An episode of Desus & Mero with legendary guest Immortal Technique. A game of Bananagrams at a bar in the heart of Koreatown with a very high girlfriend and some friends. What do these two things have in common? The word "rite". I've always believed in things coming together or occurring to inevitably spark a profound level of creativity and introspection. Those two random things got me thinking and gave me a reason to write this. So, Desus & Mero! Two BX (Bronx) darling ex-drug dealers currently on Viceland doing a hilarious and extremely woke show addressing everything from politics to Young Joc's new hairdo (I can't even with that nigga...). I've been pretty bent on watching as much of the show as possible lately and I happened to stumble upon the clip on YouTube of Immortal Technique on the guest segment. I knew the name and probably heard a few records of his with my being from NY and what not (QUEENS!!!!!) but I never heard the guy speak in an interview before. My man was dropping gems dating back to a story of his pre-teen self getting berated by racist cops back in the 80's and seeing his best friend getting assaulted by the same officers simply for having a foot race down the street. Shit was crazy, b. The one thing that stuck out to me was his discomfort with the way children of color think being intelligent makes you soft. He went on to explain that even to this day kids of color believe that getting in trouble with superiors or even law enforcement is "cool" or a rite of passage to achieve maximum blackness. Black is cool right? Never will I deny that. Being black is probably the coolest thing about me. It has relentlessly driven every move I make and those who support me are steadily getting a better picture of what my purpose is as an artist. Although I'm cool as hell because of my skin, Technique's rite of passage anecdote struck a chord in me. You see, I've been arrested before. Twice. Shit was not tight (cool) at all. Both photography related. It's changed how my parents view me and my abilities to make responsible decisions. I still battle with the fact that I came close to spending time at the worst prison in New York City. I'm not saying this to brag at all. I'm setting the stage for this: I've witnessed myself speaking on my run-ins with the law with a certain bravado and "swag" that disturbs me even to this day. I was actually bragging about being locked up. I've spoken about it on several occasions with several tones, warnings to young photography heads (saying this like I'm anywhere near being an OG...), simple storytelling, or the worst part, bragging. Thinking back on it that hurt man. Reflecting on my childhood I have been a saint, literally a child of God lol. I thought when I had that cop's gun pointed to my head my life was over. To hear me later on bragging about almost losing my life makes me question my integrity every day. You need to watch the Desus & Mero interview to really put everything into context. I have to find a way to relinquish my need to broadcast my despair in a way that degrades Black and Brown people. To tell a story from a viewpoint of a person who only wants to add something to the community as opposed to taking away value. I want to be a teacher. I want to educate the youth. To make an actual difference in the lives of those who are going to run the world one day. I can't do that while keeping the stigma that in order to have any sliver of self worth one must get suspended, be the next Worldstar fight knockout star, or get arrested for something stupid or for anything at all, alive. This is like a 'lil "yelling at myself in the mirror" session. I'm really typing this in the notes app on my phone on the plane to Tokyo (yes nigga I had to flex, Japan is my dream country, I'm making moves). I want whoever is reading this on my site to make an attempt to change the mind of some person somewhere. It isn't a rite of passage to be incarcerated or put up a front to fake stupidity, it's a generational sign of misguidance as well as calculated societal oppression. I firmly believe we the people have the power to reverse that narrative and see our young boys and girls of color (everybody else too, y'all up in there too) fulfill their potential of being integral and responsible members or society. Am I right?
Also, the part about my girlfriend playing Bananagrams high and using the word rite to win a round. We just didn't believe it was a word. She googled the word and read the definition & BAM, the spark of creativity and introspection ignited. Thx boo.