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Bangin’ On Astroturf???

I saw this headline when I opened up ye ol’ Yahoo.com:

NFL steps up monitoring of players for gang signs

NEW YORK (AP)—The NFL is stepping up its monitoring of on-field player activities to ensure that no one is flashing the hand signals of street gangs.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the league had hired experts to look at game tapes and identify players or team officials who might be using suspected gang signals. Violators would be warned and disciplined if the episodes recurred.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but still. Gang signs? Football? What now?

The article goes on to cite a recent incident involving the Boston Celtic’s Paul Pierce making a “menacing gesture” towards the Atlanta Hawks’ bench back in April. Of course, in Snobland a menacing gesture is a one-finger-salute, but I’m almost positive that is not what they’re talking about here. But, um … seriously? Gang signs, Roger Goodell?

“We were always suspicious that might be happening,” it quoted Mike Pereira, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, as saying of gang-related signals. “But the Paul Pierce thing is what brought it to light. When he was fined … that’s when we said we need to take a look at it and see if we need to be aware of it.”

While part of me wants to crack a whole lot of jokes here (“What team you claim, son!” or “Doesn’t Raider Nation already count as a dangerous street gang?” or “Could this mean Bill Belichick might know who shot Jam Master Jay? Because after Spygate, I’ll believe anything about the man.”) part of me knows this is really about the continued “mainstreaming” of gang culture.

There is absolutely no reason why any player in the NFL — from the multi-millionaire superstar to the guy who has to try-out every year — should be involved in gang activity and I’m going to go out on a limb and say they probably aren’t. Even the rough looking ones. They, like millions of other people, have fallen for the hype, the lure, the alleged romance and glamor of “thug life.” And it doesn’t matter even if you came from a place where their was either:

A) No thug life

B) Full of thug life that destroyed many lives including some of those close to you

People want to “keep it real.” And that includes athletes, rappers and goofy high schoolers who have bought the commercialized coolness of “Colors.” Back when Los Angeles was awakening to the reality that gangs were the worst thing to ever happen to them, the culture was being popularly exported to the rest of the country via movies and music. How in the hell did the Bloods get to Little Rock, Ark.? Or to Arkansas at all? St. Louis, which had an almost non-existent black gang culture pre-1980s, suddenly had all sorts of set-claiming mofos running about by the 1990s killing folks for Jordans and Starter coats.

Someone thought glamorizing death culture was a good thing … for business. It’s not good for much else. But if you’re a music executive or aspiring rap artist, Thug Life is the only life for you. It is so much the life that you’ll make up a Thug Lie if it means more record sales (i.e. Akon).

I’d be OK with all this “Hooray for killing black people!” if exporting Thug Life as entertainment was like exporting “Mob Life” as entertainment. I don’t know a bunch of Italian American or Irish American kids dropping dead from acting out scenes in “The Departed” and “Scarface,” dying while claiming Gambino-side and getting iced in front of the Bada Bing with tats of The Sopranos logo on their chests. But somehow black kids will get on The MySpace, claim Crip, Cripwalk on the YouTube, then get shot while “regular” walking home from school.

From wannabe kiddies with breath still fresh from Similac to frontin’ footballers, because so many want to cop the deceptive cool of gang culture the NFL is searching for possible gang signs/activity among their players. It should be a no brainer, but apparently it isn’t considering some individuals choose to hang out with people of ill repute at places of ill repute while doing things of ill repute. You have the league making rules like this when players keep getting involved in shooting altercations outside of strip clubs, being murdered or assaulted in robberies or going to the big house for illegal dog fighting.

You know? Basically doing stuff that’s way below their pay grade.

So many black people, men and women, work so hard to escape, avoid and rebuke the thug life mythology that it amazes me that there are still individuals who believe degenerative hood mentality is part of “keeping it real.” For me, keeping it real would be keeping your rich ass out of trouble and encouraging us broke folk to do the same. Color-me-disappointed, but not surprised that there are enough folks laissez-faire over death culture to not get that maybe it isn’t cool to flash some gang signs in the middle of a game.

I don’t know how you can embrace something that kills black people, of all ages, across America, everyday, but I’m sure they have some good excuses like “it’s all in fun,” “it doesn’t mean anything,” “it’s part of my culture,” blah, blah, blah …

I’m sorry that I am so lame as to want black men to not die before they turn 25. I know. That’s so not hood. Then not going to prison, living a full life, getting a job, having a family, a future. Seeing potential NOT wasted. Why do I want such things? Such lame, lame wonderful things?

I guess I’m selfish.

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8 thoughts on “Bangin’ On Astroturf???

  1. Coming from Compton I have seen Gang Signs thrown up in all major sports as people I knew and heard of made it to the league. But who in the hell knows what it means unless you are from that area. It’s a stupid undertaking and sooner or later the same guys will grow up. You keep letting teenagers play ball and they’ll do teenage things.

  2. Hi Snob,This is a really complicated subject. On the one hand this kind of self-hatred can be traced all the way back to, you guessed it, slavery. On the other hand I’m getting a little tired of worrying about people that don’t worry about themselves.If you are making at least several hundred thousand dollars a year and are embracing thug culture then I hope the NFL bans these people for life. And may they go broke and end up living thug life for real in some hood somewhere.I suppose that’s harsh but as a middle class Black American I’m getting sick of hearing about people that embrace ghetto life.Seventy percent or more of us, Black people, are middle class, so why do we spend so much time talking about people who embrace a violent lifestyle?

  3. monie: I think the ONLY reason why this is sooo glamorized is because of who controls the media. The reality is, if white kids were dying in the streets trying to emulate Italian street gangs there would be a nationwide discussion taking place on how to combat the glamorization of this culture. Record companies would be under intense pressure from not just consumers, but the government to clean their act up. But this is black folks. We’re in the minority. And throughout history our tales of violence and woe have always made big money. If it were simply about black folks buying “thug culture,” thug culture wouldn’t loom so dominantly, but since thug culture is one of the most commercially successful parts of the entertainment industry, popular with all kids, especially white kids who are far more numerous and have way more money, there’s this HUGE financial incentive to keep this shit going no matter how morally irresponsible it is.Very few black people actually grow up exposed to “gang” culture. We’re receive it primarily the same way white kids do, through voyeurism. But because gang culture IS a real problem in the black community it hits us in a far more real and devastating way.Long story short: Us killing ourselves makes money, therefore that is the only side of ourselves presented by the entertainment community. It’s about supply and demand. I WISH there was a more concerted effort among blacks to hold rappers, record labels, athletes and the gang bangers themselves RESPONSIBLE for selling our children death with a hot beat, but black people are often reluctant to tackle this issue in a coherent manner because we don’t want to be perceived as “haters.”We all remember how much grief C. Delores Tucker caught for being a “killjoy” when it came to gangster rap. How dare she hate on some brothers just trying to get paid by exploiting their people? Terrible. What an awful woman!I miss the days when hip hop was simply a “for us, by us” medium, hence it was more diverse and the violence was not nearly as glamorized. At least in the early 90s, most “gangsta rap” was still about cautionary tales on how messed up things were, not about how badass I am for robbing and pimping and killing.

  4. kenyaw says:

    Snob,As a former Cali Girl I will answer your question about the pilgrimage of bloods to lil rock. It goes like this…Back in the mid 80s they made it unlawful for gang bangers released from jail to associate with other “known” gang members. After awhile it just got ridiculous. Boys and young men were just being held hostage in there own homes. They could not go outside. They could walk home from school with friends, less they would get pull over and made to sit on the curb, handcuffed and harassed by police. You could EASILY have two brothers that could not be on the streets together without being put back in jail for associating. The solution – Instead of moving whole families, parents and family members sent the teenagers to live with relatives. Since most blacks in LA County were just one or two generations removed from the south and Midwest it was an easy fix. It was sad for me to see “banging in little rock”, documentary years ago. Before I knew that there was a problem there, I actually had a high school friend, Delroy who was sent to live with family in Arkansas! Both of his older brothers were “known” gang members and he could not be around them without breaking the law. To bad he and others like him did not leave that bull ish at home.Kenya

  5. I agree with your post, Black Snob, about why violence is glamorized. I grew up in NYC housing projects and it was not all fun and games. But when I was younger, I thought that shit was cool. We young people, back then, thought it was cool to compare whose hood was harder, how many shootings we saw and/or heard, etc. As an adult I now know that it’s not cool at all. Therefore, I can’t understand for the life of me why celebrities (and “regular” folk) think it’s cool to be “hard” and “thuggish”. There are too many people dying from bullshit like this to think that it’s cool. I work with a 13 year old kid who thinks it’s cool to “stop snitching”. Yet last week, a young man that he knows was killed. He was only 22 and was attempting to rob someone, who then defended themselves and killed him. Though it’s sad that he died so young, his behavior has been glamorized by the neighborhood to the point that kids and adults are wearing t-shirts with the guy’s face on it.It’s gotta stop.

  6. The Washington Post had an article recently that discussed the problem of gang warfare in the US military. Seems that some folks were in gangs, signing up for the Armed Forces, and continuing their gang activities whilst enlisted! The gangs were even intaking new members during their time of service. Not a good look for the US military.L

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