I see a lot of young brothers and sisters walking around with tattoos. Many are wearing skin art to express themselves. Some to emulate the celebrities like rappers like Lil’ Wayne and actors like Meghan Fox, Angelina Jolie and Persia White they see in the media. Others are trying to make a statement about who they are.
Unfortunately, most young brothers and sisters today are blind to the long-term ramifications of placing permanent markings on their bodies will have for their futures. Ink a person places on their body at 14 or 16 may cost them opportunities for careers and relationships when they turn 25 or 30. A $25 tattoo someone gets today can cost them thousands of dollars in salary, future spouses and potential friends.
What many brothers and sisters don’t understand are tattoos are not a form of artistic expression for Black people. Tattoos in African-American community they are rooted in of gang and prison cultures of places like Sing Sing and Leavenworth or the gang infested streets of South Central. Each tattoo is actually a statement about a gang member’s status in a particular local crew or cell block. Some like the teardrops on the eyes denote murders a person has participated in.Other tattoos like neck and facial designs can denote that a person may have serious mental health issues.
A tattoo may tell a story on the street, but in the world of work it closes the book on a future with most employers. In the workplace brothers and sisters already have one stripe against them for being Black, and adding tats only gives employers another reason to discriminate against us. Most employers associate ink with prison culture and gangs, and they don’t want that image reflected on their company image. So they avoid hiring people who wear tattoos at all costs.
While some people with tats may get that entry level job like retail and security, they hinder their chances at any type of growth in a career field by getting inked up. In corporate America tattooed people definitely aren’t getting promoted to management. And they aren’t going to the executive level. That’s the sad but horrible truth.
Along with stalling careers for a Black man ink can cost us brothers in the romance department as well. Sure it looks cool to be inked up and look like 50 Cent or any other rapper on a magazine cover, but that image isn’t going to attract a woman who wants a substantive relationship. The story he tells on his body is that he isn’t someone to take seriously.
Sure a brotha looks like a thug, but he ain’t attracting the types of sistas women who want a committed relationship that leads up to marriage. And if a professional woman does make a move on a brotha with ink, it’s just to have a fling or a one-night stand, nothing serious, because they believe they’ll never get a ring from them.
For the ladies, ink can cost them dearly in the romance department. The story a sista tells on her body with skin art speaks volumes about who she is and what she’ll bring to the table in a relationship.
When a man sees another man’s name on a woman’s body it’s a turn off. Seeing some other dudes’ name on a woman’s body tells other potential partners that a woman is unavailable. Moreover, it’s a sign that a woman will be emotionally unavailable in a relationship if he gets involved with her. For most men, seeing tattoos tells us that a woman is still carrying baggage from a past relationship, and can’t be there for us.
Seeing kids’ names on a woman’s arm tells men that a woman has been around the block. That she’s a baby mama. With a baby daddy or baby daddies. To potential partners it tells us that a relationship with said woman is going to be DRAMA and baggage.
Getting a Tramp stamp devalues a woman in the eyes of all men. It’s a statement telling the world a woman is a whore that can be had by any guy who comes by. To potential partners it says a woman isn’t marriage material, a woman a man will take home to his mother to present as his future wife.
If brothers and sisters would look closer at many of the celebrities they’re emulating by getting ink they’ll see they aren’t the ones getting the jobs, or moving forward in their careers in the entertainment industry. For example 50 Cent wanted to branch into acting. His career as an actor stalled because most producers can’t afford the dermablend it would take to cover the numerous tats on his body.
Moreover, most brothers and sisters need to take a look behind the White executives who control the 50 Cents, Persia Whites, Meghan Foxes and Lil’ Waynes. Do you see any ink on Sumner Redstone the Head of Viacom? Bob Iger, head of Disney? Rupert Murdoch head of FOX? Warren Buffett Head of Berkshire Hathaway? Bill Gates head of Microsoft? Steven Spielberg, the man who executive produced the Transformers movies? David Geffen? Richard Branson?
Look further at the owners of most NBA teams, NFL franchises and Major league Baseball. The owners don’t have a teardrop on their faces. They don’t have tribal symbols on their biceps.
Look at Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama. They don’t have tramp stamps above the cracks of their butts or the names of their children or husband’s on their arms.
If you look at the skin of the billionaires who make the decisions of whether or not a 50 Cent or Lil’ Wayne’s records wind up in retail stores, or decide if Persia White Angelina Jolie, or Meghan Fox wind up on a movie screen, you’ll notice they’re 100 percent ink free.
And ironically, it’s the ink free people decide who have the power to control the ink in the pens and decide who gets to sign on the dotted line of the contracts of those record deals, movie deals, and sports contracts. They sign the checks, and decide who gets hired and who gets fired for those multimillion dollar deals.
Seems like person who controls the ink written on the pages of a contract tells a stronger story of success than the ink a person puts on their bodies. Something to think about.
Shawn’s advice to brothers and sisters out there: Think before You Ink. Tat free is the way to be.