Supahood

“…the hooder the better, we better together” -K. Michelle, Supahood

LL liked his girls around the way. Walter Orange liked his women mighty mighty, and Carl Carlton liked his ladies built and stacked.

And I like my dudes hood! That’s right… I’m all cardigans and glasses by day, but I’m trap music and … well ok, Rosé, by night. I’m not talking that good girl, bad boy stuff… I don’t want nothing bad, but a pair of shoes. But what I am talking about is a dude that meets this description…

“He knows how to treat a lady
But he won’t let you get too rowdy
He stands up for himself
That’s what I like most about him” Fantasia, Hood Boy

He can be blue collar or white collar. Drive a Benz or a Grand National, but be sure, he will treat you like a Queen, keep his Queen in check, and keep everyone else away from the castle. Checkmate! He’s like the King and the Knight wrapped into one… bustin a MF move, but keeping hoes at bay, cuz he’s only got eyes for you. Swag on a million, respect on a billion, and good lovin on a trillion.

So listen, I have dated hood and what we’ll call suburban… and I married & divorced some combination. I discovered that while I might shop in the metropolitan area, I need my dude from the trenches. There’s something about a clean cut, gainfully employed, hustler. He’s confident, sexy, protective, and the only thing he likes more than his sneaker collection/PlayStation/car/or whatever his thing might be… is his woman.

Be clear, I’m not downing a brother from outside the wards, the boroughs, or on the other side of 8 Mile… hood is a mentality and not just a location. There are some distinct qualities of a hood dude that aren’t up for debate. Let me describe him for you.

“He be with the shit…”

…but he takes no shit. You’ll feel safe at the crib, the green light gas station, and at the trap house (not that he’d ever take you to one). No matter, you’re safe! Loyal like a Cane Corso, he’ll lick your face and snuggle with you, but he eats trespassers like a midday snack.

“Chocolate brown, nice smile”

Hood doesn’t mean unkept or ashy. Baby smells like some combination of oud, vetiver, and vanilla; looks like he’s chiseled out of black walnut; sounds like soul music at night and hip hop during the day; and feels like home.

“Used to have goals but he got rid of those”

Black AF, confident, and intelligent. Yep, be clear we aren’t talking about dummies or the uneducated. Both book and street smart. Knows the art of war and how to win friends and influence people. No need for lists to check off, his whole life is about leveling up.

“If I tell him it’s a go he won’t hit the brakes.”

The truth is that some men tend to be overly concerned with what other people (read: men) think and have expectations for their woman, especially publicly, that you might not have for yourself. How you dress, how you talk, don’t say that, don’t do this. But a dude who is bout it will help you take off those shoes that hurt and carry em for you. He loves you in a dress and heels and even more in jeans and sneakers. He takes you out and watches you have a good time. Most importantly, his only expectations are that you be exactly who you are, because he values the real. He makes it easy because he decides he wants you, ensures you know it and assures you of where you stand without words but through actions. Consistent is his middle name… he’s driving, so he’s headed in the direction he labeled as the destination on day one. And when he has doubts, concerns, or issues… he speaks on it to fix it. Never war, just peace with you.

“He’s Super hood…Super good”

Speaking of love, he’s not afraid to show it, cuz he ain’t afraid of shit… including you. He’ll tell you “pull your skirt down, B” when you are tripping. He’ll point out where you are slipping in a kind way and then help you fix it. He’s gonna keep it 100, because he knows no other way. He’s dedicated to making sure all your wildest dreams come true. “When I’m with you all I get is wild thoughts” … cuz sir, you da best!

Real men lead with intention and purpose, kindness and tenderness, confidence and security… if he’s also from the block…

“I ain’t going nowhere let’s get that understood.”

Black Exhaustion & Success

So today I saw this video by Steve Harvey, and it spoke directly to the idea of Black exhaustion. At what cost do we buy into this theory that we are only worthy of success if we work ourselves to the point of exhaustion. It’s a known fact that healthy people need to rest their minds and bodies to combat stress and disease… yet, he states, “You cannot sleep eight hours!” Why not, and under what authority do you make that claim?

But hey this is the guy who tells women how to Act Like a Lady… go figure.

Let’s talk about this idea that to be successful and Black is to be perpetually exhausted … only if we play by rules for a game we were never intended to be allowed to play.

black-exhaustion-and-success.m4a

Creeping on the Come Up

I’m congratulatory!

I’m quick to send you a … great job. High five. Way to go. Keep up the good work. I see you!

But…

No one needs to be privy to all of your magnificent and monsterous plans, success, and even your doubts and failures. Move in silence and shine in brightness. But give yourself some time to fully illuminate before you put all of your business out in the streets. The streets is watching… and if you don’t believe it, tell that to every rapper who has had their borrowed diamond bezels stolen from their hotel room.

Play Chess not Checkers.

In a game of spades, the jokers slamming cards down so hard the table moves are just bad bluffers. No one with a winning hand boasts that much, it’s unnecessary and not strategic. Someone cutting diamonds OUT of the GATE doesn’t want you to know… in fact, they wanna lay that 8 of spades down so smooth like, you reach for that 9 of spades without really even thinking about those ten diamonds in your hand. It’s like shouting “KING ME” at the top of your lungs in a game of checkers, but having no idea in sight of how to use it. Everybody can see your double decker checker and stay clear…

But no one can see inside your mind. While you are plotting on that knight or taking yourself to the King, it’s not until it happens that everyone knows what you have been planning since the first move. You have freed yourself from the naysayers, the unsolicited advice of a bunch of folks who tried and failed at your venture of choice, and most importantly you have kept your trade secrets to yourself. Only you, your accountant, your business partner, and your lawyer need anymore information than that you are seated and ready to play. As you creep on your come up, the creeps will be on your come up. Don’t let them get to your treasure before you even figure out where X marks the spot!

True to form, when you broadcast your every move, flattery soon follows. But what is flattery…

“Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself.” -Dale Carnegie

Flattery is selfish and self-serving. It often causes those of us who are its recipients to divulge more, giving the giver even more to harbor contempt about. It pretends to give you praise and attention that you likely haven’t demonstrated you deserve but in every effort to set you up to take away from those things that are real and tangible. You become more proud and often people you thought were friends are filling you with insincerity. Everybody won’t be happy for you, and human nature dictates that most often we are not very much concerned with what others want but only concerned with what we want. Be careful what you share and how much you share.

So when you hit them with King pawn forward, Queen Pawn forward, and Queen to diagonal stop… they knew you were moving, but they had no idea where…CHECKMATE!

“Real Gs move in silence like lasagna.” Lil Wayne

The Haves

“Professionals movin the decimals”

A little history…

Rockefeller, Pulitzer, Vanderbilt, JP Morgan, George Pullman, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Marshall Field… these men amassed a fortune together from the 1870s to the 1930s. They are among the aristocrats of American wealth.

Vanderbilt built a steamboat business, which led to ocean liners, and soon railroads to transport goods. He was friends with Rockefeller, who supplied him the oil to run his trains. Carnegie provided the steel to build the railroads, and Morgan ran the banks they stashed their fortunes in. George Pullman, a maker of railroad cars from Chicago, was friends with Marshall Field, who received some of his early funding from the railroad giants, so they could dress in the best textiles and finery. Morgan hired Thomas Edison to install electricity in his home, which is where he invented the light bulb. Henry Ford worked for Edison and became his top engineer while working on the Model T. The two of them tried to come up with a substitute for rubber to use as tires, and brought in friend Harvey Firestone into the endeavor. These are the wealthiest Americans in history… a group of friends or friends of friends who came together to account for over 2/3rds of America’s fortune.

Most of these men were born poor, but understood the concept of community wealth… and being the dominant class in America at the time didn’t hurt either! 🤷🏽‍♀️

“This is the shit you dream about with your homies steaming out”

Community wealth… the difference between the real haves and have nots. You see, in the spirit of the monarchy, Europeans have mastered the art. You do business with, marry, socialize, and fraternize with wealth, so you, in turn, become wealthy. And wealth begets wealth by keeping it ” all in the family” so to speak. Not necessarily blood related, but dollar bonded. It is the actual American Dream.

The real bamboozle was this idea that the American Dream was available to anyone. Nope. It was never that anyone could assimilate into success through hard work and determination… it was a birthright. Other cultures, who have migrated to the US voluntarily, were able to maintain their culture, cultivate business models that flourishes despite exclusionary immigration practices… not a new phenomenon. Take Chinese restaurants… and by the way, Chinese people don’t eat egg rolls. But more on that later…

After the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, Chinese laborers were unable to immigrate for work, but in 1915, despite being excluded, Chinese business investors could put up money and bring over relatives to work. By 1920, just FIVE years later, Chinese owned restaurants brought in over $77 million dollars in New York alone. Because the cost was so high, several Chinese immigrants would pool their money, and as those restaurants made money, they would duplicate the business model until 1930 when the industry brought in over $150 million. The Chinese live and work in culturally homogenous groups, and therefore have been able to realize the American Dream. (1)

Similarly, Indian immigrants are the most successful immigrant group in the US. Why? Well Indian immigrants come from a poor country that values education, and the more education the better. Indian immigrants often come to the US only after they have been educated in their home country or they come to the US as students. Therefore, they are able to quickly enter the workforce in highly skilled and high paying jobs. They have maintained the cultural importance and requirement of a quality and robust education. For this reason “they are the wealthiest and most highly educated immigrants in this country.” (2)

“Seems our plans to get a grant, then go off to college didn’t pan off even out…”

So what happened with Black people?!??

Let’s start off with this fact… everyone in America, except Native Americans, are descendants of immigrants. Everyone! Now I know my folks get up in arms being called immigrants, but be clear, a person who is trafficked into this country by force for the purpose of peonage, involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery has still immigrated, by force, but immigrated nonetheless. They physically left their country and settled here, the voluntary nature or intent does not change the facts.

Okay so now that that is clear… the involuntary nature of our migration and then the systematic degradation of our culture (education, language, values, religions, customs, family dynamics) meant that much of our history was beaten from our reality. There was simply not the opportunity to create these opportunities. Even after slavery, and as Black people started to see success, we were treated much worse in the early twentieth century than immigrants… despite our citizenship in this country. African immigrants were able to make strides that those of us with the same DNA sequences, born Black and American, could not benefit from. Today, like Chinese and Indian immigrants, even African immigrants fare better financially than Black Americans.

So here we are, 2018, just two years after watching the first Black President leave the White House, when Black Women are thriving, and Black men are seeing financial successes that hasn’t been realized since we were stolen from our native land… and still, while 13% of Americans are living in poverty, 22% of Black people live in poverty, more than any other race. (3)

“Nothing wrong with my aim, just gotta change the target”

It’s time y’all… we need to band together and stop financing everyone else’s dream.

We shop at stores owned by everyone but us.

Our bodies are clothed with textiles that aren’t designed into fashion by us or even sold by us.

We eat food that we don’t grow.

When we do spend with each other, we want a hook up we’d never ask for at Walmart.

We excel in sports, entertainment, the creative arts. The world copies our style, our culture, and benefits from our innovation in technology, education, social services, and agriculture. We need to band together and have our own movie studios, art galleries, engineering firms, community programs, schools, and farms. If there are many of us, we can take a page outta the book of Jay-Z and Tidal, community ownership. We should be purposefully buying clothes designed by Black designers, all of our Gucci should be Dapper Dan. Instead of giving our skills to companies owned by “them” we should be independently contracting and partnering with each other. We can create partnerships with companies that can assist us in our ventures like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller.

They already gave us the model. It’s time to grow the tree that bears the fruit, and EAT yo! And like Dame Dash said, we need to put up our own money (Note: If you haven’t listened to his audio book “Culture Vulture” then you are missing out!). No loans so the bank owns us, we can do this shit together. Scholarships to go to college are cool and necessary, but putting money into community based businesses and services is necessary as well. Then we need to duplicate it and keep it in the culture! My seeds, grow with his seeds…

Financial success swings the pendulum. You cannot lock someone out of a system they built themselves, that doesn’t rely on your credit, your programs, your money, your politics, or your name. Let’s be Rockefellers out here in these urban streets, build and put everybody else with a hustle, a strong work ethic, and melanin on!

“Now see that’s life right there, and it seems right there…”

(Lyrics by Jay-z “American Dreamin)

(1) https://scholars.org/brief/untold-story-chinese-restaurants-america

(2)https://news.ucsc.edu/2017/06/singh-book.html

(3)https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D