If you want a provocative comment about the Black community, turn to Charles Barkley. The NBA Hall of Famer made headlines last week when he addressed comments about Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson not being Black enough for his teammates. He said that African Americans are too concerned with street cred than true success and that’s holding the community back.
Whether he knew it or not, Barkley’s observations would also apply to the Hip Hop dilemma, which can be defined as the common distasteful physical emotional and/or mental trauma people experience when coming in contact with the Hip Hop Community.
While I agree with some of Barkley’s statement, I don’t believe this is a conversation that should target only at the uneducated, unsuccessful and unintelligent Blacks. It gives everybody with a college degree and some success under their belt a pass to point their fingers at the less fortunate in the community without taking a look at what part they play.
Let’s be honest, Russell Wilson is White America’s Black role model, rightfully so. Russell came in as a young, mixed race, quiet second-year quarterback and won the Super Bowl. He showed White America he knows how to play their game and he is good at it. Like Barkley, he had a White wife.
Naturally, the Black community generates hate for those type of achievements, which. Barkley was referring to when he said, “We as black people are never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people. When you are black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people. It’s a dirty, dark secret; I’m glad it’s coming out.”
Me, too. But let’s get it all out while we are on this topic. Unless the players on the Seattle Seahawks were drafted out of high school, they are college educated. It is so easy for us to generalize and say if you are a thug, an idiot or someone who breaks the law, you suffer from the crabs in the barrel syndrome. This is the Hip Hop dilemma. Blaming everything on people who look like the problem. Black people have a problem no matter what level they are on. And some of it is White America’s fault. And some of it is ours.
You have one group of Black people who climbed the success ladder from horrible living conditions, like Charles Barkley, but were determined to make something of themselves. Another group of Black people who most likely grew up with two parents in a predominantly White area, like Russell Wilson, and achieved success by following the rules to the American Dream. And you have a group of Blacks, like Colin Powell, who were raised during the Civil Rights Era and were taught it is their duty to succeed. And you have another group of Black people who are average achievers from humble beginnings and fake it till they make it (You know a lot of people like that). Lastly, you have a group of Black people, like Lil Wayne, whose trust and basic living needs were so terribly violated they only understand the rules to survival.
Every group is different and has its own set of values, essentially want the same things but were taught different ways to achieve them. There is so much caged energy and tension bottled up in the pursuit to become a successful earner in our community, because we think there is no blueprint or guarantee that success is inevitable so it becomes a dog-eat-dog competition among everyone. Most people are willing to sacrifice someone else for the sake of their own ascension and that is what is holding us back.
This mass confusion is further amplified by White people who think there is only one decent Black person in each category that they can trust except for successful athletes, entertainers and those who were raised under their regime. The problem arises when the Black person the White person decides to trust is given the power to oversee the progression of other Black people and ends up abusing the power in all areas. This mimics the slave plantation as it is centuries of mental torment that still dictate our actions.
The dark secret is the war that’s going on within the ranks of Black folks. Most Blacks are brainwashed into thinking the type of Black person they are is the only type of Black person there should be.
The ‘Fake it till you make it’ types are the biggest group and most dangerous ones because they live under a ‘Willie Lynch’ mentality. They take the role of representative for the group and act as an agent for other Blacks who feel they need an invitation to success.
The ‘civil rights’ type keeps everything in the Black community together by staying aware and recognizing past gimmicks that are passed over as new agendas. They never stopped marching and they never stopped protesting. They still carry the torch firmly and stand their ground on issues of race and inequality in America.
Jineea Butler, founder of the Social Services of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop Union, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet her at @flygirlladyjay.