Friday, August 18, 2006

free your mind

i heard a poem at the venue that got me to thinking.

i think that one of the biggest problems some black people face is a tendency to be too reactionary. i think this afflicts some in the well-to-do set just as bad as if affects some in the no-pot-to-piss-in set. the people who shop for thousand dollar hand bags and hundred dollar bags, and the people who carry canvas sacks and put edible products in their hair and smell like patchouli. but all of us are busy pointing fingers and looking down our noses at each other about the lifestyle choices we make.

this is difficult for me to explain, but let me break it down as best i can with some examples. just because christianity was introduced to the slaves as part of a self-important, myopic, eurocentric worldview (and because it helped to make the africans more docile), that doesn't mean that christianity itself is invalid. just because european descendants in this country are the favored majority and their worldview dominates the media, that doesn't mean that their values and way of life are suitable for everyone's happiness and well being. just because it's easier to get a job when you have a relaxer in your hair and you're able to speak english with their cadences and their octaves, that doesn't mean you have to look down your nose at people who choose to go to work representing themselves in another way, with ethnic hairstyle, clothing, and dialect. just because all your starving-artist type friends lock their hair, go vegetarian, reject organized religion, and wear famous black hero t-shirts, cowrie shells, and denim all the time, that doesn't mean that you have to do it to be an artist. some educated people are so cerebral and academic and social-climbing, they yield no benefit to their own people, but that doesn't mean that higher learning is a bad thing.

people take one extreme over another and think that they're better than others for it. they're too busy "keepin it real." real simple minded. it's like people pick their favorite stereotype and then slip right into its expectations in order to avoid being lumped in with some other stereotype they don't like as much. they don't want to be the lazy nigger, so they get some hustle and get all corporate and kill their spirit, when maybe if they'd examined their own goals instead of accepting someone's else prescribed plan for them, they personally would have been happy living life another way. they see hypocrisy in people who are steady claiming religion, so instead of searching out its principles and tenets for their own understanding, they just throw the baby out with the bathwater and walk around in self-righteousness, looking down their nose at the religious adherents who are doing the best they can with what spiritual knowledge they have. they're told negative things about their own people of another socioeconomic status, so they live their lives making sure that nothing they do or wear or say can be described as "ghetto," or "booghie," as the case may be.

oh yeah, just because there are many instances of this society rejecting you or your values, it doesn't mean that rejecting the society around us in turn makes any sense. i don't care how anti-establishment you are, you got bills and your kids have to eat. i don't care how much you hate what the police do and what they stand for, they will crack your head open if you disrespect them. some things are just damn stupid. you gotta eat if you don't wanna starve. you gotta pay taxes if you don't wanna go to jail. you gotta have shelter and clothing if you don't wanna die of heat exhaustion or hypothermia. there's only so much we can eschew "the white man's capitalism" no matter how much you hate the profits over people ethos of the corporations - nine times out of ten the people mouthing off the most about this are buying ivory that african elephants died for, wearing sandals made at slave wages in some southeast asian country all while their dollars go into a white-owned corporation's pockets ('cause we all know that blacks don't buy black). nothing is perfect. nobody is perfect. we all have a hard row to hoe. we each have to make choices on what we buy and why, and how integrated we want to be in the economy, and why.

but on a quality of life level, it's deeper than that. you deny yourself the joy of self-discovery and inner peace if you don't think for yourself. examine YOUR OWN conscience and whatever beliefs stir YOUR soul. i think you'll live life happier if you expend energy learning what type of work satisfies YOU. if you take the time to be honest about what kinds possessions and activities are enough for YOU? what personal standards of beauty are enough for YOU? why should you care what works for someone else? your mamanem included. we retard our mental and spiritual growth by fitting lifestyle options into these stereotypes, then we retard our community ethos by thumbing our noses at the people who make different choices than us. it's so frustrating to me.

i am at once a bohemian/black american princess/sorority girl/bookworm/hip-hop lover from the hood whose higher education receipts total about 200,000 dollars but whose favorite sneakers cost less than thirty. i have business suits and power pumps and i have an ankh necklace and egyptian musk purchased off the street. and whoever doesn't like it that i eat pork on my pizza and worship Jesus... well, let's just say i don't want to mix His name in this sentence with what i figure those people can go and do. i'm keeping my bacon bits unless i see fit to change that, and i'm keeping my bible unless i see fit to change that. i know who marcu.s g.arvey is, and i know the tax value of having a good retirement plan. i can put in extensions and jump double dutch, and i can do my own 1040s and understand my credit report. i eat out of bulletproofed chinese storefronts and places with menus and cloth napkins. i can quote both snoo.p d.ogg and the preamble to the Constitution. and i'm happy with myself and my own choices because i made them, not out of reaction to what others require of me, but because i am building my OWN life based on the knowledge i seek and on the back on my OWN choices. i know what type of life i want to live, what level of financial means is too little or too much for me to feel comfortable, and what type of work does and doesn't inspire me. i am taking responsibility for my own choices, instead of just reacting to others'. i wish more people would do the same. the Creator gave us minds and autonomy for a reason.