As black male in this country, your word is probably more important than what’s in your bank account or what type of shoes you wear on your feet. No matter how trivial the betrayal is, going back on your word as black male can be seen as a death sentence. You have to be on top of your game at all times, giving the enemy no opportunity to use your transgressions against you. You have to have balance, you have to understand that while everybody is not out to get you, you’re still a target. Because of this, I had to shift gears, shying away from street nonsense and using my melanin to broaden my horizons.
Being a black male means I have to work harder, wake up earlier and pay close attention to my surroundings in order to be ahead of the game. Being a black male means that nothing is given to me and everything comes with a price. Being a black male means that I can’t limit myself, no matter what the rest of the world thinks. I had to shy away from thinking that all I would ever be is a rapper, entertainer or professional athlete. Even though I played sports as a child, I had no desire to take my talents any further than middle school. I had bigger plans, plans that would allow me to exert my blackness the best way I knew how: using my mouth. I’ve always been told I had the gift of gab and if you compound that with my ability to turn any and every conversation into a diatribe about the rules, regulations and conditions of being a black male in America, I was well on my way to being the next voice of my people. I dabbled in everything from school television to YouTube to radio, even though certain platforms weren’t an appropriate breeding ground for my ideas. My image as a conscious black man and my role as a student of the public school system often clashed, usually leaving me trying to explain myself out of an administrative referral.
I was never really a trouble maker in school; I just had a lot to say. When a topic I was familiar with presented itself, I wasted no time voicing my opinion. I spent a lot time getting put out of classes for voicing my controversial opinions on social issues. I had a problem with having to be politically correct, especially if the topic was race related. I didn’t understand how we could live in a free country but have our vocal creativity stifled. I would complain that the school system was designed to see black males fail and those who decided to rise up against the unfairness would be punished. It didn’t make sense that people were always complimenting my intelligence and then telling me I was wrong when I used that intelligence to say what it was I wanted to say. I got tired of people telling me what it meant to be a black male when it came down to not getting in trouble. There was always some rule I had to follow, I was always being told what I could and couldn’t say and I was always being told to watch my tone. My Mother used to tell me that people feared an intelligent black man and while I understood that, I wasn’t okay with NOT being able to demonstrate my intelligence just because other people couldn’t handle it. I wasn’t going to sell myself short and shy away from what I was passionate about just because people who look didn’t like me wanted me to be quiet. There were far too many martyrs and black folks who died for me to be able to express myself as a black man for me to sit up here and pretend like I have nothing to say.