Prejudices of all sorts exist in the world today like never before, almost in every function of society. Some of race, some of religion, however all seem to negate the old “Don’t judge a book by its cover” saying. And that is the subject of the matter at the hand . my book. In laymen’s terms the 30 plus tattoos I have that mostly cover my upper body region.
They start at my neck and end at the tip of my fingers. Beginning at age seventeen, I’ve added on to what started as one lonely name on my right shoulder. It was simply a choice and I was fully aware of the preconceived notions that would follow as long as I had them. People view them in an array of different perspectives, some admire with a “your tattoos are interesting” here and a “What do they mean?” there. On the flip side, I’m subjected to many stereotypes that are associated with young black men who have a variety of ink on their skins.
None of these stereotypes bother me more than the notion that somehow my affinity for body art translates into how much I know.
The ironic thing is that in most discussions I have been involved with I tend to know an extensive degree, more than the person involved in said conversation.
I guess my pride will allow me to deal with some old women clutching their handbags, the police labeling me as a criminal before I open my mouth, and the ever classic questioning of what my future employment will hold with so many tattoos. One thing I cannot and will not accept is being labeled as a dummy. No, I did not graduate the top of my high school class, but to lessen a person’s mental capacity to fit one’s own sense of security is highly ignorant. And those persons who get tatted with no meaning make it hard for supporters to state a case in our favor.
Luckily, I am comfortable within myself to not let these prejudices deter me from my goals. They only serve as motivation. Though many people from various walks of life support body work, it seems as if only the negative connotations refer to African Americans, especially males. In rock and roll culture the colorful character of the tattoo sporting crazy hairdo having person is revered.
Though as a black man I get the “you must be a rapper” cliché. No need to cry over anything, I just make sure I’m armed with an open mind to fight off intolerance.
Are we so fixated on other people that we forget to check ourselves? Tattoos do not define me. And in a society where majority rules, and public opinion make or break peoples’ lives I challenge each individual regardless of race, sex or age to look inside themselves before you determine someone else’s future.
And to those who choose to follow the path of their hearts and not fads, have a presence of mind to know fully that like your tattoos, your reputation will be with you until death. So that when you are judged, you can simply prove I am not what you think I am.