In his 1996 comedy special ‘Bring the Pain’, Comedian Chris Rock joked, “. . . there is a civil war in the Black Community.  There’s Black people, and there’s n****rs . . . n****rs have got to go.”  The mostly black audience roared, roared in a way that we all knew when we heard it Chris Rock had spoken a silent truth.

Black culture is now synonymous with street culture.  Street culture, for all intents and purposes, IS Black culture.  The two are inseparable, forever tied.  No matter where one turns, the daily expression of blackness will always be influenced by the ghetto, the unsavory, disgruntled, and malicious.  Examination of any corner of Black life reveals that the rebelliousness of the street is now tied to being revolutionary.  The most prominent voices of revolutionary blackness today are entertainers and athletes, particularly those who are ‘for them streets’.  They have tied the culture of the ghetto to their promotion of blackness.

To practice one, you must practice the other.  Conversely, the black person not immersed in ghetto/street/Hip Hop culture is an apostate.  His or her blackness is either defective or incomplete.

Chris Rock’s observation was too late, even back then.  That war is over.

Black people lost.  And now are lost.

There is not a segment of the Black existence that if not destroyed by street culture, has not been fully taken over or at least heavily influenced.  Our language, daily interaction, collectiveness (or lack thereof), education, fashion, business, every aspect of a Black person’s existence from sun-up to beyond sun down, every bit of our lives is now undercut by the seductive counter-culture of the ghetto, to the extent that if one is not pro-street culture they are also simultaneously not pro-black.

Street culture has always existed, it was always present, but the culture of the hoodlum was separate.  Hoods lived on the fringes and swept up those who looked for it in unseen corners of ghetto life.  But once it was given admission to daylight, through a campaign of media romanticization, the lure of the streets became irresistible.  It has conquered mainstream culture, through what I describe as an accidental and unplanned campaign.

  1. The ‘black exploitation’ film. Through the sixties and seventies, for the first time, Blacks were not just in films as props for a ‘white’ storyline.  The most popular stories being told on screen led off with drugs, pimps, gangsters and poverty–the legitimizing of ghetto life.  Films and television with more forward thinking and positive storylines were promoted, but the street hustle story was most popular.
  2. The proliferation of drugs and gangs in the Black Community.  Whether this was planned externally, or just a natural evolution of criminal endeavor due to lack of economic opportunity, the black community (in my opinion) was extremely complicit in its involvement.  Drugs destroyed not just the user but the seller; addicts ruined their lives and those around them, while pushers self-justified their activity and warped the community logic.  In the ghetto that was now vacant of the men who guide a community, street gangs stepped in with a new counterculture.
  3. Hip Hop music arrived, birthed by the marriage of the two parents above. HIP HOP DID NOT CREATE STREET CULTURE OR GANGS.  HIP HOP ROMANTICIZED STREET CULTURE AND GANGS.  The new art form, a mixture of revolutionary street poetry and party anthems, was often financed by crime and/or drug crews.  The unorganized early days of rap music enabled the street hustle economy to use the virgin art form as a vehicle to clean their illegal money.
  4. Ghetto culture normalized in sports:  “. . . I’m still ghetto. That’s not going to change. I’m never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don’t think he’s ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture.”  (Ron Artest after Yao Ming learned of Artest’s possible trade to MIng’s team.  These comments were in reference to Ron Artest’s charging and punching fans in the stands during a brawl during a Pistons/Pacers game.)

For a very long time, the law enforcement structure and justice system in this nation treated all Blacks as hoodlums or their accomplices.  That bias caused . . .

Blacks, in opposite fashion, to accept every accused hoodlum as a victim of police misconduct and a civil rights martyr.  That bias (on the part of Blacks) caused . . .

The acceptance of street culture as unfairly targeted due to its proximity to Black life.  Thus, we unwisely showed empathy toward the street lifestyle.  After the empathy came tolerance, then acceptance, then preference, and now glorification/romanticization.

If you denounce street culture, you will be standing on the same side of the racial battle as our perceived oppressors, such as the police.  For any self-respecting Black person that is unthinkable.

(The above use of the word ‘perceived’ was not a mistake)

Our flag is planted on the hilltop of ‘the streets’ by the thugs that I’d always believed the black community would ‘get over’.  Maybe my mother was right: “In their minds, they are perfectly FINE.  To them, they think, there’s nothing wrong with them, that there’s something wrong with YOU.”  Her eyes brightened with an accompanying grin, “They want to know, why aren’t YOU like US?”

And that is why I admit defeat: Black people don’t want to change: “we’re fine the way we are.”

The Black Civil War is over.  Black people lost.

Research:

The Man Behind Death Row Records – Michael “Harry O” Harris

Capone n Noreaga Rappers named themselves after Al Capone and Manuel Norieaga

Artest: I’m excited about joining Rockets — if Yao wants me

Savannah, GA Rapper Respekk Among 29 Charged in Federal Drug Trafficking Ring

Hip-Hop Drug Lord Kenneth ‘Supreme’ McGriff Gets Life Without Parole for Slayings.

No Avoiding Crime-Rap Industry Links.

Former cocaine kingpin who co-founded label Death Row Records with Suge Knight and signed music legends Dr. Dre, Tupac and Snoop Dogg is set to be released from prison after 31 years behind bars

 

When I was forty years of age, there was still hope.  That whatever it is could still happen.  The prosperity dreamt of; the lifestyle sought.  The possibility of achievement still there, like a car full of friends waiting outside with the engine running.  They are blowing the car horn and telling me to hurry and shouting my name while making room for me to get in.  My hopes and dreams are promising, “We’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, come on, there’s still a chance!  Get out here, get in the car, and zoom off with us to an exciting life”.  I promise them that I’m coming, but there’s a few things I need to take care of first.  As I tend to those tasks, looking out the patio window, I see my garden of beautifully growing expectations.

But, at age forty-five, I rush out there, and they’re gone.  Where’d they go?  The hopes, the dreams–have taken off without me.  That can’t be!  They’re tricking me, they must have gone around the corner.  I know what I’ll do.  I’m not going to wait for them to come back, I’ll catch up to them, run up the street, and they’ll be there laughing.  I’ll be mad, but nevertheless, I’ll be in that car with my hopes and dreams, headed someplace big. 

At age fifty, after chasing for another five years they’re not there.  Hmmm.  While I looked around, someone asked me what I was looking for.  I said I’m pursuing my hopes and dreams.  This person said, “It’s too late, those are gone.”  The person went on to try to sell me on one of their dreams.  I never considered “How can I find my dreams if I buy yours?” 

I wasted time on their hopes and dreams, but I still wanted my dreams, and I missed them.  Okay, I’ll go home to see if they went back there.

Fifty-two now, back home, mad as hell, and getting madder by the day.  This ain’t funny.  My hopes and dreams, they wouldn’t have left me like this . . .  they must’ve been kidnapped.  Or stolen.  This is very unfair, to disappear with the hopes and dreams that keep my spirit alive!  When I catch whoever did this, God help them. 

Someone said a guy named Life stole them.  I told that spirit breaking individual that he shouldn’t talk about Life like that.  I have a garden of aspirations for Life, he wouldn’t have done this.  Life is good, he’s pretty fair–Right?

Age fifty-three, still back at the house, standing there by myself.  No hopes, no dreams.  It can’t be . . . this can’t be happening!  I’m supposed to be in that car with my hopes and dreams, out doing big things–but I’m standing in front of my house alone. 

I didn’t want to admit it, but maybe Life did do this.  He doesn’t seem like a very caring person.  I want to kick Life’s ass.  And if it wasn’t Life, then I think those assholes drove off without me!  I stand here without the hopes and dreams I worked for, I sacrificed for, none of the future that I had imagined.  The aspirations and expectations in my backyard garden are all sagging.

I’ve looked everywhere, worked to find them, and I’m exhausted.  I’m beginning to accept that they may be gone forever.  Fifty-four, and my hopes and dreams are nowhere to be seen.  All the planning was for nothing.  The great things I was going to selflessly do have not been done, and the charity promises I made to the world I have not fulfilled.  Evidently, I was supposed to pay this guy Life with my aspirations, and because I did not settle that debt, he took my hopes and dreams.

The aspirations and expectations in the backyard are dying of thirst, unlike my palette, which I soak liberally with goblets of wine and tumblers of merciful spirits. 

Maybe it’s my fault, I should have stuck with my hopes and dreams.  In my youth, I had no idea that Life would come for me so quickly.  My father did ask me, “Do you have aspirations for Life?”  I had no idea that was a literal and serious question, I was supposed to be prepared when Life showed up.  My mother warned me not to tell people about my hopes and dreams, that they would talk me out of them, or steal them.  I convinced myself that my aspirations were safe and would last forever.

There must have been something I didn’t do, or did that I was not supposed to, to keep the garden in my backyard alive.  Did I ignore them?  Did I feed and water them enough, or did I overwater?  Did I protect them?

I tried to get out of my sorrow by walking about.  I saw someone my age, and so as not to offend, I watched him in a store window reflection.  The man was out with his own hopes and dreams, and they all looked so happy together.  It seemed everyone on the street could see his joy.  And he was with life!  And Life smiled on him!  He owed Life nothing, Life owed him nothing; their business was complete.  Then I looked at my reflection in a window and saw just me, no hopes and dreams.  If anyone asks what I have, I’ll be honest, just dead aspirations and expectations for this fucking guy Life. 

A child stopped to look in the same window, and he asked his parents, “One day, can we buy that toy train?”  When they said, “We’ll see, maybe on your birthday”, he grinned with joy, he had a reason to dream.  He had a hope to live for!

That boy used to be me.

©2020 Queen Publishing

tI no longer enjoy football.

As a result, I have had no answer the uncomfortable question:  “Did you see the game?”  but every year found that I had a compounding list of grievances, which has led me to my present walk-away.

Pink Shoes

For eight years the NFL mandated players wear pink cleats and other pink accessories every October for Breast Cancer Awareness month.  In my opinion it was a deliberate marketing move to pander to female viewers and boost ratings and merchandise sales.

Let me know when the girls over in the WNBA wear prostate cancer ribbons.

The sport of gladiators was dismissing its customer base in an attempt to appeal to women.  I’m sure it made sense to the merchandising department; women spend way more money than men.  And so, I and millions of other men dealing with prostrate or colon cancer watched the sport we loved ignore us completely to score with women. 

Halftime shows

This complaint really applies to the Super Bowl.  What did Madonna have to do with football?  She, the woman who was, and is, a vocal critic of all things America, was invited to be the entertainment for America’s biggest athletic event.  Has Madonna ever even watched a football game?  The list goes on:  U2, Beyonce’, Prince, etc.  They all make great music, but football fans aren’t looking for them mid-game.  Football fans want a show from performers who are football fans themselves, who understand that football is combat, and the music should be bar-brawl rough. 

Dancing 

I don’t like buffoonery.  When a Black player dances in the end zone, I see the days when black entertainers were relegated to the insulting smiling and shufflin’ tap dancing. I’m okay with impromptu spiking of the ball after a hard fought scoring play, or the big lineman who never touches the ball who gets excited picking up a fumble or interception or scoring.  But the rehearsed routines—I find them silly and unsportsmanlike.

Thugs

Thugs have taken over the NFL.  Troublemakers.  The players who were in the NFL up until the mid-eighties were not ambassadors of street culture.  But, like most of our society, Hip Hop music and gang influences have permeated if not taken over everything, sports included, and in this case football.  The result is behavior that is embarrassing, low class, and sometimes criminal.  The players now remind me of the hoodlums I grew up with in the South Bronx.  But street culture and gang references are popular, accepted and mainstream, thus very profitable, so the NFL is okay with it. 

Professional sports is accepting and helping legitimize a lifestyle that is destroying communities.  Their kids (management) don’t deal with the hood, so it looks glamorous and fun to them; I grew up in the South Bronx and witnessed the streets firsthand.  It’s horrible.

Free Agency

I enjoyed the dedicated team concept.  What I found amazingly human of professional football was the idea that players were dedicated to one another and the city or state they were representing, chasing victory, the ultimate male pursuit.  I was drawn in by the familiarity of the same 11 guys lining up on either side of the ball to do battle, a committed team.  Even if they had a disappointing season, they would go back to the drawing board, return the next year with only small personnel changes, getting better and better, and figuring out how to win. 

Supporting this tradition of male commitment, teams could limit trades, and legally ‘protect’ 37 of its 45 players on the roster.  Another team offering a player more money would need permission from the first team for the trade to happen.  Thus, there would be changes here and there, but the core lineup would return.  This restricted wholesale personnel changes through free agency.  But some players complained that it limited their freedom to ‘shop’ their talent and opportunities to negotiate larger contracts.

So, the first nail in the coffin came from one of my favorite players, Freeman McNeil.  In 1982, He and the NY Jets didn’t win the AFC championship against the Oakland Raiders, but he won a lawsuit against the NFL which lifted restrictions on free agency.

As a result, player movement between teams dramatically increased every year, and the ‘team’ concept is gone, evidenced since then by some prima donna players (especially receivers, what’s with them?).   Just as quick as you buy your favorite player’s jersey, in less than twelve months he might be on another team, but the merchandise company can sell more shirts, I guess. 

Football culture was, and is, a key component of male culture.  The two are interdependent.  When we allowed free agency in football, we gave permission for free agency to young men, we told them you don’t have to commit to something you’re a part of.  Are the young men around you committed?  To their jobs?  Their wives?  Their nation?  Most young people now are free agents.

 

Flipping off customers

For brevity, I’ll put the bottom line up front: taking a knee is a big ‘foxtrot uniform charlie kilo you’ to me.  The sport that America built for Americans has been turned into a political weapon, full of political statements and has been poisoned forever by activists.

To allow one of the few bastions that men have left to be politicized is unforgivable.

With all this said, know that I have found more productive things to do with Sundays, and I go to bed at a decent hour on Monday night.  In some ways, I enjoy the seven hours of my life that I have back (New York has two teams, three and a half hours per game).  I no longer waste time watching professional sports because I have no respect for the people playing, and have complete distrust for the league employing them.