Serena and the C-walk

Just when I was wondering if any issues would really come up this week, Serena c-walked at the Olympics and a furor erupted. This is interesting to me for a couple of reasons, one of which is the obvious, how big of a deal is this overall, and the second issue is that of hip-hop's overall influence and integration into the mainstream.

First of all, Serena realized her mistake when she was asked about the dance during her press conference. So while she did it in her exuberance and it is something from Cali as she said when asked, she knew that it would be identified negatively with gang culture and it is better to deflect then try to explain how something so closely related to gangs could be turned into something benign never mind positive. It was cool to see her excitement and her sister Venus' excitement about the dance and the sort of 'inside joke' it was even amongst all of the spectators. Hell, all of black america chuckled at that but when the question was asked, cringed because we knew what kind of reactions the answer would trigger, even though it wasn't that big of a deal.

Should it have been though? Why are we so accepting of the way gang culture has integrated itself into our culture at the moment at the expense of more positive styles and ways of life. The way we wear our clothes and even talk are influenced by gang and prison life and we adopt it into our every day culture with little thought as to what we are really promoting. A real Crip will take you down for playing around and doing that dance in the neighborhood because you haven't earned the right to do that. You want to earn that right, you have to do some things that are most likely very illegal, dangerous, and destructive. There are fakers and posers and then there are real thugs who will take you out for trying to perpetrate their lifestyle.

Let's look at the other side of the coin though, for us as black people in America, we have had to take the negative and turn it into positives pretty much since we got on this side of the Atlantic. It makes sense that we take some aspects of our culture and transform them. For Serena, the C-walk wasn't a reflection of her gang or set, but a hip-hop or urban expression of her joy. We turn chitterlings into food, that some people actually eat, and are generally cultural leaders with our style of music, speech, and dress. For that dance to be seen as cool is taking the one aspect of the gang culture that can be applied without violence or danger while making yourself a part of something that most of your neighborhood, family, and friends may be a part of. I get it, but I don't necessarily agree with it because we're not trying to do the same with our lawyers and doctors.

At the end of the day it's not all negative because there are plenty of things that are transformed from a negative connotation to a positive one. However, as a person in the spotlight, you have to be careful and not be too soon to


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