Writing away our dignity: use words for black empowerment

My mother’s and grandmother’s generations often blame the baggy jeans, promiscuity and disrespectful nature of my generation on the music we listen to.

“It gets into your spirit and you get lost,” they say.

They even claim that the hip-hop and R&B they created has been transformed into a self-glorifying and obnoxious genre that sends us into degradation. Maybe they are right about it; maybe it is the music…and the books.

Headed to Borders bookstore, I turned on the radio and listened to Plies describe his future unprotected sexual encounters. Disturbed at the song’s imagery and outcome, I switched from “The Flava Station” and turned to Joe Bullard to sing along with ‘The Elements.’

Once I was in Borders, I headed straight to the black non-fiction section to look for “Forty Million Dollar Slave” by William Rhoden. I had heard Rhoden on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” earlier that week discussing the state of the black athlete during the Mike Vick fiasco.

Looking for the three bookcases dedicated to non-fiction, I abruptly ran into the fiction section. I glanced at “Sula,” “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain”-type novels, then stumbled upon “Naughty Girls,” “Dear G Spot” and “Sex Chronicles I: Gettin’ Buck Wild.”

I stepped back to look at the entire section and noticed that all the titles were sexually driven or suggestive. I was perplexed because the three-minute song I turned off had transformed into a 250-page novel and multiplied.

Chawn Payton, 22, a senior computer-engineering student from Valdosta, is an employee at the FAMU Bookstore. He said he sees the correlation between music and books.

“Authors are getting their material from music, Payton said. “Just like music, the books are either about sex, being on the down-low or cheating.”

Payton said the more prolific and uplifting novels sit on the bookshelves for months, but the newer novels have a shorter shelf time.

“When Karrine Steffans came out with her two books, both sold out in two days,” Payton said.

When I was in middle school I would sneak into my mother’s room when she wasn’t home to read “Flyy Girl” by Omar Tyree. I had never read a book like it, and I can’t remember if the book or the possibility of getting caught was more exciting.

However between the time I read “Addicted” by Zane and “Race Matters” by Cornell West, my earlier addictions felt like a short-lived high and left me unenlightened.

Britney Smith, 19, a freshman nursing student from Houston, disagreed.

“I can’t relate to the older kinds of books,” she said. “They are too old school for me.”

Too old school? The content or the year they were published?

The last time I checked, we are still finding inspiration in the women of “The Color Purple” and hope in Milkman of “Song of Solomon.”

Whatever the case may be, I hope my generation’s spirit is not lost between the ‘sexcapades’ and trifling acts in our music and our books.

Kianta Key is a senior public relations student from Atlanta, Ga. She can be reached at thefamuanopinions@hotmail.com.