The Saga Continues….
The Generation Crap!
By Nevin Jefferson
After Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, some of the younger Black generation became Muslins or joined the Black Panthers. Street Gangs became a major problem in all of the ghetto hoods. Gang activity became one of the lowest of lows that a young Black man could do. The irony was that gangs were terrorizing their own neighborhoods and killing their own. If they want to fight in gang battles to protect us from the enemy it should be with the K.K.K. or Neo-Nazi groups shown in the media in full attire with hatred. To me these groups were the enemy of the Black community. Jim Crow meets gang bangers in a heated battle of hate,prejudice, bigoty,and racism coming to a tragic demise. Which is why I refused to join the Blackstone and Cobra Nation. Their rivals were the Disciples Nation who hailed in the Project buildings 2 blocks away. The name Disciple appealed to me because Jesus had his disciples and I felt better about belonging to this loving community than I did the real deal of the gang. A rival gang member put a gun to the back of my head during math class threatening me to yell out Disciple Love. A group of the Blackstone Rangers sat on the other side watching. The Blackstone’s watched with glee because they didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t one of them. This way, they’d have a good excuse for offing me. I complained to the teacher who sent me to the my Guidance Counselor for disturbing her class. My Guidance Counselor advised me to get use to this kind of behavior because it was a big part of my environmental upbringing. The fire alarmed sounded through the hallways which was also a part of my environmental upbringing. Once outside both gangs would start shooting at each other with the student bodies as their shields. I hid in the boys room and waited for my peers to return. I refused to take the advice from my Guidance Counselor. I dropped out one of worst High Schools in the nation. My get out of hell free card was to join the Navy and get my G.E.D. My best friend’s mother was going to sign for me and her son who also opted for this “out.”
I spend summers as a child and through my early teenage years in Memphis,Tennessee with my great-grandmother, Great Uncles and Aunts. I spend most of my time around them listening to their stories about being salves and getting their freedom. They encouraged me to be the best young colored man that I could be. A successful colored man who had opportunities that they didn’t. I would have my High School Diploma while enjoying the tropical resort in Viet Nam. I didn’t watch the news due to the horrors of Civil rights coming into my living room. I thought that Viet Nam was a tropical resort after the recruiter told me where I’d be going I was thrilled to no end. No wonder he looked at me as thou I was a little bit off the beam. When I told my mother the news and why I was doing this she was relived and tickled about Viet Nam being a resort where I was going to send for her to join me after training. She turned on the television where Walter Cronkite was reporting the evening news she pointed to the T.V Screen and said ;”There’s your tropical resort where they check you out in a body bag.”
My mother sent me to a predominantly Jewish Suburb in Bean Town where my grandmother worked as a maid. In September of 1970, I started my junior at Newton South High School in Newton,Ma which was one of the Best High Schools in the nation. It was through the grace of God that gave my Mother the wisdom of protecting her child and keep him aimed in the right direction to become someone and making her proud. Dr. King’s teaching of non-violence went out of the window after being called the N word to my face and spat upon. Not to mention gangs of ten people jumping on one person (mainly me). I became a Black Panther who fought the good fight while filtering into society and fighting from within. One couldn’t tell by my appearance I was well dressed with dress shirts and slacks. I also had a peace symbol button on my beret. Busing started during my Junior year with the worst from Roxbury, Massachusetts being bussed to suburban schools. They were quickly dubbed; D.I.N.(Dumb Ignorant Negroes) who were the stereotypes that the Black movement were against and trying to break away from. The Black kids from Junior High skipped school and hung out in the cafeteria at the Senior High school with the 12 bussed students who were Sopomores creating hell and havoc. They sat at the so-called Black table in the cafeteria where they played the same record over and over. This was the age to respect yourself, others, your elders, and most of all, WOMEN. It was also the time to overcome from oppression and break free from barriers and obstacles standing in your way.It was also the time that you didn’t take any mess from D.I.N.’s who were a disgrace to the Black race. There were eight Black students who lived in the area including myself who were from successful families. With the help of our Guidence Counselor we confronted the students and told them that they were an insult and an embrassment to themselves and the Student Body.Jewish and Black speakers advised and pushed for the Jewish and Black community to unite together because we were both alienated, oppressed, and picked upon by society. As the semster continued the majority of them were expelled.
I became a bag boy at a supermarket where I met and talked with elders from the Jewish community. I helped them with their grociers and delivered them to their apartment building that was down the hill from the store. I sat and talked with them and listened to their horror stories from the Holocaust which I found upsetting. Which is why it’s hard for me to watch movies about the Holocaust. After being promoted to a cashier I didn’t have the opportunity to spend time with my elders. I talked to them as I checked them out and went to visit them after I got off work. I was invited to friends homes for the Holy Days and took part in thier feasts and rituals which was very spiritually uplifting,rewarding, and educatinal. I was taught the finer things in life and went to museums and Art Institutes. I was introduced to classical music and operas.
I drew strength, encouragement, guidance, inspiration, from my Parents, Grandparents, Great Grandmother, Great Aunts and Uncles and Elders whose roads forked onto to mine during my journey. The elders didn’t have the opportunities that the new generation of Blacks had offered to us. They didn’t have a voice to speak loudly for them. They were haunted by the memories of the Jim Crow days. They didn’t have an education, which was why some couldn‘t read or write, they couldn’t vote, and they were treated like no class citizens. We were their hope for their tomorrow. Young Black men had two choices, we could become the best that we could be in this lifetime or become part of the percentage of being either dead or in jail by the time we were twenty-one. By the time that I was twenty-one I was writing commercials for an advertising agency in Chicago. I was promoted from the mailroom where I worked after returning to Chicago after graduating High School in Newton Mass. It was at this moment that I learned that life is full of disappointments and injustices. I was blackballed by my copywriting peers because I refused to become the token writer that they wanted me to be. The thought of a young Black man who lived in the Robert Taylor Projects who only had an high school diploma being more creative than they would ever be in their career made them insecure and nervous. Their reason that they Eighty-Sixed me was that I couldn’t be a copywriter because of my English. I pointed out that they had an editing department who corrected grammar and dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s. They were paying me for my ideas not for my grammar. The same ideas used by the Copy Executives who claimed credit for them. I returned to the mailroom making the same salary that I did as a copywriter trainee. They wanted me out, and it cost them to get me out. I was Young, Gifted, and Black and knew how to make it work for me. I demanded my respect and got it!
Today’s generation has nothing to be desired for! They’re a throw back to stereotypes that our forefathers fought against. Today’s hair-dos are hair oh, no you don’t! Un-combed afros with the afro pick as decoration in the hair defeats the purpose. Why bother with the pick since you’re not going to use it to comb their hair like it’s intended for. Then there are those walking away with their heads paying tribute to “Buckwheat” B.B. naps have made a come back on the heads of a majority of the younger Black generation. Yes, I have told many a young men to go home and put some hair grease on their scalp and comb the mess. The Black women of my day would never go out in public with undone hair that’s in need of a straightening comb or a wash, rinse, and a ‘do’. There were those who went out in public with hair rollers in their hair that got dirty looks from their peers. Today’s Black women baste in the “The Humiliation of It All!” Back in my day, women who either didn’t have hair or were to lazy to deal with theirs wore wigs. The same rule should be applied by today’s generation of Black women. To add insult to stupidity, young black men are walking around with do-rags with beads or braids hanging down. The sole purpose of do-rags is to help put a wave in your hair after applying hair style gel. And to keep hair products soaking into your pillow cases while you sleep. It wasn’t designed to be worn in public. This is just as bad when Blacks walked around in public with plastic bags on their heads. Oprah went ballistic about this one then did a show about it. Did it help? No, it became more of a fad. The images of today’s Blacks on television, movies, and commercials are appalling beyond belief. Once upon a time, Advertising Agencies were severely watched and warned about the images of Black people portrayed in commercials. Did they listen? Heck Naw! Have you ever wondered why all of the commercials for Kool-Aid have Blacks in them? After Jonestown, one would think that Black casted Kool-Aid ads would have had the plug pulled out on them. Now, they’re advertising the “New Generation” of Kool-Aid drinkers. Do I have a pitcher of Kool-Aid in my refrigerator? Get real! I stopped drinking Kool-Aid after the Georgetown massacre.
The Saga Continues….Part III
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