MEMO: FROM BOYS INTO–GIRLS?
BY MIKE RAMEY
One of the things that I have come to notice over the last few years is the uplifting of the effeminate and the downgrading of the masculine among our young men by their mothers–and others.
Case in point: the remake of ‘The Karate Kid.’
Why is the Black male lead in cornrows–which makes him look like a girl?
Now, there will be some who think that I am making much to do about nothing, but hear me out. In our media-driven age, image IS everything. From You Tube to Facebook, to the Blackberry, we are consciously driven by what we see. Furthermore, since many of our Black actors and actresses are not in charge of their own production houses or distribution networks, image matters even more.
From time to time, I’ve had the discussion about ‘…how Black folk look in the media…’ with various individuals. I find it quite tragic that Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won Oscars for roles that degrade our people. For some, the check may be more important than the image–but how Black folk are viewed in the mainstream is how other races WILL see us. Until those Black folk IN the entertainment and political ranks get some guts and STOP becoming ‘working props’ for institutional idiocy, the stigma of degrading our people will continue.
The clean up must start among ourselves.
BLACK USED TO BE BEAUTIFUL AND PROUD:
While in the classroom, once upon a time, I had a male student ‘yell out’ that he was ‘Black and proud’. Of course, his GPA was somewhere below a D level, and he had disciplinary record as long as my leg. I just HAD to smile at his sheer ignorance.
Long ago, a local doctor in my town commented on the youth of the eighties. To paraphrase: “It’s not enough to be ‘Black and proud’. You have to live an upright life and have your individual actions ‘back up’ your words.”
His wisdom seems to have bypassed some in our current decade.
Now, I have never been a fan of cornrows for boys. I am less of a fan for the diamond earring (a.k.a. ‘stud’ or ‘studs’) in the earlobe for boys. I am least of all enamored with a young man who has cornrows AND earrings. Then, there are the associated ‘sagging’ pants, tats, and color scheme associated with gang life. There’s just something creepy about stuff like that. Nuff said.
The sad thing? Parents who think that it is ‘cool’ to let their sons go about the town looking like throwbacks to preschool–with the emotional stability to match. Of course, you can’t correct young people today, let alone their parents, because feelings are so ‘easily’ hurt.
Let me clue you to something, parents: If you won’t correct your own sons (and daughters), don’t expect those of us in positions of authority to do your job. We’ll just let your son slide on down the tubes and give our wisdom to those young men who not only want it…they’ll do something with it once they receive it.
Is that Black enough for you?
LOCKING IN STEREOTYPES:
I realize that we are only talking about a small universe of knuckleheads that won’t get with the program. Unfortunately, the mainstream press uses that ‘small’ universe to represent ‘us’ to the larger universe, further locking in a stereotype. Many parents haven’t learned the lesson about ‘Black pride’ that our elders tried to get through to them: Lessons which other races have not only learned, but capitalized upon.
Let me give you a ‘for instance.’
Modern Latino music, when it first burst upon the scene in the mid-eighties, could not gain acceptance into the mainstream. Did the Latinos stage a ‘sit in’? No. They understood basic economic thought. The worked with EACH OTHER. They pooled their money and talent and did their OWN music awards in their OWN electronic and written media. The result? Eventually, the established music hierarchy ‘discovered’ Latino music. Soon, all Latino music was held to be ‘cool’. Now you have ALL actors and actresses (who want to make a buck) learning how to speak Spanish, because the Latino culture OWNS its image!
Say what you may about my example; many of us will have to admit–thanks to Latinos being; a) proud of who they are, and; b) stressing an education to their young men–more of them are going to college and know how to carry themselves in public.
They have mastered how to keep their own image in a sea of stereotyping. More importantly, their young men are STILL represented as being young men.
GETTING THE SKILLS FOR MANHOOD:
To my young brothers: It’s not who can yell the loudest or waive a gun in the streets who is counted a man; it’s the brother who has the skills AND the wisdom to W-O-R-K! Your Mama may think that you are ‘cute’ at 3-4 or 5 with those cornrows in your hair. Maybe you were. But, at 13-14-15? Nope…not cute but pathetic! Among the brotherhood, you won’t get much training or sympathy because you haven’t be emotionally strengthened to deal with the ‘knocks’ that life has in store for young Black men in general, and MEN in particular. When an employer sees you coming in the door with cornrows, no matter how many brothers who are ‘on’ the job with them–they have stopped their financial progress.
Cornrows spell out ‘Do Not Promote Me’ in big, loud letters, no matter how cute they may look on a screen or a video. You don’t look like the work culture, and you won’t be given the respect that you are due. Economics and respect go hand-in-glove.
The style of Black hair used to be the fro. Now, it’s low, lean and clean. On the campus, the classroom or the job, MEN dress to impress, period. MEN have the skills to ‘back up’ their work record with their style and pride. No wannabes need apply for a man’s job in a depression–until they grow up, take a good look in a mirror and determine who they are–and whom they want to represent: Adulthood–or adolescence.
Young brothers: your economic future hinges upon the answer you choose.
RAMEY is the Pastor of The Forward Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. THE MANHOOD LINE appears on fine websites and gracious blogs around the world. To correspond, email firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2010 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications.