Don’t Hate on My Swagger

Raving Black Lunatic wrote a while back about swagger in regards to Barack Obama and this whole idea of him coming off as overconfident, and arrogant and dare I say–uppityBut, I debated after hearing yesterday’s sermon from Rev. Otis Moss III as to whether or not I wanted to write about swagger, and I just say “swag” so bear with me.

Well, I just saw yardie Usain “Lightning” Bolt  in one of the 200 meter qualifying rounds just jog across the finish line, and it drove the point home that I wanted to write about it.

On Sunday, Moss preached 2 Samuel 6 when David was bringing the Ark of the Covenant back toward Jerusalem and his boy Uzzah touched it, and God struck him down.  And then David was mad and sent the Ark of the Covenant to Obededom’s house for three months.  Then when they were finally bringing it back to Jerusalem, David was getting his shout on; dancing and singing and going forth and then Saul’s daughter called him out on it, more or less saying “It don’t take all that.”  And then David’s response, in the KJV was that “and I’ll become even more undignified than this.”  From that, Moss preached (and copyrighted for those reading this and are sermon stealers) “The Meaning Behind My Swagger.”

His point of departure was about talking to the church’s confirmation class and how one of the young ladies liked Lil’ Wayne who he pronounced “Little” and I nearly doubled over myself with laughter.  When pressed as to whether or not the lyrics were appropriate enough to play in front of her mother or grandmother, the young lady said “I just listen for the beat.”  [Sidebar:  I’m officially going to buy John McWhorter’s book All About the Beat: Why Hip Hop Can’t Save America]   And then she went on to say that “And I like his swagger.”

He went on to explain the reasons why David did what he did, or rather explain the meaning behind his swag, the meaning behind his praise and his shout.  Granted I had some hermeneutical and exegetical disagreements, I usually do with Moss on at least one point in his sermon, I’ve just gotten used to it, but his positives far outweigh the negatives on all other counts.

And then I saw Usain Bolt in the 200 meter qualifying rounds on Monday night of the second week of the Olympics and Ato Boldon and his were questioning whether or not he was borderline on the side of showboating and “bad sportsmanship.”

Don’t hate on my man’s swagger y’all.

I mean, this guy is 6 feet five inches tall and has legs for days.  He didn’t go out saying I’m going to get eight gold medals in all of my events, and just go on and on about what he was going to medal in.  And even if he did, US media outlets most certainly didn’t build up the hype like some other unnamed swimmer who’s quickly on the move to being a household name.

I mean, I missed his 100 meter run, no, actually it was on the TV but for some odd reason I wasn’t watching, but caught it on the replays, I mean dude SLOWED DOWN.   Why, I don’t know, but he’s really just that good.  But for those that saw the 200 meter run, omg, the dude was actually jogging before he hit the finish line and he was well ahead of everyone else.  Poor Walter Dix was still gunning it, but Bolt was just there and coasted, of course through the qualifying rounds.

But, I am convinced that it’s something about swag that white folk just don’t have and throughly envy about black people.

I went out at a local dive eating buffalo chicken with the one intern who was my friend and the youth director and something came up (I was mildly tipsy at that point in the evening) and their response was “You know black people set the trend for everything” or something to that effect, and I just busted out laughing and kept on eating and drinking.  

That comment alone tells volumes and it really goes into what swag is–it’s really more non-verbal communication than anything else.  Swag is how you walk into a room, how you can stare someone down, how you strut, how you dress and on the verbal side, even your inflections in your voice.  Of course everyoe attributes Michigan State’s Fab Five in the early nineties for having their swag, and asking for the larger gym shorts, which are prolly why the bball shorts I wore today came down past my knee as opposed to mid thigh.  I mean, part of my problem this summer was my swag.  I’m 6’2″ 190lbs, and I have the world’s loudest voice, and it’s deep–the intern with ADHD and boatload of social issues that have ultimately led to his current demise and the young female intern who all of came up to my nipple–said more than once “I’m not crossing you–you could beat me up.”

It’s all in my swag.

So, as far as Usain Bolt is concerned, my response to those who are saying he’s kind of showboating, my response is stop hatin’.  I mean, is it really his fault that he’s 6’5″ in a sport where some runners are a full foot shorter than him?  Is it his fault that he has legs for days?  Is it his fault that he didn’t even break a sweat running the 200? 

No not at all.

I mean, I’m not in the mood for people comparing Bolt to Phelps.  I mean anyone who mildly celebrated their victories compared to Phelps and his underbite that leaves him looking like the kid who had to be excused in 5th period to go with the Special Ed. teacher would be considered showboating.  If you know you got it like that, go ‘head and get you some as far as I’m concerned.

Moss didn’t use Sweet Holy Spirit Church’s song as a close, but he more or less said the same thing.  You can’t dictate how someone else can praise, or why they should praise.  If someone wants to praise one way that’s quiet and meditative that’s fine, but it doesn’t put you in a position to tell someone else “It don’t take all that” simply because you don’t know their story.  You don’t know what hell they’ve lived through, you don’t know what family and friends told them that they couldn’t make it–how dare one sits in the seat of judgment and tell another how to praise. 

I heard another preacher put it this way, “Don’t hate on what I got, because you didn’t have to take what I took.  Unless you’re willing to take what I took, don’t hate, celebrate.”

You don’t know my story
All the things that I’ve been through.
You can’t feel my pain,
What I had to go through to get here.
You’ll never understand my praise;
Don’t try to figure it out;
Because my worship, my worship is for real.

Do you think Usain Bolt is showboating and grandstanding or is it simply that the rest of us are hatin’ and just don’t understand the meaning behind his swagger?

[P.S.  Is anyone gonna say anything about the random shoutouts Angelo Taylor (from Georgia) and Bershawn “Batman” Jackson (from Miami) had to say?  Was that showboating?  But their shoutouts alone place this post in the Fried Chicken and Watermelon category.]

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

7 thoughts on “Don’t Hate on My Swagger

  1. I am from the Caribbean (Jamaica on my dad’s side, Trinidad on my mom’s side), needless to say, I have been enjoying the T&F portion of the Olympics. I will say one thing, Island folk know how to celebrate. No need for fake humility. We can enjoy ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously.

    It is as if in recognizing that there are so few reasons in life to celebrate, when we get the chance to do so, we go all out. Prime example: Carnival. Say what you want about Caribana, Brazil’s Carnivale, or Mardi Gras. There is nothing like the submission to joy (and yes, bacchanal) that arises at a Trinidad carnival. We don’t just celebrate, we CELEBRATE. When T&T was at the World Cup, other nations noted that Trinis were dancing in the stadium and I assure you, every Island was Rallying ’round the West Indies. Did you see his mother dancing before the 100m dash even started? It didn’t matter if he won or lost, he was there, and Mama was gonna dance. Did you see when in the 100m race T&T got second place, and the announcers were remarking that the way he was carrying on you would have thought he won gold? That’s how we do y’all. Don’t hate, CELEBRATE! You never know when you’ll have another chance to give Him some praise.

  2. Shoooot! I’m swaggering and I’m only 1/2 Jamaican! Look, hating on the ubiquitous Phelps who has–whether anyone wants to admit it–achieved something unprecedented isn’t really necessary. The boy can no more help being built for swimming than Bolt can help being built for running.

    But the whole “swagger” thing does get into cultural dissimilarities among racial groups re. celebration (worship, praise, joy, etc.).

  3. I think the main reason that people don’t like to see other people celebrate, is because they are not happy with who they are or what they have going on. As a society we hate to see others win, and much rather see people fail. Why do you think reality tv is so popular? Society finds it fun to see people expose their messed up lives.

    Instead of everyone just being happy for him, people rather talk about how he was celebrating too much!!!! Black people we suffer alot from this, stop hating…and just support each other. NO ONE ELSE WILL!

  4. Now THAT is the truth! *smiles*

    Bolt is phenomenal. He is the man right now. It seems to me that people don’t like to see this young Jamaican dude come on the scene with a playful attitude and lots of confidence. They call it “showboating”. I call it feeling rightfully proud of an achievement.

    He has completely stolen America’s thunder when it comes to running.

  5. Phelps is part fish.

    Bolt just stunned me when you realized he was SLOWING DOWN and STILL DUSTING the field. The only word I could utter was DAMN while watching him. He was amazing on land. Phelps was amazing in the water.

  6. Kinda ticked off that the IOC chief felt the need to chide Bolt today concerning his celebration. Talking about he should have gone and shook hands with the others…And I ask FOR WHAT?!!! I won, let them congratulate me. If I was an Olympic athlete I would have no issues celebrating a win after the long hours, days, months, and years worth of practice…all that I and my family sacrificed. I mean, give the man a break…He’s happy. Let him bask in it…I’m sure that after he got it all out he went and dapped up the other runners. But in the meantime, let his light shine. The IOC chief is making a big deal out of nothing…and from some of the comments from other runners, they side with Bolt.

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