This is an excerpt from my next book, and final book of the Self Medication Trilogy. I’ve just been writing so there’s no title to this chapter, yet. It’s from my point of view, dealing with my experience as a young black male in America. You don’t have to agree with my take, just respect it. Also, feel free to discuss. I hope you enjoy.
Some days, you sit back on a cool evening, sipping your lemonade, watching as the setting sun turns the sky a beautiful shade of red. Red is also associated with fire and hell. When you think about it, the world we live in can be a hell of a place.
As a black man, I was born like every other child was: a blank slate. Unfortunately, that’s where the equality in life stopped. People—even those who are a part of the same plight as us—never quite understand what it is to be us. Black men didn’t ask to be a part of a patriarchal society, we were tossed into one. We are not beneficiaries of white supremacy; we are its victims. The hell which we live in is so complex that, quite frankly, we ourselves don’t understand it to its fullest extent. We just try to deal. However, this is my pen and pad, and I will bleed my thoughts onto it the best way I can.
See, I’m a dog owner. I own a pit bull. His name is Bo. He weighs a good 80-90 lbs. and is physically intimidating. When you see Bo, you see a beast. What you don’t see is a dog that will think first and react later. Why? Because, in your mind, you were conditioned to view this particular dog as a threat—as a vicious animal—when all Bo has been, from birth, is a blank canvas.
I made Bo what he is by feeding him his way of thinking. If I put my dog into a fight, he would probably die. He couldn’t win just off the mere fact that he wanted to survive. Why? He wasn’t trained to survive. He was raised to love and be loved. He runs up and down Santa Monica beach whenever we’re home, without a leash. The neighbors love him; he sometimes even walks a couple kids to their doorstep after school. The conditions and manners in which I raised my dog dictate what exudes from his short-haired pores.
The black man in America, for the most part, is programmed to be an animal. He’s programmed full of hatred, including hatred for self. He isn’t taught how to properly communicate his issues because his “handlers” weren’t taught how themselves. You can’t teach what you don’t know or haven’t experienced. Throw guns and drugs in the mix and give him the simple order, “Survive!” and of course he’s going to do what he can and fuck shit up in the process, just to get to this imaginary place no one ever really said existed.
Once captured, he’s thrown in a kennel/cage as punishment for his actions—actions that are second nature to him because he doesn’t know much else. Black men who make it out the hood weren’t taught, they sought. The ones who seek their own way, rather than relying on what has been taught to them, they explore, dissect and process. They are the ones who make it.
Most who read this know me as a very laid-back individual. However, to be completely candid, whenever I feel tried, attacked, or insulted, a part of me feels like the transgressor(s) should die. Not be talked to or reasoned with, but die. That’s how I was programmed. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized me not acting out is just as powerful as me acting on. To some, I’m widely regarded as successful. So if, in my mind, I wish you’d die, can you imagine the mentality of a guy with nothing to lose, still stuck in a system where love is actually a mirage of bullshit from other miserable people who need that type of company? His form of love is validation, someone who had terrible guidance themselves, praising his anarchy and recklessness.
Now, you’re likely thinking, “He’s comparing humans to animals, this is bullshit…” which is laughable because there are many animals arguably more intelligent than we are, that can easily adapt to conditions quicker than we can. Therefore, I wouldn’t insult animals in that manner. Back to my point: my pit bull, like you and I, was a blank canvas at birth. Unlike my pit bull, people like myself and my friends were put into conditions where surviving is how the movie ends. Winning is the sequel that you have to create yourself.
Take me, for example. My grandmother (mostly) and my parents instilled in me everything it would take for me to survive. At the same time, I was a child, so I never stopped absorbing. I was also conditioned to fight and kill, if need be, based on all the people I was surrounded by. Loving yourself was on the back burner to survival. You’re not programmed to love because everyone is too busy trying to stay alive. So, at best, what we got was diluted brands of love aka the “RC Cola” shit.
I wouldn’t have been able to properly love a black woman, respect and honor a black woman, unless I was taught to. I’ve had black women themselves tell me, “When you make it out and become successful, get you a white woman because a black woman ain’t gonna do shit but bring you back down.” I’ve heard this line of dialogue on multiple occasions from mothers of guys I was childhood friends with. The same women we were raised to respect didn’t love or respect themselves. Of course, you can’t say, “All black women do this,” but enough do it, to the point that little boys don’t even know how to respect their mothers. The world paints half the picture. If it wasn’t for my grandma instilling cultural values and cultural pride, I’d be as lost as most dudes are.
I recently sat down with a group of guys discussing the issues of our upbringing and the most widespread issue wasn’t lack of food or sleep, but a lack of love. Dad’s not around, Mom’s not home; they never felt loved. Two of these guys are my friends and the same two made Philly papers one year as two of the most dangerous guys in the city. There might just be a correlation there.
The first problem with the hell we live in is the lack of love and the lack of proper expression and communication of love. The kids in our communities don’t feel loved. We can’t battle crime or educational deficiencies without tackling the fundamental need for proper parenting and love. People like to point the finger and say, “If men did this,” or “If women did that,” but at the end of the day, the fault is ours to share. The simple solution is love, as cheesy as it seems. Yet we will never adopt this concept because love requires responsibility.
Think about this: if kids were properly taught how to love, build, communicate and be responsible to one another as a community, crime levels would drop. The root of many of our problems is something we contribute to and have the power to change. Let’s fight that battle first; let’s care about community again. Not just in thought but through active involvement. Teach kids how to emotionally and spiritually invest in self. Their self-esteem will be higher because of it. Your kids’ self-esteem is more dependent upon the outer garments they wear versus what has been built within
The biggest threat to American white supremacy is a nation or movement of black people who finally care about each other. A family. One that has figured out how to heal on our own, how not to wait for anything to trickle down, and how to take the power back into our own hands. Turn things around for our children. We owe them that much. Praise them when they achieve, teach them where they fall short. Somewhere along the way we were told not to celebrate when people do what they should do. Now we have pockets, too large in nature, within our communities where negativity gets praise and there’s no room for positive progress.
We’re responsible to more than just the people that live in our homes. We’re responsible for community, you can’t change the look, feel nor destiny of your community without taking some responsibility in it…