I come to you all in sorrow and despair. For we have entered the era of video-gaming, obsessed-selfie-taking, no-Tag-playing, adolescences who think Lil Yatchy is the hottest rapper out and Kobe was a “has-been”. Let me explain.
Yesterday, my thirteen-year old sister texts me: “Chris, come to Cleveland. I’m bored and I don’t have anyone to play with.” Now I haven’t been thirteen in over a decade, but I do vividly remember finding SOMETHING to do in absence of school. Back in my day being inside was death sentence. We all had those parents who gave us that inevitable ultimatum. “Either I whoop you or you’re on punishment.” Almost 101% of the time, I chose the whooping. We all did. Didn’t we? My mother might have been an Olympic ass whooper, but pain is temporary and solitary confinement to your room felt like forever. Now the tables have turned. We’re entering a new era of children who prefer to be inside, who lack authenticity and originality and who act twice their age with none of the responsibility. This, my nineties friends, is the ‘IGeneration’.
The first time I heard the coined term, I was listening to a Gary Vaynerchuk, a serial entrepreneur, investor and orator. He was referencing the rapidness of technology and how vast social networking has become. When he first used the term, it stuck out to me because of the double entendre meaning. The IGeneration is represented by the “I” for self but also represents the age of Apple products and its symbolism of technology. Not only is the term “catchy” and accurately symbolic but equally alarming as well.
I recognize I teeter the line of an “old school upbringing” and being a product of this new era. However, growing up in the 1990s afforded me the opportunity to wake up on Saturday mornings to the sounds of “Mama’s Gun”, chores, and neighborhood bike rides on the back of friends’ pegs for the duration of the day. I grew up in a village infused community where your Uncles and Aunts had no blood relation but still disciplined you and your coaches and teachers were another extension of your parents. A time when Hip Hop had its originality and ribbons weren’t dispersed to fourth and fifth place competitors.
Now, things have changed. For the youth today, sensitivity supersedes toughness, resiliency is null and void and mentorship is practically impossible to maintain. Sure, we do our best to raise them in the likeness of the 90s blue collar work ethics, moral justness and fortitude but is it enough?! They’re facing the likes of a bigot and misogynistic President elect, undefined gender roles and expectations, and the regularity of abnormalities and taboo behaviors.
The effects of Willie Lynch (Slave Owner infamous for ‘Willie Lynch Letter’: Making a Slave) have essentially destroyed the youth community through generational eugenics. The irony is that it’s practically affected all communities of youth and not just the Afro-American community. The old are in angst with the young, boys in conflict with girls, colorism views seem more egregious in Black/Brown communities and narcissism is at an all time high.
I don’t know about y’all but…I’m not so comfortable knowing that these are the hands our futures are being left in. Don’t get me wrong, I love my younger siblings as much as you do but if we don’t do something and something quick, we’ll lose out on the subtleties of life we so deeply cherish.
The time is now for us to reinforce what it means to love, to have passion and resiliency. We have to tell them the prideful stories of one-on-one fights in the bathroom and the loyalty laws of friendship. Remind them that their beauty is more than Snapchat filter deep and their intellectual capacity can be as grand as they allow it to be. Celebrate their art and music while embracing the weirdoes and eclectics. In addition to providing a safe haven for their theories and spiritual ideologies. By doing these things we as a community can combat the inevitability of this world’s destruction one kid at a time.
Christopher ‘Osiris’ Hunnicutt