Why Representation Matters

Growing up in ends there was definitely a glamorisation towards the road life.

Certain behaviour traits were idolised, whilst other traits were called moist. If you wanted to be socially recognized, part of the cool lot, your path, and in turn your personality was limited. You couldn’t be seen to be getting A‘s in tests or going to the teacher after class to explain a homework problem you didn’t understand.

In my school in particular, although black boys were the minority, we made up a disproportionate amount students in the lower sets. In the top two sets I’d say there were around 5 black boys compared to 15-20 Asian boys, even though we represented around the same number of students in the school population, but possible causes for this could be discussed in another blog. To be cool you were either on ball, on road, or gave the impression that you were on road. These were the only options.

Those lifestyles were romanticised the most. They had the most money, the most expensive clothes, the nicest cars and most importantly the girls loved them.

Representation matters

We need destigmatize the ‘9-5’ and show more young black boys the benefits of working a ‘regular job’.  You can work a 9-5 and still live a lavish lifestyle, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Doing this might be as simple as just being more visible and transparent in our communities.

One of the main motivators in life for men is money, whether you agree with the morals behind it or not. Desirable traits in men such as money, power and respect can all stem from when one has money. So, it would be disingenuous to deny the fact that this is important. But how many young black boys know that there’s just as much, if not more money in a well paying job as opposed to a life on the roads. An investment banking graduate at a top firm can earn upwards of around £50,000 excluding bonuses. Added to that, this regular income and smart money decisions can improve your credit score dramatically which gives access to even more things.

I bet one thing you never heard on road when people were stunting with their watches or new trainer’s is that all that illegal money can’t help you get a mortgage. If you can’t explain legally how you’ve obtained such a large sum of money no bank will be willing to lend you anything.

In the past these types of high paying jobs have been inaccessible to people from ethnic backgrounds, and although things aren’t perfect, they are definitely more progressive now. If you walk around canary wharf today you’ll see quite a few young black professionals in their suits, subconsciously nodding at them even if you’ve never met. On Twitter and Instagram there’s a plethora of young black entrepreneurs and creatives making real moves, from personal trainers to mobile barber shops, to your uni event planners.

All of this eludes to my overarching point, if you can find a hustle that you enjoy and can make you money, keep flexing your success, why wouldn’t you? You’ve worked hard for it, as long as its legal.This is what the young g’s need to see. In this day and age, there are loads of different avenues you can take.

My take home point from this post would be to interact more with your younger brothers, cousins, nephews even boys on the estate, being a mentor to someone or offering some sort of incentive for staying in school and out of trouble, cause I know words can only get you so far with boys, we tend to be hard headed.

For a more experienced and articulate perspective on this topic check out Gavin Lewis’ post who inspired this blog.



The RealTalk Team


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