Remember when Jadakiss dropped “Why?” It was a dope ass track where he just asked a bunch of really good questions, with no apparent answer. What about “The Questions,” when Common and Mos Def did pretty much the same thing?
Some questions (e.g. “Why did Bush knock down the towers?”) were more serious than others (e.g. “Why did Dr. J shave his beard and mustache?”) but they were interesting asks that stuck with us, nonetheless.
Maybe most famously, 50 Cent did this on his Get Rich or Die Tryin’ debut with questions like “If I didn’t smell so good, would you still hug me?”. Well, it’s my turn to throw a few stones, and while I’m not quite hiding my hand, I’d be lying if I said I had the answers to most, if any, of these.
It’s not quite “21 Questions” but check them out and let them bounce around your head for a while. They’re meant to stretch your brain and challenge some of the more (in)convenient truths we’ve come to accept as inherent to being Black in America.
Remember: Er’body wanna be Black until it’s time to be Black.
Why does being tastemakers for “the culture” so often entail glorifying expensive European designers?
Why do we spend so much compared to our income?
What is paper to a nigga, if the nigga don’t stack? — Common
Why do we talk shit about White people’s “flavorless” food when we’re dying from diabetes and hypertension more than any other race in the world?
Why do we love the fact that our music is everywhere, yet when other people sing and dance to it, we claim its appropriation?
Why do we still find enjoyment in stereotyping and dividing ourselves and others by skin tone?
Why are depression and anxiety such a taboo in our community when we likely are the race that needs it most?
“If I got locked up and sentenced to a quarter century, could I count on you to be there to support me mentally? — 50 Cent
Why does our music continue to promote lifestyles that perpetuate negative perceptions resulting in unfair treatment from employers and police?
Why are we more upset when Black male celebrities date outside the race than when Black women celebrities do?
If hair is supposed to be a symbol of power and individuality, why are so many of us so hesitant to wear it in its natural state?
Why are we so homophobic?
How come Black folks are so underrepresented in the advertising/film industries, yet over index in media consumption and spending?
“Why Halle have to let a white man pop her to get an Oscar? Why did Denzel have to be crooked before he took it?” — Jadakiss
Are darker women oversexualized? Are lighter women considered less “real”?
What is really the difference between “good” hair and “bad” hair?
Why is speaking intelligently still so closely associated with sounding and talking “white”?
Why are we so drawn to Christianity given its role in slavery?
Why are our Black celebrities held to a double standard of social activism, more so than the average person or politician, just because they’re famous?
Which came first for Black businesses, poor tips, poor service, or asking for the hook-up?
How you got high expectations but got low patience? — Mos Def
Why do the small percentage of athletes and entertainers dominate the images of success in the Black community?
Again, I’m not saying I have all the answers, or that I’m even asking this stuff in the right way. I mean, these things are very polarizing and not even all of them are solely our fault.
There is nothing wrong with answering any of these with “I don’t know,” just as long as we do know that these themes affect us as individuals and as a whole every single day.
Go ahead and rip the Band-aid off so we can get to it. How do you feel? Let’s talk about it.
G&G Black Maybe playlist HERE.
This post was originally published on Grits & Gospel.