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A year ago the summer anthem was “Blowing Money Fast” by Rick Ross. Though the lyrics glorified high-profile criminals, Black men of all walks of life bumped this tune and sang along.

Writer Felicia Pride noted that even highly educated men had a gangsta-inspired double consciousness. This makes sense, especially when we live in a society where Black men receive kudos essentially for two accomplishments: entertainment and athletics.

I am convinced though that the confidence and swagger that Rick Ross provides on this track, as well as his others, is important for men to use in their academic pursuits as well. In fact, once brothers in college and the workforce develop a positive “Big Meech” ethos, our communities will benefit from balanced images of what success is for Black men. There are three components to developing this ethos.

First, we must be authentic. We live in a very inauthentic world. Products we buy advertise real and pure, acknowledging that many others lack authenticity. But we are at our best when we are authentic, not performing as someone else, not thinking that we’re Larry Hoover or MC Hammer, but our own, unique person. This means we need to define for ourselves our values and priorities. The days for performing are over.

Second, we have to work hard. Yes, every day we need to hustle. Too many people just expect for things to fall in place with limited effort. In fact, the sense of entitlement is rampant. How can you halfway go to class and then expect an “A” grade? How can you provide mediocre work and expect an annual raise? Those who succeed work the hardest. They go above and beyond consistently with the goal of being the best.

I heard a college president speak who came to America as an immigrant who shared that immigrants are four times as likely as Americans to be millionaires because they come here with little money but a belief in the American dream. Then, they WORK hard to achieve that dream. In the meantime, we’re sitting back waiting to blow up. While we talk a good game, they’re hustling. Stop talking.

Finally, you have to take initiative. This is probably the quality that is most scarce today. Everyone is waiting for someone else to do something before they do it. They’re simply trying to catch up with the status quo. That’s a big mistake. Your job is to create the status quo, to set the trend. This is where the Big Meech ethos is most important. You have to be willing to take risks, to fail, in order to achieve success. Initiative determines who becomes successful, and who remains mediocre.

The power with which Ross exclaims he is Big Meech causes everyone who hears him to want to be Big Meech too. We all need his conviction, but used to present an image of Black men that builds our communities. Just be you: authentic, hard-working, and taking initiative.

Give H.O.P.E. Live H.O.P.E.

Dr. Walter Kimbrough
President, Philander Smith College

About the Author

Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough assumed his present position as the 7th president of Dillard University in New Orleans in July of 2012. Kimbrough has been recognized for his research and writings on HBCUs and African American men in college. Kimbrough also has been noted for his active use of social media to engage students in articles by The Chronicle of Higher Education, CASE Currents, and Arkansas Life. He was cited in 2010 by Bachelors Degree.com as one of 25 college presidents you should follow on Twitter (@HipHopPrez). Kimbrough has forged a national reputation as an expert on fraternities and sororities, with specific expertise regarding historically Black, Latin and Asian groups. He is the author of the book, Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities.