“Perception shouldn’t be everything but it is…”
The Black man was, is, and always will be stereotyped as Public Enemy number one in America. In the autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Ernest J. Gaines stated in reference to fear that, “You got people out there with this scar on their brains, and they will carry that scar to their graves. The mark of fear is not easily removed.” No statement can better describe the feeling that some close-minded people in America share when it comes to the black man in this country. My question is what caused that perception, what continues to cause that perception, and what can we do from this day forward to change that perception.
I look at a case like that of Trayvon Martin; tragedy beyond measure, a tragedy that isn’t about what article of clothing was being worn but about the color of a young man’s skin. What about being a black man causes you to be racially profiled? What about being a black man causes you to be stereotyped and looked upon as being suspicious or up to no good if seen in a neighborhood that you may not be from? I wonder if we as black men perpetuate a lot of these negative stereotypes and increase people’s fear of us by wearing our hair a certain way, putting gold grills in our mouths, sagging our pants off our asses, or getting tattoos all over our faces. We are already perceived as a threat for being a black man but do we make it worse by how we choose to dress and alter our physical appearances? Our culture, the Hip Hop culture is one that glorifies and celebrates the “gangsta” lifestyle. We take pride in being goons and embrace the “Thug Life” so who’s to blame when someone of another race lumps us all into one category and comes to a conclusion about our character based on the color of our skin and the way we are dressed?
90% of all rappers must look like threats to people who have the same mind state as George Zimmerman. If a hoodie is making us look suspicious then I don’t even want to know what face tattoos make us look like. That’s why as ignorant as it came off, I understood what Geraldo Rivera was trying to say on Twitter the other day. To blame Trayvon Martin’s death on a hoodie was just stupid, Geraldo was out of his muthafucking mind for saying that because it wasn’t about the hoodie it was about a 6’3 black man in a hoodie that scared the shit out George Zimmerman. If Trayvon Martin was a young white man in a hoodie, I’m sure George Zimmerman wouldn’t have followed him and this wouldn’t even be an issue, but what Geraldo was trying to say was black men are already looked upon as threats and the way we look or dress can increase peoples fear of us.
How many times growing up did some adult tell you pull your pants up so you don’t look like a thug? Ladies, how many times growing up did your mom tell you not to put on that short dress or those revealing clothes because it makes you look like a hoe? The reason for that is because they understood perception is everything. Perception shouldn’t be reality but actually it is. People don’t know you; they don’t know what you’re about. They are going to judge you based off what they believe, what they have heard, or what they have encountered previously with those who look like you. A hoodie is just fashion to most but to some racist ass, close-minded people a hoodie on a black man is the uniform of a criminal. We have to keep in mind that America frequently has a problem recognizing perception vs. reality especially when it comes to issues involving race. I can change the way I dress to look less threatening but I can’t change the color of my skin so if the real issue is the color of my skin what’s the point of changing the way I dress?
Should we stop dressing like “hoodlums” because we are doing ourselves a disservice? Is it up to us to try to make other races feel comfortable coexisting with us on this planet? Do we say, “Fuck them, racism is your problem. If you choose to be a close-minded racist and judge me based on the color of my skin or the way I’m dressed then that’s on you?” Personally that’s how I feel but when cases like Trayvon Martin pop up, it’s like whoa, should we be teaching our kids that some people are already scared of you because of the color of your skin so let’s not do anything to make them anymore fearful. It doesn’t seem fair but is it necessary? Blacks in general have to work harder than everybody else just to make a decent living in this society but do we now have to work harder than everyone else to prove that we are not a threat and that whether we look like Wacka Flocka or Barack Obama that we come in Peace?
The issue here isn’t clothes people, the issue here is racism. It is 2012 racism is played the fuck out. That shit is so out of style especially for 80’s and 90’s babies. We grew up listening to the same music, living the same culture which is hip hop, we go to school together, we wear the same clothes, we date each other, and we fuck each other. I truly do not understand anyone that grew up in the 80’s or 90’s that could possibly be racist. Situations like the Trayvon Martin case not only remind us that racism is still alive and well in America but it also creates a clear divide and lack of trust in our fellow Americans. Sure there are plenty of people here in America who don’t deserve our trust. There are good people and there are bad people, it’s hard to trust anybody now-a-days because people are crazy and when I say crazy I mean George Zimmerman. Trust is hard earned some counsel us to trust no one. It may seem like the smartest thing to do is to think the worst of others and never let our guard down but the truth to the matter is if we can’t learn to trust each other, we are doomed. In trusting, we can help others, and later they can help us. Trusting admits the good in people. Americans of all races need to feel solidarity; without trust, there is none.
Trayvon Martin is dead because George Zimmerman is a racist prick who doesn’t trust in people that don’t look like him and believes they have to be up to no good. Would he have followed Trayvon if he was in a suit and tie carrying an umbrella? I don’t know and neither does Geraldo Rivera, but like I said earlier, does it matter if the problem is the color of my skin and not what I’m wearing? We need to start asking three very important questions when it comes to the negative perception that some people have of black men 1) what causes the perception? 2) What continues to cause that perception? 3) What can we do from this day forward to change that perception? The Black man was, is, and always will be public enemy number one. It doesn’t matter if you have a clean police record or a long list of felonies, it doesn’t matter if you’re a drug dealer or if you have a college degree, and it doesn’t matter if you are wearing a suit and tie or a hoodie. Some people will always have that fear and negative perception of the black man. Trayvon Martin is just another name in a long list of black men who have been murdered unjustly because of the color of their skin. Emmitt Till, Sean Bell, who’s next? If we can’t find an answer for the three questions I just asked the answer might be you.
–Charlamagne Tha God (@CthaGod)