Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We Came From You

Sometimes I wonder if older black people hate me.

Well, not me personally. Older black people love me. I'm personable, respectful, employed and a Christian. I'm a model Negro.

When I said "me" I meant my generation. The people in and around my age range that I grew up with and who share my life experiences. I also meant some of these young knuckleheads that I still identify with, and understand to a degree.

The bigger "me."

Every day I hear a lament from an older black person about "us."

Whether it's complaining about the dreadlocks, the baby mamas, the criminal tendencies or the ugly tattoos, the litany of things older black people don't like about younger black people is quite extensive. They don't like our walk or our talk. They just don't like us.

Some people might chalk it up to the classic battle between the old and young that is a part of every generation. Oldsters are required to hate youngsters, it might actually be hardwired into their DNA. The ragtime generation hated the blues generation, the blues generation hated the jazz generation, the jazzers hated the R&B crowd, and you know that crowd hates hip-hop heads. The hatred doesn't just involve music, it includes every aspect of the culture that differs from the culture that preceded it.

But, for some reason, what's happening now feels different.

I could be overly sensitive, but I'm frequently confronted by a level of animosity and disgust for my generation that is actually frightening. Some of them seem to view us as failures, as a waste of the blood and tears shed in the past. Even if many of these angry older people weren't active in the Civil Rights movement, they still lay claim to its pain, and they seem deeply offended that my generation has not done more with that legacy.

Yet, I wonder about the metric being used. More black people are graduating from college than ever before. More of them are receiving advanced degrees. Teen pregnancy has dropped substantially The overall crime rate is near its lowest point in 30 years. Black people are becoming the heads of industry, and multi-millionaires. Yet, for many older people, this generation has failed.

True, the black prison population has skyrocketed, but that trend began long ago. Births out of wedlock are ridiculously high, but what can you expect of the grandchildren of "Free Love." Yes, the gap between black youths and the their counterparts of other races when it comes to academics and jobs is large, but it's always been that way. Honestly, it seems like many of the ills of my generation can be directly tied to the decisions and failures of the generations that proceeded it.

And, maybe that's the problem.

Most people hate mirrors that show us in an unflattering light. While older people lament the failings of the youth, maybe in their hearts they recognize that those failings are a reflection of their own shortcomings. Maybe, like those of us who thought the year 2000 would feature flying cars and robotic helpers, older people just expected more. Maybe the successes of this generation pale in comparison to what our forefathers dreamed would exist.

I really don't know. But somebody needs to remind older black people where their descendants came from.



Blaque Ink said...

Great post. I see that all the time with older black folks with the young generation. Most of what I hear from them are nothing but bad things to say about them. What's funny is when one of them actually does something bad, those same elders raise their hands in frustration.

Maybe adults need to realize and be accountable for their shortcomings instead of loading all the blame onto the youth.

Clifton said...

I agree...

As much as I respect my parents generation and older, they act like they had nothing to do with how anyone in my generation or younger turned out.

Raving Black Lunatic