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Date posted:07/10/06

Sometimes, We all need a Belt
by Rodney Dugue
Artwork by Leon Pryer


My clever girlfriend had managed to hide our nearly 4 month old relationship from both her parents and most of her relatives, even her grandma who one day spotted us just as my mouth had left her luscious, flexuous lips. Far from a Bonnie and Clyde adventure, my girlfriend and I still had our fair share of getaways from the authorities i.e. her relatives, mutual friends, parents, and etc. So my girlfriend finally decided to formally introduce me to her family. Before the big day, I was subjected to a fusillade of criticism, suggestions, barbs, and Puerto Rican protocol. When the day arrived, I had a sartorial decision to make at the behest of my girlfriend. Blazer or sweater? Black or brown? I decided to wear a decent collared shirt with some dress pants.

The only problem was that my belt was nowhere to be found. It was at this point that I realized the universal importance of a belt. This seemingly insignificant lengthy piece of leather can affect my appearance, presence, attitude, and demeanor. Without a belt, my dress pants would lack leverage, it would droop a few levels below my waist confirming one of many stereotypes tagged to blacks.

A belt provides stability, assurance, consistency and structure in our lives while still remaining relatively obscure and unassuming, quite a concept; insignificant in appearance yet absolute in function. The function that a belt serves should be available to us in everyday life. Imagine a figure, object, or person who could provide us with stability, assurance, and structure while still being unknown to the outside world, yet still concrete. A belt is a bank account, an education, a secure ground that we all need for advancement in society.
In the madness that preceded my visit to her parents, I was hopping around, admittedly off-balance attempting to restore normalcy to my now mal-centered disposition. “All in the name of a belt?” I muttered to myself, in hopes of appeasing my growing concern that a belt possessed an inordinate, indescribable amount of power. In times of great struggle, a belt is all we need. We do not need to resort to survival tactics i.e. hustling, drug dealing, lottery and a host of other illegal activities.

If we ignore the basic utility of a belt, we forego the most fundamental foundation of progress. The absence of a belt in the lives of many blacks, myself included, has, not surprisingly, precluded a life of consistent progress in the face of prolonged struggle. The belt must be used to combat the steep high school dropout rates amongst black students, the improbable rate of blacks getting a job, and other oppositional forces.

In the lives of many blacks, we seek to run before we can walk, dream big in spite of colossal deprivation, and slowly this pattern takes a precipitous turn in the illegal activities of drug dealing, merely a continuation of this pattern, not a predisposition. If we decide to be strivers, which is an intuitive inclination based on circumstance, we must equip ourselves with belts i.e. an education, financially sound decisions, stability, etc. We cannot overcome our own struggle without engaging in the same struggle we vow to overcome unless we have some sort of belt at our disposal. A belt in its most basic function is a talisman that, while not an elixir for life and its problems, endows us with something inviolable, something enchanting- a chance. This ultra-ambitious striving is a survival method that will remain reality for years to come, all we can do is strap our belts and prepare for the adventure.
-RD, $cholar


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