Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Historical context of young African-Trinbagonian males' behaviour - Part 1

Posted: August 03, 2004
By Dr. Kwame Nantambu

The purpose of this article is to present a historical background reality-check on cultural violence in TnT with special reference to the behavioural patterns of young African-Trinbagonian males.

The stark reality is that now it is "hip" and "cool" for these men to wear their pants almost down to their knees and to have their underwear exposed.

In this clothing apparel exhibition, these young men walk in a crooked, side-to-side, drop-step mode and with a particular facial attitude/expression.

Now, the crucial question that immediately comes to the fore is: what is the historical and cultural contextual origin of such obnoxious behaviour?

The fact of the matter is that from the mid-1970s to early 1980s, this writer taught Economics and Business Administration courses at the maximum security Lorton prison in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.

The students who attended those classes were all young African-American males.

These young men were already accomplished, seasoned criminals and some of them were even facing life imprisonment at that tender age --- teens to early twenties.

What is the point being made here?

During the luncheon or any other break period, this writer observed up close and personal that these young criminals/murderers/rapists, etc, would all congregate in the open courtyard and their dress-code of choice was: wearing their pants down to their knees and with their underwear exposed.

They also walked crooked in a side-to-side, drop-step fashion and with a particular facial attitude/expression that was never too difficult to discern or decode. The facial look spoke volumes as to their intent in the courtyard during the period of their incarceration.

Does this past observation ring a present bell?

In other words, the mannerisms and behaviour of young African-Trinbagonian males are a direct copycat, albeit mimicking/imitation, of the mannerisms and behaviour of young African-American males in prisons throughout America.

These young African-American male criminals are now the role models of our male youths. Are such mannerisms and behaviour really "cool"?

Our young African-Trinbagonian males are not only internalizing the mind-set and attitude of these African-American criminals but are also living out and acting out their external criminal actions/behaviour like uncontrollable robots, 24-7-365.

This is scary; this is the high price society is paying right now.

How one thinks, so one acts. Our young men are subsumed under this criminal spell--- just a "mere string."

Let us remember that a person's subconscious mind controls ninety per cent of his/her conscious actions/behaviour.

Ergo, since the subconscious mind of our young African-Trinbagonian men is controlled by the mannerisms and behaviour of their role models---- young African-American criminals--- then it is no small wonder that crime and violence seem to be the behaviour of choice among our young men. That kind of behaviour is literally their comfort zone today.

Out young men need to know the true, historical context of their life's choices --- choices that are steeped in violent, criminal actions and negative, anti-social, animal-like behaviour.

Now that the historical truth has been told, let us hope that our young African-Trinbagonian males would totally reject these violent, criminal, self-destructive African-American role models and choose more positive role models with pro-social behaviour, mannerisms and attitude.

Young African-Trinbagonian males must realize that the African-American-prison-inmate-felon way of life is not the way to dress and conduct one's self in society.

It is at this juncture that our young men need to pay very close attention to the "scorching comments" and "blunt words" that the sixty-six year-old African-American comedian, Bill Cosby, used on 17 May 2004 about the lifestyles and choices of African-Americans.

According to the Pacific News Service, in response to the charge that he is airing African-American's dirty laundry out in the open, Crosby answered by saying:
"Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, its cursing and calling each other n***** as they 're walking up and down the street. They can't read, they can't write. They're laughing and giggling and they're going no where."
Cosby also made comments on the African-American youth dress, "citing their oversized clothes as ridiculous."

In his acerbic castigation of "lower class blacks for not speaking proper English, not raising their kids properly--- by instilling corrupt and materialist-based values" in them, he lambasted parents who are not educating their children as follows:
"I can't even talk the way these people talk. 'Why you ain't'. 'Where you is. and I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. Everybody knows it's important to speak (proper) English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth."
And to African-American men who are angry about their lives, he stated:
"You've got to stop beating up your women because you can't find a job, because you didn't want to get an education and now you're (stuck, earning) minimum wage."
The bottom-line in this story is that not everything that has an American imprimatur is good for a young person's sane and responsible role in TnT society today.

Young African- Trinbagonian males, make a man of yourself, not a criminal. The African-American role model must be relegated to the cultural dustbin.

Life is not a crooked road; it is straight and narrow. The only way to be successful on this road is to walk straight, upright and fully secure in your Africanness.

The ancient Africans who built the pyramids, invented mathematics, sciences, astrology, 365-day calendars, writing, architecture, agricultural and education systems, just to name a few, did not walk crooked, in side-to-side fashion. They were a proud people; their blood runs in your veins.

Be proud young African-Trinbagonian men.

Shem Hotep ( "I go in peace").

( Dr. Nantambu , who now lives permanently in TnT, is Professor Emeritus at Kent State University, U.S.A. His e-mail address is: kwame@tstt.net.tt).

Afrikan-Trinbagonian males' behaviour - Pt 2

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