Why We Should All Embrace Our Inner Black Man
When I was 14 years old I met 50 Cent. Yes Fiddy. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.
I was in Connecticut with my hockey team and we stayed at the same hotel as him. I'll never forget watching him and his posse strut into the hotel. One of my teammates recognized him instantly, it was after his hit single “Wanksta” hit the charts. Her father asked if we could get a picture and autograph. I got to stand beside him and he put his arm around me (yes it was amazing, lucky me!). My favourite part of the experience is what he wrote on my autograph.
Here I was, this little girl born and raised in small town Ontario rocking blue Lugz and a sideways blue American Eagle hat (with a bandana underneath). It's needless to say I was a “Wanksta.” 50 Cent was so sweet to me and the “Stay beautiful” note has always been a source of love for myself. He saw what I couldn’t see at the time. It made me feel special. It began my love for 50 AKA "Ferrari F-50." For my birthday two weeks later, my parents bought me the “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” album. I didn’t listen to anything else for what felt like forever! On that same day, three of my Black male friends sang me “Hey Shawty it’s your birthday” and I almost died of pure happiness.
I was trying to find my identity. There was always something intriguing about urban culture that I loved. I didn’t realize at the time the concept of White privilege. No matter how 'gangsta' I perceived my shoes to be, I could never truly understand what it'd be like to experience situations many people live in day in and out. To face the discrimination people of different races overcome daily was unfathomable.
Let’s take the shoes for example. Do all Black people wear Lugz? Absolutely not! The style is what I believed to be part of the culture that I had begun to love so much. No matter how much love I have for the culture, I was extremely ignorant as many people remain.
I never realized the depth of White privilege until one of my best friends (a Black male) who grew up in a wealthy neighborhood with very successful parents told me about the constant discrimination he experienced. From being questioned by cops when pumping gas, to people being scared to help him boost his car when he was 17 years old. His stories shook me, they broke my heart. He and his family are the sweetest people and I couldn’t imagine myself being treated this way. I'll likely never experience being persecuted for my skin colour.
What I don’t understand is the lack of appreciation towards Black culture on a whole. Yes, sometimes rap music is degrading and violent. I can take or leave the songs that are designed by the music industry for pop consumption, but the genre of rap and hip-hop was born out of the systematic discrimination the government has imposed on an entire group of people. All to ensure they didn't thrive in society and keep the power within the White community (and the few others who managed to work their way through).
Why is a group of people who legitimately built North America through exploitation being treated as less? Life in North America would be absolutely nothing without the hard work and sacrifice this community of people made. No wonder there's so much rawness, anger and violence embedded in the genre of rap music as a whole. We can judge, but realistically we'll never understand the discrimination they face daily in a 2016 world.
It isn’t only about rap music and urban culture. What about the contributions the Black community has made to raise the vibrations of our society? From the birth of Jazz, to the inspiration of Martin Luther King, to modern day women like Oprah who make a daily difference in the world. It's hard to capture the importance of their influences in one article. We're extremely lucky their messages (along with many others) have reached our hearts in some way or form.
Even though this girl gave up on wearing her Lugz, I still have my moments where I embrace my inner Black man. When I really get in the moment, one of my best friends always says to me “I swear you’re a Black man trapped in a little White girls body.” I have to agree with her. I let loose and I get into it. It's fun AF and honestly, I love it.
Reasons to embrace our inner Black man (or woman) and start appreciating the culture:
Let's look at some serious examples first.
1. In North America a small percentage of people are thriving while a lot are just scraping by. If we were to collectively play our own roles and began embracing, rebuilding and including these segregated Black communities as an integral part of our identity it would enhance our culture in positive ways. 'Oneness' is the way of the future.
2. Think about the children. Every child is born into this world innocent. Children who are born into the lower social economic status, don't have the same opportunities and it's extremely difficult to build resilience when the system is set up against them. These children have a right to an education and equal playing field. There are minds that could've had brilliant solutions to some of our global dilemmas who will never get a chance to explore them. They deserve the chance to be educated, healthy and thriving.
3. Have you ever watched The Wire? It's been stated as being one of the most realistic shows ever made. It depicts how systematic discrimination works and it's mind-blowing. It puts into perspective how this group of people is discriminated against from the educational system to the higher levels of government. I dare you not to have an appreciation for Stringer Bell or Avon and what these people are living with as a reality. Imagine if it was you and your family.
Now let's lighten the mood.
1. “Changes” by Tupac is one of the most inspirational songs ever made. When I listen to it, it gives me hope that one day we can step out of fear and hate and step into love. Change begins with us, we have the ability to make a difference.
2. W.E.B Du Bois, Alice Walker and Langston Hughes are examples of authors who've made positive contributions through their writing that should be celebrated and learned about in school. Embracing other authors will only enrich our education.
3. Have you ever watched Plizzanet Earth with Snoop Dogg? I dare you not laugh!
4. Embrace your inner Black woman! I've met many Black women who I find empowering! In university I met some of the most intelligent, funny, successful women who I truly appreciated. There are women like Cookie from Empire whose attitude I wish I could embrace. She doesn't take shit from anyone, she’s driven and she is hilarious!
5. Ever tried twerking? It's SO much fun! Even if you can’t do it properly, try it and just be free and embrace it!
6. Destiny’s Child: Thank you for songs such as Survivor and Independent Women! I feel so empowered when listening to them!
7. Driving around listening to music that forces you to bob your head to the beat…. Epic...enough said.
Life in North America would be not be the same without Black culture. It's time we embrace it fully and come together. We must begin creating a society that works together instead of what is happening now; A divide not only in the system, but in a lot of attitudes.
I recognize this article may leave some people feeling aggravated because it's written from the perspective of a White woman. Considering what we see on TV, read in the media or learn in school is very Euro-Centric and I can understand any frustrations. To be clear, my intention is to spread love and unity. We're moving to a more conscious world. This is the time to move forward and embrace the “one love” Bob Marley sang about. But this starts with a change of perception and acceptance.
We're all different and have different experiences. We have the ability to stop judging, persecuting and step into a more loving time period. It's really simple. If we treat everyone we meet with an understanding that we've all grown up with different experiences but are willing to show kindness to one another regardless of skin colour we can step into a happier and more peaceful time.
If we set aside the fear of wealth being more spread out and embrace love in building a new united future, we can create the needed change North America can thrive on as one. Let’s embrace our inner Black man or woman! Whether you are sitting soulfully listening to jazz or diving into the perfection of Whitney Houston’s voice. Maybe it is twerking while listening to Nicki Minaj and embracing your curves or dancing like Beyonce and owning who you are. Maybe you want to appreciate how life is for a group of people by listening to what happened to the man who shot 50 Cent 9 times or working out to Fetty Wap (because he is actually the greatest)!
Maybe it’s getting lost in the peaceful, uplifting messages of artists like Bob Marley. Whatever the meaning is to you, embrace your appreciation. Let’s move forward together instead of separate.
The change begins with you.
One Love <3