Another common symptom of PTSD is frankly criminal and thug living. Now, you may not identify as a thug, but be real with yourself, you know you have that side to you. I certainly do. However, not every criminal is a thug and not every thug is a criminal, I understand that. However, they are two sides of the same coin and one often leads to the other. Here's the thing about thug living, our society glamorizes it especially for black youth. Our greatest heroes are often thugs and gangsters. They create a false image through the media, in our music and entertainment industries that promotes the thug life. Man, and it's tempting, right?
Thugs are tough, thugs go through hardships and alway in the grind, but still find a way to survive. Those that don't survive are immortalized in our hearts and minds. Why not be a thug? It seems like that's all life has to offer anyway...Maybe it's not a choice...maybe we're just born into it and there's nothing we can do about it.
Often, in our minds to be black is to be a thug aka to be a real nigga, is it not? If one is smart, educated, thinks for him/herself, then you're considered white, an Uncle Tom, or a house negro. House negroes get no street cred. And street cred goes a long way especially when you don't have money, but how far does street cred go? It won't pay the bills, but it's the immaginary currency of the thugs, the real niggas. We fight over turf, our block, but most of all we're fight for this thing called street cred aka respect. Why? Because all our lives growing up, it was a fight for respect. If you couldn't have money and power, what's left? Most of us are from single family homes, a mom or grandparent raised us. Always treated like children and never like men because there was no man to teach us to be men. So, the boys became thugs, rejects, yet we had a home in each other. And the only way to become a real man is to subdue another. Like every currency, street cred and respect must be taken, it can never be for the common good. So, we take what we can from each other, our own sisters and brothers.
Yet,in reality, the word "thug" is just an idea. It's not real. It's an image we have in our minds, an image fed to us by slaves happy to be slaves and happy to keep everyone around them enslaved. You see in order for a thug to exist, he needs to have a rough neighborhood, perhaps a few run ins with the law, a ghetto, projects, low-income housing or no housing. Thugs do not exist in the suburbs, in the nice areas of town. Why? Because they can't survive in prosperity. A thug needs a story, they need hardship, they need adversity. They can only survive in slavery on the ghetto plantation. Yeah, the thug may be the HNIC on the plantation, but he does not own the plantation, and head or tail, he will never be more than a nigga and a slave. So, step one to economic and psychological freedom is don't be a thug, be yourself. You see, you can't expect the ghetto to change. No, the people in the ghetto have to change first.
Now, thuggery applies just as much to women as it does to men. In women, it is manifested different in the hood rat, the ghetto chick, and the baby mama. Yet, the story is the same, one of hardship, of struggling to get by, of selfishness (me and mine first). There is no community in the mind of the thug boy or girl. As men crave respect and street cred, women want to be desired. Their currency is their appearance. They obsess over their hair and nails, yet cannot find the motivation to get in shape and stop eating KFC and McDonalds. They gossip and talk, produce nothing of value, yet want the world given to them. They desire a man who will go to war for her and dedicate his life to her. Yet, she has nothing to offer in return, so she offers her body. And the vicious cycle continues. But, the cycle is an illusion and can be broken at any time. But it takes daily self-reflection, awareness, and consciousness.
Here's the answer. The answer is to simply be an individual. Right now, everyone is trying their best to be whatever they imagine a "thug" boy or "hood" girl to be. Yet, no one is seeking to be who they are. It is not a matter of going in the opposite direction and becoming a doctor, lawyer, or scientist. It's becoming the man or woman you were born to be. But it takes massive and daily self-reflection. You see, you can change yourself on the outside, but you will still be a slave, until you address the inner delusion created by PTSD. You see, thugs all assume they know who they are. They see a popular image of street life in music, television, or in everyday life and are attracted to that without first examining themselves, their own desires, abilities, and talents. They sacrifice their purpose having never discovered it to the idol of thug living, an image that is not real. You are real. Be you. You are what is real. Discover you.
Now, I'm getting ahead of myself here, but you must break the delisional idea of being a thug. This is difficult because let's face it, thug life is everywhere, in our clothes, in our music, among our friends, and in our home. I am asking you to part with something that's been and likely still is a part of you. Now, your experience is your experience and you can't change that. There will always be a part of you that sympathizes with your former life, friends, or hobbies. Yet, if these things are holding back your greatness, you must examine them. For greatness comes from within. It is not given to you and you can not buy it. You must cultivate it from within.
Thus, when we talk about individuality and being an individual this means separating yourself from anything that is not yourself. What does that mean? You must examine everything in your life to determine if it is aligned with who you are and where you're going. If it is not, you may be able to change that area in your life, influence it for the better, experience it less, or let it go. This is hardest to do with relationships. I am not one to abandon friends, especially lifelong ones, just my ride or die motto, but don't let them hold you back. You're either influencing your friends or they are influencing you, it is never neutral. Raise each other up. If they're truly your friends they'll support you and want to improve their own lives as well.
Once self-reflection has yielded the results you desired, awareness and consciousness are the next steps. Awareness is just as it sounds knowing who you are. While self-reflection is the process of discovering who you are, awareness is the knowing. Consciousness is the knowing in relation to others and the world. We'll examine these topics in more depth later and I have a lot more to say on thug living, but this just provides an overview.
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