Reproduction of the New Breed Leaders
by Vince Vanguard Vainglorious
When I was a young man I had a very bad temper. I wasn’t scared to yell and scream at anybody, any size. Whipped a lot of ass, got my ass whipped too, but usually by somebody older or bigger than me or more than one person. As I got older I was instructed by those who looked out for me, or those who had already tried to “go for bad” and failed that I should lose the temper because that was no way to succeed and I was too smart to wind up dead or in jail. So I did.
When I was a young man I was very competitive. I wanted to win at everything and I always did. I won at baseball, swimming, marbles, singing, spelling, reading, everything. I would even sulk if I wasn’t given the best Easter speech at church. I wanted the Lord, my mama, my teachers and the whole world to know I was the best. When I won others would lose and their mama’s and teacher’s and I guess the lord were watching too, so they would feel bad. So my mama and my teachers told me to let somebody else win s ometimes. I figured the Lord would also want me to. So I did.
Taking this advice kept me out of trouble, helped me win friends and influence people and helped me learn to make the necessary compromises to “make it” in the world. As I started off for college I was finally free to do whatever I wanted to and nobody could tell me anything anymore. Before I started school however, I was told that the reason it was so important that I learn to master the aforementioned skills was because it was my duty to make everybody proud and do something with my life. I was told that the best way to do this was to think about majoring in something where I could be useful, so I could get a “good job” and become somebody. So I did.
I wasn’t the only person given this advice. All of my peers who weren’t labeled as “bad” early on were given this or similar advice. The world had already knocked down, black balled, locked up and thrown away so many of our forebears who hadn’t heeded this advice, that knowing your place and keeping your cool were not just instructions for making it in the world but also kept you from getting killed. Making a habit of fighting injustice, not accepting second best and dreaming big dreams could be a recipe for disaster.
The thing they didn’t realize back then, my teachers, handlers and programmers of my youth is that life would be hard regardless and not making waves wouldn’t make it any better. My generation stands at the beginning of the 21st century having gained the American dream while losing the Black collective consciousness. We have made life better for our children by having no ties to the Black community. We dress so fresh and ride so clean that we can no longer stop somebody on the corner from robbing an old man or give an old lady at the bus stop a ride going to some job like the one our mothers worked to pay for our education. We are so scared of losing the little that we have gained that we have become a generation of worriers not warriors.
If I had a son now I would try to instill in him the habits that lead to freedom not success. I would tell him to fight and shout down wrong whenever he thought he was right. I would tell him that winning isn’t everything but, he should always try to win if he could. Most importantly I would tell him that he should always do what he thought was best for him and to defy anybody who tried to deny him of that, including me.
Our generation was taught to speak the “King’s English” stay out of trouble and to comb your hair, lace up your shoes and pull up your pants. So we did. We now have “good jobs” nice cars and families. Jobs that we have to drink four cups of coffee and smoke 17 cigarettes a day to get through. Cars that we spend more time taking care of than our kids. Our families don’t spend any time together because mommy don’t get home ‘til 7 and daddy’s too tired to talk. The kids don’t know what Daddy does for a living but, they know how many times “Fiddy” got shot.
My generation often find themselves perplexed that their daughters want to date “dopeboys” and their sons want to be thugs. We say it’s because of the media, the mall and “the man”. Maybe it’s none of these, maybe it’s because they are really good kids and have listened to their parents well. I would be rich myself if I had a dollar for every time I heard an adult pronounce that it was “all about that dollar bill.” The “hip-hop generation” of today has grown up in an environment where materialism is the only value that has been passed down to them by their forebears. They have also learned by observing their elders that timidity, passivity and servility only gives birth to lack of respect. While they may lack a sense of community and purpose, they possess an awareness that they should be self determined and aren’t afraid to take on the “man” rather than beg for his wages. It is easy for us to label these young men thugs because they have criminal records, no college degrees and no jobs. To the young ladies though, often raised by a single mother in a hungry household, the brother who goes to his “trap” everyday often has enough money for his babies, his “baby mama” and even her mama, something her Daddy was never able to achieve with a job.
This is usually where I’m supposed to say “although I make no excuse for their behavior.” Not this time. Because it‘s not just the younger generations that have done things that need excusing. The generations that created no jobs for them. The generations that steal so much money from our colleges that they have to close their doors. The generations that continue to accept that you have to work harder because you’re Black. The generations that still believe our salvation lies in the Voting Rights Act. The generations that are still hoping for a Black President. The generations of Black women that tell their daughters to do anything to get a man then throw them out of the house when they get pregnant. We have passed down from generation to generation the fine arts of subservience, passivity, self sabotage and cowardice. To paraphrase Dr. Phil, “Gee golly gosh Black people, your teen pregnancy rates are rising, the numbers of young men in prison is skyrocketing and you still feel you have to march for voting rights, How’s that working out for you??????”