Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Rappers and Hoopers, We Strive to Be Like"

The title is a Common reference, for those of you who didn't already catch it. It's a line from "The Corner," the first single off his 2005 album, and one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time if you ask me, "Be."

There's a lot to be said about the fact that many of us try to emulate and mimic the images that we see on TV. Probably most prominently, these images include "rappers and hoopers." So here's the issue: When these individuals do things that cause themselves to be seen in a negative light, there is a negative message sent to the imitators and emulators - also known as young people. Case in point:

J.R. Smith, or J.R. "Swish", as his teammates and fans call him, has been raising eyebrows over the past few days because of a recurring habit on his Twitter page. He's been quite noticeably replacing all the Cs in words with Ks. Now I'm not a gangsta, but gangsta mentality has infiltrated popular culture to the point that you have to be way out of touch not to realize what this peculiar spelling signifies. Let me put it simply: He's spelling these words the Blood way. That's Blood as in the two rival gangs, Crips vs. Bloods.

They refuse to use Cs because C is the first letter of Crip, of course.
But there are other words that begin with Cs as well, like cash. I'm guessing the Bloods refer to it another way, or use a K. Isn't it funny that Bloods, who are a mostly Black gang, have so much hatred for the Crips, another Black gang, that they would rather refer to them with the letter K? A letter, mind you, that when used in threes (KKK) signifies the ultimate hatred of minorities altogether? **

Anyway, the Denver Post brought it up that his misspellings seem to be of a gang-related nature. Must've been a slow news day, that's all I can tell ya. Smith has since deleted his Twitter account for good. Check out the full story here.
Well, well, well. Many of these guys came straight from high school or had only minimal college. It's obvious the league doesn't care so much about their education, yet they aren't allowed to misspell words on their own Twitter pages? Good Lord.
They are role models as I said earlier, so it's not like I would defend such a bad example. I'm simply curious as to whether or not it ever occurred to any of the sports writers or anyone else at the Denver Post or otherwise that (gasp) the Brotha might simply like the letter K! I'm not a J.R. Smith fan (or a Nuggets fan, for that matter - even though the color of the text in this blog may make it seem otherwise) and have seen his on-court antics and am aware that they are enough to make one wonder as to whether or not he is gang-affiliated. It's not something the kids should look up to or try to be. At the same time, there are worse ways to show one's gang affiliation then to misspell a word. If he's gang-banging on Twitter, he's not really a gangsta. Leave it at that. The Denver Post staff might need to get some writing done instead of spending all of their office hours on Twitter in the first place. But wait, there's more.
This whole thing is eerily similar to what happened earlier in the summer to Derrick Rose. The very same Derrick Rose who was named Rookie of the Year last season, and who led the Bulls to a Game 7 against the then-defending champs, the Boston Celtics. A picture of him was spotted in which he was throwing up gang signs. These particular signs belong to the Gangster Disciples, or GDs. They're in the Midwest, Chicago mainly. Ironically, they were started by Larry Hoover, who was born in Jackson, MS - a mere 45 minute drive from my hometown of Vicksburg. They usually wear all black and their caps are usually to the side (so straighten yours up if you're headed to the Windy City) and if you've seen the cult classic movie "Cooley High," they are the ones who killed Cochise.

Rose denied the affiliation although he grew up in Chicago and the gang is pretty prominent in his neighborhood. Is he telling the truth, or is it now unsafe for him to go home? Beyond that, what is the message that is being sent to us from the "rappers and hoopers?" That it's somehow honorable to engage in illegal activity that endangers the community and causes the deaths of so many young minority urbanites? Even if these guys were from that life, they have progressed to a point that they no longer have to live that reality and should be grateful and stay out of trouble to ensure that they never go back. How backwards has our society really gotten if they are doing the opposite? If these guys need a family and a set to claim, they have it. The logo and team name on their jerseys is the only family they should need. Last I checked, gangs don't pay millions of dollars to their members.