The focus of this article is on Black men using materialistic things to camouflage their deep unhappiness. While I think that hip-hop culture, specifically rap music, has had an influence on the materialistic values of many Black men, these Black men have to be held accountable for much of their unhappiness that stems from the emptiness of their strong materialistic values. Just because many Black men are acting like they are happy, they really are not happy. I would encourage you to examine how they define happiness more carefully.
If you find them on Facebook talking about how much weed they are selling, smoking, and possessing, they are not happy. There’s simply no way you are happy living in fear of getting caught by a police officer. If you say that you are not fond of prison, then why would you do the things that will send you there? If going to prison is your definition of happiness, then you have a pretty screwed up notion of happiness. What is it about prison that you like? Is it the sex? Now, let me say this, I know that there are many Black men who have been to prison and/or who are in prison who have no love for prison, and many have been victims of unfortunate conditions and circumstances. My comments are not directed at you. If you have gone to prison and learned your lesson, my comments are not directed at you. If you take pride in going to prison and engaging in illegal activities and conduct, you simply need to go to prison. By going to prison, many Black men think this makes them “hard”—“a tough man.”
A love of prison simply makes you a fool. Please don’t let these rappers romanticize prison for you—there’s nothing desirable about prison. Many of these rappers who glorify prison have never been to prison. They stay out of prison and make money selling you records that you are dumb enough to believe their every word.
Don’t let how much money you are making selling drugs define your happiness. Don’t let how much alcohol you drink define your happiness. Don’t let how much jewelry and how many cars you have define your happiness. Don’t let how many women you have define your happiness. Define your happiness within yourself and ground that notion of happiness in truth.
For those of you who do it, stop getting on Facebook trying to fool people like you are happy by telling us how happy you are to be living a life as a “thug,” “gangsta,” “hard,” “pimp,” and etc. Try to fool no one and, most importantly, never try to fool yourself. Don’t be a waste of your father’s sperm and your mother’s egg. Do something that is going to benefit someone else other than you. Do something to uplift your community.
If you get these platinum teeth (“grillz”) in your mouth, don’t do it for others—do it for yourself. If you get all of these tattoos on your body, don’t get them for others—get them to make yourself happy.
I have a strong commitment to the improvement of the Black male in the postmodern epoch. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I am tirelessly devoting myself to a research agenda aimed at ameliorating the quality of life for Black men. If you are reading this piece and want to join in my effort to improve the progression of Black men, I encourage you to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have suggestions for the improvement of Black men, I would love to hear from you. Finally, if I have offended you in this article or others, good—that was my intention!
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison