Just wakin' up in tha mornin', gotta thank God
I don't know but today seems kinda odd
- Ice Cube
I don't always have a ton of themes here on the blog but as the spirit moves me and the vibe hits me I will theme out a little bit. June is Black Music month so I'm going to celebrate Black artists over the next few weeks. It will be fun.
Y’all know I love a throwback so let's kick it off like that. One of my old favorites, It Was A Good Day by Mr. NWA himself, Ice Cube. I was in junior high school when this song came out and yes this was another one that was on cassette tape recorded off the radio with lyrics written in a notebook and memorized. I had the pleasure a few weeks ago to hang out with some of my more seasoned friends and in conversation I mentioned that even though my generation had gangsta rap, we still had respect, at least for the most part. We might whisper some things under our breath but we were not gonna yell and curse at an adult. That just was not the norm. These kids these days have terrible music and terrible attitudes which really saddens me. But back to the song. That mellow beat with these hard lyrics of what it means to be good in the hood was the perfect soundtrack to that moment in time.
It was during this time that I had become more aware of the things that were happening in my community. This was when I decided that I wanted to be a part of the change. I didn't know how but I knew that when I had the power to do something I would and I would do it loud and proud. It would be a few years later that I linked up with mentors through Mayor Marion Barry's summer youth employment program and begin to tap into my leadership abilities. I found out that I could impact what was happening around me by speaking up and eventually by voting. I loved it. I could do something that mattered in hopes of good days not being so odd.
Violence was still the norm though, whether it was fights in the streets or getting news that my cousin was shot in cold blood. Street life is so seductive. Money, cars, clothes, and power. More like the perception of power. Taking what you want and daring anyone to say something to you. How do you harness that? How do you control the urge or at least redirect it? How do you shift the mindset to apply that drive and those same leadership abilities to legitimate pursuits? It's a lot easier when there's a real life picture that kids in the hood can look to. Cube became that and I have to respect him for it. He went from getting beat up by the police, to screaming F the police, to being a headliner, employer, and household name. There's a whole new legacy attached to him now. That's what I want to see more of. But it's going to take those of us that made it out (not necessarily out of the hood because I still live there) to start showing up and speaking up. We have to take the time to talk to our young people about the different paths to success.
I was determined at a young age not to be a statistic so that meant choosing my friends wisely and doing well in school. Our young people need to know that now is the time; they can't put it off for tomorrow. I made it out alright. Out of that mindset, out of defeat, out of poverty. Hattie stayed on my butt and God had my back the whole way. I didn't fully appreciate it then, but the maker of the day is who made it good. Now I know. They need to know too. atb