As part of America’s commitment to read more in the 21st century, each month I will write a commentary with respect to issues that affect readers from a social, cultural and psychological viewpoint. This month’s submission is titled:
Will the hip-hop culture be in existence50 years from now? That depends on whether thehomies orhomeboyz,choose to remain in their current state, or make dramatic changes,not only to ensure their survival, buttransform themselves into men who’recapableofbecomingan asset to their community, andsociety in general.
The future: the year 2065-- Browsing through textbooks,thestudents in Ms. Larsen’s 10th grade history class, uncoverararephoto. The picture is that of a Black male, with chains around his neck, wearing baggy pants anda scarf-like apparatus covering his head.The caption beneaththe snapshot reads: This is the 20th century icon known in cultural circles as ‘Homie’ or ‘Home boy’. Looking at the photo prompted thestudents to ask, “Whatever happened to the Home boyMs. Larsen?”
Sensing her students were genuinely interested in learning more about this relic, the teacher thought it was only fair that sheanswer the question. “In 1987, during the waning months ofthe Reagan Administration, America as a whole, suddenly became aware ofa group of young Black men, who identified themselves by the slogan ‘homies or homeboyz,’ said Larsen. “Where did they live?” asked a student. “They were everywhere,” said the teacher. “Television, in newspapers, and inthe streets dressed in their official wardrobe: baggy pants, gold chains, caps turned backwardand armed with a dialogue consisting ofhoes, chillin’ and bit..es.
Shortly after Homeboyz became the phrase on everyone’s lips, the mainstream media picked up the name, and rap music took on a whole new dimension; invariably becoming the music of, by, and about the Homeboyz and their cultural woes.”“What were they all about?” asked aBlack student, staring intently at the photo? “I’m not sure,” mumbled Larsen. “They said they were the result of America’s misconception regardingyoung Black males. The Homeboyz remained a fixture until 2053, when rap music became passe.”
Fast forwardto the present---In analyzing the demise of the Homeboy, I’m one of the millions of African-Americans, whose life has been touched by this chaoticmortal, borne out ofdespair and frustration. My homie is a distant cousin who goes by the name ofT-Bo. His real name is Tad Bosford, but he feelsthat T-Bo is more in sync with his “thug”image thanthe subdued Tadmonogram.
At 22, Tad, er T-Bo, is a college senior majoring in Computer Science, hardly your typical “Homie.”That’swhyTadinsists he’s not hard enough.However, when he goes out inpublic, women clutch their purses. Not realizing that he is a gentle giant, whose desire to fit in with his contemporaries is more fictitious than reality.
One day while visiting Tad at his apartment, I sat through countless rap videos. As the 52- inch screen filled up with images of bikini-clad women gyrating unabashedly, I was preparing to ask him what he found so fascinating about this tasteless diversion,when I was interrupted bya knock at the door.And judging from the look on his face, Tad knew the identity ofhis visitors, but was reluctant to let them in.
To create the appearance that no one was home, he turned down the volume on the TV. Surprisingly, the more he turned down the sound, the louder the knocking became. Unable to stand the pounding any longer, Tad opened the door.
There they stood, three of the goofiesthomeboyz this side ofCompton. Looking at them, I could understand why predictions of their demise were imminent. Not only were they loud; they were rude, disrespectful and down right obnoxious. As the door swung open, allowing the mento enter atwill, I heard one of them say, “Yo, T-Bo, wazz up?” “Nothing much,” my visibly annoyed cousin replied. Knowing it was common courtesy to greet people with a customary hello, I threw my hands in the air and gestured what looked like a wave.
Tad introduced his homies as Wack, a mathematical genius; Weed, a drug dealer; and Headquarters, an aspiring rapper. When another video with more “hoochies” came on; the boys went wild, with the exception of Tad. “Yo, T-Bo, check out the booty on that hoe,” said Weed. “Woo wee, baby got back!”“Yeah and front too," said Wack, reaching out to slap Weed’s hand in a half-concocted high five.
Observing thehornyspuddingsrubbingtheir crotches, I quickly realizedwhy society is so down on the Homeboyz. Knowing this was my chance to find out what makes these young mentick; I ventured into what I knew was dangerous territory. But to satisfy my curiosity, I was prepared to take that chance.
“Hey, I want to ask youguys a question?” I said. “Yeah, what’s that?” asked Weed. “I’ve heard nothing but bad things about you. Now tell me what areyoutrying to do? And are you the thuggizzles thateveryone says you are?” In utilizing this form of slang, I was hoping that the languageused by rapperSnoop Dogg, wouldcause them to open up. Luckily it worked. And the trio proceeded to give me arare glimpseinto the mindsofthe infamous homeboyz.
“Those questions are easy to answer,” said Wack, hoisting up his pants, which were midway between his hips and knees. “The homeboyz are all about respect and accountability. We are young bloods, and people have been on our case ever since we got here. Now all we’re doing is retaliatin.”“Homeboyz is about expressing ourselves without, fear or shame,” echoed Headquarters. “This is reality,” asserted Wack, referring to today’s problems. "War is real. Drugs are real. Unemployment is real.Crime is real. Being poor is real. AIDS is real. Hoes are real. But people are pissed off,becausewe represent issues, they choose to ignore, or refuse to talk about.”
Weed, who had been unusually quiet, chimed in. “For a young Black man with no skills and no education, jobs are hard to find. So they have two choices: steal or sell drugs.”“I understand that,” I said nervously. “ But don’t you see how you are influencing future generations, in sustaining this insecurity and hopelessness?“
“People think that just because we have abiracial president in the White House, it causes society to look at us differently. Butthe truth is,asyoung Black menwe don’t amount to shit,” chirped Tad, his voice teemingwith anger. “Everybody looks down on us, even our own people .”“But Tad,” I said, trying to reason with him. “It sounds like you don’t care about anything.”“You damn straight! We don’t care,” shouted Weed. Trying to instill in them that things weren’tas bad as they seem, I said, “The one thing you have to remember, is, respect is not given freely, you must earn it. And secondly, you must respect yourself before others can respect you.”
Thinking, I had gotten through to them, I turned and saw Headquarters staring at me. “Well I guess that’s never going to happen, cause we’re young Black men. Who the hell respects us? After all, we’rethe original gangstasofcrime, right?” I wanted to say no, but thevideotapedimage of,Derrion Albert, a16-year oldChicagoyouthbrutally beaten to death byfour teens in September 2009, clouded my brain, putting a lump in my throat. Unlike the youngmenallegedly charged with his murder, Albert was a good kidand ahonor student.How pathetic is that?
As I looked into the angry faces of Tad and his friends, my mind drew a blank, as I rationalized that in 50 years, the homeboysmayin all likelihoodbecome extinct. And in their places will be young men who will have learned the true meaning of life and all it symbolizes. Or will they?
While the homeboy generation may differ with the way society views their lifestyle; the fact remains that they are not rebelliousmisfits, nor are they the by-products ofthe self-indulgent80s.They are by and large, young men who have not learned to respect themselves, their race, their women, or their children. And that is a fact Black America must learn to grasp and come to terms with. Thus,to the Homeboyz, I say, Later Homie. It’s Been Way Too Nerve Wracking!