By Barney Blakeney
For the past few days I’ve been bobbing my head to the beat of a tune I hear on the radio by Lil Duval, Snoop Dogg and Ball Greezy titled ‘Smile (Living My Best Life)’.
I got hooked on the beat and I like me some Snoop Doggy Dogg! But I don’t have the best sound equipment so I never could understand what the heck they were saying.
Ya’ll know us old folks can’t understand what the h-e- double hockey sticks those young’uns are saying in them songs. But I was so moved by the beat I decided to find out who are the artists performing along with Snoop and what it is they’re saying.
Modern technology allows us to find out almost anything. I Googled the song and came up with a run down on the artists and the song’s lyrics. Man, you talk about some raunchy stuff!
I use some flowery language myself, but the stuff those guys say on that recording made me flinch. Though I believe in the saying ‘a rose by any name is just as sweet’, some language I reserve for certain company.
Despite the language however, I think the message of the song is poignant. I think the artists are saying a lot of stuff goes on that doesn’t have a positive effect in our lives. People do ignorant stuff, often unscrupulous stuff, and expect you to support it.
When you don’t, you get castigated. In the refrain, Lil Duval responds to the bullcrap saying, “I ain’t goin’ back and forth with you N-words.” The song’s gritty lyrics reminds me of the challenges we often face and decisions we must make when we refuse to go along with the selfish, self-destructive programs some of our so-called leaders present. My mom used to tell me everybody who says they’re your friend ain’t really your friend. People will smile with you, act nice to you and even show you a little kindness. But at the end of the day it ain’t about you, it’s about their agenda. They want something from you that satisfies their own needs. You’re just the means to an end.
Black folks, my folks, my beloved people are such kind souls. I think generally, Black folks are a good-natured people, a hopeful people, and a trusting people – always anticipating the best of others. Some people – even our own people – take advantage of that.
Over the past several decades I think some of our own people have taken advantage of us. Some of those folks were calculating and unscrupulous, others I think were well-meaning, but ill informed. At any rate, the net result has been that the collective condition of Black folks has remained virtually unchanged for generations!
I recently read an article about Civil Rights activist Angela Davis’ visit to Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. The inimitable Mr. James Campbell last year introduced me to the center’s Academic Director, Dr. Lisa Brock who worked on Avery Institute’s racial disparity report. One of the things that most impressed me about the article was Davis’ comment that Black folks fail to plan long term. She said stuff she’s doing today may not come to fruition for another 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years!
I’ve been in the newspaper business for over 40 years and I’ve covered Black leadership in our little hamlet for all those years. I’ve seen ‘em come and go. Some were pretty good, some were not so good and some were just plain stupid! I’ve seen Black leadership pump us up with fake crap, shiny crap and bullcrap. And through all of that crap Black folks, in their typical goodness, trusted those negroes hoping for the best. Here we are 40 years later, and for most of us, things haven’t changed. I’ve been singing this tune a long time – Black folks need leadership with vision!
I get it that Black leadership faces some overwhelming challenges. I realize in most cases Black leaders are outnumbered and out-resourced. That’s why we need leadership with vision – people who know how, or at least can figure out how to meet and overcome those challenges. Black folks cannot afford to accommodate selfish, self-enterprising egotistic leadership.
Charlene Carruthers, who joined Davis at Kalamazoo College, is founding national director of Black Youth Project 100. She argued the importance of 40-year/50-year strategies. To make that happen we need to put leadership with that kind of vision in place today. We must get past the era when we elevated folks just because they look like us.
We must identify thinkers and visionaries and elevate them. As for these folks who really don’t know or don’t care about moving the needle forward, we don’t need to be going back and forth with them people.