Thursday, March 11, 2010

No tough guy bravado here - Dan Tres

Tough Guy Bravado: Outdated and Overrated
By Dan Tres Omi

I know that I am tired of men trying to pose. I could understand that certain times and places call for it. I grew up in the projects. I understand how it goes down. I will say that at a certain point in my life, I decided not to conform to the nonsense. I am not a stick up kid, I don't sell drugs, and I definitely don't want any parts of thug life. Tupac can keep that ethos.
So at a young age, I decided to go past the universal head nod. When I see someone else I don't know within my vicinity, I smile and say "Peace" or "How are you, sir?" if it is someone older than me. Most of the time and in most places people return this greeting in kind. Oftentimes, they are surprised.

I don't know if it's because I am older or if I am married with children. I dislike the fact that people expect to me play this role whether I am in the barber shop, supermarket, park, or bus stop. I was never good at false projections of masculinity and patriarchy. I tried it and didn't like it. I refuse to play the role of either victim or victimizer. It's a trap that we allow ourselves to fall into and at the end of the day we all lose.

The other day, I took my babies to the park. As I pulled up, there were several cars playing loud music. This is rare at the park we usually go to. As a matter of fact, I rarely see men at the park even playing basketball. As I pulled up, I noticed several young men stop whatever they were discussing and just stare. I got out of my car and said "Peace!" and received no reply. I kept it moving.I helped my children get out of the car and closed all the doors. That was when the music hit me. Normally, I have my system pumping loud. I normally play Erykah Badu, Fela Kuti, James Brown, or samba music. I usually play something the babies can sing along to. When I am by myself it's usually an audio book or NPR. I normally don't pay any mind to what other people are playing. One of these cats were playing some crazy stuff. All I could hear was the b-word, the fothermucker word, and a bunch of words I don't think no one's babies should be listening to. And these guys were right by the park.

So I walk up, children in tow."Peace!" I say again. I am greeted with the universal nod.
"Ya'll not gonna say peace?" I demand.

I got some "wassups" and one or two "oh my fault, wassup!"

"Do me a favor?" I cut in. "Can you turn that music down? I don't think the children should be hearing that stuff."

Everyone paused. Some looked at each other.

I was about to repeat my request until someone walked over and turned off the music.

"Thank you, sir. I appreciate it."

No one said anything and just looked at me. I got it. The ball was in my court. I could have said something else. I could tell they were not happy and wanted me to say "something" that would provoke. Wrong dude.

I turned around and talked to my children as if nothing happened."You guys want to play manhunt?"

"Yes!" They shouted in unison.
I could feel their stares boring into me. As I walked away, I sensed the scheming whispers. I refused to let it ruin our day. So I kept it moving.

No tough guy bravado here.
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