Are You Jockin My Style?

by RIP

What is Culture? In my opinion this probably qualifies as one of the more vague questions that can be asked in today's world. Because in this era of one-sided opinions and diversity among the races, there are many different meanings to this question that exist. To some culture is the past or to word it contrarily, our heritage. The people, accomplishments and events of whatever nationality you were born into or to take it a step further the accomplishments of man in this world. Now I hope you realize to take that step is to fall into the perception that all individuals are seen as equals in this world. And to quote the brothers from Goodie Mob, "I'm Still Standing" so that's not happening to me anytime soon. Now let's move on. To some culture is what's happening now in the present. Many older traditions, which are viewed as being part of one's culture, that are recognized as being on the brink of becoming extinct are being nurtured by a new generation thus bringing forth an evolution into something greater than before. The evolution of Rap music to Hip-Hop is a perfect example. To compare Rap when it began with The SugarHill Gang and The Furious Five to Hip-Hop today with Wu-Tang, Organized Noize, No-Limit, Def Jam and what's left of Death Row is no comparison. To go from performing in shit hole clubs to selling out 80.000 seat arenas, million dollar videos and selling records all over the world in phenomenal. Who could not feel proud when the music purists were disappointed when The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, a Hip-Hop album, won album of the year at the Grammy's. It made me very proud just to watch because it was the evolvement of a part of my culture at one of its finest hours. It showed that when accepted and a passion to preserve it is born that culture will bloom vigorously for all to embrace and understand.

Now many of us have been blessed with the art of creativity in many different ways but in terms of culture can be very similar. It seems as if everyday a new style of art or expression is unveiled and absorbed by the mainstream with open arms. Another thing that must be realized is that everything that's new is not always good. As my grandmother used to tell me, "Everything that shines ain't gold!" and that is very true. In the midst of the new array of cultures being created we must not forget the ones that were here before we came.

Many feel that the past has nothing to do with our current culture but it impacts it greatly. It provides a history to what we believe in today. It provides the foundation in which beliefs are built on and expanded. As an individual you can become familiar with your culture by watching television, reading a book or visiting a museum but to truly understand or have some sense of what was created, history must be provided. This history comes from your elders and I'll tell you why. I believe in getting things, "straight form the horses mouth." Because you don't get old being no fool and what better way to learn about the past than to hear it from your family, friends or people who have a respectful opinion. Give me a choice between reading a book and sitting on the porch with my elders laughing at stories and digesting what they are telling you is no choice at all. And the sweet potato pie my grandmother made had no bearing on my decision, laughing. Listen, learn and take away all you can from their experiences because it's our job to expand on what they laid for our generation. It's a debt that must be repaid and all bounced checks will be restrained at the gate in the future believe me.

The responsibility of preserving culture also falls onto the shoulders of my generation. Not only must we expand the traditions and beliefs we are already enveloped in but we must also take the generation beneath us and hold their hand. We must not dry up their minds with thoughts of pity and self-doubt but saturate their souls with a culture that bypasses the lengths of our elders and the one we envision today as well. If we do not it can and will get unpleasant in the future days.

I'll give you an example. I was talking to my little 14-year-old cousin one day when I was at home taking a break from the grind. He was very curious about what I did in the military so I obliged him to a certain extent. I asked him what he wanted to do when he grows up. And even though it bothers me when people answer a question with a question, he didn't hesitate to ask me the same damn thing right back, laughing. I told him " I want to be like Alex Haley and write books" and he replied, "Why do you wanna be a crook?" Now as I slung the box of Q-tips at his ass to clean the wax out of his ears I thought to myself, "Does he even know who in the hell Alex Haley was"? Think about it for a second. Should a brother playing running back in football know who Jim Brown is? Should a brother playing basketball know who Julius Erving is? Should a brother trying to play tennis professionally know who Arthur Ashe is? Hell yes they should know who they are. He could tell me how many championships Da Bulls won with MJ and knows every player on the team but Alex Haley has never occurred to him at all.

The ironic part was that during a typical Black History Month report students have to give, who do you think he was given to write about? Even though some of yall are probably saying Bernie Mac or something like that, it was Alex Haley. I wasn't mad because at his age I wouldn't have known if Roots had not been on TV but that is the age we now live in. None of us will be the foremost activist on the revolving culture of the black race in America unless you make that your sole purpose in life and assume responsibility in that role. But just to have some sense of your culture is better than having nothing at all.

Whether you feel I said some "writeous" things in this article, felt I was trippin and babbling or you just didn't doesn't matter at all. You see what matters are the first three words that you read in this article. I'll repeat them so you don't have to leave your spot, "WHAT IS CULTURE?" When your able to answer that question and be comfortable with what it means to you then the job that I wanted to accomplish has been done and you never saw me coming. You know the routine.....Stay up and by all means stay black.

Are You Jockin My Style? by RIP

© Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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