Happy Black History Month!!! Today We Salute… 2 Dollars

2 dollars have helped more Black People get by than a police escort. You want to see a Black person at their best?  Give us two dollars and get the hell out our way!  Today you see on Yahoo, the Food Network, and other places “How to prepare dinners for your family on $10 dollars a day”.  For $10 a Black family can get through 2 weeks of dinners.  I have personally seen Black people (from my grandmother to people on the blocks I have lived) turn two bucks into a full meal with leftovers for the next couple days.  Bag of beans from the corner store for 75 cents, grab some salt pork for 30 cents, a small container of milk for 35 cents, and grab a bag of cheap caramel at 50 cents for dessert.  That’s $1.90 with room to spare for when the store decides it wants to charge tax today.

Some of you see the meal I am talking about and your mouth is watering now.  Those of you that are thinking “what kind of meal is that and what the fuck is ‘salt pork’?” are about to get a lesson in ‘making it work’.  Salt pork is just that pork cured in salt and it is very, very cheap it has also caused more heart attacks than shoveling snow and walking in your home finding your woman bent over and getting raw dogged by the deacon of your church.  Along with the salt it is loaded with fat, actually there is very little actual pork; it should probably be called ‘salt fat’.  As we all know, fat TASTE GOOD and when it sits in some boiling water with a nice amount of seasonings whatever you add to it taste like you should pay way more than 2 dollars.  Even if you have a six-figure salary in the Black community, you still find yourself eating a salt pork flavored meal a few times a year.  You’ll have a stroke one day, but if you are already left-handed what do you care.

Add the beans to the pot of salt pork, water, and seasonings and leave it alone.  With the small container of milk, you hook up some cornbread.  That’s if you have eggs.  If you do not have eggs and the corner store won’t let you buy just 1 egg (oh yeah in the hood, depending on who is working or how cute the store owner thinks you are you can buy just 1).  So what if you don’t have eggs, you are asking and don’t you need cornmeal?  A little secret about Black people, there are a few things you can find at every Black home, a bottle of hot sauce, cornmeal and a picture of Malcolm X next to Martin Luther King Jr. sitting with Jesus.  With no eggs, we do not buy the small container of milk and apply that change to buy the bigger piece of salt pork.  Then we make HOT-WATER CORNBREAD!!!  Heck we make hot-water when we get money.  It is exactly what it sounds like, hot water and cornmeal.  The hot water begins to cook the cornmeal when combined and then you put in a pan, fry it up like a pancake and tell everyone you know you are making hot-water cornbread because it means you are eating something tasty with it.

When dinner time hits, which is usually around 8 PM in a Black house (we don’t eat too early white people, if we have dinner at 5 or 6 it means we will be hungry again at 9, who has money for that!  We got two dollars to last us until our check comes and this meal needs to drag out at least one more day) the kids run in see a bowl of beans with little pieces of meat floating in a thick gravy like sauce with a side of HOT-WATER CORNBREAD!  When we find out mom bought us candy too, we don’t even get upset when we find out that the only thing she could afford for us to drink was one packet of ‘red’ Flava-Aid.  MMM… this is bringing back memories, PASS THE HOT SAUCE!  I bet you want some of this Malcolm and Martin.

It just isn’t a pot of beans that we can make happen… a cheap loaf of bread, a 99 cent pound of ground beef, some ketchup and mustard packets snatched up from the cafeteria (or from the last time you could afford White Castles) and now you have ‘Burger Night’ at the poor little Black family home.  If you live buy yourself, McDonald’s is your best friend if you only have to try to make it through the night.  Two McDoubles or McChicken with small fries, hold off eating it until you are really sleepy and you can fall off to sleep with a satisfied tummy and wake up to payday.

Man $2 dollars can be your best friend in hard times.  As Tupac said in “Dear Mama”:

Working with the scraps you were given’

This is a survival instinct that is just in us, it dates back to slavery.  We had to take what was not wanted and make something we enjoyed out of it.  Why do you think the intestines of a pig have turned into a holiday delicacy for our people?  You heard the saying ‘from the rooter to the tooter’?  Now it means ‘the whole thing’, but it started from Black people talking about the pig.  We would (and still do) eat everything on the pig from the ‘rooter’ (the snout) to the ‘tooter’ (the tail, yes the tail!  Walk into a corner store in a Black community and right next to the pickled eggs, there should be a big jar of pickled pig-tails and an assortment of other ‘pickled’ items… except actual pickles.  We like our pickles individually wrapped in plastic coming in an assortment of flavors and heat levels)… WE EAT THE WHOLE PIG!  If you eat hot dogs at a baseball game, so do you!

We have written songs about 2 dollars:

OH I LOVE THAT SONG!  I have been in many a bar on the South Side, drunk, at 2 o’clock in the morning (the only time that song can legally be played in Chicago, Detroit, and Mississippi) singing that song louder than the DJ could play it or the band could sing it.

Sadly, we have to pay a solemn tribute to a 2 dollar classic never to be uttered again.  When you said this, you knew you were about to have a great night or go get something you been wanting for a long time (like that girl you been chasing since 11th grade), “let me get 2 dollars on pump number fo”, in the Black community from 1955 to 1998 that phrase was second only to “let me borrow… 2 dollars” in number of times heard per day.  Here’s to you 2 Dollars!!! We love you more than this country, most of our cousins, every member of Destiny’s Child not named Beyonce… but not as much as Marvin Gaye and the 1st of the Month. We celebrate those last 2 dollars because when we get to those last couple, that is exactly what is next…

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Happy Black History Month!! Today We Salute… The Thug ‘As A Fashion Statement’

As important as the ‘Jheri Curl’ or the ‘Zipper’ jacket Michael Jackson wore in the “Beat It” video.  Bigger than an Andre 3000 bow tie or Throw-back jersey with some S. Carter Reeboks and dookie gold rope chains, the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ has lasted longer than the careers and lives of rappers. 20 years ago rappers started dressing like they were going to rob their fans.  NWA came on the scene and even though they looked tough, nobody could remember seeing their local gang member walking down the street in a black Raiders hat with matching $200 Starters jacket.  That changed after an arrest and eventual release from jail of Tupac Shakur.  Tupac emerged from a precinct after making bail, spitting on camera men and cussing… acting like a real G!  From that point on, people wanted to dress like they were ‘real’.

In 1994, a group out of Cleveland, Ohio emerged and changed not only the sound of rap for a brief period, but changed fashion… for a really long time.  When people became fascinated by the sound from the song “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”, they ached to see who these guys were.  When the video “Foe the Love of Money” appeared on BET (where else), people finally saw what a ‘thug’ wore.  Looking like they were in the same clothes they rode the Greyhound bus to Los Angeles wearing, young men began to dress like they couldn’t afford anything else, on purpose.  Bones Thugs and Harmony not only made Eazy E relevant again; they put iron and ironing board manufacturers out of business.  They also saved a lot of money on the wardrobe budget… MO WEED MO WEED MO WEED!

Schools across the country had to issue uniforms to offset a student body looking as if they would shoot you for getting a Master’s in Education.  This did not stop the thug ‘as a fashion’ statement, the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is intelligent in his ignorance; “you want me to wear a uniform?  I won’t put on the belt”.  The thug ‘as a fashion’ statement never grew out of (or into) their choice of clothes.  They became 35-year-olds with a closet full of oversized jeans, 40 pairs of Nikes but not a pair of slacks or dress shoes for a job interview.  The thug ‘as a fashion statement’ helped society in one major way… it let companies know who not to hire.  The unemployment rate has been tied to trends in the economy, bad decisions by the Federal government, even the greed of Wall Street.  High unemployment rates can also be tied directly to a large number of people in the ‘hiring pool’ that don’t own a tie and think their whitest T-shirt is appropriate interview attire.

The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ has a hard time making connections.  He questions why the police are always stopping him when walking down the street.  He fails to make the connection that REAL thugs only wear hooded sweatshirts, in 90 degree heat, when they have something to hide… like when they are trying to hide their gun or their face, after they have used their gun.  Police are trained to stop people who look like they are hiding a gun, they learned this in class they took while in the police academy called “Characteristics of Individuals Carrying Guns” which has been retitled “What Thugs Wear”.  Those characteristics happen to be the style of choice for the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, oversized clothes to hide the bulk of a weapon, pants sagging from the bulk of a weapon, walking slow as if the they are being slowed down from the weight from the bulk of a weapon.  The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, thinks that looks cool… because the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is stupid.

Real thugs have learned that when a cop stops you, talk to him.  If you act like you have nothing to hide and not give a police officer a reason to arrest you, the cop probably won’t arrest you… cops do not like writing ‘arrest reports’.  The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ always runs and he is always caught.  Because he is not wearing a belt, so his pants fall to his ankles, causing him to trip and fall, allowing the fat cop to slowly walk over to him and place him in handcuffs.

Real thugs dress like this out of necessity or lack of money to afford better.  The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ can actually afford to buy proper and better fitting clothing.  Instead they shop at “Thugs Iz Us” and pay 200 percent more for a style a real thug gets from the Dickies section at Wal-Mart or from his older brother after he grows out of it.

The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, believes that the world is against them and that everybody hates them because they are constantly being jumped and attacked by large groups of teenagers.  When in reality, the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ fails to realize that real thugs beat up anyone in a ‘thug uniform’ they do not recognize.  It is a defense mechanism for real thugs; they have come to learn that people they do not recognize that look like they are carrying guns are probably carrying guns.

What is most upsetting to grown men, that act like grown men and dress like grown men, about the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is not the embarrassment they feel when they see men from their community looking ignorant.  Not even the initial fear that comes across them when they see the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ until they realize they are not real thugs.  What is most upsetting to grown men, that act like grown men and dress like grown men, is that at least 3 times a week because the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is not wearing a belt they look at another man’s ass to realize they have on the same pair of draws!

Because you are not going anywhere, reluctantly we honor you the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’.  Even though the rappers that influenced your style opted for $3,000 suits as soon as they could afford them (have you seen T.I. in a crooked hat and sagging jeans since his third album?  Nope), even though we tried our best to forget about you for some reason you held on until we had to embrace you.  Kind of like Betty White, you out lived everyone in your generation until we had no choice but to give you a Life Time Achievement Award… The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ the “Betty White” of Black History Month.  Please accept this award, this job application, and this belt.  You can either put it on and wear it at an appropriate level or we can whup your ass with it, the choice is yours.