Attention Seekers

The Spotlight

Spotlight

For many people, they have a great desire to be in the spotlight.  When many of these individuals get their chance to be in the spotlight they fail.  Many people are going to have to learn that they are simply not ready to have the spotlight turned on them.  Each time you have your opportunity to be in the spotlight and you keep failing while in it means it’s not your time to be in the spotlight.  Learn how to sit back and learn from others who are successful in the spotlight more before you try to claim the spotlight.  Some people will have to face the harsh reality that the spotlight is simply not for them.

You also have to understand that having the spotlight all of the time is not necessarily a good thing.  Some people are embarrassing themselves in the spotlight.  The only reason many people have the spotlight is people enjoy laughing at how stupid they are performing in the spotlight.  What may be even more sad than this is many of these individuals don’t know that people are laughing at them, instead of laughing with them.  Don’t become so desperate for attention that you will be willing to do anything to get it.  Unfortunately, too many people are willing to go to extremes to get attention.

If you’re really worthy of being in the spotlight, you will not have to beg or force you way into it.  Most people who authentically deserve to be in the spotlight have an opportunity to be in the spotlight.  Of course, there are many well-deserving people who should be in the spotlight but are not in it.  Many people who do thankless work and who do charitable work go without the proper recognition they deserve.  It is people like those who do thankless and charitable work who need to be in the spotlight and not people who are engaging in a whole bunch of foolishness.

A person is really vain who says that he or she deserves to be in the spotlight, especially when no one else says he or she deserves to be in the spotlight.

Many people who are in the spotlight and have been in the spotlight can tell you that it’s not all good as you think it may be to be in the spotlight.  If you’re always chasing after the spotlight, you will live a completely empty life.  Chasing the spotlight means you’re constantly looking for someone to validate who you are.  You must learn to validate yourself.  Don’t always look for someone else to let you know that you are special.

Don’t get angry when people laugh at you when you force your way into the spotlight and were not ready for it.  Learn to be patient and wait for your opportunity to shine to naturally arrive.

People are not going to think you should be in the spotlight just because you are always speaking the loudest, always feel you need to be the one who’s talking, always feel the need to make a grand entrance when you walk into a room, and/or always saying ridiculous things on your Facebook page just to get attention.

To succeed in the spotlight, you must earn the spotlight.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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De-romanticizing the Black Barbershop in the 21st Century

Ever since the Black barbershop’s provenance, there has been this pervasive thought that it is a utopian space where all types of liberating discourses take place. The Black barbershop has been widely thought of as a space where Black men “keep it real.” Black-owned barbershops date back as early as 1854 in America (see http://www.chopitupbarbershop.com/html/first-black-owned-barbershops-d5.html), and they have been spaces where men have discussed serious topics and have organized and strategized for substantive change in this country, especially during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements.  For this piece, I limit the focus on the Black barbershop to its 21st century epoch, the epoch we currently reside in, of course.  From the outset, I want to admit that my direct experience with Black barbershops is primarily limited to those in the American South and Midwest.  The Black barbershop has certainly lost much of the utopian, liberating, and subversive energies that it once had during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements.

While I’m not arguing that the Black barbershop has completely lost all of these aforementioned energies, I am contending that the Black barbershop is not as powerful of a space as it was during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. Our nostalgia for Black barbershops during those aforementioned movements is conspicuous in how we perceive and discuss Black barbershops. The purpose of this article is to complicate and extend the discourse about the 21st century Black barbershop.

Performativity in the Black Barbershop

While Black men in the barbershop showed serious signs during the 1960s – 1970s of “keeping it real,” this past site of “keeping it real” has largely morphed into a space of performance. In many Black barbershops I’ve visited, many of the Black men in them have traded in the revolutionary spirit of Black men in the 1960s and 1970s for a “cool pose.” Majors and Billson (1992) assert that the idea of “cool pose” is a stress coping strategy that is employed by Black males that features hypermasculine behavior to help them to be able to bear the multifarious barriers and pressures an oppressive, racist, and discriminatory America present them. While the Black barbershop was once a place where Black men were highly focused on talking about subversive ways to resist oppression and discrimination, many of them are now competing with one another in this space to prove who has had sex with the most women.

In many Black barbershops, women are being heavily reified by many Black men to gain the approval of the “audience” in the barbershop.  The Black barbershop is a space where you can witness how important performing hypermasculinity is. Before many Black men leave the barbershop, they want it to be clear that they are the biggest “pimps” in the whole barbershop. When observing many of them, you can tell how much they are laboring to manufacture false narratives about the number of women they have had sexual intercourse with and how many they currently have on their shoulders. The feeling of the need to perform in this way is vital to comprehend because it makes the barbershop a space that is sexist and demeaning to women, especially Black women.

Another way in which many Black men put on performances in the Black barbershop is through the way they present themselves as being so “messed up” from last night. Now, some of the barbers who have cut my hair I could just smell the marijuana and alcohol on them so much that I often felt like I got high from just being in close contact with them. For many of the Black male customers who come into the barbershop, it becomes really hard to believe them that they are still so “messed up” from last night. It seems to me that if you are really “messed up” you will not be able to drive to the barbershop. Now, this is if you are really “messed up.” These types of performances in the barbershop make it a space where drug use, abuse, selling, and possession is celebrated. You will increase your social status by the approval that many people in the barbershop will grant you for persuading them about how “messed up” you got last night and how “messed up” you still are.

Moreover, television programming, namely sports programming, affords many Black men in the barbershop to be able to receive the attention they are seeking. You have many Black men who will try to present themselves as experts and coaches while watching sports programming in the barbershop. Many Black men will speak vociferously and holler just to get attention. Now, they know that they are not at home. I don’t have any problem with you acting like that when you’re at home, but you are only putting on a performance for your “audience” when you do this in a barbershop, a public space where we should have some level of decorum.

Conclusion

Let’s not fool ourselves anymore. The Black barbershop is not simply a space where liberating, subversive, and useful discourse takes place. It is very much a place where unhealthy, demeaning, and unproductive discourse does take place. Yes, useful discourse and activities do take place in the Black barbershop, but let’s not pretend like the Black barbershop is a space where we always “keep it real.”

Reference

Majors, R., & Billson, J.M. (1992). Cool pose: The dilemmas of Black manhood in America. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Rootlessness is the Source of Randomness

Rootlessness means lacking foundation and purpose. People who embrace randomness are increasingly becoming more popular across the nation. It seems the nation has a fascination with the random things that people do. A growing number of people are consuming much more of their time with doing random things. Even on Twitter, you will see many people type #random for a thought (or utterance) that comes out of nowhere and/or that makes absolutely no sense. Because many people refuse to stay focused for even two minutes during a conversation, they will say, “I know this is random but…” They don’t want to sit still long enough to continue a coherent conversation. They have so many random things that they want to say that they don’t make it possible to have a coherent conversation. When you have a conversation with someone who embraces randomness, you better be prepared for the conversation to take all kinds of unexpected twists and incoherent transitions.

Many people enjoy randomness so much that their enjoyment of randomness renders them fundamentally useless. It seems like many people consume most of each day doing random things and living random lives. Have you ever just stopped and asked yourself why do people love randomness? These people suffer from rootlessness. They have failed to establish a strong foundation for themselves and have not identified their true purpose in life. If you consume most of your day with trivial things, then you suffer from rootlessness. A rootless person is a dangerous person. Rootless people have the capability of doing anything without notice, including things that can cause others around them to die. When you are truly rootless, you are unstable.

I know rootless graduate and professional school students who should be spending more time with conducting research in their fields, but will elect to devote a significant amount of their time to trying to come up with random outfits that are going to catch people’s attention. These graduate and professional students will spend a great amount of time on putting things on Facebook and Twitter just to get attention. The stuff that they post on Facebook and Twitter never has any substance—it’s just stuff that they know will get a reaction from the people who see it. To invest such a considerable amount of time on inconsequential stuff like this is a problem. You may say, “Antonio, you are making more of this than it really is,” but I want you to know that many people are wasting lots of their time on doing random things.

I wish that those who get a significant amount of attention for having a true commitment to being random would not receive so much attention from those of us who know we should not be entertaining their randomness. When people who are embracing randomness reveal their ignorance, we should not simply laugh at them—we need to tell them that they are being stupid. We need to ask them what’s ailing them. If we really care about them or just care about people in general, we need to help them to work through their rootlessness. Let’s help people to understand the how and the why behind their randomness. Many people who love randomness may not really understand why it is that they do what they do. You can make a true difference in a person’s life by simply asking him or her to think critically about why he or she does the things that he or she does.

When an adult constantly does random things every day, there’s something wrong with this adult. Doing random things every day evinces a person’s immaturity. Start to challenge adults who love to be random to replace their randomness with substance.  Don’t simply stand by and let people waste their lives being fools. I want you to understand that people who are regularly random are people who suffer from rootlessness. They need someone to care for them. They need someone to help them to develop a foundation and a purpose. Be that person that they need to change their lives for the better.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Righteous Unrighteous

It never ceases to amaze me how people whose lives are complete messes can find it within themselves to criticize large categories of groups and individuals. I guess some people forget that they are not in a position to criticize others, especially when their lives are a mess. When you criticize others, make sure you have cleaned up your own mess, or be prepared for people who are not afraid to unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse you to air your dirty laundry. Don’t get mad either—sunshine is the best disinfectant! There comes a time when you just have to call people out. You have to let folk know that they are a mess and are living in mess. You should not worry about how they are going to react either.

When you make blanket statements that you think will get you some attention, don’t be surprised when those statements come back to haunt you. People can use your vain efforts to get attention to serve as the catalysts for exposing truths that you know you don’t want to wrestle with in the public sphere. Some of you know you are not emotionally strong enough to respond to potential criticisms that may result from something untutored you have said simply to get a laugh, attention, and/or temporal fame. If many of you would concern yourself with improving yourself first and not others, then you might place yourself in a better position to be a qualified judge of others. Unfortunately, many of you don’t worry about what’s going on in your own life, in your own home, and with your own family and friends.  Instead, you concern yourself with trying to bring down others.

When you feel like you need try to criticize someone negatively, I simply ask you to check around your own home first for people and things to criticize. Be sure to criticize yourself. When you criticize yourself, make sure that you criticize yourself in the public sphere so that your self-criticism will match the public criticism you intend for others.

Trust me, I have no problem with you criticizing others, but I want you to be open to the same level of criticism and don’t feel like others are doing you wrong when they respond to your criticisms. If you’re bad enough to dish out negative criticism, be bad enough to take it when it returns to you.

It’s time out for people trying to get attention by hurting people with reckless statements and comments. You need to be more considerate of people’s feelings when you say some of the things you say. When you are not living a flawless life, you need to know that you are no more righteous than the next person. Don’t try to make anyone’s sins be more horrible than your own sins. Sin is sin!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison