Can’t say I’m the biggest fan of Young Dolph’s music. Not because I hate it or anything like that. But because most of what I’ve heard just isn’t for me and because from a distance, it seems to be the same ol’ same ol’ dopeboy rhetoric. But hey, drugs aren’t going to stop selling anytime soon, so, that style of music will always exist.
However, this video he just released for his song “Cold World” got me thinking about a few things.
In the midst of all of the racial turmoil that’s been building over the last few years with the revolving door of unarmed Black men getting killed, teenage Black girls getting manhandled by cops and now, churches getting shot up by terrorists, many of us have been looking for new “Black leaders.” Now, that term “Black leader” is one that I retired from my vocabulary a couple of years ago when I realized that labeling someone a “Black leader” usually does more harm than good. I mean, they usually either get singled and get (character) assassinated or they wind up believing their own hype and shaking down their own community in the process.
If you look at any significant social movements over the last 30-plus years, the movements were usually successful because of groups, not just one person. I mean, there is no “Gay rights leader” or “Immigration reform leader” that we can namedrop when asked, but we do know their groups and organizations more readily.
Sorry for rambling…but yeah…in the midst of calling for and on “Black leaders” or even the traditional organizations that do exists, one part of the population that seems to be get forgotten are the (excuse the French) “street niggas” and, for the sake of this post we will use this term interchangeably with “dopeboys.” Now, we all pretty much know who and what “street niggas” and “dopeboys” are, and I’m going to assume that you do if you are reading this blog. This video got me thinking are any of these Black organizations (new and old) or “leaders” looking to get “street niggas/dopeboys” involved in their movements. History tells us that “street niggas” started the Crips originally to protect their communities from racist cops and other communities that looked to enter and do them harm. Most of the gangs in Chicago started as community organizations created by “street niggas/dopeboys” to give their community resources that the government we not. The Black Panthers had “street niggas” in their ranks no doubt, but from what I’ve read, they looked down on “dopeboys” and dope users for the most part. But they welcomed you with open arms if you cleaned up.
Seeing this video where Young Dolph, who is perhaps the rap dopeboy of the moment, voicing frustrations from his side of the fence loosely (very loosely) reminds me of how NWA used to sound when they would attempt to bring Black suffering and angst to the spotlight. However, even back when they were at their height, you didn’t see Black leadership groups attempt to involve them in their efforts. Hell, most condemned them. And if they did like what they were doing, they did so in secret. I’ve been told that Andrew Young was a huge fan of NWA, loved the name and wished that he could have used it himself.
That said, in 2015 and beyond, can you see traditional, and even some of the more modern community groups, reaching out to guys like Young Dolph?
I remember hearing the J. Prince and Larry Hoover conversation that opened the Geto Boys’ 1996 album The Resurrection. In it Hoover was talking about how there is a “sleeping giant” that the world is afraid to wake up. That sleeping giant he was referring to are “street niggas.”
Now, we’ve seen “street niggas” come together in the most extreme of cases, i.e. the Ferguson and Baltimore protests. But what about the times where we aren’t in the street but inside of the barbershop, church, playgrounds and community centers? I’m sure with the right communication, these are the people that Black folks can really community build with. I’m talking about working with them to create self-defense strategies and codes.
It’s should be obvious already that we can’t trust the police to police our communities until we start grooming children and citizens from our own neighborhoods to become ones we can trust. We keep getting reminded of what happens when cops who didn’t grow up with or around us are placed among us. It has also become obvious that our communities are very vulnerable. We are only as strong as our weakest link, and as much as I hate to say it…our churches might be that link. When I say “weak” I don’t necessarily mean as in puny…but more so vulnerable. I don’t think we can afford to pray with our eyes closed and hands folded anymore. You can’t see or swing at your enemy in that position. We need something to either strengthen, protect or eventually replace that institution as our community core…and it might just be “street niggas.”