Since when has skateboarding become a standard by which we judge black masculinity? Prior to Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell Williams, you would not see skate culture—promotion of local skate shops, perfection of kick flips and ollies, etc.—in music videos. Back then, the culture had an explicit expression whether it was Mr. “Skateboard P” himself or Lupe’s “Kick, Push” video—featuring a series of images of Chicago’s skate spots.
14 year old black boy says: “I want to be one of the big black boys.”
14 year old black boy says: “So, I killed my black mother with a twelve gauge shot gun.”
Since when does killing your black mother make you a big boy? I know this is the Black Youth Project and we are advocates for black youth, but sometimes you have to pause and say, “Who told you son that killing your black mother would make you a man?” Have we cheapened . . . completely extinguished the experiences and voices of black boyhood that now to enter into black manhood, our sons must kill their mothers. Yes, kill their black mothers. Since when did killing black mothers become a Rites of Passage program? As a bone-a-fide black feminist who often writes about black women and black girlhood, we need to develop a national Rites of Passage program for young black men. And, yes, I know the issue is not simply behavioral that systems of oppression—racism, sexism, heterosexism, class, and many others—shape access to resources and definitions of manhood. But, when a black boy says, “I want to be one of the big black boys, So, I killed my black mother with a twelve gauge shot gun because she told me I could not play with them,” we need to develop quickly ways and outlets for young black men to know they have become men.
A few weeks ago, writer slash (cultural) critic slash Twitter all-star, Toure published a piece in the The New York Times about the allegedly recent flurry of white women rappers. From rehashing black respectability in an article about Michael Vick, to considering the black middle class in a discussion of the Obamas’ vacationing tendencies, Toure is no stranger to writing incendiary and ill-conceived articles. And this latest work is no different. Like the ones before them, this story generated a considerable amount of discussion on Twitter and other social media outlets where anyone with an internet connection can articulate her beef.
In the piece, Toure argues that even within a genre considered so hypermasculine and black, the combination of the largely white male demographic that listens to rap music and Americans’ overall obsession with blondes indicates that eventually–perhaps even soon and very soon–a white woman rapper or several will garner mainstream attention. Toure then goes on to list a small group of white women emcees who have gained some notoriety on the web.
THIS IS YOUR BYP WAKE-UP CALL!
Check out DMX’s classic music video for “Slippin’,” from 1998’s Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of my Blood, below.
People love to laugh and make light of X’s long, hard fall from grace; “Slippin'” is just one of the many reasons why it’s not funny. DMX gave a voice to a voiceless, forgotten generation of young people. And “Slippin'” was revelatory upon its initial release; a detailed, true-to-life account of one man’s struggle, that was and continues to be the struggle of many.
Please, please, PLEASE get better, X!