gangsta rap gives off a negative image but that’s only part of hip-hop,’ said Brand, of the Clippers. ‘There are various artists who don’t curse. They don’t talk about violence. They’re not derogatory to women.’ Even some of the more controversial forms of rap are misinterpreted, Boyd said.

‘If you understand hip-hop, you know that individuals are commenting on what they’ve seen growing up in impoverished neighborhoods,’ the USC professor said. ‘It’s really describing ghetto America stories that need to be heard. Rappers are like reporters.’ Boyd sees the controversy surrounding hip-hop as largely generational and exacerbated by an aging media that he describes as ‘a lot of middle-aged white and black guys who are troubled by hip-hop.

‘ To some degree, this clash extends to corporate America, experts said. Two NBA sponsors — the International Dairy Foods Assn. and Nestle — did not return calls for this article. Kahler, the former team executive who now teaches sports business at Arizona State, said current stars such as Iverson clearly do not connect with marketers the way, for example, Jordan did.

Yet experts insist the NBA would be foolish to turn away. Dean Bonham, whose Denver-based company, the Bonham Group, serves as a marketing consultant to several NBA teams, explained that the risk of making 40-plus fans uncomfortable is worth the upside. ‘We know hip-hop is this generation’s music and its style,’ Bonham said.

Allen Iverson

‘Hip-hop carries with it the opportunity to impact purchase decisions by perhaps the most affluent group of young people in this country’s history.’ The theory is, all those kids listening to OutKast and Mos Def could grow up to be the next generation of season-ticket holders.

‘It’s almost like you’re double-dipping,’ said Larry McCarthy, a sports management professor at Seton Hall University. ‘The players are into the music and the kids are into the players. It’s more than sports. It’s a musical relationship.’

It also plays into another of the NBA’s business strategies. With more and more players coming from Europe, South America, Africa and Asia, the league has been aggressively promoting its game in foreign markets. Most recently, this effort has focused on reaching potential millions of fans in China through Houston Rocket center Yao Ming.

Winik said that when the NBA recently staged an exhibition game in Beijing, there was some question about what music to play. ‘They wanted the dance teams, the loud music,’ he said. ‘And if we had the right hip-hop dance performance, that’s what they wanted.’

The NBA certainly faces challenges in the near future, a compendium of issues that include not only generational differences but player behavior and style of play, outside observers say. But so far, despite some grumblings from fans and the media, experts give the league high marks. Last season, overall attendance set a record at 21,855,125 and the average attendance for regular-season games was at its highest since 1997-98, the end of the Jordan era. Television ratings for the 2004 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Pistons also showed in increase over previous seasons.

If the Michigan incident — which resulted in criminal charges against players and fans — threatened to derail this momentum, experts said Stern acted wisely by quickly suspending the players involved. The penalty was particularly harsh — a full season — for Pacer forward Ron Artest, who recently produced an album and used post-brawl interviews to promote it.

Looking at the long term, Kahler compared the situation to debates he has with his kids over what kind of music gets played at home. ‘Hip-hop should be part of the overall marketing play for the NBA, but you have to find the right mix,’ he said. ‘If you go too hard in any one area, you’re probably going to offend someone.’

 

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Why do we hate Black Women so much?
By: Hadji Williams

Somewhere between the 24/7/365 coverage of white women like Laci Peterson, Martha Stewart, and shows like BET’s UN:CUT something dawned on me: We hate black women. We hate black women so much that when someone kills a black woman it barely makes the local news, nevermind the national news. We hate black women so much that if a black woman goes missing, we never look for them. (They’re called “Amber Alerts” and “Megan’s Law” and not “Lakeesha Alerts” or “Shanita’s Law” for a reason.) In fact, the only time we ever look for black women is when we’re casting for strippers, babymammas, hoes, bitches, cockteasing gold-diggers, magical-negro-enabler-for-their-white-friends, attitude-filled caricatures. And even then, that black woman had better not be too “dark” or too “thick” or her big black butt won’t be working too much.

We hate black women so much that we refuse to even get outraged over the fact that 50% of all new AIDS cases in America are among Black women. We hate black women so much that when they get pregnant, we blame them, as if they all made withdrawals from the local sperm bank. We hate black women so much that we rationalize slurs like “bitch” and “ho” at almost every opportunity. We hate black women so much that when it comes to beauty standards, the feminist movements, women’s rights and health, we still subjugate Black Women to the perspectives and paradigms of White Women and gay white men (and to an increasing degree Hispanic Women)… Yep, we truly hate black women.

Now when I say “we,” of course I mean White America—the only black women they seem to even acknowledge are: Oprah, Condoleeza Rice, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Star Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Maya Angelou, and Robin Quivers (Howard Stern’s sidekick). But when I say “we” I also mean the hip-hop community, Black men and Black America at large. Whether we like it or not, WE may well be among the biggest Black Women haters of all.

Just look at our actions:

We’re the ones who ignore/defend the misogyny in our own communities. We’re the ones who’ve been covering up the endless domestic abuse and the man-sharing/random sex partners for generations. (I wouldn’t be surprised if our hatred of black women has factored into the AIDS epidemic. After all, it’s just Black Women catching it, so who cares about increasing treatment and changing behavior, right?) We’re the ones who accept leaving black women alone to raise the kids that we helped them create. We’re the ones who defend treating black women like products and sex objects in the videos and on the street corners of our communities. We’re the ones who defend interracial relationships as being the product of black women driving black men to women outside the community. We’re the ones who chase all the standards of womanhood that the larger society says we should.

I think we accept and defend the misogyny in hip-hop because, on one level or another, we believe that black women (at least most of ‘em) deserve it. It’s just understood that when emcees talk about bitches and hoes, they’re talking about Black women as bitches and hoes. That’s why you don’t hear much outrage from mainstream women’s groups like N.O.W., Independent Women’s forum, etc. because they know this misogyny isn’t implicitly directed at white women—except maybe if Eminem says it. And of course he’s proven that he’s not above calling black women bitches and niggers every now and then. (In fact, looking back, I think the main reason so many of us forgave Eminem’s “black bitches/niggers” was because Eminem was only saying what most of us already think about Black Women.) And we accept the institution of pimping because it’s inherently built on degrading and commoditizing Black women; and of course, black women deserve what they get… right?

There’s so much hatred of black women, not only in America, but also in countless other countries around the world. You see it in the double standards for access to healthcare, representation in government and businesses, etc.… But mostly you see it in the way we treat Black women and in the way we allow others to treat and portray Black women. When you put all this together, the answer is simple: America, Black America and Hiphop included simply hates Black Women.

And personally, I’m sick and tired of waiting for white folks to stop it or to solve it. (As they’ve proven time and time again, they don’t do anything for black folks unless they can control it or profit from it, or unless they feel like they don’t have a choice.) Nope… My goal for 2005 and beyond is to finally get answers to two questions: (1) When are we as a community going to acknowledge this hatred? (2) What are we as individuals and as communities going to do to stop this hatred?

Hadji Williams is author of the new book, KNOCK THE HUSTLE: HOW TO SAVE YOUR JOB AND YOUR LIFE FROM CORPORATE AMERICA, hiphop’s first success guide for business, culture and life. Email him: author@knockthehustle.com and get free excerpts, order info, etc. at: http://www.knockthehustle.com

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DESTINY’S CHILD: WHEN WILL THEY LEARN?
By the All Mighty Mark Skillz

So after a long hiatus the chicks from Destiny’s Child have reunited and this time the album is entitled: “Destiny’s Fulfilled”. But I have to ask, “Are they still children or have they grown up to be women yet? Apparently they are women, but I have to wonder about the depth of their maturity.

On their latest song “Soldier” they talk about wanting a man who’s “status better be hood or ain’t checking for him, Better be street if he looking at me, I need a soldier that ain’t scared to stand up for me, he gotta know how to get the dough and he better be street.”

Perhaps these sisters have never heard about what happens to chicks that get caught up with these types of characters. I don’t think they’ve heard of the sisters that have caught cases because they were unknowingly holding guns and or drugs for one of these street soldiers. Have they heard the stories of the girls who just wanted a man with money, and didn’t care how he got it? And how these same soldiers have enemies, real enemies, not some pretty boy actor with gold teeth and Roc a Wear gear, but real thugs, who shoot at cars and don’t care who’s driving it.

When I hear this song, it makes me stop and think about a girl I dated a long time back, her name was Sheila, God forgive me but I can’t remember her last name right now. Anyway, it was the 80’s, and crack was all over like garbage on the street. Everywhere you looked you saw: This one on crack, that one selling crack. It was crazy. Girls at that time were crazy about guys that got their money that way. It was hard on a brother if he wasn’t rolling like that back then.

Anyway, one day, this chick comes from out of nowhere, with this big smile on her face and gives me her number. I call her, we chitchatted a bit, and we went out. While I was talking to her I got to know her and the impression I got, was that she had dated a bunch of drug dealers and wanted a different kind of guy. I also found out she had gotten accustomed to that type of lifestyle: the cars, the money, the jewelry, and etc. etc.

I didn’t get down like that. I was raised to disdain drugs and to never corrupt our communities with that garbage. So, as cute as she was, we didn’t see each other anymore like that. It was one of the many times in my young life that I was really contemplating joining the dark side. I thought, hey I could have the money, the girls the whole nine. But God would not let me go down that dark path. It was rough. But I got through it.

My friends who somehow or another knew this girl warned me to leave her alone. I’ll never forget my man Chuck Money telling me, “Mark leave that girl alone. She’s no good.”

I bumped into Sheila one night at a roller skating rink with one of these characters, we spoke, we were friendly. I had seen her man before, I knew who he was. For some reason, all of these years later, the last image I have of her in mind still stands out like the shining glitter ball that shot lights all over the roller rink that night. Her smile, it was so big and innocent for a girl that had been exposed to what she had been doing.

Not too long afterwards while talking with my brother and his girlfriend at the time, I mentioned Sheila’s name to my brothers girl and she said, “Oh, she’s dead”. In shock I said, “No, can’t be her.” She ran down the description and I said “Yeah, that’s her.” To which my brother’s girl said, “Yeah, she got shot in the head while driving her boyfriends car. She got shot and ran off the freeway into a ditch.”

I was in a state of shock for weeks. In disbelief, one night I found her number and fought with myself as to whether I should call her house. I did. Her mother told me “She’s dead” and hung up the phone.

Later I found out it was a case of mistaken identity. Her boyfriends enemies thought he was in the car with her that night, it didn’t matter who was in the car, they knew that car and they had it in for him.

I ran into so many other girls just like Sheila over the years. Girls, who, for whatever reason were attracted to the gangster lifestyle, and in all honesty, were very naïve as to the consequences. The idea that they could do better was as foreign to them, as the Mandarin language. The connection between prisons, funeral homes and cemeteries and visits to Narcotics Anonymous never came together for them.

So, flash forward almost 20 years later, and here we have a platinum selling group of talented young sisters, and what are they feeding to young girls: Poison. Young girls need better guidance from grown women than that. A man, who, as Lil Wayne puts it, “Has a body marked up like a subway in Harlem” more likely than not, is not going to make a woman’s life any better.

There are almost as many veterans incarcerated in prisons around our country than there are soldiers on the streets. If Destiny’s Child has a destiny to be fulfilled, they are a long way off.

Markskillz@aol.com

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