With only two words, some twentysomething instantly set the world of social media on fire and revived a term unheard of from most in generations following mine. Shit, I’m not even certain folk my age are fully aware of the term, so let’s begin there (y’all know I build from the foundation up). Boomer is short for baby boomer, a moniker given to a person born during the baby boom, especially one born in America in the years following the second World War (1946-1965). I am the product of two baby boomers. My mother is a true baby boomer, as she is the daughter of a WWII vet. The men that went to Europe and Asia with the stars and stripes on their backs and survived to defeat Hitler, Mussolini them (my gpa was a soldier in the segregated US Army but that’s an entirely different blog) came home horny as a MF. I mean, can you blame them? They returned home to begin life as mostly young war veterans. For most white vets and a couple Black vets (smh), there was federal legislation to ensure their success back home (the G.I. Bill). This stability allowed vets to start families with low risk of economic strain.
Now that I gave y’all the definition and origin of the term I’ll make my way to the point of this blog. So back to the “Ok, boomer” line. It was a response to a response. It was a comeback to some type of criticism. The “Ok, boomer” was simple, yet it hit like Iron Mike hit Mitch Green that night (early morning) long ago in front the liquor store by Dapper Dan’s on 2fifth in Harlem. It basically said, “shut your old ass the fuck up.” Talk about a flash knockout. It immediately became the ubiquitous retort to anyone who was perceived to speak from a pure age perspective. It offered no true retort, only a healthy dose of ageism.
Ageism is a tendency to regard older persons as unworthy of attention purely because of age. It had long since permeated Black culture but with a single tweet announced that it was also the overall standard of today’s “social media is so virtual that it is the actual norm” world we live in. Let’s be honest. It’s been prevalent in Black culture since shortly after desegregation. When we were separated, we were united. It didn’t take long for the unity to dissipate shortly after desegregation. You can get as mad as you want about my perspective. I respect your right to your opinion. But I said what I said. There are plenty of factors that can be thrown into the pot, but the fact remains. Drugs (distribution and use) played a huge role. Government policy and subsequent criminal cases/convictions proved to be disproportionately detrimental to us skinned folk. Black mentalities dating back to the cotton fields also played a role. Throw all that in a witch’s brew and the times have damn sure changed. Apathy is the norm in so many cases nowadays. And it all plays its part in ageism. Once upon a time, the elders were easily the most cherished members of the household and village. I’m not Asian, but I’m pretty sure that this has never changed in some Asian cultures. But we, largely, have gone astray. I know what you’re thinking. You love the shit out your grandma. Of course, you do. Grandma/nana/big mama raised a bunch of you. But I’m speaking from a broad perspective. We don’t give our older folk the grace the way we used to.
The easiest example is the world of hip-hop. Many in the rap community (both fans and artists) nowadays have little to no love for the artists of their parents’ generation and those prior. They are quick to undercut the greatness of already established great projects and artists while proclaiming their favorite current rapper to be a #GOAT. Thirty is old. Forty is ancient. But to me, that’s just the result of the internet. We live in a microwave culture. We need it quick, fast, and in a hurry. Everything has to be current; an hour ago has already been forgotten. When I was a young hip-hop junkie your favorite artist dropped once a year --- maybe. You had to be in an urban area to see the visual promo or read The Source magazine to be up on game. Otherwise a new release came as a very pleasant surprise during a trip to the mall or local record store. Now there’s the internet. You get info by the second. Soundcloud made artists of any kid with a computer, internet, and microphone. Music is uploaded all day, every day, and is streamed and accessible on every continent with a few touches of a phone screen. Way back when, we rocked Mobb Deep’s The Infamous album all junior year into our senior year of high school consistently (still do). In sharp contrast, a couple years back Weezy dropped his album after a five year “hiatus”. The world went crazy. I mean, his fans and the industry alike had been demanding to hear his new album for three years or better. But there was the money situation with the label…anyway…he dropped the album, leading with the Swizz track with Dep’s “Special Delivery” (1-1-5, free my guy) sample and it was hot on the books. A week or two later, everyone had already moved on --- literally.
But back to the point. We are in a time where age and experience have been devalued. Few youngsters seek wisdom from older folk. But I don’t blame the youth. It’s our fault, meaning society and culture. We taught them to get money. We didn’t teach them that there’s more to it than get money. We laid the capitalist manifesto down but forgot to incorporate the golden rule. We made them ruthless. We also did a lot of slighting the youth. A lot of older folk didn’t embrace the young ones who traveled in their same paths. Instead of embracing and guiding them, they shunned and excluded. Look at the rap game (again). Over the years, a lot of older rappers have been reluctant to putting the younger cats on, whether literally or just putting them up on game that would allow them to become fishermen. So, when the young kids make it and the older guys fade into oblivion (and could use an alley from a young cat), they’re like “man fuck y’all.” I don’t blame them. That’s why I’ve always chosen to embrace the youth. I’m a put my young boys up on game so (hopefully) they avoid stupid mistakes and decisions (like me). I didn’t always have that guidance, so I try to be that cat to provide it. And when I speak on guidance, I’m not referring to guidance from home or family. Why? Because we all know youngsters tend to reject anything coming from the home (I did). But they will accept it from an outside source whom they respect because it’s subconsciously reinforcement. They heard it from home. They just weren’t trying to hear that shit. But hearing it from that brother they respect yet has no ties to them leaves a mark. A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise man learns from others’ mistakes.
So --- here we are, smack in the middle of the IDGAF era. I call it a “MEocracy.” That means it’s all about me. Fuck you, your opinion, and those dusty ass sneakers you have on. Everyone's an expert on everything. And no one is trying to hear shit from anyone who isn’t in lockstep with their cause. This truth has no attached age range. We are all largely guilty. Young and old. But the thing is, the youngsters have youth on their sides. They also have hindsight enough to see all the mistakes we made before them. Any preaching that involves hypocrisy is quickly shut down. “Do as I say, not as I do” has been dead for a long, long time. This era of kids was born with the internet. They catch on quick. In a nutshell, they’re not trying to hear that shit. They are young with their own opinions and beliefs. They’ve largely been failed or underwhelmed by those that came before them and they have no desire to look to the past for guidance. But this is nothing new. It happens from generation to generation. But like I said, these kids were born into the internet age. They were raised with social media. You can’t pee on their legs and tell them it’s raining. They know better. So, the respect is all the way out the window. Empty words of wisdom are largely a thing of the past.
I don’t have a remedy, other than what I do. I speak candidly. You can’t lie to the youth. Painting a false narrative only leads to disappointment and rebellion. You gotta keep it a bean with the youth. They catch on quick. They know bullshit when they smell it. Even more important, you have to listen to the youth. They have a collective voice and they have their own individual voice. Respect is a two-way street. They will not listen unless you too listen. In many cases, you’ll probably have to be willing to be the one to listen first. Yes, we have been down the roads they’re traveling. But we didn’t have to deal with all the shit they have to deal with. These aren’t simpler times. The world changed drastically after 9.11.01. It only got worse that first Tuesday in November 2016. Listen to the babies, and they’ll listen to you. You never know, you may learn a thing or two. That’s my time y’all. Y’all be cool how y’all be cool.