What’s in a tattoo

Am I thug because I am an African-American male with tattoos? Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common stereotype that needs to be addressed by somebody who has heard it all from, “You will never get a job” to “When you get older, your tattoos are going to stretch and look ugly.” However, tattoos have never defined me as a person. I never use my tattoos as a way to portray myself as something that I am not. I simply use my tattoos as an indication of where I came from. If you judge people by their tattoos and not their principles, you’re ignorant.

Tattoos have become much more accepted in today’s society, but the addictive form of self-expression has been around for centuries. Growing up in a household where tattoos were considered “taboo”, I didn’t truly understand the relevance of body art until my first time going under the needle. Since then, my view of people with tattoos has changed considerably. I didn’t find out how addicting tattoos were until my first time getting “blasted” in 2007. Since then, I have added a myriad of ink to my body for multiple reasons.

People can look at each and every tattoo on their body to remember the exact details of that tattoo experience. While all tattoos hurt, some are more tolerable than others.

For instance, the tattoo on my back was directly on my spine, therefore the pain was numbing all over my body. However, the tattoo on the inside of my left arm felt virtually pain-free after the first ten minutes.

The reasons people get tattoos do vary, but a lot of thought and careful consideration went into my decision-making process. People have hidden meanings in every tattoo they have although it might not seem apparent.

Even if a persons tattoo doesn’t appeal to you, it’s not your right to say, “I don’t think they should have gotten that.” They have to wake up to the tattoo every morning for the rest of their life, not you.

People ask me all the time, “Why do you have ‘COMPTON’ tattooed on your back?” I smirk and give them a one-word answer, “Responsibility”. When people think of Compton, the majority of the time something negative always comes to mind. It is my responsibility to reverse this trend and let people know that positive things can come out of negative situations.

If people would pay more attention to what comes out of your mouth instead what you have on your body, there would be a lot less negativity and pre-judgement.