"I am whoever I say I am/ if I wasn't why would I say I am" - Eminem

Perhaps you can tell us, we are dying for answers too. However, why should a young black man live his life marketing only two lines of Eminem's song? He is today pre-occupied with enhancing a superficial image of himself instead of improving his daily reality. He's so obsessed with selling a macho idea of who he really is in happiness and in sadness to the point that he is losing touch of what made him from the moment he stopped being breastfed to the time he realised that his exterior marketed him as a defeated, naturally humble soul. Indeed, deep inside he is a humble soul, something rooted in humanity, though this is the truth that is better off defied than embraced.

Black boys are no different from black girls while they are still toddlers. When something hurts they both express it the way they know how, by crying and calling their mothers. Growing up they display the same excitement at being presented with a new toy on Christmas Day, the same edginess at submitting their homework to a strict abusive teacher and the same disappointment at being let down by people they love. The problem only arises when boys start expressing their anger by folding their fists and turning them into weapons. It is where the problem even escalates since it is that point of no return where they stop crying when something hurts because in a fight scene the person who cries is either a coward or has been defeated. They mostly fight to affirm their positions among their peers, not to impress girls. The animal instinct that tells them that the boss deserves the best female raises its ugly head later on in life, since sweat and armpit odour are reported to be an aphrodisiacs.

It is at this stage that he feels that he deserves the best female of his peer group, which then results in disappointment for in most cases same age teenagers hardly find common ground in the territory of romantic love. This is again in this way because adolescent girls have a tendency to be infatuated with father figures, older boys and pin-up models at the time that their agesakes expect them to go out with them. As a result the boy becomes frustrated by the rejection which scientifically he can not explain. Bored with parents who insists on still treating him like a boy at the time when his armpits already smell and he's got pubic hairs makes him try to find solace in the only avenue where he will be judged by the authority he commands - his boys. What he sees is a society that fails to get with his program. Incidentally, his boys will introduce him to cigarettes, alcohol, cheap sex and a new thinking that informs him that there are times when a "no" means a "yes". Especially when it comes from someone who can not follow the verb with a fist.

Girls suddenly become "whores" because the only thing he sees in girls is lack of assertiveness. The fact that she can't go out with 18-years-old him but does so with the 25-years-old who is a striker for Orlando Pirates makes his blood boil. The only time he feels he's man enough is when a girl cries because he called her a "whore". Suppose the girl says, "of course I'm a whore" he gets enraged and beats her. If the girl's brother comes to inquire about the assault and gets jumped (beaten by a gang) then for him it means he's got people who are ready to blindly back his distorted vision, no matter how short-sighted it is. What that says to him is that he can get away with misbehavior. At this stage he shies away from anything that resembles caving in or weakness. There's already something seriously wrong with him but he can't see it because he'd like to believe he is what he says he is.

He only wants to identity with real macho characters while he is far from it. Bill Cosby in Cosby Show was soft, Malcolm X was real, Tupac Shakur was hardcore, Quincy Jones is a baby boomer, Nelson Mandela, well, the jury's still out.

In his distorted image selling he fails to identify with real people who lead real lives. He starts to lead a plastic-silicone life. His role models become cartoon characters like DMX, Ja Rule, Jay Z, 50-Cent etcetera, unaware that theirs is a marketing gimmick. Once the music stops and they get into pyjamas, they are as humble as his father, whom he should emulate is. The media also exaggerates his misconception by presenting the same acts as people to be copied. If still in doubt about how the young black man fails to differentiate between reality and fiction look at those Cape Flats and Westbury fake thugs acting up then ask them who's their role model? They usually scream, "Tupac!" You'll be fooled if you thought they refer to Tupac Amaru Shakur. They don't mean the Tupac who starred in films, wrote beautiful poetry, started community projects and visited patients in hospitals but the characters that he played in films and music videos. They don't refer to the Tupac who wrote Nelson Mandela a poem but the studio act that liked to shout, "I don't give a fuck", while later consulting with accountants to make sure Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was not on his case.

Damn, young black man can't escape giving it (a fuck) because he's not a studio act and the world is not a movie set. He gotta give it because he's got everything to lose if he misses the South African Revenue Service (SARS) deadline. He is today filling prisons to capacity because of his inability to position himself correctly on the puzzle of life and act on reason than instinct. He just has to give a fuck because the world revolves around it.

It's not to say he should start crying at the dropping of a hat but expression of emotions usually frees the spirit and liberates the soul. Crying is an antidote for suicidal tendencies and homicidal fantasies. Most of the young men who refuse to cry often end up acting their anger out by harming other people, very much the ones they claim to love. An understanding needs to be reached that it is not a sign of weakness but a statement that someone is in touch with his inner self to cry, which is something only a real man is capable of.

While acknowledging that "men don't cry, and when they do, it really hurts", a lesson needs to be derived from something former TV Talk show host and former spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs Lesley Mashokwe said in one glossy magazine. He said that he only saw his father cry once, and he respected him more after that. Young black man, live your life. Cut.

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