What if you were raised in a good home, with strong family ties, a sturdy religious foundation, cocooned by people who believed in your future successes? Let us add another layer. What if, even with all that good fortune, those same people also happened to be slightly bad ass, maybe gun toting, maybe unafraid of beating another man to the pulp in front of a nine year old and a seven year old child. Maybe some of those people who taught you culture also smoked weed, wielded machetes and drove around with machine guns to protect your family when your island’s government was overthrown for days by a radical group?
Let’s add another layer. What if that girl grew up, followed a very structured intellectual path but was able to connect with people of all walks of life, some of those walks being the streets, the inner cities, the walks that live the lives rappers spew on their number one singles?
Who then is that woman? Is she an intellect because of her educational background? Or is she cultured because she knows first hand of classical music, performance arts and proper etiquette? Is she “street” because she dances to hip hop, proudly recites rap verses, understands the code of honor and has been in situations so illegal they are better off told in fictional novels if they are to be told at all?
Must she pick a side? Why does it even matter? It does not. That’s the real answer, but human nature makes people want to fit others into little structured boxes, neatly packed so that their under stimulated brains can process the person as categorized, recognized, and therefore safe.
I recently performed in a play; my role was a high school braniac (shocking) stuck between a goth and a cheerleader. Cut and dry. Is that how you want to be remembered? Cut. And. Dry? I’ll pass.