Black Child in the Early 90’s

Roger Porter

April 19, 2011

It’s kind of funny to me when I see these young high school kids with high top fades and intricate designs cut into their heads trying to bring the early 1990’s back. It makes me think about the sheer irony of that era. It was a time when you could find bootleg Black Bart Simpson T-shirts being sold on the street corner with Bart saying things like; “We come from Kings and Queens man!” I remember the fashion of that era being very vibrant like purple and yellow Cross Color overalls, and the music was extremely proud and bold.

There were groups like Arrested Development, Public Enemy was still heavily in the mix, and of course you had the X-Clan which was my favorite of all the black nationalist hip-hop groups. I used to go crazy when the chubby dude  would say “We are protected by the Red, the Black, and the Green, and we have the key– SISSY!” It’s hard to even imagine a time when there was a multitude of popular hard-core conscious hip-hop artists but when I was a boy in elementary school it was a reality. People used to wear Malcolm X hats and use picks with a black fist design serving as the handle to pick their afros. It was cool to wear African medallions and beads in the streets, indeed it appeared to be a brief era of Afro-centrism and racial solidarity. Beneath the surface, however, it was one of the most violent era’s on record. Homicide statistics were through the roof and black on black crime was at an all time high.

But then again I wasn’t really into analyzing crime data as a young kid so I didn’t  know how bad things really were. Me and my sister thought it was a natural thing to have to watch American Gladiators on the floor Saturday Nights because we heard gunshots, or to see the light from the police helicopter shining through the living room window. We figured that was the way it was supposed to be. We knew nothing of housing segregation, unfair lending practices by the banks, crack epidemic, blah, blah, blah.

 My major concern was why didn’t my high top ever grow. I wanted it to look like Kid’s from the House Party movie but it was just a little nappy puff. And when it did grow the barber would just cut it back down again and tell me he was trying to shape it up. Now that was a tragedy to me. Hmmm its interesting because when I think about it maybe that’s why I laugh at these little retro kids running around town. Maybe I think it’s a joke that they get to pick what they want from the era of my childhood instead of experiencing it all. They get to have their high top fades without the Malt liquor commercials and daily gunshots.

 Sometimes I feel like they don’t realize how good they really have it, but then maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

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