One of the first steps to change is acknowledgment. There is power there. Power to refuse victimhood, to speak and to make changes. Black people must take responsibility for projecting, or allowing the projection of a group image that is negative, violent, cruel, disrespectful, uneducated, womanizing, and inferior.
There has been a blind acceptance of Hip Hop culture as the blueprint for what it is to be a Black American; a culture that insists on portraying its people (mostly blacks) as drug dealers and users, alcoholics, hustlers, law-breakers, missogentists, irresponsible sex players, heartlessly violent, and unfaithful to their own family while ride-or-die faithful to the street “family”… yet, they are somehow depicted as oh so cool and imitate-able.
Where are all the admired hip hop brothers or sisters with good relationships, intact families, legit businesses, and amazing talents on display, who are not limited to rappers or street gang playas? And we wonder why black people are viewed negatively by the general population.
Decades have been spent getting the word out to the world about the “real lives” of black people; the truth about their street lives full of violence, drugs, and illegitimate children abandoned all over the city. It seemed that all the black people rallying to get their stories out were of this ilk, and through them America was educated about “real” black life. Those that represented black life were “keeping it real” and exposing the hidden truth about blacks and their thuggery; a sad situation and a hopeless cause. Black America stepped out and showed the world they were only one of three things: really violent, really high, or really scared.
All inner city bad boys with hard cord women at their sides were powerful, tough and ready to deal with anyone who stepped to them. They told us they would either die or be jailed, but in the meantime they would proudly live the thug life, since that was their only choice in America. Here for a good time, not a long time.
Blacks as wasted drug addicts or crack heads were a menace to society as they would steal, attack, and kill for their habits; completely useless to society in their states. The last category represented the other side of being black: everyday black Americans living in those mean neighborhoods, fearing for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Those blacks were helpless, uneducated, and trapped in poverty; unable or unwilling to leave the inner city death zones that would be their lives in a box – whether living or dead.
For decades the press has persistently told us what black people are like via news reports, shows, movies, commercials, video games, celebrities, and social media. They made everyone believe they should fear black men as violent, mistrust black women as devious, and sympathize and make allowances for black children as inferior.
We all know that public perception is shaped by media. What did we expect to happen after such relentless depictions? Would America be able to incessantly watch violent black gangs on screens across the country and not be fearful when they encountered a black man in real life? If the portrayals were occasional and balanced with the many other illustrations of black life, yes. But as it was, of course not.
In fact, black people who didn’t fit the stereotype were chided, called sell-outs, and ostracized. They were bullied, called “white”, and teased. Really? Black people who were horribly oppressed think it okay to then oppress their own?
As willing parties to the negative representation of black life, black people must take some responsibility for what they taught the world about Black Americans. And the millions of black people who aren’t anything like the inner city portrayals must actively speak their minds to their families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Show yourselves for who you are and who you are not.
The good news is … it is getting better.
Now, more than at any other time in history, individualism is celebrated. Stereotypes are still great fodder for stand-up routines, but not so much in everyday life. It’s easier to find a black person or a person of any race, nationality, or culture identifying as a punk rocker, a bookworm, a chemist, a rapper, a skater or … a president.
We are all who we are – individually first, regardless of race or any other factors. Although this individuality is being expressed at unprecedented rates, this is nothing new. It goes back before Tim Tebow showed prayer on the field; before Run DMC walked that way; before the women engineers of NASA were no longer hidden figures; before Romeo and Juliet crossed family lines; and before Moses rejected the culture of the Egyptians. There have always been those standouts who were true to their own individuality despite family, race, culture, nationality, or any other social pressures.
And in the 21st century, more than ever, that individuality is seen for what it is … beautiful.
So America, let’s shake off all the stereotypes, prejudices, and chains of thought that bind us, and enjoy the diversity of humanity the way we do with nature. Ditch the black stereotypes and evaluate each black person – each person – as the individual they are. Enjoy the breathtaking similarities and differences that God wove into each of us and let iron sharpen iron as we use what we’ve been given to better ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, and the world.
#NotAfraidToThink #ReUnifyOurCountry #TrueBeauty #HumanRace