Part of the reason that the self-image of Black women (and Black men) is out of control is because the once proud medium we used to convey individual talent as well as social consciousness—music—is out of control. Just look at how sexualized Black music has become in both content and delivery. The classy deliveries and soulful likes of Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, and Luther Vandross have been replaced by the sex-drive images of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Trey Songz, with their leave-nothing-to-the-imagination lyrics and sexual imagery. These new crop of “artists” (again, for want of a better term) don’t understand that many Old School artists didn’t need to use sex to sell their music; they understood that true talent sells itself. And what could ever be said about the rappers that hasn’t been said before? Their portrayal, celebration, and pimping of the “thug” and criminal imagery within the Black community is a prime reason our children are out of control.
So many young and impressionable Black youth have taken in the artificial and counter-productive ethos surrounding these personalities and based their own identities and perceptions of the Black community (and the community at large) on them. We see this in how many Black males sag their pants, in their misguided attempt to look like their favorite rapper. It’s gotten to the point where even Black males in their 30’s and 40’s have engaged in this fashion misfire. The imagery which these rappers project is one of the reasons why our youth no longer fear jail or prison. Becoming involved in the criminal justice system is seen as a reflection of “being real,” and a reflection of how they perceive what life is like in the Black community…that everyone goes to jail at some time in their lives—just like their favorite rapper. Thank God that “All My Babies’ Mamas’,” featuring the rapper Shawty Lo was cancelled…one can only imagine the image of parenthood that proposed piece of trash would have put into the heads of Black youth…
And because they have such low expectations fueled by the negative imagery pimps within the entertainment industry, our schools are out of control. Our classrooms are brimming with children raised by single mothers, who burden them with “Black” names, many with hyphens, misplaced apostrophes, and foreign-sounding syllables that do nothing but telegraph the ethnic identities of their owners in a world where racism still exist, and where a “Sha’Quanda” is simply not the image a prospective employer will be willing to see greet his high-profile Anglo or Sino (in all future likelihood) clients.
In which case, there is no chance of that happening anyway because many of the Black children in our school simply do not place a high value on education anyway. Say what you want in rejecting this observation, but I spent years a long-term substitute teacher; it’s simply the reality. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed Black children slight their fellow Black children as “nerds” simply because they want to learn. Many of the behaviors of Black children in our classrooms tends to be excused as ADHD or ODD instead of the lack of patient and direct parenting in the homes. And it’s sad to say, but the lower standardized testing school of young Black children is what’s bringing down the collective scores of the nation compared to the performance of children from other countries.
True, there are many institutional reasons why I see my fellow African-Americans as being out of control; the legacy of a colonized mind, racism, our history in this country, shifting cultural and demographic trends, etc. However, I am forced to concede adopt the thinking that many conservative White assert when attempting to address the issue of dysfunction within the Black community…that our being out of control is mostly a matter of bad individual choices and a lack of priorities of our leadership.
By; Jeffery Sims