I took my sons to see the movie, Straight Outta Compton despite protestation from their father who was worried about the “R” rating and subject content. No, I didn’t want my 13 and 14 year old sons to see naked women bumping and grinding, but I did want them to be exposed to what life was like for African American young men during the eighties because unfortunately, very little has changed.
My spouse and I are not wealthy although we hold titles of attorney and physician. We struggle to keep our sons in private school on public servant salaries. Most of our sons’ school friends’ live privileged lives filled with 5,000 and 10,000 square foot homes replete with generational wealth, private jets, boats, guest homes and nannies. However, don’t get me wrong. My sons’ school mates are nice kids. Very nice kids who are well mannered and polite.
As an African American mother, I want my sons to fully understand that despite their private school education, their reality is very different from their friends. At the drop of a dime, they could be stopped by police and end up dead or become victims of a Black-on-Black crime – and end up dead. A wrong look. An accidental bump during a basketball game. Wearing the wrong colors in a neighborhood. Speaking to someone’s girl are not innocuous occurrences. In the world of young African American males, they could all lead to death.
My sons love Hip Hop despite my failed attempts to get them to appreciate smooth jazz, acid jazz or even R&B. Their heroes are artists such as NWA whose journey took them from the streets of Compton to the board room at Apple and the movie industry. My sons needed to see what that journey looked like on the big, digital screen.
Is Straight Outta Compton for everyone? Probably not. But as an African American mother, it sure worked for me.