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July 31, 2003

Each One of Y'all Teach One

These days, I spend a goodly amount of time over at the negroplex at Ladera Center. In case you don't know, the knighted and beloved Magic Johnson owns this medium sized shopping center, complete with it's TGIFriday's, Starbucks and Fatburger. Ladera Heights is, without question, one of the nation's ritziest black neighborhoods, and although a good number of the houses still sell below a million dollars, it ain't much below.

As an aside, the Friday's at Marina Del Rey was so extraordinarily popular in the late 80s that... well it was a phenomenon nobody who attended will ever forget. Back in the days of Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch, brothers and sister from all over Los Angeles would stream down to the Marina for happy hour that stretched all the way until 1 in the morning. I must update you all however, because Houston has a hotspot called Cabo (on Richmond) that really does put this new Friday's to shame and is more like the old Friday's, plus a huge parking lot, plus a huge dance floor, plus an outdoor patio. The new Friday's does generate lines and the catch action is stupendous, but I'm too old to be impressed with all that.

What I do enjoy very much is Friday's association with Jack Daniels and the associations I can make with Jack and a barful of black strangers who are always friendly, and sometimes attractive. I was there just Saturday and I had a fairly interesting (for a bar) discussion with a brother whose name I forget. I'll call him Monroe, even though he was from Baton Rouge.

Monroe is a Que. He was wearing his Omega Psi Phi hat proudly. This came to that and he wound up telling me about how he is seriously reaching out to young black men. He told me that at Westchester High School just around the way, most of the black kids there were girls and there were no young black men who weren't just athletes. He despaired that the rest were all running the streets and not in school, that their aspirations were stereotypical and impossible. He took his community activism very seriously. Moroe is a man on a mission, and I have no doubt that he will make a difference.

We talked about the difference between Los Angeles and the South, and I have come to an interesting insight that I've been thinking about all week. It used to always get on my nerves to hear blackfolks from the South complain about how brothers in LA were 'fake', etc. But Monroe's other comment, (Monroe is a very positive brother) made an impression on me that helps me see something. He said, you all are blessed, you have so many different things to do out here. There are so many opportunities, that's what makes me so upset about these knucklehead boys. They don't take advantage.

Since I am an Alpha, I don't care about knucklehead boys, unless they happen to be family in which case I got something for they ass. But every Alpha is secretly a Que and every Que is secretly an Alpha. We care that the others are doing their job and secretly admire them for it. So I care about knuckleheaded boys in that I hope that Ques are rescuing them. Since Monroe is not satisfied, I'm not satisfied, but I expect him to actually do the work. Aside from the fact that I've paid my debt to society, I don't have the patience. Although I would be very pleased to find knucklehead boys reading my blog, I honestly don't expect it, nor do I expect to do much more than blog. Writing is my religion.

But the idea that finally materialized in my thick skull was that in Los Angeles, we are accustomed to people not being exactly what they seem to be. When you are from here, you sit down to dinner with the stranger and we let them ramble on about what they're up do. If we hear something different the next time, we don't have a fit. We understand that people change; we expect it. We reserve greater imaginations for ourselves than brothers from the South precisely because we have more choices. We may not make the right choices but we have them. That we do is what must make it so frustrating for everyone else. We don't have to fight for space, and we are not getting beat down.

Clearly, most of African America is not from Los Angeles, but I think that if they were, they would know that it's not everybody's job to try to raise the race. Not everyone is well-suited to the task, nor does it only depend on everyone. Just as it's a little bit foolish (or perhaps a lot) for knucklehead boys to think they are going to be big ballers when they should just be in school, it is likewise foolish for every black person to think he's Monroe.

Once people get accustomed to that idea, perhaps we can get rid of Jesse Jackson. Don't forget you heard it first in Los Angeles.

Posted by mbowen at July 31, 2003 12:07 AM

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