This video of an uncle whoopin’ on his man-sized nephew with the belt pulled straight off his pants is a viral sensation this week. While, there are -many- things I disagree with when it comes to this video (can’t you parent without humiliating? is smackin’ a kid with a belt ok? Etc.) it does bring to mind an important question, what are the challenges of parenting a hip-hop generation?
Waka Flocka’s mom-a-ger, Deb Antney, was quoted in the December/January 2011 issue of XXL saying, “I hate that he acts like he does, because his grades in school were phenomenal, He wants to be a Billy Badass Kid right now… We fight a lot, but I’ve learned that Juaquin is my son and Waka Flocka is my artist.” While, I question the validity of the statement about Waka’s grades… I do think it’s interesting as a mother Deb is able to separate the two, like the old adage, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” I believe this is the same ability that most purveyors of hip-hop with hands-on parenting are capable of. I grew up wanting to be a ballerina, not a Chyna Doll, despite early exposure to Foxy Brown. Sadly I accomplished neither, lol, but thanks to top-notch parenting I turned out alright and never became a menace to society.
Yet, there are many children out there without a single role model in sight. Some young boys watch TV and see very few resources to escaping a life of impoverishment, either become a ball player, a rapper or stay where they’re at and become a trap star. Some young girls are trained to use their one morsel of power to get ahead life and usually end up getting left behind and weighed down by a series of babies at a young age. Rappers become role models, because often times rappers escaped the same harsh reality that young child is facing or rappers are creating fantastical bling-bling escapes that it doesn’t take long to realize mediocre wages will never get anyone in a Maserati.
Yet rappers are quick to cry out they aren’t role models. There are a few rappers like Lupe Fiasco, who started a book club on Twitter and is willing to send the book of week for free to anyone who can’t afford to purchase it if they spend a few hours volunteering in their community. Or Nicki Minaj, who toned down her super sexy image when she started seeing so many young girls snapping up her CDs and is even supposedly considering to not curse in her songs anymore.
The problem is that rappers shouldn’t have to be forced into the role model category. If there were more minority doctors, teachers and lawyers for children to see doing good in their communities then they would realize the difference between the mostly make believe world of hip-hop music and try to achieve more solid goals. This is one extremely important reason, I cling to photos of the first family. Michelle Obama is always dressed classy and her daughters remind me of my sisters and I at that age. It’s positive image. I’ve had discussions with people who have argued that black children didn’t actually need to see black a President to know they could become President some day, but that’s not the reality. Children are a reflection of their environment.
It takes a village to raise a child and even us hip-hopheads can lend a hand. Maybe even more so than most, because we have similar interests that kids growing up on rap music can relate to, but we are also going to college and pursuing careers. If you want to get involved in showing a kid a the way, look into one of the below organizations or be like the man in the video and take a young family member under your wing. the reality is that we’re all better off when children grow up to be healthy, successful contributors to society.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters – Men are always in high demand. The program only requires two 3 hour visits per month and doesn’t have to cost you anything. Simply taking a kid with you while you run your errands or taking them to the park can have a huge impact on a child’s life.
Volunteer Match – This website had some great resources for anyone who might be interested in mentoring a child with a parent in prison. The mentorship help builds up the child’s self-esteem and break the cycle, so they too, don’t some day wind up behind bars.
Start Your Own Thing – Are you a hip-hop artist? Then reach back into your community and help show kids the softer side of the game. Artists like Jay Rock and Bambu and even more established artists like Big Boi and Snoop Dogg are known for giving back. It doesn’t take much to hit up your local Boys and Girls Club or spend an afternoon at your old middle school.