August 28th, 2014, Barack Obama wore a tan suit and a striped tie giving a press conference. Conservatives got uuuuuupset. They said presidents should wear black suits and a black tie. It was “embarrassing” for their president to wear that while at work. That was his biggest scandal. A suit.
I thought he was kinda fly but hey. Frank Lucas made a million dollars a day in a suit and tie. Frank Lucas sold heroin in a suit and tie. Frank Lucas killed people in a suit and tie. But a suit and tie is formal. Proper. Sophisticated. Presidential.
Don’t get caught up in what something looks or sound like. Often when seeing a guy in a hoodie and sagging pants, you think the worst. Why though? That’s what media does to you. To us. That’s what that coward thought of Trayvon Martin. There is NOTHING wrong with a hoodie and your pants saggin. Smoking weed or drinking Patron on Saturday night doesn’t make you “less of a Christian.” What you do when you’re under the influence is the issue. Going to a club on Friday night is NOT wrong, fellow church goers. Don’t let a pastor or priest tell you that. How you behave when you’re there is the concern. Wearing a short dress doesn’t make a woman a ho. Wearing sagging pants doesn’t make a man a thug. Wearing pink doesn’t make you gay. Having glasses doesn’t make you smart.
You don’t know how many times I’ve been stopped by police. Maybe police having a jaded perspective of Black men is the issue. Not the other way around. Maybe police choosing when to do their job is the issue. Pac and Biggie’s killers are still loose. People will say “if the community came out and spoke up, justice would have been served.” We pay their salary. They have a responsibility to serve. You don’t understand why the hood doesn’t speak up. You don’t understand the fear these young men and women have. You don’t know how many times that woman has been beat by men. You don’t know how many times she has been touched in a foul manner by a guy. Maybe you approaching her in such an aggressive light doesn’t work for her. You don’t know why she has a fence up. You don’t know how many times she’s been played by men JUST like you. You don’t understand why he hates church. You never care to ask why. You don’t know how many times he tried to give church a chance and THEY told him he can’t enter with sagging pants. Or he can’t come in with a hat on. You don’t know how many times the church turned her away for not wearing a skirt. How many times the church told her she couldn’t wear leggings. Going to a church that doesn’t ALLOW hats inside to hear the word of God will turn me away. I wish I would belong to a church that has a dress code to get in. This ain’t a night club. Being told to pray and do a Hail Mary when that’s not biblical or fasting for 40 days because Jesus did although there’s NOWHERE in scripture that says YOU’RE supposed to, can turn you away. It has NOTHING to do with why you went. You see a woman selling her body. You don’t know what her father did to her. What her mother had did. You don’t know why he’s selling weed after school. You might think he has a “promising career” because he’s going to school. You don’t know how many mouths he has to feed tonight. You don’t know the struggle that man goes through just to survive, just to keep the lights on. You don’t know that dude was 10 minutes away from being killed. You didn’t know she was a block away from being tormented by a herd of young wild stupid boys, waiting to rape her. You don’t know why she strips at night. You don’t know she’s living on her own and supporting herself through college at 21 years old. You don’t know how many times that dude applied for jobs just to see a white dude less qualified get it. You don’t know why he drinks when he gets home by himself. You don’t know why he smokes weed. You didnt know that his wife cheated on him and left the kids and now trying to get his grove back. Sagging is what people do, not what people are. You see ONE page of a chapter. Not even the whole chapter. You see ONE page and decide that’s who they are instead of what they do.
Y’all don’t know how it feels to LOOK like a menace to society, excuse me… what society deems what a menace to society looks like. You don’t what it’s like to be Black. You don’t know what it’s like to raise a Black boy in the country that treated you like second class citizen. You didn’t have a government create crack cocaine and drop it off in your neighborhoods. You don’t have the judicial system make stricter drug laws against you. You don’t have different laws set against you. Like how crack is weighted differently because it’s a “Black drug” while white people get a slap for having more cocaine than you do for having less crack. You didn’t have FBI leave trains full of guns in the hood and turn their head, then arrest you for having the guns. You don’t know what it’s like to feel like you’re illegal in the country you were born in. Maybe I am pissed. Maybe I do hate police. Maybe I get emotional. Maybe I am offended by those ignorant comments you make. Think about it. Maybe it’s warranted. Thanksgiving just passed and you don’t have to think about what this day really represents. You didn’t consider once how many people were killed and raped and displaced and relocated by pilgrims. I did. Maybe politicians ain’t ever did anything for me. Maybe I do feel amerikkka hates people who looks like me. Maybe you think “he should smile more.” In the movie 8 Mile, Eminem said “don’t ever try to judge me dude, you don’t know what the fuck I’ve been through.” You don’t know what I’ve been through. Yesterday, my little brother was called a nigger at school. He’s 8. You and I have different struggles, bruh. We don’t talk about the same things. We don’t pray for the same safety. My niece goes to work and school and have to get told what “good hair” is and isn’t. She’s 17. You and her don’t share the same concerns, sis.
You see some dudes in Oakland and wonder why they’re doing what they’re doing, while driving pass them in your 2015 Honda that your parents helped buy. You drive pass these independent individuals living their life while you have a dependent mother and a large helpful functional family pushing you to be a great employee to work for someone else. Having a loving supporting father who treats your mother like a queen and doesn’t beat her weekly vs having a mother who is an alcoholic and a father who comes by every other month to say “how you been doing? School’s going well? Well tell your mother I said hello” and homies who have the same reality as you… Some times you think your life is all good because of what YOU did. Most of the times, you’re not even that good. Not even that qualified. Most of your lives are were going to be smooth before you were born. Most of your lives are good and didn’t have one thing to do with that. You see people around the neighborhood and think “this country is great. If my dad can get a loan for a business and he didn’t speak English, there’s no excuse for these THUGS.” Do you even know what redlining is? You understand there’s people who literally live inside of red lines and can’t get home loans or renters insurance or a head start at a quality life? Some times life deals you cards before you were even in the game and you can’t do anything about your hand. How many police officers skip frat houses and college parties knowing is drugs and alcohol in those houses to harass 3 Black teens down the street? Don’t think you’re just slick, white people. Asian people. Don’t think you you just played your hands better. Realize you’re not Black.
You think of a woman who lived after an abusive relationship as a survivor. True. You need to think of these people as SURVIVORS as well. You need to take time to consider how people you judge before they even talk. You need to take time to think about how walking into a store and being followed is traumatizing. Getting pulled over and harassed by police can change a perspective. Seeing your single mother struggle in the hood raising your brothers and sisters with food stamps will paint a graphic picture that your friends didn’t see. Not having an active father can lead a girl or boy astray. And here we are. Surviving. Living. 13th Amendment says slavery is illegal EXCEPT for imprisonment. So, what did the government do? Build more jails and threw all of the niggas in prison. 1 in 3 Black men will see prison. That’s not because we are inherently violent or prone to drugs, the system that’s in place is working. And after we get out, we’re still in the system. And they know that. They know we don’t have to be in jail for 30 years. Meek Mill violated his parole from a charge he got when he was 18 years old. He’s 30 now. He’s going to jail for 2-4 years for riding on a dirt bike. 12 years ago. Dirt bike. After buying all these gold chains, we still got chains on us. Being in the system will hold us back. And we’re still here. Surviving. People talk about etiquette. Why? We’re at the same table at the same time eating the same food. We survived. People talk about our language. Sorry we don’t have native language like you. Sorry we didn’t have that brought over to Ellis Island. Maybe it’s because we had it beat out of us. But when we talk our talk, don’t call that slang. Don’t label our form of talking improper or unprofessional. We made a way that Black people can communicate effectively. Flawlessly. On fleek. Got the juice. Yadada. Fasho. Take the L. Gouda. Holla Back. Bruh. Secure the bag. Shoot your shot. When we talk amongst ourselves, it’s natural. When Spanish speakers speak and they say “well I never learned the proper way, I learned the slang way,” nobody shuns them. Spanglish is an actually term heard around college. Don’t come at us for speaking OUR language. We survived. It SHOULD be taught in colleges. Next time you see us shake hands with more passion with other Black people, respect it. Next time you see a Black dude walking around or a sister strolling, that’s a survivor. Next time you see Oprah, you’re looking at a survivor. Next time you see Kanye wylin out, that’s a survivor. Next time you hear Jay-Z talking about Niggas in Paris, you’re listening to a survivor. “If you escaped, what I escaped, you’d be in Paris getting fucked up too!” is what Hov said. Next time you see Colin Kaepernick and notice he’s jobless for speaking up, you’re looking at a survivor. Next time you see Barack and Michelle, survivors. Next time you see Dave Chappelle and Katt Williams, survivors. Next time you see any one of my 3 parents, survivors. Next time you hear a group of Black people talk and dance and celebrate, don’t call them ratchet. But appreciate their carelessness and confidence in this cruel world and appreciate their greatness.
i bet my neighbors think i’m selling dope…
“Niggas from the hood is the best actors. WE the ones that gotta wear our face backwards. Put your frown on before they think you’re soft. Never smile long and take your defense off. Acting so tough, we starting to feel hard. Live from the city where they pull cards. Gotta Glock 40 and a lil 9. Ready for a day a nigga pull mine. Niggas from the hood is the best actors. Gotta learn to speak in ways that’s unnatural. Just to make it through the job interviews. If my niggas heard me, they’d say ‘damn what’s gotten into you?’ JUST TRYNA MAKE IT DAWG, SOMEHOW. PEAKING THROUGH THE BLINDS, I SEE THE SUN NOW. I SEE YOU STILL SLEEPING AND IT FEELS LIKE, MAYBE EVERYTHING IS GON BE ALRIGHT…” J.Cole.
*Please listen to Neighbors, Ville Mentality, and Tale of 2 Citiez by J.Cole. Where I’m From by Jay-Z. Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst by Kendrick Lamar.