My #Urban Dilemma

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My Urban Dilemma
I was ashamed of being from Montgomery County, MD because it was a predominately white middle-class jurisdiction. I wanted to be sure that the world knew I was real which to me was an authentic black person who didn’t act white.

The only problem here is, I took my cues about being real as well as acting white without an accurate understanding of Global history. I had that flawed, watered down, anecdotal understanding of racism, yet totally oblivious to how all societies are manipulated and organized by systematic oppression.

If only my K-12 curriculum had thoroughly introduced me to the African diaspora and the purpose of Black Liberation Movements, I would have then been proud of being from Montgomery County, as I am today.

At some point, I wondered if acting white was the better option as opposed to being real. I had the choice after all, right? I was actually trying to understand what either really meant and the implications of choosing. The Urban Dilemma was born because I realized this kind of split personality. A dilemma.

I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be anymore. Do I want to make my way through corporate America (“sell-out”), or do I want to build something from the grass roots (for “my people”)? I have the knowledge and skills to do either. I realized I just needed to express myself and this blog is a result of that. It’s therapeutic.

Experiences
Two opportunities I wouldn’t trade for a million dollars is one, moving into The District of Columbia to experience the inner-city living first hand and two; majoring in Liberal Studies (concentration: African American Studies) at an HBCU deeply embedded into the Civil Rights Movement.

I was finally learning what I didn’t even realize I was in search of my whole life. Answers to the race relation dichotomy between blacks and whites. I learned that “real niggas” are actually poor and of poverty culture, not authentic black culture. This revelation finally hit me while analyzing data for my Senior Research Project on the High School Drop-Out Epidemic.

Before researching in an academic setting, I assumed most black people failed and struggled because they, like me, decided to be real and not act white. I didn’t acknowledge my privileged up-bringing versus theirs or that I was choosing to be ghetto while they were conditioned and had no choice of surviving by any means.

Ultimately, I didn’t realize there was a myriad of authentic black culture and success was more associated with access to opportunities. Out of this myriad of black culture come the noble people, the pioneers of jazz, hip-hop, and the Black Arts Movement preceding it. The people who are aware of The Urban Dilemma and uplift the positive aspects of poor and poverty culture, denouncing the status-quo unapologetically. That’s who I want the world to see me as.

I didn’t realize what strides my single mother took to raise my sister and me. I didn’t realize her relentless effort to do what was necessary to have her daughters live the “good” life versus the “hood” life. I didn’t realize we lived in Montgomery County because it had clean and safe neighborhoods, home to some of the best schools in the nation.

I didn’t realize I wrongfully assumed black people in Montgomery County weren’t authentic black people because I didn’t know being authentically anything is a result of your individual environment and collective culture. There is no actual standard for “blackness” or “whiteness.”

I didn’t realize that acting white was made out to be anything not black because black and white are social and political classifications determined and assigned by the dominant culture, who make up the global oppressors of all people.

Being real and acting white can be more accurately described as being ignorant or acting intelligently, respectively. It’s choice, not biology. Being noble means working in the best interest of your family and community to fight against adversity.

My mother wasn’t, by any means, trying to act white or assimilate into white society by residing in Montgomery County. She simply worked hard and reaped the benefits of that ethic. She was being noble.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Reagan, Len Bias, The Media & Hip-Hop

LB

C.O.R.E: Children of Reagan’s Era.

I feel like the kids who were disproportionately affected by The Era are finally making music. We are the children and children’s children of the The Era. My parents were mid 20’s, early 30’s (my age today) during The Era.

My generation has been through a lot of shit. We’ve seen the rise and fall of Black and Brown life in a way unlike the generations preceding us. We’re an assortment of attitudes; assimilators, resisters, gangsters, “get wits” … all here at the same time with microphones and computers. From the wrestling stars of my time being referenced to the headlining news stories of my childhood frequenting the lyrics of the music I enjoy today; I finally feel like I belong and am being fairly represented.

I was about 5 months deep in the womb when Len Bias died from Cocaine overdose. It was during the midst of the epidemic, give or take a year.

His story was the pinnacle of The Reagan Era as I understand it; it’s when shit got real. It represents the crossroads of many cultures; youth, race, poverty, affluent, drug, political, sports, college, etc.

This is especially relative to me because I am from Maryland, like Bias, and very aware of how Washington, D.C.’s political environment shapes our affairs due to proximity. All of the dirty dealings of a shady government seep across our borders and Washington can’t have a national embarrassment take place so close to the seat of government without repercussion.

The 80’s were when the infamous crack babies were cooked up, the children most affected by Reaganomics. The fact that Reaganomics isn’t marked as misspelled in Microsoft word says a lot. The conditions are well documented and won’t be discussed here, but I’m pretty sure you have a slight idea. The Planet Rock Documentary atop this page is a good place to start. Without Bias, a documentary about the circumstances surrounding the rising star Len Bias’ tragic death is also very resourceful in getting some background information. It’s on the flix.

To sum it up though:

  • Poverty
  • Quick Money
  • Poor Morals
  • Distorted Values
  • Broken Homes
  • Tarnished Communities
  • Lives of Crime
  • Mental Anguish
  • Scapegoating
  • Pop Culture

There is a major difference between “glorifying” the street life, speaking on the street life and living the street life. All perspectives are valid, however be careful of your definition of “glorifying.” Be careful not to forget these people really do exist, really are marginalzed, and are really misunderstood due to White Supremacy’s agenda.

As far as C.O.R.E’s are concerned, we never existed without Gangsta Rap and Trap Music and we know for certain it will never fade away. Though it may become less valuable to those who exploit it for their personal gain and our detriment; there will always be an authentic and gritty aspect to our music regardless of how it’s reprimanded by public opinion. It’s embedded in us.

Bad things happen and we must express ourselves, among each other as well as the general public. They are out-crys for a better understanding of the complexities of life.

We grew up listening to Snoop, Onyx, Junior Mafia, Bone Thugs, Pac, Nas, Ruff Ryders, Wu-Tang, NWA, Three Six, No Limit, Cash Money, UGK …  Terror Squad, Jay-Z, G-Unit, Eminem, Jeezy, T.I. etc. This hard ass music has conditioned us, whether we realize it or not. It also tells some of our tales, and the tales of our old heads.

My sister is 10 years older than me and my mother loves hip-hop (i’m talking about the real raw shit too). So before I even knew how to listen music; Run-DMC, Special Ed, Heavy D, Chub Rock, LL Cool J, KRS-One, Slick Rick, Rakim, Roxanne Shante, Monie Love, A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Apache, BOSS, Queen Latifah .. I can go on and on ..  were shaping my conscious and perspective. I STILL have all of these CD’s, actual CD’s in a closet. 

Not only is that music the soundtrack to our lives, but the lifestyle many of us were exposed to in one way or another. The prison industrial complex is real. The war on drugs is real. The aftermath of Reaganomics will be felt for generations to come.

C.O.R.E. is my shit DO NOT BITE MY SHIT.

wu

Thanks for reading!

#Racism; We’re All Victims

mindcontrol

 

Remember the Follow Your Passion Post? Well that same student and I had an argument about which was better, being black or being white. Of course I defended my ignorant position, that being black was obviously better. And as you can see, although we had this argument, we apparently got over  it and remained cordial.

I was never ashamed or felt less of because of being black. I certainly felt slighted though, and I would spend the rest of my life trying to understand how society got fixed to where black people were on the bottom. I knew in my psyche and soul that this wasn’t natural. And no shade, but this was one of those white girls, you know .. trailer park trash. She wasn’t of the affluent white or Jewish kids I knew. I didn’t realize it then, but I did later on.

This made me realize we are ALL victims of ignorance at some level. We are ALL divided to be conquered, stripped of our authenticity, re-branded, re-packaged and then sold to the masses all in the name of maintaining the Status Quo. It’s always been about the wealthy versus the poor, never about one race versus the other. It’s about Power. It’s about control. It’s about exploitation.

An environment unfortunately developed where a group of people gained superior knowledge; not superior genetics or skills. In order to maintain power and control over this sacred information, people became bigoted and prejudice. That is, powerful people of all creeds realized how beneficial an ignorant populace is and that mind control is a very good, if not the best, tool in their arsenal.

“Sometimes you gotta put the whole world on mute, when you’re on the pursuit, to find out what’s good for you // Everybody on the move tryna get their loot too, don’t be a scapegoat, don’t let them persecute you // Don’t be a fool dude, watch who you salute to, never be a tool in somebody else’s arsenal. Psychological warfare, what the fuck is going on here? // You only getting half the story, believing allegories.”

My ideology then is Multiply & Reclaim. Too many things separate us when we have so much more in common, particularly a common puppet-master pulling our strings.

I came up with this model: Input, Accountability, Mediation, Output. Be accountable for what you consume and allow into your life, be very conscious of the meaning of emotions surrounding those things, and before you continue or convince someone else to feel the way you do .. ask who will benefit and who will suffer.

It is important that our communities become educated on the principles of politics, how public policy is created and be aware of their socio-economic implications. Massive progressive reform is necessary for our economic and social development and it will only happen outside of the mainstream and through a coalition of our own Grass Roots organizations, advocacy and special interest groups.

Thanks for reading!

Stop #Ego Trippin’

egotrap

Falling into this category is the mad rapper, niggas stuck in the era they were popping in. It’s the person who refuses to evolve for whatever reason and doesn’t want anybody else doing so without their persmission. It’s the person who has time to stop and point fingers at others, blaming people like them for their failures instead of being relentless. It’s akin to having a closed mind; success and failure is subjective. If you are comfortable in your beliefs and your existence, criticizing someone else’s decision is unnecessary. You can’t knock their hustle, especially if they aren’t knocking yours.

The inspiration for this post came from an image I came across online called Ego Trap as well as an argument between @LordJamar and @MarlonWayans, amongst other things. Lord Jamar’s argument is that Marlon is feminine and successful because he “sold-out” to the “white man” by not being an “authentic masculine black man.” Marlon’s argument is that Lord Jamar refuses to evolve, has a failed career and is attacking him because he’s jealous of his success. This stemmed from articles of clothing worn by Omar Epps and Marlon Wayans which appear to be “women’s clothing” as well as Marlon’s role in White Chicks.

I thought it was entertaining and worth writing about because I remember subscribing to other people’s notion of success at one point and being stuck in an ego traps. Both Lord Jamar and Marlon Wayans are black men who chose different roads to travel on through an engineered society which systematically marginalizes them.

Thanks for reading!

#Labels, #Concepts & Purveyors of #Urban #Culture

labels

I am very introspective. I don’t solely use other people’s labels and paradigms to understand things. I make them up myself also. I think it’s a process all thinkers go through as related to The Urban Dilemma theory.

It’s like, we are constantly trying to exert what we ARE and AREN’T when that’s not our job. We are supposed to just be. In my humbled opinion; labels, concepts, etc… are for people to describe, understand and market things and other people; not to describe and understand themselves. The term World War 2 wasn’t coined until the war was underway.

It’s kind of like what Nipsey Hussle said in the breakfast club interview. The concept of “Los Angeles Gang and Rap Culture” wasn’t coined by those who demonstrated that culture; they just simply went outside and were themselves. It was Hollywood and the purveyors of that culture who set up the cameras and labeled this “Los Angeles Gang Culture”.

I think we do ourselves a disservice by trying to fit into labels and concepts. Everybody’s perceptions of reality are shaped differently.

Thanks for reading!