Yes They Can!
The Ghetto Family Vs. Mickey D's

Repost: Po' Folks

Blog Note: This post was written on Aug. 8, 2002. It was inspired by my fear of unemployment. Back then, I was worried that my full-time writing gig at a radio company was coming to an end because Clear Channel was selling off (or unloading) some of their assets, including the company I worked for at the time. It happens in the business world, conglomerates do this all the time. Usually, when companies do this, it means layoffs or a business completely dissolves. Long story short, Clear Channel sold our company to another radio conglomerate, but my job was left intact. As of this year, I've been happily employed with this same company for eight years.

But in '02 it was a scary time for me. This post is so relevant because of the recession we are going through right now and the economic uncertainty that awaits us. So here's a rare occasion in which I push my music criticisms aside and get personal on my blog. From my days, I write about my early experience as an up-and-coming music journalist. **Re-edited for clarity.

"All my life been po'
But it really don't matter no mo
And they wonder why we act this way
Nappy [boy] going to be Okay . . . okay"

-- Nappy Roots, "Po' Folks"


Here's a real personal side of me: In 1998, I was an unemployed music journalist.

I had to apply for unemployment benefits after losing my editorial gig at a hip-hop fanzine called Beat-Down magazine. It was a cold January morning when I went down to the unemployment office. Once I arrived and looked inside, my heart went into my underwear. It was depressing. I felt like I had died and walk inside a morgue. Hundreds of unemployed people with sad faces were sitting down, some were also standing, waiting for a job counselor to call their name. I'm almost left the joint it was so dreary. I had to fill out a 10-page form with my information, submit it and then take a number. I was number 221 and they were just calling number 98 and it's 10:30 a.m. It was going to be a loooong day.

When my number was finally called, I was able to speak to a job counselor and everything seemed cool. She told me that I would get a check every week (Yippee!). However, I had to report to her every Monday on the progress of my job search. "Yeah, right," I said to myself.

Then she said, "Let me offer you some assistance -- what kind of job are you looking for?" I told her that I am a journalist looking for an editorial job. I told her that I like to interview people of all walks of life, tell stories and inform the public. She looked at me with her raised eyebrows as if to say: "Boy, you better stop bullshitting and get a real job."

She tried to get me to go to this job interview for a gig as a shoe salesman at a department store. "You can interview customers about their new shoes," she said to me with a sly smile. "Writers don't make a lot of money, you better stick with reality sweetheart."

I understood what she meant and it is true. Writers and/or journalists don't make a lot of money. When was the last time you saw a journalist living the life of a Hollywood star?

But damn it! Don't tear down a nigga's dream because it's not your reality.

Do ya smell me?

To make a long story short: I went home. I cried. I ate a turkey sandwich. I typed up a bangin' resume. I sent an e-mail query with a cover letter, my resume and a few published clips and e-mailed them to hundreds of music websites and print magazines. Within 48 hours, I received a bunch of responses and I started my freelancing career, writing music reviews for various music websites, most notably the defunct music website SonicNet.

Yearly salary (freelancing) in 1998: $2,000.
Yearly salary (freelancing) in 1999: $6,000.

Experience: Priceless.

Was I still broke?
Hell, yeah.

In 2000, I nabbed a full-time job as an editor/writer for a hip-hop/R&B music/entertainment website.

Yearly salary from 2000 through 2008: None of your damn business.

Ha! Ha! I got cha!

I'm very thankful for being employed in today's horrible economy. The recession has left a lot of people wondering if they are ever going to reach financial stability.

All have to say is that . . .

All my life I've been po'/
But it really don't matter no mo/
I'ma keep hustlin' and strivin' everyday
Nappy boy is going to be okay . . . okay."

Holla at your po' folks!