Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What Role(s) Are We Playing?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
As the newest member of the eXclusivity family, let me first say how honored I am to be a part of a positive, Black movement! I hope my blogs are thought-provoking, refreshingly real and provide some insight into our culture and this crazy little thing I like to call my life.

I was at work late (as usual) and needed a non-caffeinated boost to keep me going. For me, that means rummaging through my Ipod and finding something to either vent my anger, soothe my soul or get my feet tapping. Today I happened to randomly choose Jill Scott's second album, Beautifully Human. Jill Scott is a rarity in today's music culture that is perforated with overly done beats, overhyped producers and undercooked vocals...she's REAL. Her words are - not to be too cliche - poetry, spoken over just the right musical arrangements. You FEEL her music - her pain, her bliss, her sass, her flirtations, her message...her music speaks to us in a way that brings to mind the late 90's neo soul groundbreakers like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Musiq Soulchild and Maxwell.

The track that caught my attention was "I Need You." This is her declaration that she can do everything and anything she puts her mind too - killing a spider above her bed, becoming a computer analyst, being the "queen with the nappy hair raising the fist." But she acknowledges that she needs her man by her side. Could this be? A woman in the 21st century actually admitting that she NEEDS her this post "all the women who independent throw your hands up at me" generation? But Jill has prided herself in not following the current trends and sticking to good, old-fashioned and traditional values. The song made me contemplate some things that had been running through my mind since Father's Day.

Men get a pretty bad rep in today's society. We're either pants-sagging, swag-wannabe having drug dealers; unemployed, living in our mama's basement nobodies; college educated and well paid but ego trippin; or just plain old sad. Well that's the stereotypes I can pretty much sum up. But we are also successful, engaging, soulful, and powerful sons, fathers, brothers, husbands, fiancees, boyfriends, uncles, cousins and positive contributors to our African American community. We're CEO's of major corporations, presidents of colleges, chiefs of staffs at hospitals, partners at law firms, mega music producers...hey we're even President of the United States (Obama!) The crazy thing is because of the mess some of us have created, our women have had to step up and take our roles only to face the harsh reality that they can't FILL our places. Sure there can be satisfactory fill ins but you cannot replace a black man...

Jill's song speaks directly to this and she even remarks that she needs her man to teach her son how to be a MAN. Amen, Jill. Amen. Only black men can teach black men how to be black men. That may ruffle some feathers but it is the TRUTH, whether we like it or not. Only we know our struggles, our setbacks, our successes, our triumphs.... On Father's Day, I got fed up with the shoutouts to the Moms who have been both moms and dads....because the ultimate message was there were no good dads. I have one...and I know many people who have them as well, including the two men who treat me like their sons whenever I am in their homes! I see examples of great fathers all the time - not just in my house or the White House.

As black men, we have to step up and take our roles seriously. We have to stop shying away from our self-created responsibilities and just accept them, cherish them in fact! We have to be careful about how we express our "swag" - sagging pants, doo rags, unkept hair, wrinkled clothing....not SWAG...that's LAZY! You don't have to be GQ all the time but at least look presentable so you won't end up being the sole example that causes us to be cast as the gangsters, the no gooders, the wastes of life. We have to love our women - not just by buying the ocassional rose or piece of jewelry but talking and listening to our women! Hearing their troubles while providing solutions or least some assurance that better days will come. Teaching our boys how to ride bicycles and handle their business in the classroom too. Adopting some youth with no sense of direction and giving them a new lease on life. Being good MEN instead of mediocre sperm donators!

And black women....let us play our role. We will always appreciate your strength, words of encouragement, initiative and steadfastness. No one will replace your cooking or the way you make us feel like kings after a long week of work. No one will be a better mother to our sons and daughters or a stronger partner to us. We acknowledge that greatly. But give us our space to do us, even when we need to fall just to get back up again! We'll love you even more for me.

So after all of this, what role are we really playing? Are we the example or the fill-in? Are we powerful beyond measure or another poor statistic knocking our race? Think about it....


I am XI said...

AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! Smokin' Ace, thank you very much for that post! It spoke to me, but most of all I hope that it speaks to our male readers as well.


XIKhai said...

Smokin. Ace. Nuff. Said!

eXclusivity, Inc. © 2008. Design by Pocket