Tattoo Tears of Joy...or Pain?

 As if it wasn’t extremely difficult for us already, may I ask, “Why are

we now putting tattoos on our faces?” Do we not realize that a tattoo

on our face will probably make our scarce options that more limited?

Or are we just so far gone that we just don’t care?

When I was a child, growing up tattoos weren’t a fad in the black

community. Though I do not recall seeing them often, when they were

viewed it was done with intended purpose, symbolizing a person’s

“travels” and affiliations. The “travels” that I’m referencing was

likely to prison, in which those “jail house” tats were easily

identifiable and the affiliations that I mention were either

acknowledgments of serving in the armed forces or belonging to a

motorcycle gang. Needless to say, growing up in the inner city of

Baltimore, I was more familiar with the faded black, nondescript and

colorless “jail house” tattoos. Though they were adorned minimally,

even then, convicts had enough intelligence to place their tattoos on

areas of their body that they could either reveal or choose to cover up

when they had something very important to do; such as, going on a job

interview as they tried to find work to reintegrate themselves back

into society.

Now I know that some people use their body as canvas to depict their

life story through decorative art. I’m not opposed to tattoos at all,

nor have I appointed myself the AOTL, the Ambassador of Tattoo

Locations. As a matter of fact, I have two tattoos myself, but I

decided to place them both in discreet places. Only to be revealed by

choice. Easy to be covered when necessary to adorn my dark colored

suit and power red tie, while sitting across the desk from someone

designated for me to convince, “why I’m the best applicant for the


Let’s be sensible people. We’re not all going to be NBA athletes or

find ourselves making a living in the performing arts field as

musicians. We’re not all going to be successful entrepreneurs. Some

of us will have to eventually grow up and get employed. And if you

don’t know, please allow me to tell you: the unemployment rate is

high, affirmative action is now only a term rendered utterly useless by

application and your homeboy can’t get you a job with tear drops, Gucci

emblems, Polo logo’s, gang insignia, and all the other dumb shit that

we now get tatted on our face. Smarten up people. Or again, I ask,

are we that so far gone that we just don’t care?

As I stated earlier, when I was a child, tattoos weren’t what we raved

about. Instead, where I’m from, we all wanted permanent gold teeth.

As crazy as it may sound now, I recall as young as elementary school,

in fifth grade, kids getting gold teeth for their birthday’s or

holidays. I wanted to be part of the “in crowd,” I didn’t want to feel

left out at the time, so I asked my parents to take me to Dr. Russell,

the local Pediatric Dentist, to have a permanent gold tooth placed in

the front of my mouth. I envisioned getting my tooth designed with a

champagne glass, tilted straw and three raised bubbles, as if my glass

was filled with the best. Then eventually I was going to get a second

one beside it so every time I smiled it would look like my teeth were

toasting. But unlike many of the “cool” parents, when asked, my folks

looked at me like I was crazy. Still I persisted and I wanted to know

why all of my friends could enrich their smile with gold and I

couldn’t. I was too young to understand the most logical reasoning’s,

the damage it does to your teeth and how one with gold teeth is

perceived, so my mother made something up that I believed for years.

She told me that as a student preparing to graduate from elementary

school and enter middle school as a sixth grader, I still had my baby

teeth in my mouth. I was damn near grown before I realized the story

my mother had told me.

Still, I’m appreciative for the story that she told me because I was

deterred from getting permanent gold teeth as a child. I then lived

long enough to see the damage that gold teeth caused, how people with

gold teeth were perceived by those unfamiliar with the culture, how

challenging it was to find decent paying jobs with gold teeth in your

mouth and the difficulties of having them removed. I know, everybody

get grown and talk about getting things removed such as gold teeth and

tattoos. I then ask, “How often do we get them removed?”

I correlate gold teeth of the past with tattoos of the present. I

understand that it’s a means of expression, which we all have the

liberty to do. I just want our youth and young people to be conscious

of the life altering decisions that they make. Unless you have Lil

Wayne or Baby dough, please don’t get any tattoos on your face or all

over your bald head. And even if you have money like they do, please

don’t get any tattoos on your face or all over your bald head. I’m

tryna help you, just like my mother helped me. Now thanks to her, I

don’t have two champagne glasses, with tilted straws and three raised

bubbles, as if my glasses were filled with the best bubbly, on my baby

teeth, appearing to toast every time I smile. And it wasn’t as hard

for me to find a decent paying job! Thanks mom!

Hopefully some young person will read what I’ve written, consider what

I’m saying and decide to choose their future over their present. The

same things that make you laugh and rejoice, could also make you cry.

Tattoo tears of joy.