By far one of the highest quality pieces of programming I’ve seen on BET in a while was their Black Girls Rock presentation. It highlighted various Black girls and women in the entertainment industry that have blazed trails for the current generation, such as the legendary Ruby Dee, the awe-inspiring Major General Marcelite J. Harris and the soul-igniting Iyanla Vanzant. Even younger females were honored for their contagious passion and drive. The 24 year old VETERAN Raven-Symoné was recognized for her 20+ year career in acting and music. Akeelah and the Bee‘s Keke Palmer was also acknowledged for, despite already having a very busy acting career, being one of the young Black women who’s “Got Next”.
This is all well and good, and I in no way intend to diminish the importance of the social repositioning and spiritual uplifting of the Black woman, but I couldn’t help but think about those same assists for the Black man. (This thinking was also provoked by hearing and reading about the supremely negative light Black men were illuminated with in Tyler Perry‘s most recent movie, but as I digress, that requires another post…if I decide to see the movie.) There is absolutely no question that Black women everywhere, young and old definitely deserve the honoring. For centuries the Black woman has been, and continues to be the foundation, I-beams, roofs and walls of Black families all over this country. But we can’t fully write off the Black man in the evolution of Black people as a whole.
Though there is always progress, the past few decades haven’t been the best for Black men, as we continue to have higher percentages in prison than graduating high school and going to/graduating college, all the usual shitty numbers. However, there are many of us who have been very successful, most obviously in the entertainment industry. Yes I know, there are Black men who are lawyers and authors and architects and doctors and businessmen, etc. who do just as well as these entertainers, but when’s the last time these professions were glamorized? This would be an obvious and great focus for a theoretical ‘Black Guys Rock’ show, but I feel that this would be much too easy to do, and frankly a bit out of touch. And this goes double for pointing out the top rap artists in the music industry. Although, I would argue that highlighting successful Black actors is somewhat beneficial…
One possible, and more effective focus for the show, I think, would be to highlight young Black men who are pursuing these careers and are currently in school; preferably college. Notable Black male students from schools across the country can be candidates, but not those straight-laced ones that don’t participate in events on campus. I want to see those students that are the Jay-Zs of every talent show, the Cornel Wests of every poetry slam in their graduating class, and the Baracks that run student organizations and promote involvement. Showcasing the spirit of the Black man, and the Black community in higher education environments would be one of, if not THE most positive image of a young Black Man that another young Black man can be exposed to. It doesn’t make the student’s position seem too far out of reach (like that of an already established lawyer, actor, singer, or doctor) and it really breaks up that notion that when you go to college, you’re just supposed to eat, sleep and study. Because clearly, no one drinks in college.
These young people would be the honorees for the show. For a bit of star-studded…ness… I’d sprinkle some randomly profound awards around the entertainment industry, for kicks. Or ratings. (I do have a short list of people who seriously deserve awards for achievement, but I’ll add that at a later date I guess…) However it works out, this is how I envision the day that Black Guys Rock.
For older Black men, the show would be a bit more difficult to tailor for their enjoyment and ‘inspiration’. This is partly because I’m not sure what these guys would hope to get out of watching the show if it did air (I doubt they’re looking for inspiration), and mostly because I’m not an older Black man. I feel that my presumption of their reaction, reasoning for watching and post-rocking responses would be a bit too much on the idealistic side, if that makes any sense…
Ideally and seriously though, what would we really be hoping for him to achieve when a middle aged man tunes in to Black Guys Rock?