You CAN Judge a Book by It’s Cover. Look at our kids.


It's not just black men.

The above picture was posted by a Friend on Facebook. This friend is a college educated black woman from Texas. I would estimate her age to be in her late 30s-early 40s (Context is King as always). Her Facebook post went on to lament the loss of self-respect so many black men have undergone in the past several decades. I couldn’t agree more. But I think the problem extends beyond young African-American men.

What do you see in the photos above. The men on the left are young and wearing clean modern (at the time) clothing. They would be well received no matter where they went; the exceptions being the well documented racists that prohibited all blacks from entry or use of “White Only” facilities back in the era depicted.

The “men” on the right would be looked upon with suspicion no matter where they went. As they should be. They are clearly trying to look “Gangsta” or “tough”, if you will. And it’s not just the underwear. It’s the whole look…the tats, the bling, the attitude.

For the record I don’t “blame” the guys on the right for trying to present a “tough” image. I did too when I was younger. I’m a big guy. And when I was in my 20s I had a marvelous long black leather overcoat. I always had a moustache and frequently a thick goatee (as I do now). I wore my hair long, but not dangling below my shoulders. And I was often attired in cowboy boots. I thought I was quite the tough guy in a sort of

Man with No Name

The man with no name

Clint Eastwood” sort-of way. So I know the tough guy mentality. Having a sense of intimidation about you just by the way you look is kinda cool.

But these guys don’t bring Clint Eastwood to mind, or John Wayne

John Wayne

John Wayne

, or Sylvester Stallone

Rambo (film)

as Rambo, or Indiana Jones either.

Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones

All tough-guy characters from my youth I would have been happy to be compared to. They bring to mind criminals, hoods, gangsters. They look much more like Morgan Freeman from “Street Smart

Cover of "Street Smart"

Cover of Street Smart

than “Se7en”; Denzel Washington from “Training Day” not “The Pelican Brief“. Society has gone too far. Instead of admiring the good-guy tough guy, we’ve gone to the bad-guy street smart, gun-toting tough guy as the model so many of our young people admire and want to emulate, both white and black.

Ten-to-twelve years ago my then teen-age white brother did his very best to disappointment our mother by wearing the baggy pants with underwear showing and hat turned backwards. He looked ridiculous, as everyone who puts on that sort of image does.

The baggy pants fashion-look stems directly from one source…criminals, more specifically prisoners. Prisoners would remove draw strings from sweat pants in order to have a ready choking weapon available whenever they needed. Then they would pass through the prison with one hand on their pants to keep them from falling down. On the streets the fashion gained popularity for similar practical reasons. The space created in the crotch of the pants was handy for storing guns, or drugs and not having a bulge in your pockets for all to see.

If, like me, you don’t want your kids to emulate criminals you, as a parent, have no one but yourself to blame if your boys wear such outrageous clothing and then act the part. As parent YOU buy the clothes most of the time. And even if you don’t you can tell your kids and even your young adults what you will tolerate. Tell them you will not tolerate them looking like hoods. A parent has so much power that too many of them fail to wield. And too often its in the false name of freedom, letting the kids learn and do what they want. But if you raise your kids to do what they want and they do bad and they hang with the wrong people we all know that they’ll be limited in their lives economically and socially as adults. So how is that freedom? Isn’t it best when they’re young to steer them to a set of paths that will expand their choices and thus their freedom when they’re older, when it matter’s most?

Santorum Drops By Iowa State Fair

Santorum Drops By Iowa State Fair (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has mentioned research studies that reveal three things people can do that virtually guarantee a life devoid of poverty. First- work; get and keep a job. Second- graduate high school. Third- avoid having children until you are married. According to Santorum, and the studies he’s siting, do these three SIMPLE things and only 2-percent of us will spend any time in our lives in poverty. Don’t do them and you’re virtually guaranteed of struggles in your life, including some period spent in poverty.

Contrary to a dumb old saying you CAN judge a book by its cover. You can’t judge everything…but you can tell if it’s a used book, well-worn, well-read, old book, new book, long read or short read. If it’s a paperback or has a jacket cover on it you can see images that project what’s happening within the inner pages. In fact a lot of the images on paperbacks and book jackets reveal an awful lot about the story’s climax. You CAN judge a lot by a books cover.

So don’t blame the punks on the right for wanting to look “tough”. Blame them for not wanting to emulate tough guys that also happen to be good guys. And blame their parents and our society for not providing enough of them AND for being far too tolerant of the “bad”.

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  1. Agreed. Except: “. So I know the tough guy mentality. Having a sense of intimidation about you just by the way you look is kinda cool”.
    Really? In what kind of way? What does it say to others? I remember in Jr and High school some thought it was cool to wear pants low on hips (not like these jerks) with an ultra thin belt to hold them up. It was great fun to “pants” them. Just walk up behind and give a little downward jerk on the back pockets. The big bad tough guys didn’t retaliate because they did the same thing and we all laughed together. Yes, the black guys too.
    Do that today and a gun falls out. That takes us back to the parents, eh?
    And thanks for listening. 🙂

    • I am not particularly proud to open that side of me from my past. I remember telling this to my wife years ago and she was equally mystified as you appear to be. Having a sense of being intimidating by my above average size and appearance gave me a feeling of strength. Fortunately I now gain my sense of strength and confidence from more acceptable means such as intellect and actual accomplishment and of course the love of a good woman. Thanks for the comment.

  2. The ONLY problem with this assessment is that these “jerks”: 1) have a “job”; 2) became millionaires before most seniors graduate from high school; and 3) don’t have any children. Kudos for the Santorum theory. But, I think that ‘dumb’ adage actually makes more sense than what you’re suggesting.

    What’s interesting is that the guys on the right are living the American Dream of making money and creating business, but don’t fit the American pie picture, but are well-received around the globe. The guys on the left look the part, but wouldn’t be received at “well documented racists that prohibited all blacks from entry or use of “White Only” facilities back in the era depicted.” And, you’re argument is that Black guys look to be the guys on the left.

    Like I said, interesting …

    • The only way anyone can take your presumptions seriously is if the guys on the right are, in fact, multi-million dollar rappers and I don’t know or recognize who they are. Something I admit is entirely possible.
      Short of that you again are showing your ignorance. I have know idea whether these guys on the right have jobs and neither do you. You’re a fool if you think they are millionaires. The wanna be gang-banger rap artists they are emulating might be millionaires but those who emulate them usually are not and usual occupy the lower end of the social and economic spectrum as they should if you choose to make your whole personage based on looking and acting like a criminal. They are not well received around the globe…they are looked upon with suspicion and fear because that’s what they want. (Again…if in fact these guys really are rich and famous and I don’t know who they are I stand corrected. If, as they are being depicted, they merely represent the average wanna-be gangsta rappers I stick by my points)
      What a shock that you, Leon, would come out only luke warm for 1.Jobs 2. Graduating H.S. and 3. Waiting to have children until married. You’re so filled with whitey hate that you sound like an idiot, because only an idiot wouldn’t enthusiastically endorse all three of the above. Take your hate somewhere else. Nobody but fellow idiots is buying. Again…I challenge you to say something…anything positive about anyone or anything.

      • At this point, I may need to apologize to you because now I feel like I’m picking on your ignorance. It was clear that you once again chose to take a stand on an issue you were ill-informed about. So, for this response, I’ll tone down my sarcasm and condescending feelings toward your comments. I’ll also try to address each one as I understand them.

        The guys in the right picture are millionaire rap artists (Bow Wow (left) and Soulja Boy (right)). So, obvioulsy they do have jobs, I was fully aware of this and accordingly based my comments on the “facts” as best can be understood regarding their financial gains. Further, this goes to my point that you obviously cannot judge a book by its cover, contrary to your claim.

        While Bow Wow and Soulja Boy are projecting an image that is based on a culture borne out of the penitentiary system, and emulating such perpetuates a culture of jail-minded drones (which I abhor, by the way), nothing that these artists are doing is illegal. In fact, if you or anyone would make a moral claim, I would suggest that those who are making millions of more dollars off of the backs of these rap artists are generally dressed likethe gentlemen in the left picture. Somehow, we can always forgive criminal behavior when conducted in a Brooks Brothers. That’s why this picture is so egregious, as it looks to perpetuate group thinking. If the rappers were dressed in Gap sweaters and khakis they would still be menacing to some people. Further, your attempt to downplay the fact that the gentlemen on the left were well-dressed, but only had to deal with their civil rights being marginalized is terribly awkward, at best.

        There is another picture that is circulating the web that captures Snoop Dog and Martha Stewart on her cooking show. The caption reads: Only one of them is a convicted felon. Like the picture you chose to discuss, that Snoop/Stewart picture looks to point out that we cannot judge books by their cover. You were convinced that I was a fool to think that they were millionaires…I guess, it wasn’t a foolish suggestion after all. Again, advantage to the adage.

        And, I’ve noticed you tend to read what you want out of my comments. Where’s the luke warm reception to what Santorum is saying? I said kudos to his point. It’s probably one of the few intelligent things I’ve heard him say. I would add that having a job is not the only path out of poverty, but I’ll assume he meant to include small business owners as well. Because ownership is the link to wealth and not simply working for someone else.

        Now, regarding my “whitey hate”. I honestly can’t take that seriously. I have had the pleasure of having the best professors, mentors and friends of all races. They all know my position on world views and I know theirs. We respect one another. Any “hate” you think you are picking up from I can assure you is not directed toward any one person. I think in terms of institutions and systems. THIS is why you and I disagree. You see Obama, or liberals or the Dems as the problem. I see problems through an institutional or systematic lens. So, any given social issue relies very little on the color of the face of the oppressor. Oppression is unacceptable regardless of the race of the person (or people) in charge.

        And, finally, if you want to see positive comments from me on your posts, then I would suggests you write something positive. I’d be happy to write in kind. Unless, by positive you mean you only want to see comments that reinforce what you already believe and do not challenge the fundamental premise of your logic. However, if you are open to honest dialogue, consider toning down the rhetoric that drips with micro-aggressions against people who do not look like you, live like you or love like you.


      • The fact that these two individuals have made themselves wealthy by exploiting an image that is generated from criminals is hardly reason for me to change my position of that shared by many if not most Americans. Nor is my ignorance of their identity one in which I feel humbled. How many black Americans would recognize a picture of Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson? I dare say, few. Hell, a lot of RUSH fans wouldn’t recognize Alex Lifeson. And as I stated in the blog this picture came to my attention after it had been posted on FB by a middle-aged black woman.
        My referencing to the well dressed men on the left being welcome or accepted anywhere they go projects more to today’s culture than the time in which they depict (I keep writing depict because I have my doubts as to whether the photo really originated in the 1950s). You should know that. But like always you look for the bad instead of the good. Obviously I abhor racism and the exclusions blacks faced in the 50s (and other decades).
        There is no doubt some people make millions in part by looking outrageous. But how many Madonna’s and Lady Gaga’s are there in the world? How many Elton John’s or Bow Wow’s? As a percentage those who rise up to success at some level or another who present themselves in a conventional appearance far out weigh those who frighten society by dawning an appearance that at best is outrageous and at worst is like that of a criminal. If you can, great! But most cannot. These are the facts. And these are the facts that need to be shared with our youth. You want to be happy and successful? Play the odds. You don’t want to play the odds and “express yourself” in a manner that makes many uncomfortable? That’s fine too. But deal with the consequences and quit bitching about it. And in advance of your predictable attack don’t be a hypocrite. You, like everyone else, would find yourself feeling uncomfortable at best were you in the presence of some white racist dawning a leather clad skin-head look, or Southern Rebel Flag waving redneck. You CAN judge a book by its cover. Sometimes, sometimes you may judge wrongly…but many if not most of the time you can pick out people’s character pretty readily.

  3. Bernie Madoff wore a suit. Now, that’s a hell of a cover.

    You’re point about Madonna and Lady Gaga is well taken. It speaks to the absurdity of the comparison in this picture. Would a depiction of a leader in the women’s suffrage movement, dressed conservatively compared to an outrages costume of Lady Gaga begging the question: what happened, make any sense? I think not.
    Further, I do see this a lame attempt to demonize those angry, menacing, white-hating black guys. While culturally Americans glamorize white male bad guys. Uh, oh, I think that was more whitey hatred. (FYI: I’ll be sharing this term with everyone I know)

    Essentially, these (and other) rappers are dressed in costume to sell an image that sells a product. I bet those record company and distribution exec guys that peddle this entertainment wear the best suits on the market. But, somehow, they are respectable because they wear suits. Talk about exploiting!

    I’ve suggested before that you’re an Establishment guy who’s all for conformity. I think this blog underscores that idea of get along to get ahead i.e. play the odds. Don’t rock the boat (or stop bitching). Look like this and then you won’t be so menacing (to folks that don’t want to hire you anyway). That is so not rock-n-roll. I’m sure you’ve read Clockwork Orange, the mission of the youth is to upset the balance, the mission of the old folk is to maintain the status quo.

    Things eventually equal themselves out in this respect. Culturally, tatoos and saggy baggy pants means something to this generation. I have no idea why, but it resonates with them deeply. At some point, if the rap career doesn’t pan out, and they avoid prison or death, they’ll have to earn a living somehow. And, usually bad-boys become good guys. Sometimes, as you point out, they even become bloggers.

    P.S. My whitey hatred forces me to distrust ALL white people regardless of the garb they are adorned in LOL

    • Regarding your P.S.- That’s obvious.
      Here’s a suggestion in the future read ALL of what I write. Like I initially posited I was a big black leather jacket wearing tough guy in my youth. And yes, in terms of appearance I am a lot more conformist now…kinda (if you consider a goatee and cowboy boots conformist). But I didn’t push the limits of what might be considered acceptable. Emulating criminals does.
      And, you’re right. Bad guys often do become good guys with age and maturity. But sometimes they don’t. And in the meantime I’m not willing to excuse the bad, even if it can be attributed to youth. Why? Because there are plenty of youths of all races, stripes, backgrounds that don’t ever go bad. What I am, and you can go ahead and call me this is intolerant. Tolerance is an entirely overrated quality.
      And by the way when referencing your friends you sound like so many of those naive bigoted white people who always say “One of my best friends is black” whenever its revealed they’re being bigoted.

      • You’re last comment is laughable and pathetic, much like the premise of this post. I’m sure you believe pre-judging (or prejudices) are an adequate benchmark as it clearly resonates with the repressed bigot obviously dying to come out of you. It is curious that you continue to be the first one to call someone racist, but continually espouse racist rhetoric, seems fishy.

      • As usual! I can’t expect racists like you to understand. Take your hatred elsewhere. It’s no longer interesting.

      • Racist is as racist does. You’re a classic example of a so-called conservative. Always with the name calling, but cry foul when the same tactic is used on them. Either grow a pair or learn how to debate with the personal attacks.

      • Racist is as racist does. You’re a classic example of a so-called conservative. Always with the name calling, but cry foul when the same tactic is used on them. Either grow a pair or learn how to debate without the personal attacks.

  4. Anyone who follows this thread or past comments by you should be able to tell who is the racist. Calling out people for bad behavior is not racist though you whitey hating types can’t stand it when any white person is critical of the actions of a black man or woman. That just makes us racists, doesn’t it? Well…I live my life as I live my life and only an absolute fool would think to call ME a racist. Guess what that makes you, Leon?
    And in remembering the clique’ “Who’s the fool? The fool, or the one arguing with the fool?” I will step aside from further involvement with you.

    • I know you’re trying your best at being a Fox News pundit, but your coming off as sophmoric. We obviously have different perspectives which you have equated to me being racist. The clear theme is that those who disagree with you are racist or stupid. You should reread all of your posts and responses. You might be enlightened. But, based on what I’ve seen…you probably won’t.

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