By Dorcas Sarkozy
Today, I want to talk about the men and women who bloviate about ‘being real’ or spend time inundating us with the phrase ‘keeping it real/100%.’ To the uninitiated, the phrase ‘keeping it real’ or ‘keeping it 100%’ means that you are being honest and that what people see is what they get.
There is nothing wrong with being truthful or honest. In fact, it goes along way in establishing credibility and integrity. However, most folks now use the phrases as ways of expressing traits or things that hardly qualify as items that bolster credibility or integrity.
A grown man or woman who can barely read or write coherently will briskly hit you with the phrase : ” I will keep it real with you man, I can’t read or write because I was expelled from school way back when i was a child! And by the way, I started ‘hustling’ in the streets because me and school, we don’t see eye-to-eye! I am keeping it 100% with you!” How can one brag about not getting an education?
A man who decides to join a local gang and then gets arrested and goes to jail while all his friends are either dead or in jail with him, decides to brag about how he is ‘keeping it real.’ The irony here is that a jailbird is bragging about toughness and how ‘hard’ he is in the safety of a maximum security prison! How he derives some degree of toughness while restrained with shackles is beyond me! But to him, he is the epitome of toughness and he got there because he was ‘keeping it real.’
A lady who trades her books and school uniforms for Koinange street can suffocate you with tales, trials and tribulations of a street hooker. She will describe the contours of the hide-and-seek games they play with the authorities and some of the challenges she confronts with different clientele on a daily basis, but her story wouldn’t be complete before dropping this right here. You guessed it: She is ‘keeping it real!’
I am not saying that ‘keeping it real’ is wrong. Many people keep it real in a meaningful way. An individual who experienced the Biblical Saul-to-Paul moment can use the phrase in an inspiring way. A former thug who has ‘seen the light’ and became a devout Christian or Muslim can epitomize the positive side of keeping it real.
A former hooker who quit the trade after some soul searching and decided to go back to school and get her degree can one day ‘keep it real’ to belligerent school girls or female juvenile delinquents by explaining to them that ‘ keeping it real’ can mean something different.
A reformed individual who did time for his misconduct by serving his jail sentence, can be an inspiration to other young men who are contemplating joining gangs by showing them the scars that ‘toughness’ can bring on board.
You can sing all day about keeping it real, but make sure that you are doing it to inspire or send a poignant message. However, if your version of ‘keeping it real’ is to highlight your toughness or inability to read and write, you are keeping it real DUMB