Hip-Hop isn’t dead, the real hip-hop is just a lot harder to find, is not in the mainstream, and lives on the Internet as opposed to your pop radio station. Hip-Hop has always been the first medium/media to report on social injustices; from “The Message”, “Self Destruction”, and other songs, Hip-Hop gives insight to what problems are affecting the community.
This song by Jon Hope & Terminology was inspired by the recent events of the Sean Bell incident, and comments on police brutality and injustice.
Silly Monkeys! Part 0: An Abstract
Virtues: ‘Yuh tek man fi fool/joke’, deceit, respect for others
Abstract: One day I was sitting in the offices of my business partners place of employment at an executive school. One of their co-workers who was an older white lady, let’s say in their mid-40’s made an off-color comment, it went something like, “What are you silly monkeys doing”. Now, we are three young black men, and we have an older lady calling us silly monkeys – albeit she said it in a joking context. I had never met the lady before, but I took her comment as someone that was clueless to what that phrase signified to a black person. However, one of my business partner took gross offense to it – which I understood why, but deep down inside I believe that she honestly did not say those words in a racist context.
But the story mentioned above is not what this piece is about, at least not the historical/racist aspect of what ‘silly monkey’, ‘monkey’, or ‘porchmonkey’ means to the black community. I think silly monkey is an interesting concept that can be tied to when one treats another like an idiot; one whom is deceitful, manipulative to another, and they believe that the ‘silly monkey’ has no clue of what they are up to. I always had this concept in my mind, but I could not phrase properly – better yet, I could not phrase in such a sweet, concise catch phrase that captured the essence of the concept.
So thank you, middle-aged white lady who was trying to make a joke and be hip with her peers, you have armed me with a definition that is timeless, transcends races & borders, and describes a daily occurrence that I, and I think a lot of us have to go through – dealing with people that take us for joke.
We all know that stereotypes exist for all races & cultures. In a definitional construct, a stereotype can be defined as a generalized statement regarding behavior or attitude for a group of people. Stereotypes are usually developed from either personal experiences or are absorbed from various media texts. Personally, stereotyping is a part of human functioning – on a cognitive level it is applying a mental framework (set of ideas & concepts) to a situation, problem, or interactions. The problem for the ‘art’ of stereotyping comes in its application – treating people a certain way because of a stereotype. I’m sure we have all experienced that feeling – some more than others, and I accept this reality. My qualm is not really the ‘treatment’, but the “limits of potential” that stereotypes can exert.
I get that being a young black male that I am maladapted, aggressive, may have several illegitimate children, very fashionable, do several drugs, and have a lack of respect for authority figures – due primarily to the absence of a father figure in my childhood. Now with that fact(s) I am also an entrepreneur. In regards to entrepreneurs, when I tell others that I have businesses, the primary assumption is that I am either creating a music label or clothing line. Whats alarming is that black, white, asian, brown people like place the same limit: the extent of the ‘Black Entrepreneur’ is limited to Music & Fashion. So one can imagine the shocking expressions I receive when I tell others that I have a Media & Event Planning Company; worse when I get into rich descriptive detail regarding concepts & terms. The change in behavioral expression (facial, body, verbal) is almost instant – the limits that were disposed on me had been shattered & something significant has happened. I am now no longer a “constant, predictable negro” in their eyes – I now represent a variable that can not easily be defined by existing stereotypes. Making my potential limitless – of course, I knew this all the time, but it brings me a sense of joy to ‘school’ others from time to time whom try to limit me.
Ironically, when you stereotype others & place limitations on their behavior, you kind of limit your own abilities to think outside the ‘box’ or paradigm.