Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dirty Ghetto Kids - Part 2

I recently ran across this photo of slave children while perusing articles on the internet. The article claims that it is a 150-year-old photo found in a moving sale in Charlotte, North Carolina. One of the two boys is identified as John while the other child’s identify remains unknown. Along with the photo was a document detailing the sale of John for $1,150.

After reading the article, I looked long and hard at their dark chocolate, somber faces, their torn and tattered clothes, the slump in their shoulders and shook my head. What’s distressing about the photo is these children from the 1800s don’t look much different from the children I encounter every day in the 21st century.

As I stared at these “dirty ghetto kids” from back in the day, I wondered how they’d feel about the DGK brand of modern day?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dirty Ghetto Kids

I've fought for as long as I could. But it's over now. I have to accept the fact that I am comfortably couched in middle age where I feel the chasm between me and young people widening to the point that I have become one of the adults of my childhood who just didn't get the young folk of my day. A trip to the mall has me SMH and asking WTH is really going on in the world today.

The other day I was doing something out of character: walking through the mall. Contrary, to popular belief, I am not a woman who loves to shop, but I needed to pick up a couple of items and was in no hurry as I strolled through Chicago Ridge Mall when I happened upon a store called Zumez. In the window was a mannequin wearing a white, girl's t-shirt with red "Dirty Ghetto Kids" lettering. I stood there stuck in the moment as all-kinds-of-ways it was wrong smacked me all upside my head. I walked away. But I came back. I had to find out about the shirt.

A white young man in an over-sized red t-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap turned sideways explained to me that the shirt was part of DGK line. He enthusiastically shared with me his love for DGK and how many DGK shirts he owned. Discomfort must have registered on my face because he said, "You don't like DGK?" I shook my head. He said the girls didn't like the shirt either but he'd like to see all girls in DGK. I nodded not knowing what to say and I left.

DGK is a line of skate boards and apparel founded by Stevie Williams, an African-American professional skateboarder who pays "homage to his Philly days when he and his skate crew would be taunted at skate spots throughout the city. . ." An unsubstantiated online story is that when a skater did a trick on his board and lost it, the "dirty ghetto kids" would run off with the board. Even if the story isn't true,I can't embrace "dirty ghetto kids" as positive.

In my work as an educator I am bothered by the number of children who show up to school dirty every day--matted, uncombed, broken-off hair; shoes with no strings and no socks; clothes so dingy it's hard to tell what the original color was; lunch stains from Monday's lunch and it's Thursday. These children look bad, smell bad and become fodder for conversation among faculty and students.

These "dirty ghetto kids" remind me of our short coming as a nation; that we continue to fail certain segments of our population and write them off as worthless. So, now we have a black man exploiting a marginalized segment of the population for financial gain by hocking his wares to skateboarders, many of whom are white and think it's cool to wear DGK.

Is something wrong with this picture or am I old, out of touch and just a wee bit sensitive?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why You Should See Jumping the Broom

While casting my vote for the cutest kid contest on WGCI, I saw an advertisement for the new movie Jumping the Broom and an opportunity to win tickets to an advanced screening. I’m not one of those lucky people who seem to win things, but my luck changed and I won a pass for two to see Jumping the Broom, a romantic comedy about two families from opposite sides of the economic divide that come together for a weekend wedding on Martha’s Vineyard. For all my Roger Ebert-like readers, it’s not a film for critical analysis; this one is for pure enjoyment.

No complex characters, no multiple layers to peel back; it is typical boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl reunite for the happily-ever-after-ending that fairy tales are made of. I loved it because I needed it.

Here are five reasons why you should skip on over to your nearest movie theater and see it this weekend.

1. With so much drama, trauma and just plain old bad things going on in the world, for an hour and 53 minutes you can kick back, relax and enjoy. It’s a feel good movie.

2. In a world gone mad, stripped of too much of its goodness and goodwill toward mankind, this is a morality tale when far too many of us are filing for moral bankruptcy. Who can’t use a moral deposit now and then?

3. It’s not a Tyler Perry movie. Enough said.

4. It’s a depiction of the power of love coming on the heels of another fairytale wedding. That one was real, this one’s not, but hey - we can pretend. Yes, the ending is predictable. But who isn’t a sucker for a sappy, happy ending? If you’re not, you need to go back and re- read reasons 1 and 2.

5. For my fellow African-Americans, we have been whining in public and private about the destructive images of black people, and some of us have bought into the hype and fueled the fire about our lack of love as men and women. Disarm yourselves and bask in the glory of the beauty of black love.

See you at the theater!