LifestyleMade Of Shade

Made of Shade: Young Brothers in the Struggle

As I sit listening to Marvin Sapp’s Never Would Have Made It, I think of how to find my words a home inside your psyche. I understand you come from a place of having your core picked into tiny pieces. A wounded psyche is what you carry when your core is picked. Folks picking on the way you speak, the music you vibe to and your style of clothes.

I am you, sewn from different threads, though born of the same cloth. I will not wave my hands in your face, pimping a position of condensation. When I speak, I speak neither from a position of authority nor from an acidic, careless tongue of judgment.  My young black brother, I want you to know that even in your perceived imperfection, you are worthy of life, born with a unique purpose. You were not born to fail or carry feelings of inadequacy.

To be invisible is to not be seen. To not be seen is to not be recognized. In Ralph Ellison’s book, Invisible Man, lack of recognition causes the narrator to experience a perpetual deep sense of invisibility. We have been invisible. Continual lack of recognition breeds anger, resentment and feelings of inadequacy. Your life is too valuable to stay buried in a barrel of disconnection with your greater purpose. Even in the face of adversity, you still must fight. Must wake up each morning and understand the greatness that you’re born of.

Understand that you come from a legacy of greatness. Understand our story of ancestors whom built pyramids. Understand the legacy of Imhotep, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and so many other great beings that were born of humbling circumstances yet fought for justice. Young black brother, you come from a legacy of intelligent fighters.

You are not the limited bandit whom your detractors paint as pants-sagging thugs. They are those detractors that claim to speak from a position of ‘care and concern’ yet are most likely speaking from a position of class ascension. Those are the detractors who’ve ‘made it’ and treat those who they believe are beneath them like filthy gum stuck on the bottom of their shoes. Their nose is in the air with permanently planted sticks up there hiney.

The detractor can very well be a discriminatory teacher or professor who can smell the scent of humble beginnings coming from one of such status and diss your presence. You must not give-up in the face of the class ascension mongrels. We cannot afford to be broken. We’ve been broken for too long.  Develop the courage to stand up and be counted for when uppity jokers make it in this world and become haughty and egotistical, pimping judgment on the black folks who “just can’t seem to get it together.” Do not be fooled into thinking that those faces are always White. We have some folks who share the same skin color that carry extreme class issues. They want no parts of the poor or uneducated.

Poverty or not, education is key. Education doesn’t stop in the classroom. Get education to the highest level attainable. Discover the works of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ivan Van Sertima, Ralph Ellison, Shakespeare, Robert Hayden, W.E.B. Dubois, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Kevin Powell, Iyanla Vanzant, Ernest Hemmingway, Chinua Achebe, James Baldwin, Nelson George, Walter Dean Myers, Melissa Harris-Perry, Zora Neale Hurston, Lucille Clifton. We cannot afford to allow our minds to suffer by not reading for critical consciousness. Request reading lists from mentors.

My young black brother, I understand your struggle.

I understand Hip-Hop is one of the coping mechanisms for feeling invisible in society. Invisible status draws one to places where recognition of story and identity can be redeemed.

Critics of youth’s obsession with hip-hop do not wish to take the time to understand hip-hop music. Your critics wonder why hip-hop has become so dominant in your generation though often fail to ask questions that lead to a discovery that is non-monolithic and is not favorable merely to the critics. They fail to realize hip-hop has been the outlet of expression, speaking youth issues in a broad spectrum.  While I do not agree with the misogyny and homophobia, I cannot deny that hip-hop was the place in my youth where my story was spoken. My story and struggle, received some sort of recognition through hip-hop artists rapping about issues I encountered in my world. I do remember listening to Biggie, Tupac, Mos-Def, Common, Run DMC, Nas and Jay Z.

Your masculinity is not attached to your sex organs. Real men are responsible. Real men are an asset to themselves and community, not a liability. Real men cry. Real men do not associate power with violence against women. Real men seek solutions to problems rather than make excuses.  Real men read for critical consciousness throughout an entire lifetime. Real men study. Real men write. Real men do not allow notions of masculinity and patriarchy to become the blood from which they beat. Real men seek out mentors and wise counsel. Possibly, I never would of made it, if it were not for mentors reaching out for my hands as I almost drowned while beating down the voices of opposition that could never love me totally in my uniqueness. You too will make it, if you view your life as of value.

My young black brother, make a commitment to rise to excellence. Define your purpose. Make a visualization board, post faces of all the people, writers, artists, books, and family members that inspire you. On your journey to fulfilling your purpose, should you forget the greatness from whence you come from, take out that board as a reminder to the inner fire that lays doormat in your soul. No obstacle is too great that you can’t overcome it; young black man move to action.