Words by Jayy Ghost
I’m sure you’ve heard rappers say things like this time and time again; “Make it rain on these hoes!” and “Pop that, don’t stop!”, etc. This is common lingo for (Black) men that live in that box.
What I mean by that is the way we portray ourselves in everyday life. Living in the “box” requires a person to subject themselves into portraying certain attributes in their society. This is to feel accepted by their peers and relieve pressures of being an independent thinker. Every brother and sister comes to a crossroads in their lives where they decide to themselves what does it mean to be Black. Do I have to act hard body? Should I straighten my hair? Does dressing or acting this way make me White? As every African American knows, it’s a hard road, especially to be unique and original, not following the bandwagon. It can be particularly harder for Black women, having so many cliches about how they are supposed to attract males and to be respected in the entertainment industry.
In today’s culture, the Black woman gets plenty of attention from the media and the Hip Hop industry. However, perception is everything and too much of anything can be burdensome. More often than not, black women are depicted as video hoes and racial stereotypes, but are they true? Short answer, yes and no.
First, let me say that Black women are beautiful, dark skinned or light skinned, but nevertheless, speaking as a black man, I know that as a people we do have our issues. The “angry Black woman” is one of the old stereotypes that many sisters loathe and for good reason. More so than not, it seems that they are the ones holding down the households as single mothers while still achieving their goals, proving themselves as great role models. However, one of the prevalent matters in the Black community is the way we should treat black women, let alone women in general. Even with recent images of booty shaking such as the “Pop That” video, vulgar depictions of women didn’t begin there.
A young Khosian woman from Southern Africa, named Saarjite Baartman, was stuffed and exhibited in Europe in the early 1800s. A kind of freak show, White people “toured” her around because of the fascination with her enormous butt, among other things. Since then, throughout the years, Black women have been ridiculed for having voluptuous figures by the media. Magazines and the fashion world always tried to convey their ideas of the way “beauty” is supposed to be. This misguided notion hinders Black women’s perceptions of themselves leaving them to believe they aren’t gorgeous enough. But not everyone is so naïve into trying to fit in with the mainstream beliefs.
A rapper named Sir Mix A Lot had a song that shook the masses in the early 90s called “Baby Got Back.” The video challenged the views of mainstream White America by stating “I like big butts and I cannot lie!” Showing off the thick juicy hips and bold attitude had people contemplating what magazines like Vogue were thinking. This brings me to the conclusion that people just cant ignore what they secretly want. As long as the consumer buys it, they will sell it. Regardless, if its sex, music, or drugs, the demand for the product will always drive the market into supplying it to the public.
Black culture is a two sided coin, though. One side reflecting the positivity and intelligence of what blacks can bring to the table. On the other hand, we have another side, the deadly, seductive allure of the easy women, fast money and thugification.
Now I’m not against selling sex and giving what the people want but do the people even know what’s in their best interest? When our daughters are getting busy at the age of 11 and turning up pregnant, what did you expect when every song on the radio is about “making it rain” or “poppin’ it like its worth something?” With the music reflecting on the culture, this comes as no surprise that the environment is a good place to start when analyzing the source of the problem.
It’s sad to say that even when in recent events, Blacks seem to divert their attention onto trivial matters instead of our greatest accomplishments. The first African American woman, Gabriel Douglas, won the all around gold in gymnastics last week and the main conversations about her was her hair. Really? This is the matters that make me embarrassed about my people. A young beautiful black women achieves a feat that no sister has ever accomplished before and mainly blacks our on the front lines of this pointless debate. Cant we just be happy that she is an amazing athlete and broke records representing us? How can Black people as a whole be mad about our perceptions when were not looking at our behaviors as well? I bet Don Imus is laughing his ass off saying, “I told y’all they’re some nappy headed hoes!”
There is a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to our views to the public eye. Although we have our embarrassing stereotypes such as ratchetness and baby daddy drama, we also have a side of the fence which is much greener. Amongst the age groups of 18- 24, more black men are enrolled into college than in prisons. More black women vote than black males by 1%. Even since the mid 2000s, black women being incarcerated as decreased by 8.4%. Meanwhile, white women increased 51% during the same time period. With shows like Cops, its not shocking for the public to naturally assume blacks aren’t doing too well. [link for statistics]
A lot of statistics are also misconstrued because of relationship instability and racial profiling. We are three times more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested than any other race. This is not necessarily because of Blacks being the guilty parties, racial profiling is one of the major influences of these numbers. If Blacks were treated the same as whites the statistics would paint another picture.
All in all, it’s our job to heal ourselves as a people by ingraining into the minds of White America new views of the way we are treat ourselves and the way we portray ourselves, as well.
One way to stop the negativity is to focus our time on education instead of idolizing the images of a “baller” or “video vixen”. Basically, this terminology is just a sugarcoated way of saying “pimp” and “hoe.” Now, I am in no way, shape, or form saying that you should stop grinding and getting yours, in fact, get it anyway you can, but also remember that the fast life style is just that, fast. It always comes to an abrupt end either death or doing bids. Get what you can, focus on college or a trade. Do what makes you happy and if you don’t know what that is do some soul searching for your passions. No one likes to work a 9 to 5 but if you can make money off of your passions in a legal hustle it can make all the difference.
& for my sisters that are holding it down, not degrading themselves for a quick buck, keep doing you! We love you and without you, many of us – as young black men – may have never seen that positivity in a woman. Even Nas said he noticed this growing up in Queensbridge. He wondered why other parents weren’t as caring as his own mother. This is a problem in the ‘hood, and other communities as well, and it’s not all one parties fault. Nevertheless, it doesn’t excuse ignorance. In the end, its really up to you. Whether black, white, polka-dotted, or green, people make their own decisions. And its about time for us, as a people, to start growing up and making better choices for the great unknown ahead.
Words by Jayy Ghost