We all want to be extra-ordinary but unlike Neo, we keep choosing the blue pill and “the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe”. How about once, just once, we let ourselves see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
(Half of you are rolling your eyes while the other half is smiling and pressing their noses to the screen- my people)
Pale skin and blue eyes did not stop this man from entering rap battles and crushing them until Dr. Dre found his cassettes and made him immortal. The world coated his albums with layers of platinum as the Marshal Mathers LP became the fastest selling album in rap history. His music was creative and unapologetic, and I fell for it like a ton of bricks; emotional catharsis, narcotic lyrics, hypnotic beats…polite society be damned. Eminem always had a tough time getting accepted into the black hip-hop scene. He’s been called a wigger, a culture stealer, even a rap Hitler. He did not shy away from that debate, but engages it through his music. He accounted for his Whiteness without being apologetic about it, and that’s what makes him a real gangsta in my books.
It turns out that being yourself is the most radical thing you can do.
If you think cartoons are for kids, let me prevail upon you. You weren’t ready for Japanese animation.
The oldest shaman in the wisest village cannot hold a candle to the lessons of strength and pursuit of dreams like anime. You will die a thousand deaths and crawl back for more. Blockbusters like The Matrix, Inception and Ghost In The Shell draw heavily from it. Industries have risen and fallen because of it. Anime does to your imagination what butter does for your toast, Lion King did to your childhood and Viagra can supposedly do for your sex life (I’m serious: you’re not ready). Don’t worry, it’s mostly PG-13…mostly.
Ahem. Lesson. We’re going to learn from an animated character here, guys, so clutch your pearls.
Wielding the three-sword style, this character vows to become the best swordsman in the world. Every day, he pushes his mind and body to the limit and every day he is not satisfied with his effort. Countless battles have rendered his body bruised and battered but his back does not have a single scar because he never runs from a fight. If this guy were in the real world, his black belt would absorb light.
The truly gangsta part about him is this: whenever praised, he shrugs and says:
(ore ni wa kankei nai)
Translation: That has nothing to do with me.
Women In Space
Have you watched Hidden Figures yet?
The idea of black women in the turbulent 60s as active contributors to the NASA space program was unheard of, even to me. I had no clue these women were some of the legendary engineers, analysts and mathematicians (‘computers’) who calculated flight trajectories for Americans to travel in space and to the moon. Racism and prejudice forced them to become pioneers because no one was willing to give them a seat at the table. They had to fight for every chance they got. Mercury 13 is another film that also highlights a robust bunch of female pilots who underwent rigorous testing only to be “asked to step aside as only men are selected for spaceflight.”
Don’t let other crabs in the bucket drag you down with their sameness and safe limits. The difference between a pioneer and the rest of us is that pioneers don’t choose to be radical. They just play their own game, regardless of what that means for everyone else. They choose the red pill because it is who they are.
So be you. Do you. And let everything else can burn because it has absolutely nothing to do with you.
Krish Vignarajah, originally from Sri Lanka, is currently running for governor in Maryland, U.S.A. She’s the only candidate who has worked at the White House. She’s also the only immigrant on the field and the only woman on the ballot. She gets racist and sexists comments every single day. The truly gangsta part about her is this: when people say to her, “You don’t look the part,” she replies:
This is what the part looks like.
And that, boys and girls, is the true definition of a gangsta.