Monday, September 03, 2012

On being real vs sell out

I love to people watch. As such, I notice behaviors, dynamics and the spaces folks share with one another. I can't remember a time when I haven't people watched, and part of me chalks it up to being a visual learner and my own personal processes to take in information. Point is, there is a social justice ecosystem that fascinates me to no end. I'm not trying to bust a Jane Goodall because I'm part of these spaces, but I can't not notice them, you know?

Having been around a few different spaces already and seeing all the different dynamics at work, I can't help get giddy when I can predict reactions or even actions from folks. Everyone plays their role in the ecosystem, for better or for worse, and in some chaotic way, balance is found. It truly is something of a wonder when it's seen in action, but if there's one thing that is always a constant in any kind of space, it's the issue of being 'real' and/or a 'sell out.'
Everyone defines it differently, but the question of whether someone is being altruistic, straight up or frontin' in their intentions for the work they do can get dirty real quick. No one likes to be called a sell out or be put in a position to defend themselves because someone thinks they're not being 'real' about their game. And depending on the person and how they handle the situation, it's an appropriate call out.

I've fronted in the past to fit in with friends at school, not be left out of group conversations, to get a girls attention etc. I learned from those diminutive situations that there's no future in my frontin' and that being straight up, no matter how embarrassing it can be at times, is your best bet. People respect you more for owning up to things rather than trying to hide them and getting busted later on.

At the other end of the pole, the issue of being called a 'sell out' can get nastier. Context plays a big part here, but god forbid anyone ever call you a sell out and question not only your intentions, but who you are. I've called out a few people here and there, both to their backs and their faces, and it never ends well. Inherently, no one can truly be 'real' or a 'sell out' because being called either of the two depends on the individual making said call.

Example: To me, folks who are in academia can be considered 'sell outs.' And what's my basis for this? That said individuals are turing into bitchy snobs who look down on my life style, but claim that same life style in order to get ahead in school, get funding, write research on said life style and as they change their perspective from being part of the 'community' to 'helping these people.' Because we need saving  right?

Wrong. The fact that I'm calling folks in academia 'sell outs' says more about me and my distain for it and how individuals act like their shit don't smell when they're in it. Having more people of color is always a good thing, that being said, there are sell outs and they can be spotted immediately. But I've learned to be more reserve in calling out folks as my understanding continues to grow. Everyone in the movement has a role to play and their life style doesn't have anything to do with the work they do.

It's almost impossible for an individual to stay true to themselves, let alone how others see us. We're all continually growing and changing who we are, even our core values and beliefs. At the end of the day, I have to be alright with myself before I even start thinking about how others perceive me, let alone caring what they think or say.