July 26 1998
It's amazing how much game you can be laced with if you take the time to sit down and talk to old folks. You often hear people say things like "Those old geezers don't know nothing" or "times have changed. I don't have time to sit down and listen to these old folks babble on and on."
I know I used to feel that way. I mean what in the world would my 81 year old grandmother know about Hip Hop? And what would some of these old timers know about life on the streets? I'm now reaching a point in my life where I now understand that those old folks know a lot more than I think. A lot of what I'm going through today, they went through yesterday. I guess we have some how allowed ourselves to buy into the notion that old folks are feeble minded individuals. How tragic because traditionally we as black people have substained ourselves from the wisdom and insights of our elders.
I recall how my grandfather [now deceased] would give me this song and dance about all these things he went through growing up as a kid in South Carolina. I would be rolling my eyes and say to myself "Oh gosh how BORING." He would tell me things like how this "rap stuff" I was trying to do was just like the "Doo Whop" stuff he was doing as a kid. He would go on and on about how kids would get together and try and sing and get discovered. I also recall him telling me tales about how it was important to get an education.. He prided himself on how well he did in school. He used to tell me about how these musicians he grew up listening to -- got ripped off because they didn't get an education. He also used to tell me to go out and get some property so I would always have a place to live. Back then I wasn't feeling Gramps. What he said didn't click. But life is funny it has a way of flippin' the script.
A lot of us have not come to appreciate the walking treasures that are within our midsts. In fact some of us have complete disdain and total lack of respect. As I said before a lot of these old folks got some game for us. They have knowledge to share and probably some of the solutions to our current woes. I'm amazed at all the stories my grandma tells me about the Harlem Rennaisance. She tells me how she used to see Marcus Garvey around the way as a little girl. My Godmother tells me all types of stories about the civil rights era that she was active in. She tells me how she would on occassion have lunch with Malcolm X. I run into older folks who tell me how the city of Oakland where I currently live had a thriving black downtown. And when I listen more carefully, these elders can chronicle exactly how and why things fell apart. A lot of them have some ideas on how to bring it back. Now I listen carefully and soak it all in.
I guess what I'm asking is for all of us to love and appreciate these walking treasures we call old folks. It seems like theres been a concerted effort to keep us disconnected from there wisdom and timeless insight. The result is our generation reinventing the wheel instead of building off things that already been discovered. Some of those old adages really holds true: "The more things change the more they remain the same." "If you don't know where you came from you won't know where you're going" and "if you don't learn from the mistakes of the past your bound to repeat them."
Like I said, when grandma speaks I now listen and I ask lots of questions. Within her is some knowledge that'll definitely make me a better person. Respond to Davey D at: KingDave@sirius.com
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