A Dream Deferred Is Cool And All But…

There are all kinds of dreams deferred in this picture.

There are all kinds of dreams deferred in this picture.

Let’s just go ahead and set the ninjanet on fire. I think Langston Hughes’ poem “A Dream Deferred” is a terrible poem. Like seriously. I’ve read this joint out loud to myself numerous times. I did an interpretive dance to it once. I read it with a British accent while wearing some leopard print boxer briefs that said “Mufasa”  on the front.

Nada. It didn’t get any better.

In fact, during inauguration weekend, while hanging out with Liz and a gang of her friends, I not only said the poem was terrible, I said that 2 CHAAAAAAINNNNNNZ “Birthday Song” was a better “poem” than “A Dream Deferred.”

Here’s the actual poem by the way:

What happens to a dream deferred?Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.Or does it explode?Officially, that was a step too far. You remember the scene at the end of Barbershop where folks start talking about Dr. Martin Luther Tha King and the old guys get mad? Yeah….say something bad about something that some educated ninja did 70+ years ago and you’re liable to start a race riot.

Ignorance aside – though I’m not joking – while I think the poem itself is seriously wacksauce, the concept of “a dream deferred” is beyond amazing. For the vast many of us, we are the sum totals of many dreams deferred. Michael Jordan kept that in perspective for me during his birthday weekend which I’m just now realizing isn’t a national holiday despite the insane media coverage of him turning the big 5-0. MJ? Very few of his dreams seem deferred. He is a person who managed to make the absolute most of his dreams and then realize them. Many of us are limited by various factors that perhaps cause us to think that our dreams are out of reach.

Or perhaps some of us came up in circumstances that maybe didn’t prohibit our dreams but placed John Coffey sized obstacles in our way at every twist and turn. The point is, I have spent a lot of time just thinking about the words “a dream deferred” and how abstract but poignant they are. So while the poem may be non-sense (to me), I do believe that the very idea is one of the deepest ideals that many of us can internalize. Kind of like how the idea of “The Sum of All Fears” was a much better title than the movie.

So here are a few other things that I think are better in concept and theory than they are in actuality:

Oprah – her heyday is longgone. But somehow, sitting on Oprah’s couch still somehow counts for something even though it really doesn’t.

HBCU’s outside of the ones folks actually respect – Young, sad and blue. But it’s true. The idea of HBCUs is probably centered around the Morehouse/Spelman/Howards of the lot, yet the vast majority aren’t quit…cutting the mustard.

Range Rovers – Every since Jay ethered the now defunct 4.0, the Range has been a hip-hop staple. Yet, just get you a Tahoe and save some dough.

Washington, DC – it’s like a Black resthaven until you realize its small as hell and you will have done everything possible within a year of living here. It seems like what you envision within the lights of Manhattan for ninjas. Then you realize we’ve got a big wang in the middle of our city. And it’s white. Just a confusing city. Viva DC. It’s my hometown now. So I can say this. I pay property taxes.

Kat Williams (conversely, Steve Harvey is worse in theory than he actually is) – Katt isn’t funny. Yet somehow he became, ya know, before he lost his everloving mind, some sort of Black comedian bar. And he sucks. But the idea of him was a fun one. Real ni**a talkin.

“You Don’t Live On My Street” (though I have to admit my bias here because well, I have heard this poem so many times from Spelman women who clearly didn’t live on any street mentioned in the poem. Tweedledee) – see “A Dream Deferred”

Love Jones (though we can argue that what this is and what it represents are one and the same) – just saying but the legacy of Love Jones has completely trumped the actual movie.

Stringer Bell – Idris, while he may look like he does, is nowhere near as cool as the reason we know his name. Stringer, the coolest and closest to some ideal many Black men would love to live was one of the most evil and f*cked up characters on the show.

Well, that’s enough from me for now. What else is better in theory or concept than in actuality? And by the way, please direct all hate mail about my “A Dream Deferred” comment to this email address.


link of the week: oversexed…or not





a couple years ago, i served on a county-wide teen pregnancy prevention board, composed of 30 or so members of social service agencies and nonprofits in the greater pittsburgh area.

we’d meet bi-monthly, eating catered jimmy johns while cementing happy hour plans and discussing new and unique ways to convey “stop f*cking!!!!” to all of the teens in allegheny county.

although i’d usually spend most of my time there devising theories on why women with, ummm, “relaxed” sexual standards seem to be disproportionately represented in social service occupations (my best theory? guilt), i did pay enough attention to be able to recite and recall a few surprising statistics. one in particular stood out above the rest.

the four numbers at the beginning represent the usual answers i receive when asking someone…

“if you had to guess, what percentage of high school students would you say are sexually active?”

obviously, in this oversexualized era of bust-it-babies, club window skeet, lug’s (lesbians until graduation), pregnancy packs, exposed snizzle backfat, and mclovin, those numbers should be astronomical, right? i mean, when we were in school, teachers taught you how to read right…not how to lay pipe. sh*t, nowadays kids are probably running trains in 3rd grade, using the fruit-rollups their 15 year old mothers packed for their lunches as makeshift edible condoms. right?


the answer (48%) is just more evidence that our perception of us being “oversexed” is a stark contrast to the reality, a concept further addressed in tara parker-pope’s “the myth of rampant teenage promiscuity”, an article published in the new york times debunking a few commonly-held notions.

“there is a group of kids who engage in sexual behavior, but it’s not really significantly different than previous generations,” said maria kefalas, an associate professor of sociology at st. joseph’s university in philadelphia and co-author of “promises i can keep: why poor women put motherhood before marriage” (university of california press, 2005). “this creeping up of teen pregnancy is not because so many more kids are having sex, but most likely because more kids aren’t using contraception.”

although this focuses on teens, i believe that this commonly held idea of rampant promiscuity transcends age. it seems like promiscuous adults assume that everyone else is promiscuous, and, for whatever reason, unpromiscuous adults assume that theyre the only one who arent promiscuous, despite factual data that proving the contrary.

also, despite what many of us would like to believe, sex was not invented in 1998. the few of us who are “gotdamning” every night aint the first, and certainly wont be the last people on the planet to do it. sh*t, baby-boomers are called baby-boomers because there was a baby-boom as a result of all the f*cking our grandparents were doing!!

so, people of vsb, do you agree? is our perception of what’s happening in the bedrooms and bar bathrooms of america deeply flawed? if so, why? what factors have contributed to this line of thinking?

—the champ