Another Example of Cultural Conditioning

A buddy of mine called me while he was at Barnes and Noble.  By his tone I could sense that he was terribly annoyed about something.  He told me that 50 Cent has partnered with some brother named K. Elliot to write novels based on street culture.  All I could do is scratch my head as I did some online research to see if it was true; it was. And guess who has their hands in the publishing these 50 Cent thug novels?  MTV.  Yeah MTV, G-Unit and Pocket Books Publishing has assisted 50 Cent in his book venture. 

This further supports Dr. Frances Cress Welsing’s Cultural Conditioning Theory that you always see me quoting:

In this country, we are culturally conditioned to believe that white is superior and black is inferior; and the manifestation of this conditioning, causes black people to be underestimated, undervalued and marginalized.

Here is a brief synopsis of one of 50 Cent’s books (I could only bring myself to look up one synopsis)

HARD LIFE. HARD LUCK. HARD DRUGS.

HARD DEALS. HARD TIME.

Back in New York City, Seven was the seventh child. But here in Charlotte he’s number one on every ladies’ list. Even behind bars, he managed to sex a female corrections officer, who lost her job and found herself pregnant. Now Seven is out of the pen and back on the streets. A small-time dealer with big-time dreams, he’s ready to take care of business — for his baby, his baby’s mother, his slammin’ girlfriend, and his empty wallet. But first, he’s got to play the game with the biggest pushers in town. He’ll be a soldier for The Man. Then he’ll rob the suckers blind before they figure out what’s going down. Sure, it could get him killed. But Seven knows there are things in life worth living for — and things worth dying for. And sometimes you can’t tell the difference.

I never really gave this form of literature any thought because of its content, so I did not realize how big it has grown.  It is called “street Lit”  and tells stories of thug life and living in the hood including stories of drug dealers, baby mommas and all that goes into what we as black people have coined “keeping it real”.  It obviously has an audience because there are hundreds, maybe thousands of this type of street lit in book stores.  I am curious how any adult with half a clue, or sense of self pride and social consciousness, could actually find this form of literature entertaining; but what do I know……

50 cent expanding empire with ‘street lit’ 50 Cent is interviewed giving his thoughts on his new book venture.  Here are some excerpts:

As 50 Cent (government name: Curtis Jackson III) sees it, street lit captures the yin-yang of gangsta nihilism and ghettofabulous excess. “It’s the perfect merger of literature and hip-hop,” he said by cellphone, traveling across New York City in a chauffeur-driven car. “It’s a huge opportunity because no one else is in a position to create this kind of venture.”

Publishing industry sources say the books have been flying off the shelves, so far. And at a cultural moment in which rappers are shilling everything from wireless networks to air fresheners, 50 Cent’s expansion of G-Unit has made him the “gangster-style Oprah” in the opinion of Vibe magazine Editor in Chief Danyel Smith. “There’s a whole generation of people who feel underserved by the types of books that are often categorized as ‘mainstream,’ ” Smith said. “50 and his management team are going to exploit that and hopefully serve some readers at the same time. From a marketing perspective, I think it’s genius.”

It is bad when main stream America undervalues black people.  It is more disturbing when black people start to underestimate, undervalue and marginalize themselves.  Lately we have been doing a great job at demeaning ourselves at the expense of ourselves, while increasing stockholder’s bank accounts. 

As you read above, the editor of Vibe thinks that the marketing of this venture is genius.  She hopes that these books exploit the void of black people who feel that there are not any books in the market geared toward black people (By the way this is why I don’t buy vibe Magazine).  How disrespectful is that to the thousands of black writers and poets who actually write great material, but don’t get the publicity they deserve? 

There many reading options in black literature that don;t focus on thugs, baby mommas and their kids in the hood.  She makes these statements as if black people don’t get enough of the senseless black on black crime we inflict on each other in our daily existence; As if we don’t see first hand how drugs cripples and corrupts our communities.  Yes when it comes to degrading and undervaluing your own people, I guess it is genius….. 

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in freedom of speech and support the right for people to right what they want; this allows me the right to also express how I feel.   Which leads me to my final point: Just because we have the right to say and write what we want, doesn’t mean that it is right.

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5 Responses

  1. I read an article on a blog about this a while ago. This type of nonsense needs to be discredited by the entire black community. Also it might be a symptom of the dumbing down of black. Just take a look at the behavior of way too many black people, listen to some conversations grown folk and kids. Listen to what thier talking, how they make thier points, ect. If you are around some of our youth you will see them all striving to keep this authentic layer in place. It shows up in what they do and how they talk. It is as if thier is a part of african american pyche that wants to emphasize and show off ridicilous and foolish behaviors.

    50 cent has been a complete for a long time this dosent suprise me. All’s you gotta do is look at the behavior of young black rappers and athletes. They are overwhelmingly the ones going to jail and bieng murdured. 50 cent and the behavior of way too many young black athletes is a reflection of over emphasized and gloriefied negative trends in black american culture.

  2. I am sick of this behavior being promoted and glorified. I just read about the chick who played Snoop in “The Wire” on the Washington Post, and didn’t know she was pretty much reliving her life.

    Why do people think that all Black people want to get immersed into the gangsta culture and thug life? That life is NOT for me!

  3. Damn. I admire 50’s hustle, but damn, that synopsis was embarassing…

  4. What a load of crap those books must be! Is there anyone else out there who can ALWAYS tell when a movie about Black people has been written by white people?

  5. It frustrates me to no end how Black people here (African Americans) let others define them and then perpetruate this within our homes and communities. It is especially handicapping our boys and men. Let’s start with what our kids see and/or don’t see at an early age. They don’t see black parents particulary men READ! They don’t hear standard English at home or in our communities. The only aspirations boys are allowed to have is to bounce a ball. We have even limited this narrow range to “bassetbawl” (basketball) while there are so many other sports to choose From soccer played worldwide, wrestling, tennis etc. Our girls are valued only on their bodies and and shaking their butts in a camera talented or usually NOT. We don’t encourage our kids to seek information and learn because we as a whole don’t. It’s been said that the best place to hide something from Black people is to put it in a book! I hear and hate when it is considered shameful for us to be able to put a sentence together and speak clearly and coherantly and not mumble slump shouldered trying to falsely “keep it real”. Whose “reality” are they speaking of. I am so tired of folks defining and making such false assumptions about me based on my skin pigmentation and the negative images perpetuated in the media and by our own community. I have never lived in the ghetto/hood, I have never tried drugs, enjoys seeking knowledge and education. I am not an exception. I followed the example of my mother, father, aunties and uncles. They were the immediate babyboom benefactors of the Civil rights struggle and the new freedoms and oppurtunities hard won. They stand on the shoulders of my grandfathers and grandmothers who came up from the south after reconstruction and the black northern migration. We now must continues this example and climb up on our parents back proudly. We MUST encourage and teach our kids that Black does NOT mean dumb, poor, uneducated, limited,criminal, illegitimate. Stop letting others define you! don’t you know the code words to define you yet. Urban, inner city, disadvantaged, problem all mean Black and expendable. Suburban, middle-class, gentrified are code for white and right. There is no reason why EVERY black person in this country does not vote. We are the most vulnerable with the decisions made because we have allowed ourselve to be by not participating on the process. This country was built upon our backs and we are still appolozing for being present and counted? We must stop allowing other to marginalize us.

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