Off the Beat w/ Marc Lacy: What’s the True Value of Community Loyalty?

Having been raised in a nuclear family household, as well as experiencing college life at an HBCU, I was always taught the importance of doing whatever you can do to uplift the community. Everything from donations, mentorship, and contributing time and energy to special projects, I’ve been trained to understand that every little bit helps.

Additionally, over the years, I’ve realized that doing anything within or for the community is a process that will be never-ending. Of course in a capitalist society, there will always be obvious examples of have’s and have nots. And unfortunately, the have not areas are prevalently populated by minorities. Cities like Atlanta, DC, Detroit, and St Louis (to name a few) have heavy minority populations who experience many of the shortcoming byproducts of capitalism.

However, they also have a very strong support system from people connected to the community. In having said that, I still emphasize the fact that there is ALWAYS something needing to be done to assist the community. As people are molded to factor community support into their everyday lives, a very legit question to ask is, “What is the true value of community loyalty?”

Why ask such a question? Why? Because, in keeping things 1000, these issues need to be answered and or debated. When folks are giving of their time and resources, they have a right to know. Keep in mind, there are also challenging instances where someone puts their life on the line, all for the sake of the community. When this happens, will the community provide for and/or protect them?

Just say there’s a scenario in which a casualty or fatality unfortunately takes place, will the community servant be enshrined in that community? Or will they be forgotten and it’s on to the next? Think about how rappers and entertainers with ties to the community and hood feel. They are always pressured into making sure they do not forget where they came from (and they shouldn’t forget). But on many occasions, they are either threatened or unfortunately harmed by someone in the community who has either benefitted from their assistance, or NEEDS to benefit from it.

In fact, this is the very reason why many entertainers move and stay away for good. Personally, I’m not saying I agree with it, but I do understand. No one wants to feel like they’re in the line of fire while trying to participate in uplifting the community.

From certain vantage points, people coming back into the community is called “keeping it real.” Of course in the hip hop culture, when one is credited with keeping it real, they have a lot of clout. People appreciate folks who’ve “made it” still associating themselves with the areas and neighborhoods from whence they originated. Within “associating,” the subject physically comes back and converses and/or hangs out with people they grew up with. They also are involved in community developmental projects and efforts as well. For those who do not do the aforementioned, they are subject to basically getting “disowned” by their community and essentially black-balling themselves from future engagements/endeavors within that community.

To take it a step further, depending on where they are from and what affiliations they used to and still have, they will not be able to physically step back into their old community without some form of resistance and/or trouble. On the flipside of that, even if they did everything by the book and street code to assist their community, there will always be a few within the population who are either unimpressed or dissatisfied. And unfortunately, all it takes is one or two to have a disdain and the trajectory of the positive effort completely changes. In turn, others who have made it become discouraged in their quest to assist the community as well.

Now let’s be realistic…there’s no way everyone will be satisfied with community outreach and uplift efforts. If one goes into it thinking they’re going to be able to capture or impress everyone, then they are not being realistic at all. But at the same token, how is one supposed to feel if they’ve made valiant efforts in assisting the community; but they don’t feel the community has their back? Should they or should they not be frustrated? If they are frustrated, then what’s the best way to voice their opinion? And if they did voice their opinion, would the community be offended?

Better yet, should their elders continue to tell them that this is the way it goes, so don’t fret, just work? At the end of the day, the community needs support from everyone. However, I am a proponent of people being able to make up their own mind and make their own decisions…and expect to be respected once they convey their sentiments. So here we are again with the question: What is the true value of community loyalty? What do you think?

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