Friday, January 05, 2007

The Hard Core Of Cool - Part II

The Hard Core Of Cool - Washington Post

Throughout high school and college, Black girls were unimpressed by my academic exploits. It seemed impossible to look cool to them while carrying 20 pounds of books, notebooks, calculators, etc. My 'pimp-walk' was the result of weighty book bags rather than faux confidence.

In undergrad, the Black girls went for the Black scholarship athletes first, and the cool pretenders second. The only attention I received was scorn when I dared the company of a friendly White girl. Black girls may not have wanted me, but I was also admonished to stay away from White girls, less I gain the label of 'Tom'.

Let's be clear, White girls liked cool guys too, but some of them saw something in boys, of any color, who had their heads in the books. My value to Black girls changed when I was able to buy a nice car and clothes, with money I earned from a good academic-fueled summer job. But by this time I had also developed a suspicion of Black girls.

As I was determined, I married a Black women. We have a sixteen-year old daughter who I encourage to like boys for substantive reasons. But, the reality is that for the moment she, like her friends, likes athletes and cool-acting boys. I am consoled that she appears to be 'color'-blind. I can only hope that she awakens to what is real versus pretense, when it comes to male coolness. I also hope that with encouragement, she sets a high bar for herself and the men in her life. Her uncompromising standards are the best hope for positively motivating these young men to achieve something more than street 'cred'.

James C. Collier


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have also had problems because I focused on school as I was growing up. I didn't fit in with anyone, other than the other 'nerds'. But in the end, we end up knowing and understanding more about the world, and we become a source of power and influence. Our influence is not necessarily through money, popularity, or coolness. It is through our knowledge and wisdom. I don't know why so many people don't see that knowledge is power. A lot of it has to do with our overemphasis on sports, entertainment, and fame. If only we could show young people that the chances of succeding in sports and entertainment are slim to none and that there are more important endeavors in life.