The first day of classes back during the Fall 2012 semester. I was handed a piece of paper that asked a series of questions that were later shared with the class.
Economic Class? Poor, inundated with student loan debt, with no full time employment prospects, so I work 5 PT jobs to break -2
I was then asked to briefly describe the context in which it means to be categorized by my aforementioned answers, especially keeping in mind the micro-sociological forces (family & friends) that have shaped what it means to answer the questions the way i did.
Humans question every instance of Earthly experience. My parents raised me to be the best person I can be. Being a Black male in ameriKKKa teaches that you must be twice as good to be afforded half of an opportunity. My parents earned inconsistent livings, making me “lower middle class” or “upper lower class.” In this economic stature, you tend to feel pressure to conspicuously consume in order to mask your status. Ironically, as I’ve matured, I learned in ameriKKKa those who conspicuosly consume are only perpetuating their own poverty. My life is lead defined by constant code switching… If I was 24, no kids, no criminal record, in graduate school, a social activist, and white, my life would vary immensely because there would be more opportunities for me. However… I am a the American Negro & my struggle not to conform continues…
Finally I was asked to write a reflection on the macro-sociological forces that have shaped me so that I may see the how my connection biography & history have influenced my lifecourse.
There seems to be a burden upon Black males in this current society. Why? Because there are constantly statistics and unjust assumptions made about us. I am expected to sound a certain way, have certain habits, react to specific stimuli, & fit into the image portrayed on network sitcoms. As my younger brother put it: “You’re either Will Smith or Carlton Banks. There is no middle ground.”
Because of all the jail statistics and perceived negative behaviors perpetuated by the media, my relationship with SOCIETY is STRAINED. People love to describe me with Malcolm X or Marcus Garvey type of behavior (if they even know who those individuals are) because they were human beings that happened to be Black that were unapologetic for their rhetoric, beliefs & actions.
I thank my ancestors for their struggles because they made me strong and distrustful of the system that is ameriKKKa.
The thing that bothers me is how difficult the human experience can be.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a sociologist in training. I love studying human behavior & answering questions that are based more on the abstract than the concrete. But I find myself irritated that we as humans always place other humans in boxes. We’re always seeking to label people, rather than understand. This exercise, from what I remember had me somewhat lost. It’s hard for me to accept that labels can be applied to me. I run now that my mindset is not the most categorical & stereotypical, but then again it is. I carry on the some of the same prejudices that father had even though he is 38 years older than me & was only in my life for 21 years. No matter how much the world changes, I resist it (even simple shit like getting an instagram account b/c twitpic works just as well & facebook has enough of my images). Then again, I’m always trying to do my best to expose people around me to different forms of music b/c no matter how great rap is, other equally great genres exist.
I try to convince myself that I am above introspection & evaluation. This could be damn well true though. I do stereotypical things & when I buck the system, it has become more normalcy than anomaly which equates to boring. Now I am trying to get outside of myself, but then wouldn’t that still make me a different kind of statistic? Wouldn’t that just invite one more label?
Maybe I cannot achieve “labellessness,” however maybe, just maybe I can avoid the cardboard box…