Real recognize real, so I decided to write you today. I’m from (and live) in the Southside of Chicago so I understand street politics. I know that you can’t let disrespect go unchecked because you have to fend for yourself. The police that are suppose to watch out for us are the very ones that hurt us. Teachers don’t care what goes on in the school because they’re too busy focused on other things. No one is watching out for us. No one is looking out for our best interest. Therefore, we must do it for ourselves. That is why disrespect can’t go unchecked. I know that letting a little disrespect slide opens the door for people to get bolder with their antics. But let me say again – I live in “Chiraq.” After so many killings I’ve come to ask certain questions, questions I will ask you now…
1. Whose respect are you fighting for?
2. How much is their respect worth?
3. How would your life be different if people respected you enough not to disrespect you again?
It’s clear you’re reaching for respect because since your viral video, you’ve posted at least four more videos of yourself fighting other girls. Don’t be fooled by these folks out here that “like” or “retweet” every fight video you post. Their respect is worth less than the cost of a rock in my backyard. And I’m telling you, if you reach out for their respect you’ll forever be hungry but never satisfied. ALL YOU HAVE IN THIS WORLD IS YOUR NAME. That’s it. Don’t let it be ruined by folks who could care less for you.
You’ve seen the stupid memes on Instagram…
You are part of a world larger than yourself Sharkeisha. There are many women with names like yours that can’t get jobs because employers associate any name ending in “eisha” with words like: ghetto, ratchet, trashy, uneducated, loud, obnoxious, etc. As far as they are concerned, you prove their point.
Did you read what happened with Teyana Taylor from Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label? She lost a huge contract this month with Adidas all over a verbal fight she had with Rihanna over Twitter back in September. Even though her fight, like yours, speaks little to the person that she actually is, all Adidas saw was some angry black woman named Teyana that’s too embarrassing too associate with. And the result? They distanced themselves from her.
Learn from Teyana’s situation because unlike the jokers that like every video you post, in the real world your name is all you have. By the real world, I mean the racist male-dominated one. The one where you’ll have to find a job, start a career and live your life. And just like Teyana, the world will distance themselves from you if they get a chance. That is not a life you want to live.
I write this because, if my research serves me correct, you’re 16 years old. Soon you’ll be seen as an adult legally. All the advantages of being a youth will end. You will be out here in the world with just your name and your skills, and so far a good street fighter by the name of Sharkeisha will not get you far. How will you make money off of that? Build a career off of that? Start a life based on that? And do you think that these videos won’t come back to bite you? I assure you they will. Remember, we live in a racist, unfair society. The moment the world has a chance to distance themselves from you – they will.
Personally, I don’t want to see you on WorldStarHipHop again still fighting as a woman in her twenties and thirties. I don’t want you to be the laughing stock of some nigga somewhere who’s unemployed searching the internet. Don’t live for the respect of a nobody.
True respect, the kind that lasts and enriches your life, comes from fighting battles for people instead of fighting people themselves. The life of Nelson Mandela is a prime example of that. Or Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and so forth. But these are lofty examples so I’ll provide my own…
I am very respected here in Chiraq. Not because I beat people up, but because I serve my people. Because I fight for my people’s needs, I am respected across enemy lines. The respect protects me. Recently, I managed a project that fed 3,000 families in my local area for Thanksgiving. I personally handed food baskets to people and I kid you not, folks still smile and greet me when I simply go down the street to the local Walgreens for some items. And by folks, I mean the rough kind. The kind most would be afraid to speak to. They know me. They respect me. And I didn’t have to throw a single punch.
The same went down when I lived in the southside of St. Petersburg, Florida. Once again, not a safe area to live in. One night, a gang was having a party across the street from my home. The music was vibrating my windows, and I was desperate to get some sleep. So I got up, put on a robe, and went across the street. I walked through the entire crowd, found the DJ and asked for the music to be turned down. The DJ looks at me and says, “Oh, you’re Bryant!” I didn’t know the man so I was confused. “All the kids around here love ya man. Thanks for looking out for them. Whatever you need I gotcha.” He respected me because for the year I lived in St. Pete, I mentored and tutored the kids in the area. Some of those kids were their little brothers and sisters. Respect bought me a night’s rest. Months later, when my home was broken into, respect had the community find the culprit on my behalf. By community, I mean brothers with jail records longer than my arm.
True respect comes from fighting battles for people. Serving them. Meeting their needs. Your kind of respect, the one you fight for, is fleeting. It doesn’t last. And the way viral spotlights work is – you have people’s attention until the next viral sensation, which comes every month. After that, no one will care about the epic fights of Sharkeisha. Don’t get caught up in the followers on social media because they won’t pay a single bill for you.
Whose respect are you fighting for and is their respect worth it in the first place? I ask, please ponder on those questions. Also, imagine having the kind of respect that lasts. Now, I’m no prophet but if I must say – you’re way smarter than you appear. I’ve done some light research and based on your posts, you can seriously be a writer. A novelist. You have deep insights for a woman your age and you know how to communicate them effectively. That is a rare gift. I definitely can see you as a writer, novelist, poet or something. I just want to call out those gifts in you because I don’t know if you ever heard them. I don’t know your life, but I do know the world. I’ve been in it long enough to know the game, and as a player in it, I want you to win. I want you to succeed.
The point isn’t whether your fights are justified or not. The point is that you live in a larger world that you will enter into soon. And as a Black man in this America, I want you on top, not on the bottom because you spent your energy competing for the respect & attention of losers who actually think watching high school girls fight is entertaining. You’re bigger than that. You’re more than that. Now it’s just time to let the world know as well…