In about 10 years you’re going to feel the urge to use phrases like “back in my day,” and “kids these days.” One day you’re going to fix your lips to say “We had real music back in my day, like ‘A$$’, I don’t know what the hell you kids are listening to today”. You will refer to the era of your teens and twenties as the “Golden Age”.
This is my appeal to the 20 somethings to stop the ageism auto-pilot before it sets in.
You are going to have a feverish desire to create a rose colored universe in your mind. In this imaginary place, you’re going to have delusions of being very respectful to your elders. You’re going to recall you and your peers being much less sexually active than you really were. In this bizarre world there was no violence in the streets. The only songs you are going to remember are the ones with the most artistic integrity and social relevance.
You’re going to want to tell the next generation that they are apathetic. That they don’t have the fire in their belly to make world changing accomplishments, the way your generation did in electing the first black president, the way previous generations told us about the Civil Rights movement and World War II.
You’ve been told that you are lazy, even though your parents’ generation spent all this time and energy developing devices like dishwashers and computers to make it so you can escape the mundane chores. You’re criticized for your short attention spans while being fed reality tv in 30 minute doses, and through the internet given the world at your fingertips. You’re called overly sexual while being inundated with images of the human form in every type of advertising, and growing up in a more sexually liberated world than our grandparents could have ever dreamed of. My peers and I have turned into our parents, who act like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder were the only ones making music. As if there wasn’t some grade-A certified garbage coming out of every generation.
I remember hearing Dick Gregory say once, “There are no better times to go back to”. Every generation had its own evils to conquer, its own culture shock moments. But at worst we are in the same place our grandparents were in, at best we are better. Yes, the divorce rate is higher, but women no longer feel the need to stay in abusive or neglectful relationships because of their new found power and freedoms. Yes, the streets are violent, but the streets have never been non-violent. We watch movies about the violence of the western frontier, and the mob battles of the depression era, and somehow now think they are fantasy, not the reality like what our kids are fighting in the streets now.
Please don’t tell your kids they are the problem. Instead, encourage them to be the solution. Tell them that you appreciate their creativity and will fight to keep their voices free. Tell them every age, is the Golden Age.
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.”
About the Author
Bomani is an educator and as he so aptly puts it “I’m not a rapper, I’m a poet with a hip-hop style”. Bomani’s internet smash hit “Read a Book” is the subject of a short animated film that debuted on BET in June 2007. As a editorial writer he has been published in the Washington Post and TheRoot.com. Mr. Armah has worked as a consultant teaching creative writing, music and video production for American University, The Washington National Cathedral, The University of the District of Columbia and other notable institutions. Find out more at http://notarapper.com/