What Gangsta Culture Says About Black America
It is the most confounding cultural evolution I’ve ever seen: the utter denigration of a race, paid for by the very race that is being denigrated. The accepted social norms of Dr. King’s day were bowed, broken, yassuh Negroes. I can’t begin to imagine the sadness Dr. King might feel to see what we’ve done with the hard-won freedoms granted us by the sacrifices of our fathers: to walk around in public with our underwear showing and call that a “social statement.” If you look at these knuckleheads, that’s what you see: stooped shoulders, bowed heads, shuffling. Can’t articulate the language. Yassuh. The best thing you can do for your children is to instill within them a sense of uniqueness. Of singularity. Only, that's not what's happening. We who are called of God, who claim to know Him and be led by Him, have left our children in Egypt.
Why is it that there is a gun shop
on almost every corner in this community?
The Old Man:
I'll tell you why. For the same reason that there is a liquor store on almost every corner in the black community. Why? They want us to kill ourselves.
Laurence Fisburne as Furious Styles from Boyz N The Hood. Copyright © 1991 New Line Cinema.
A young man shuffled past me last night,
all but unable to walk properly as his jeans were bunched up
around the back of his knees, the crotch of his pants hanging
low around his thighs. Seeing nonsense like that sends me into
an instant rage. I wanted to grab this kid, shake him, “Idiot!
Pull your pants up !” And, if I thought such an outburst would
actually do any good, I’d be happy to make it. My second impulse
was to hunt down this kid’s parents. This fad—called “sagging”
and derived from penitentiary lifestyle—has endured far longer
than I could have possibly imagined. For about ten years, now,
the “style” among young urban blacks has been to cinch their
pants well below their waistline, exposing some part of their
boxers or briefs. This insane and inexplicable dress code, for
which I can’t possibly imagine the attraction, has escalated to
the now-common practice of exposing the entire set of buttocks,
thus revealing the entirety of the young man’s underpants. These
young men (they are, for the most part, teens and young adults)
look utterly and completely ridiculous. Worse, they look
ignorant. They reinforce racist stereotypes about black people
as they shuffle along, cotton-clad buttocks exposed. I cannot
fathom the attraction of this look, how some idiotic kid looks
himself in the mirror, hangs his butt out and determines this to
be a good thing. Worse, these young people seem wholly
indifferent to what this look says about them and about their
parents. This look says we’ve lost control of our children.
says we’ve given our children over to Pharaoh, that we’ve handed
them over to Satan. It says God Is A Liar or, worse, that
does not exist. And, much as I loathe this behavior, much as I
want to lash out at these gangsta wannabes, the people I find
most fault with are the parents.
Pagan symbols and piercings constitute a rebellion against God, which is by definition witchcraft. Right before your eyes, your sons, even your daughters, putting arcane markings on their bodies, throwing up cryptic hand symbols: beloved, this is idolatry. Witchcraft. Practiced in your home. Right in your face. If my four-year old were throwing up gang signs—even benign “peace” signs—behavior he’s seen glorified on TV, I’d break his hands. I would. Don’t you ever let me catch you throwing up signs again. I’d put a hammer through every TV in the house before I’d lose my son to this nonsense. And yet, most Church Folk I know are completely, I mean totally, unconcerned about any of it, dismissing this witchcraft—which is precisely what it is—as normal adolescent rebellion or a fad. It is neither.
Allowing your son to glorify prison life, to make heroes out of felons, to aspire to be a hardened criminal, to actually make a goal of incarceration, is the most pernicious and heinous kind of cowardice I can imagine. It is a complete abandonment of your responsibility as a parent, an abdication of your role as mentor and your duty to model conduct and behavior that glorifies God. Every time you allow your son to waddle out the door with his pants halfway down his thighs, all tatted-up with multiple piercings, a colorful bandana in his back pocket, you are handing him over to Satan. Your cowardice at failing to confront this evil shouts to the world that you do not, in fact, know Christ, that you are no part of Him. For, if God were in fact within you, you’d put a stop to this mess or die trying.
G. Craige Lewis pointed out an important lesson
in Exodus where Pharaoh repeatedly tempted God by refusing to
allow the children of Israel to go worship God in the desert.
Israel was unable to satisfy the holiness requirements of
sacrificial worship in a land dominated by pagan gods and ruled
by Pharaoh, a king who was himself recognized as a god. After having
suffered several plagues because of God’s wrath, Pharaoh
relented, allowing Israel to go but only on the condition that
they leave their children in Egypt. This way, Pharaoh would
guarantee his slave workers’ return or, should the men of Israel
choose to run away, Pharaoh had Israelite women and children
with which to breed a new generation of slaves. Lewis aptly
points out this is precisely what the world is doing right now:
breeding a new generation of slaves. The foolishness of this
gangsta hip-hop movement is that young people either don’t
realize, don’t care, or refuse to acknowledge that, past the
bling-blinging semi-literate “artists” voguing for the camera,
there are ultimately giant corporations owned and run in the
majority by white stockholders. The most powerful gangsta
celebrities couldn’t get a job in the mailroom of any of these
places, let alone be invited into the executive suite. These
gangstas—Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross. Mush Mouth and all
the rest are minstrels, modern day extrapolations of the
ignorant, grinning slapstick entertainers, exploited by whites, who traded in their
dignity for pennies tossed into a hat. White corporate America,
which profits by extreme ratios, earning many, many times the
income of even the top stars, laughs at these foolish young
people. While lavishing them with money and feigned accolades,
the dynamic remains precisely the same: ragged, illiterate
darkies dancing around a hat white folks toss coins into.
If I take Elder Lewis’s point, we who are called of God, who claim to know Him and be led by Him, have left our children in Egypt. We holler down a hallway, “Son, are you coming to church this morning?” and, receiving no answer or a negative one, content ourselves to go about our morning of hollering and sweating and rolling in the aisles, content that we are somehow serving God.
But we’ve abandoned our children to Pharaoh.