That “Nigga” Gene…

Interesting enough is the particular identification with the “ghetto”, or “hood”. This internalizing of poverty as an expression of “survivor”, you know(won’t go away without effort, I swear)? There is this sense of achievement of just saying you lived in a particular neighborhood, even if the person is still living there. Many have this need to blame the environment, and yet are determined to hold on to it. Define themselves by it.

There is a major sense of pride that comes with that. In the same way that soldiers or people who have been in the military during occupations and wars might point to a medal, or mention the particular operations they were a part of. We even hear it, “I’m a ghetto vet”. Now, would that be a domestic occupation? And for some, being a “thug” is an occupation! And although I’m being slightly facetious, there is something in A) the reality for some that there is a war occurring on US soil, and B) the overall comodification of the urban male/female image.

To be certain, it would be wise of us to realize that the image isn’t a new one. Nor is it for the most part an organic one as opposed to a manufactured one. The same sorts of behavior projected through time that were once used to make the American Black seem animal like, or less civilized, have been used to criminalize them. What would once be considered highly offensive, propagandistic, and in many ways inhumane, is now widely accepted as the way it is. It is just “keeping it real”. In many ways it is a pattern of how some might even want it. For some, it is just a joke, depending on who is telling it of course.

Granted, the notion that stereotypes are exaggerations of possible truths may have some validity. The roles that we choose to adopt to express native ability, or even gender, are often given to us by those who have an interest in promoting a particular image. There is market for a Queen Latifah to be a cover girl, or even for women to adopt the ideal of “Barbie”. There is something telling when we see a personality such as Monique exerting herself, comically or otherwise, to replicate the movements of Beyonce. As if to say yes, it is “F— skinny b—-es, but we still can dance like you.”

So, it would seem as though, if the stereotype doesn’t apply, or if the role presented by the image is difficult to maintain, a certain insecurity is developed. In that insecurity it seems that overcompensation occurs. Or humiliation, whichever comes first. Even in a Kanye West, a black male rap icon that admits to dressing like a homosexual there is a need to reflect the images of what might be the stereotypical rapper. Although, Kanye is in a league of distinguished gentlemen, we find him posing with his hands on his girlfriend’s butt holding a bottle Hennessey. Later in the same night, after possibly enjoy the said bottle cognac, he upstages, as part of his normal award show routine, Taylor Swift while giving her acceptance speech.

For black males in the urban community there is no Marlboro man to consider. But there is the “real nigga”. Not only is there the difficulty of simply being a man, and whatever standards come with that, there is the need to push beyond “real” man, into a role that society has been taught to fear. The athletic professional must not only be skilled in the techniques of their sport, but highly aggressive, demeaning, and often wrought with a lifestyle that mimics rappers mimicking what is perceived as the drug lord’s lifestyle. Which can get confusing these days, as many drug lords are mimicking rappers and athletes.

The need to not only possess that traits commonly held as masculine, there seems to be the desire to adopt the projected roles. You can’t just be highly talented basketball player, you’ve got have guns, and be seen with an entourage of “friends” from the dreaded “hood”. You can’t just be a brilliant scholar, a political phenom, a gifted orator, you’ve also got to have Ludacris on your ipod, play basketball, walk with a limp, and eat at the local grease pit. You can’t just hold a phd in theology or philosophy, and boast of intelligent works, you’ve got to be able to recite Nas’ discography.

Even as the black man with the most respect and fear in the world, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit the description. You’ve got to have that nigga gene…

8 thoughts on “That “Nigga” Gene…

  1. whew! i love reading your blogs for the following reasons:

    1) you blog practically every day (inspiring me to do the same- mental note checked)
    2) relevancy and timeliness of topics
    3) the mind of the young, black, conscious, intelligent mind is revealed – edgy, ballsy, gritty, raw

    i hope my commenting on every blog you post does NOT grant me “stalker” status. LOL but these discussions are much needed, ongoing would be optimal!

    instead of posting another blog in your comments section (lol), i’ll reserve my own thoughts for my own…may i reference this post in a link?

    but i did want to thank you for outlining the many ways that nigga gene shows itself and how others in white lab coats will poke and prod until they find it…

    my question: how do we stop breeding this gene?

    1. I’m glad you enjoy the posts enough to comment!

      I would love for you to post the link on your twitter stream, feel comfortable!!

      I also think that it is best to have commentary. These are only my thoughts, however insightful they maybe. I would like everyone to comment and find interesting things to say. I don’t mind if it is just to say “hi!” from time to time.

      I’m not always sure. Some of what we see is going to be cultural. Unfortunately, for American Blacks that is not going to always be as uniform, as say Jewish culture. There is a difference between a stereotype, and a cultural expression. If we continue to identify with the myths and the stereotypes, and if it continues to be a market(commodification) of the style expressed, it is going to be hard to stop mimicking it. So, I say there has to be a “paradigm shift”, obviously something bigger than Obama. I remember Jesse Jackson, Jr. putting on his “cool pose” after the election. We are modeling behaviors, and it is difficult to know when to acculturate and when to assimilate, but overall the need for new images and role constructs to model is necessary. There is also a necessary education, a realizing that many of the styles we imitate and claim as being “black” are actually imitations of caricature that have been rejuvenated throughout the centuries by various means.

      I don’t think we are going to alter conforming people, there seems to be enough evidence to suggest that that is going to occur. But if no one believes the behavior to be sufficient for anything but the superficial, especially in the market place, then we might see some changes. Of course, that more than anything, means checking the “nigga gene” within our individual lives.

  2. whew! i love reading your blogs for the following reasons:

    1) you blog practically every day (inspiring me to do the same- mental note checked)
    2) relevancy and timeliness of topics
    3) the mind of the young, black, conscious, intelligent mind is revealed – edgy, ballsy, gritty, raw

    i hope my commenting on every blog you post does NOT grant me “stalker” status. LOL but these discussions are much needed, ongoing would be optimal!

    instead of posting another blog in your comments section (lol), i’ll reserve my own thoughts for my own…may i reference this post in a link?

    but i did want to thank you for outlining the many ways that nigga gene shows itself and how others in white lab coats will poke and prod until they find it…

    my question: how do we stop breeding this gene?

    1. I’m glad you enjoy the posts enough to comment!

      I would love for you to post the link on your twitter stream, feel comfortable!!

      I also think that it is best to have commentary. These are only my thoughts, however insightful they maybe. I would like everyone to comment and find interesting things to say. I don’t mind if it is just to say “hi!” from time to time.

      I’m not always sure. Some of what we see is going to be cultural. Unfortunately, for American Blacks that is not going to always be as uniform, as say Jewish culture. There is a difference between a stereotype, and a cultural expression. If we continue to identify with the myths and the stereotypes, and if it continues to be a market(commodification) of the style expressed, it is going to be hard to stop mimicking it. So, I say there has to be a “paradigm shift”, obviously something bigger than Obama. I remember Jesse Jackson, Jr. putting on his “cool pose” after the election. We are modeling behaviors, and it is difficult to know when to acculturate and when to assimilate, but overall the need for new images and role constructs to model is necessary. There is also a necessary education, a realizing that many of the styles we imitate and claim as being “black” are actually imitations of caricature that have been rejuvenated throughout the centuries by various means.

      I don’t think we are going to alter conforming people, there seems to be enough evidence to suggest that that is going to occur. But if no one believes the behavior to be sufficient for anything but the superficial, especially in the market place, then we might see some changes. Of course, that more than anything, means checking the “nigga gene” within our individual lives.

  3. so much here to respond to. i will reflect on each point. for now, yes, yes, and yes! lol i just can’t WRITE enough. it gets so convoluted…

    in the meantime, may i direct you to the current RO article on bill maher’s skit about Obama…i immediately thought about your discussion and thought it was somewhat relevant….same stereotype/cultural shift (a la “hip hop generation” “urban markets”) – regardless if it’s done in humor, i find the fact that some blk folks are chiming in SUPPORT of accepting the joke/excusin/giving “black” passes alarming and telling at the same time. i just cant wrap my mind around it. i cannot embrace the lameness:

    http://bit.ly/b5e3JM

    thank you for granting permission. i was actually referring to my personal blog. i’d like to do an entry about this and refer back to your blog. but i will certainly most tweet these discussions…

    bless..

    1. The media controls the discussion.

      Yes, this is actually one of the inspirations for the article. That and a recent Boondocks episode. I am not into the debate of what a “joke” consists of, and there is plenty of evidence, psychological and historical that point to the use of jokes to convey ideas and personal truths. I do want people to consider the imagery being given. Many of those who seek to defend Maher, show outrage when Rush Limbaugh makes the same sorts of jokes. The argument is that one is a comedian the other is not. I beg to differ. Furthermore, there seems to be a desire for many black males to hold on to the “nigga gene”, myself included, although I am working against it in some ways. I don’t want to be rid of “black culture”, but it ought to be examined as another culture will.

      Oh, by all means!! If you would like to post it on your blog, please do!

  4. so much here to respond to. i will reflect on each point. for now, yes, yes, and yes! lol i just can’t WRITE enough. it gets so convoluted…

    in the meantime, may i direct you to the current RO article on bill maher’s skit about Obama…i immediately thought about your discussion and thought it was somewhat relevant….same stereotype/cultural shift (a la “hip hop generation” “urban markets”) – regardless if it’s done in humor, i find the fact that some blk folks are chiming in SUPPORT of accepting the joke/excusin/giving “black” passes alarming and telling at the same time. i just cant wrap my mind around it. i cannot embrace the lameness:

    http://bit.ly/b5e3JM

    thank you for granting permission. i was actually referring to my personal blog. i’d like to do an entry about this and refer back to your blog. but i will certainly most tweet these discussions…

    bless..

    1. The media controls the discussion.

      Yes, this is actually one of the inspirations for the article. That and a recent Boondocks episode. I am not into the debate of what a “joke” consists of, and there is plenty of evidence, psychological and historical that point to the use of jokes to convey ideas and personal truths. I do want people to consider the imagery being given. Many of those who seek to defend Maher, show outrage when Rush Limbaugh makes the same sorts of jokes. The argument is that one is a comedian the other is not. I beg to differ. Furthermore, there seems to be a desire for many black males to hold on to the “nigga gene”, myself included, although I am working against it in some ways. I don’t want to be rid of “black culture”, but it ought to be examined as another culture will.

      Oh, by all means!! If you would like to post it on your blog, please do!

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