Smart Is The New Gangsta


Finance, Latest | by — August 19, 2013

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Long before it was used as an adjective to describe rap music or before Denzel’s depiction of Frank Lucas in the movie, America has had a running obsession with gangsters. Names like John Dillinger, Al Capone, Whitey Bulger and Demetrius Flenory will infamously be a part of American history. I believe American fascination with gangsters stems from three things; the adoration of rags to riches stories, our subconscious appeal to rebellion and American proclivity to violence, dating back as far as the philosophy of manifest destiny.

courtney2Today, the American gangster is no longer a machine gun toting bank robber or a drug kingpin. The most notorious criminals today hide under the auspices of politicians and financial professionals who deviously work to alter the fabric or our country for their own financial gain. Just as our criminals are smarter, it is time for our students to become smarter as well. Besides, if you are going to protect your rights in the land of opportunity, education is going to be paramount. The game is far more sophisticated than it used to be and is evidence as to why the number of scholarship offers is more important than the number of instagram followers.

The process of achieving happiness and success in this country requires intelligence, fearlessness, and heart; Characteristics that all notorious gangstas possess. Problem is, today, being a criminal doesn’t have the same payoff it once did. Think about it. What are the benefits to being a gangsta? Money or, better yet, fast money? Living on the edge? We live in the richest country in the world with more self-made millionaires than anywhere you can Google. If it’s fast money you desire, start a website that allows people to link up with friends, post status updates and like pictures. Then go public (the process of selling ownership stakes in a company to the public) and become a billionaire before age 25. Or better yet, start a blogging platform which you can later sell to Yahoo for $1.1 billion at age 27. To me, that’s fast money! For the thrill seeker, if you want to take risks, start a business. It’s a process filled with unexpected realities and the potential of lucrative rewards that don’t require looking over your shoulder or keeping an attorney on retainer.

I get the infatuation with gangstas. Their stories are interesting, the music is bumpin and the movies are classics. Although we live in the greatest country in the world, even it was established by treasonous murders. Rapper Plies put a verse in a song that says, “I don’t know if 25 years is worth 2 years of ballin.” It’s definitely not and anyone who argues the math struggles with algebra, doesn’t know the true value of ‘X’ and didn’t carry the 1. To paraphrase def poet Tommy Bottoms, “America was designed for the get rich, there are a million and one ways to get paid and most of them are legit.” In, 2013 smart is the new gangsta and gangsta, figuratively speaking, looks a lot more like Steve Erkel than Big Meech or Larry Hoover. I understand that we are not all gonna be like Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, so don’t stop hustlin, just change your hustle.

The message in this article is inspired by positive propaganda, tshirt design company, Dangerous Negro. Check out their many educational and inspiring designs at

-Courtney Hale

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