>Yesterday I took responsibility for why our youth are confused, over-sexed, overly-aggressive, pissed off, waiting to explode, dropping out of school, and dropping out of life. I also made sure that the rest of my generation, and the generation before ours understood their role in this nonsense. If you didn’t believe me yesterday, maybe the added layers I am presenting today will help you see the light and the err of our ways.
So let’s continue….
Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy
We glorified the game of stripping and pimping. The movie “The Players Club” starring LisaRaye and Ice Cube was supposed to send a message- to educate females as to the harsh realities of stripping- instead it served as an enticement for girls to buy 6-inch clear heels, and guys to turn the $20 bills into ones- and folks got hooked!
Young ladies saw women making hundreds and thousands of dollars per night dancing and sliding down poles in strip clubs, and they convinced themselves- “I can do that too and get paid“. Guys saw the opportunity to watch well-oiled women partially or fully naked bobbing their heads and rears in well-choreographed routines- and they only had to be in some cases 18-years-old to participate.
Men watched the 1970s Blaxploitation film the “The Mack” one too many times in the 1990s and decided that they too could be Goldie. Somehow someway the annual Pimp of the Year awards ceremony took center stage and gave mainstream America a look into pimping. A career we used to despise pre-1990s, we now were embracing by 2000. We laughed at the thought of a pimp sending young girls and women out on the streets to have sex with strangers for money, and then having to bring that money back to the pimp- only to get a fraction of what was earned. What woman in her right mind would have sex for money and then give her money to a pimp? If I made $100 why would I settle for $20-40? The logic supposedly is the pimp takes care of you like daddy never did!
My generation decided it would be cool to ‘pimp our rides’ and put 20 to 26 inch wheels on our cars. Remember the spinners? Remember when we added Louis Vuitton and Gucci print interiors, and took “tricking out” cars well-beyond what our parents did to their cars in the 70s? Some of us also broke rapper E-40’s rule about ‘flossin’ when he said in the song Rapper’s Ball- “don’t buy an $85,000 car before you buy a house“. People had luxury cars sitting on the street outside their apartment or grandmother’s house- not a home they personally owned. This legacy has sadly been passed on to the younger generations.
Circa 2000, thanks to rappers and opportunists- the ‘Pimp Glass’ was making its way on to the scene, and people thought they would look so cool walking around with a huge goblet covered in various colored stones signifying their pimp status. I started noticing more men of my generation growing out their finger nails, pressing and perming their hair, wearing bright colored suits and shoes, and altering their walk and speech to appear to be more pimpish. They were imitating the men they grew up seeing on the streets in the 1970s and 80s. These men never considered their own daughters and how they would feel if they were prostitutes. Nope, it was all about “keeping that pimp hand strong“. Now there are regular Pimp-N-Ho parties in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, where men and women can dress up and role play for a night. Hmmmm, now we question the pimp and ho mentality of our youth. Really?
We Question the Dances We Encourage
We wonder why these younger generations are so vulgar and descriptive with their lyrics. We wonder how it is possible they can rap and sing about sexual acts so freely and that radio stations and cable networks have no problem playing the songs and videos. Say it with me, WE DID IT! My generation sold itself out. My parents generation gladly accepted us as sell-outs. Now we sit back and watch young girls old enough to be our kids popping their butts, gyrating their hips, and simulating sexual acts- and instead of being outraged- folks are tuning in!
Now we can click on a video on YouTube and watch complete strangers fight, perform lap dances, and do just about any bizarre thing they can imagine. I have seen parents recording their children ages two through 12 performing to Beyonce, Ciara, Usher, Trey Songz, Soldier Boy, and Nicki Minaj- when they should be dancing and singing Disney and Gospel songs. But instead I see their images all over YouTube and hear their parents in the background encouraging and coaching them.
I’m sorry, no child should be singing and performing the moves to Ciara’s “Ride” or Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” songs- and their parents shouldn’t be taping them…but…
We went from breaking, popping, locking, smurfing, and freaking to the New Jack era of dancing. Then we hit a period of time where guys stopped dancing- it was about sitting back and checking out the ladies. Then the theme went to, “gangstas don’t dance we boogie” and now you have half the guys still doing the smooth two-step and the other half doing the ‘stanky leg’ last year. I was relieved to see the Krump, Crunk, Buck, Hyphy, and Jerking movements hit the scene because it reminded me of how we danced in the 80s and early 90s. They also promoted the feel-good, laid back mindset that we once had. It was back to good ole’ dance competitions, and less sex-on-the-dance floor moments. But these youngsters aren’t totally free from the grips of our mania.
So we wonder why these generations that followed us are all screwed up? Just look in the mirror. Our generation is behind the ultimate success of MTV, BET, and Vh1. We are behind the spandex shorts, skirts, and dresses. We are behind the sagging pants and jeans- thanks to Eazy-E who in his 1988 song “We Want Eazy” when the girls yelled out why he wore his jeans that way, he said, “It’s for easy access baby“.
It’s our generation that highlighted and glorified ‘colors’, ‘sets’, and the life of gangs. We thought by yelling out and sharing what was happening in our neighborhoods that the world would take notice and that our government would do something to help clean up our streets. Instead we took gang-banging to wax and made millions off of telling stories of how we shot someone or got shot; how we saw Lil’ Re-Re “get blasted on” on the “‘Shaw” for ‘set trippin’. That image spread from the 1980s and youth across the country began wearing red and blue (and eventually yellow, green, and purple) representing the Los Angeles street gangs.
Do you recall the influx of gang-related movies that hit the screen in the late 1980s and 1990s? Every few months there was a movie based on either old-school Al Capone-type gangsters, or the new school version of the jerri curl, Dickies-wearing ‘gangsta’.
I remember in 1988 or 1989 hearing a kid claim Hoover Crip while another one claimed Piru Bloods and guess where they lived? Oklahoma City, Oklahoma!!! Who’s fault is that? My dang generation! In 1992 “The Chronic” enticed my generation to “take a toke but don’t choke” and beg their daddies and uncles for their old-school Impala, Monte Carlo, Camaro, and El Camino parked in the garage. I had friends who were shot and thrown in jail and prison by or before the age of 18. I have a childhood friend who is on death row right now, and I don’t mean the record label. He’s been locked up since 1992 and his case is gang-related. Whether guilty or innocent- he is a product of my generation’s mania.
Sex and violence sells. My generation tells the story. Our parents generation gets it sold and cuts us a check. The generations after us are busy killing each other off using sex, drugs, and guns. We have the nerve to ask how and why. The answer lies in us.
What are you willing to do to right our wrongs and to take our communities and our children back? There may not be much we can do for our generations who are strung out on crack and heroine, walking the ho stroll, swinging on slippery poles, or still gang-banging at 45. But we can do something to help those ages 25 and younger. There is something we can do to end this cycle of buffoonery, the persistent slave-mentality, the self-loathing, and to make sure our people aren’t still walking in the ‘wilderness’ for 40 years, waiting for salvation.
Natasha L. Foreman
Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.