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OAKTOWN, CALI - We've all heard it before, ya'll:
It's the flip side of sayin', "Thank God, it wasn't me," when somebody gets sweated at work, or when they suffer some other kind of calamity. Folks are always ready to pull you down.
- "Who died and made you King?"
- "You ain't the Boss of me!"
- "What? So now you BETTER than us, right?"
The cheerin' is begrudged when something good happens for ya', but brothers be coming outtah the woodwork with big old grins and mock-camaraderie when somethin' screws up. It's bad enough that you have to deal with the on-going ration from the White folks, but it's worse to have to live knowing that your own people are envious and hate it when something good happens to you. And all of ya'll know exactly what I'm talkin' about here.
Whether you call it "back-bitin'," "jealous negroes," "pullin' down," whatever terminology you use, it's something that's familiar to us all and is as much of a threat to our community as racism itself, I think.
How can somebody be your Homeboy and want to keep you as down as possible at the same time? They cain't, that's what I think. A lot of time, we get messed up in the head and think that we ain't showin' "solidarity" if we don't keep this kind of person as our Homey, but that's just sad thinkin'. A friend is a friend in good times as well as bad, and vice-versa.
It's an insidious kind of thing. I remember a few years back reading about these young Black kids up in a well-to-do Chicago suburb, going to good schools, with all the best advantages and still doing poorly, not studying and such because -- some of them said -- they didn't want people to call them "sell-outs," "oreos" or worse because they would be separating themselves from their peers if they did well. That just one example of the pull-down at work.If you get more props from your friends by acting like a "Yo boy" from the inner-city than the well-off kid your parents worked hard to make you, whassup with that?
That's why I get personally offended by that famous "Wha-a-asup?" Budweiser commercial and its' "What are you doing?" follow-up from the Superbowl this year. It's reinforcing a new brand of stereotype and givin' it a pop cultural "cool" cachet that just helps the pull-down effort.
Now before some of ya'll start jumpin' all over me for this article, let me just remind you that I am usually one of the first people at this magazine to take up the cause of the average struggling brother on the street. BUT I also take his cause because of all the obstacles he has to overcome and what he is struggling for. And what he is struggling for is recognition that he has a working brain, he can better himself, and he can rise above this new stereotype of being just another street hood and make some kind of contribution, for himself, his family and his community!
That's why I see any manifestation of the pull-down, from within or without, as something we should all be against. And I think we should be vocal about it.
We should call a brother on it when he tries to tear another brother down with something like, "He's startin' to act like he's white." We should definitely call anybody who snaps on a man's success for being like that cow who gives a good bucket of milk, only to kick it over.
That means we gottah be just as aware of the enemy within our community as the enemy without. In my book, that don't make you a "Playah-hater," Homes, that makes you a true friend.
Feel free to print this article out and pass it on to somebody you know who needs to get their mind right.
COMMENTS? QUESTIONS? Why not e-mail Raheem?
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