When Thugs Cry

To all you Gs crying on YouTube--that ain't gangsta!

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It is time to pull this car over and give you gangsta rappers something to cry about. Cry about genocide in Darfur. Cry about the lack of support for the people in Burma. Cry about the displaced New Orleans folks that got gutted and uprooted like seaweed. Cry about poverty, teen-pregnancy rates and joblessness.

But, please, Young Buck, don't cry about your taxes and being kicked out of G-Unit. The Game, stop crying about not being born in the era of hip-hop that would have suited your musical stylings. Because crying is not gangsta, it's soft. (W.W.S.T., What Would Scarface Think?)

This is what happens when young men adopt this gangsta, tough-as-nails image and sell it as real; there's no turning back. You have made your unforgiving, callous, prison bed. Lie in it. As comedian Damon Jr. put it, "if you are gangsta, you need to be gangsta 24/7. There can be no gaps in your gangsta."

So, let's get back to doing what gangstas do. Get out those gang-banging rags, dry those tears and get back to destroying fertile, young black minds. Get back to punching someone in the face for cracking slick about your manager's earpiece (The Game) or stabbing someone at the BET Awards (Young Buck). Keep ripping away at the fabric of the civil rights struggle, the Black Panthers, the Obama campaign. But here is the deal: When the world doesn't bend to you, don't sit on the curb and cry. Keep it gangsta.

Don't get me wrong. I am in no way saying that men can't cry. But the men who are "keeping it real" are the ones who put in eight hours at an honest job, come home and help with the babies. Those men have earned the right to cry because the world is heavy and carrying it can be a load. They have earned the right to cry for days that don't end and money that ain't coming. They have earned the right to cry because they don't make millions of dollars by selling an image saying they don't.

We know that you thug rappers aren't one dimensional. We know that behind that bandana is a scared little boy and a story about being hard. Maybe you were picked on as a kid. Maybe you never knew your father or saw your momma do things to keep her family together that no mother should ever think about doing. Maybe you didn't get that Nintendo you wanted for Christmas or your very best friend moved away. But maybe, just maybe all that rage, sadness, fear and pent-up angst needs to be dealt with on a couch in some therapist's office, instead of creating fictional tales to rap on wax. I guess it's too late for all of that.

To all you gangsta rappers who have made your bread on the backs of youngsters who download your music and mimic your tales of gunplay and drug dealing, I say toughen up and deal with it. Deal with it the way parents have to deal with the image you perpetuate and how it conflicts with the one they know to be the truth.

And remember, this is how you made it big. The only tears that are allowed in your gangsta sphere are tattooed tears for the life of a lost loved one or a life you have taken.

The Game got a little off his gangsta once before when he got a butterfly tattoo on the right side of his face. But he had a change of heart after everyone clowned him. He rebounded by getting an L.A. Dodgers sign tattooed over it, face paint for a modern-day minstrel.

Had you sold us the truth, we may have cried with you. But now you are just jokes with tattooed tears—modern day, gangsta blackface.