Monday, December 11, 2006

If you dress like a thug, you are a thug

The sagging pants, the size XXXXXL t-shirt, the baseball cap on the head cocked at the 10 o'clock position (or worse, the 4 or 8 o'clock), the gold teeth (grillz), the cornrows, the unlaced $200 basketball shoes. You all have seen it; you all know the feelings that well up inside you when you do see it, and the feelings aren't happy ones. I am at once slightly intimidated and full of pity when I see my students dress like this. Intimidated because I don't know if it is just for show or if they really are capable of violence; full of pity because in some cases, I know the student to be harmless, yet he will have problems as he gets older because if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck....

I see I am not the only one with this mindset - not that ever thought I was. Columnist Stanley Crouch from the New York Daily News often writes about the destructive behavior of today's wayward youth, and his most recent piece is no exception. Normally, I link to the site and give you a few choice paragraphs to whet your appetite. In this case, Crouch's piece is so dead-on, I am going to do the ever-so-rare full copy and paste. I will however, link to the article anyway. If you want to read it at the NYDN site, go for it.
To move up, kids must stop being slaves to fashion

A man once told me that things began to get bad in Brooklyn when the drug wars grew to such an extent that a grown man could no longer chastise a young man for being loud or dropping trash in front of his house without fear of having a pistol pulled.

As far as he was concerned, that was the point at which adults began to lose authority because they became afraid of the young black men who were wearing the hooded sweatshirts, the big jackets, the drop-down pants, the expensive sneakers. The barbarism of gold teeth had yet to appear.

That was part of what has surely become a cultural crisis in which young black men adorn themselves with surface trappings and take on the obnoxious vulgarity of thugs in order to meet the expectations of young black women who have embraced their own degradation, seeming to find it sexy. That degradation is expressed in the misogynistic doggerel that dominates popular hip hop recordings.

Added to this low-lying mix are the supposedly sympathetic white liberals, who are more than happy to submit gutlessly to the black middle class. These white liberals have been intellectually hustled into believing that the inarticulate thug and the freelance slut are young black people in their natural state.

The black middle class, terrified of being defined as a group that kowtows to "white values," does not tend to have the nerve to stand up to this crabbed vision of life or ethnic "authenticity."

But, at the end of the ride, the ones losing and left holding the bag are neither white liberals nor the black middle class. The tragic losers are those black kids who believe that their true identity is achieved through illiteracy, thuggish behavior, dropping out of school and psychologically ingesting the subterranean attitudes toward women that are espoused by pimps. They are sloughing through a spiritual sewer, incapable of knowing just how much it stinks.

But these kids are not the only ones who have absolutely no idea of what a culture is - which is neither a handful of slang phrases, clown or slut dress and offensive behavior.

As one young man told me when I saw him walking at night with a group of guys who seemed on the verge of anarchy but were merely playing a part, the whole thing is a come-on to get girls, who have made the thug into a sex symbol.

"We don't want to shoot anybody, to rob anybody, or to get into a fight. We know the honeys like all of this. If they didn't, that would be the end because we go the way they go," he said.

The solution may have to come from the women, who have been known to get men to act right when they have gotten tired of them acting like animals.

To face this crisis and the fact that the street thug impersonation is now considered "cool" and is attached to the multibillion-dollar hip-hop industry, will take some doing. After all, let us not forget that Harriet Tubman said that she could have gotten many more slaves off of the plantation if she could have convinced them that they WERE slaves.

The trouble was that they believed that slavery was a natural state and one that they should accept as no more than the way life was.

Originally published on December 11, 2006
Good Day to You, Sir

1 comment:

Charity said...

"These white liberals have been intellectually hustled into believing that the inarticulate thug and the freelance slut are young black people in their natural state."

This is the thing that gets me mad. This thinking by the white liberals is true racism, in my view - thinking that these kids are capable of nothing better, so how they are acting is okay. Yet, since I am a conservative, I must be the racist. Never mind that two of my children are black. If I don't think thuggery is an acceptable lifestyle or "culture," I am the biggot.

I love his point that the solution may have to come from the women. The problem is that so many of these young women are now conditioned to think that this behavior is sexy or cool, or worse yet, manly.

(Thanking God right now that I decided to pull my kids out of school and homeschool.)