After months of waiting, I finally made it to the Bad Boy Family Reunion concert in Philadelphia last Friday. For those who live under a rock, Bad Boy is a hip hop record label that reached its peak in the mid-1990s and is known especially for its late artist, The Notorious B.I.G., who was tragically murdered in a drive-by shooting in 1997. The controversial label is run by Sean Combs, also known as P. Diddy, Puffy, Puff Daddy and, most recently, Diddy. Throughout the 3-hour concert, the 40-something-year-old made it quite evident that he’s still got the energy and stamina to hype up a crowd. Every single one of my favorite artists performed at the show, which meant a lot to me, considering the fact that I can’t decipher a word of most songs on the radio these days. I truly live for nostalgic moments like the ones I’d experienced last weekend; they take me back to my awesome childhood.
A certain part of the show stuck out to me, and I couldn’t help but chuckle and shake my head. About halfway through, Diddy walked on stage sporting a black, floor-length mink with what seemed like an 8-foot train. The audience showed their admiration by cheering loudly, as Puffy said a few words, something to the effect of, “Bow before my expensive mink.” I immediately rolled my eyes and thought, “Black folk…”
Many of us have heard the stereotype that Black people do not spend money wisely. The notion is that we are driven by material things, and concepts such as savings bonds and property ownership are foreign to us. The stereotype suggests that Blacks, especially the ones who worship European designers and stand in long lines for expensive tennis shoes, likely don’t have cars, careers, or much money, and thus, are irresponsible for indulging in such frivolous luxuries. The meme below is a very accurate depiction of how we are portrayed by the media and viewed by those who do not identify with our culture.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a widely accepted theory in psychology that explains human motivation, humans are most driven by the need for self-actualization and not material possessions. Self-actualization occurs when one has reached his or her full potential and has found true meaning in life. As a human being, I must say that self-actualization sounds pretty amazing! However, the commonly accepted stereotype about Blacks suggests that we are most highly motivated by something different from that of humans; that we have tendencies that deviate from human reasoning and rationale. To be blunt, the stereotype that Blacks are driven by frivolous, material things suggests that we are sub-human. (Do you see what I did there?)
The media is working hard to brainwash us all so that we will buy into certain myths about people and groups. The result of this brainwashing is a society divided, with those who are depicted and accepted as the most trustworthy and most human at the top of the hierarchical ladder –elite whites. The most disgusting, yet ingenious part of all of this is that the media is able to influence people to view their own groups negatively (e.g., the misconception among many Blacks that we have an issue with the myth that is “Black on Black crime”).
Let’s revisit the moment at the concert when I chuckled and shook my head. That feeling of disgust was actually directed at myself. For a split second, I made the mistake of believing the media instead of relying on fact. I immediately considered the ridiculously expensive mink to be a “Black thing” because that’s what I’ve been told. I encourage everyone who reads this post to BREAK THAT CHAIN! We all have the power and responsibility to write our own stories and we must not let others write them for us. Stereotypes can be damaging and are created by those who benefit from them, but are often sustained by those who do not. As long as we keep stereotypes alive, we will never win against a system designed for us to fail.
I’ll leave some food for thought below. Enjoy!