A Kaleidoscope View of African-American Culture

You see that little boy in that video with his staunch bravado? His overcompensation of masculinity? His determination to be heard by deepening his little five or six year old voice? That little boy has generated over half a million comments on Facebook. And, I must say, I don’t like what the majority of those comments said regarding him or black culture.

To be perfectly honest, and I admit this as someone who is both conscious but understands that a man who knows nothing knows nothing at all, I laughed at the little guy. Many comments condemned him to a grave before his teenage years, many comments gave him a prison number, and many .gif documents labeled him an atrocity to black people. However, the resounding comments accused this little boy of making an entire race look bad and most of those comments were written by African-Americans.

As African-Americans we often fight against being seen as a monolithic group of people. We often argue that all African-Americans should not be seen through one lens, because just as other races are valued as individuals who encompass an array of talents, beauty, morals, values, etc. we want to be seen the same way.

We continue to say we want a kaleidoscope view of African-American culture. That means when we are evaluated as a race we want everyone to see the various designs, the various body types, the various backgrounds, the various attributes, etc. that detail African-Americans as a race. Because, indeed, we are very different people who have various types of backgrounds and experiences. But, when one little boy exudes the attitudes and bravado of what he has learned in the same communities from which some of us stem, we say he makes US look bad.

I have a problem with that because we often take a unified approach when something “negative” is presented in regard to race such as when a homeless, black person who has missing teeth and broken English is seen on the news, but when asked if you (you referencing the general idea of the Black race) will donate to a cause such as a non-profit organization that will assist black males with skills that will help them be successful you neither have the cash nor the time.

We often jump to criticize the reality of our race, but do not often put in the work make the change we want to see. And, by no means, is what I’m expressing here today news to anyone; however, sometimes it’s good to be reminded of the things we think we know.

When I saw this video I saw a potential black leader in our community. He has learned how to be confident, he understands what it means to take control and he explained to the young girl he was speaking with (as that was NOT his mother he was speaking to) his position as a father, if he were the father (assuming they were playing house or whatevs [insert Zach Galifianakis joke here]). Albeit, all of the attributes I saw in him may have been misguided by his parents or those around him who may not understand the dynamics of the sociology of family and gender roles, but he still had an understanding that as a man he wanted to be in control.

A great deal of young black men take a backseat to being husbands and fathers, leaders in their communities, and/or leaders in a career field because when they are young and they act out such as this young man they are beaten or told not be so aggressive–to shut up and sit in a corner. Often, that happens because mothers understand what happens to aggressive young, black men. But, no one couples that message with how to effectively exercise masculinity and leadership. Every man, even at the age of three or four or six or ten, should be able to effectively exercise his masculinity and show aggression through leadership, but it is our responsibility to show them how.

Don’t denigrate. I was about to end that sentence to say without providing other ways for them to exercise it, but that sentence is enough. DON’T DENIGRATE. Those comments should’ve said, “WOW! That young man is really powerful and he has learned some great aspects about gender roles, but hey, maybe his parents need to fine tune how he does it.”

Well, something to that degree, but you understand my sentiments.

If we don’t have a kaleidoscope view of our culture, how do we teach others to do it. If the expectation is that we are not a monolithic group of people, we then cannot address issues, especially those that may encourage negative reviews, as a monolithic group of people.

Kaleidoscopes are beautiful beams of light that show so many different shapes, colors, and the way they interchange with each other to provide the viewer with an experience of awe should be the same way we are seen around the globe.

For we are such an amalgamation of variousness (I’ll send my definition to Merriam Webster for this particular word I coined) and it should be appreciated just as kaleidoscopes once were.

J.Prince, Princepality 89


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