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Rock Street, San Francisco

Every so often, I ponder over a quote that, in the most ironic way, I strive to demolish. “Stereotypes exists because they are grounded in truth,” is a fruitful quote from an unknown sender. While the messager remains anonymous, Jane Doe’s words transcend time, and contradict with others who believe otherwise. I became apart of a movement when I decided to reclaim the identity of ‘they’ to ‘me’, because I am an individual, and I believe in the concept of demolishing stereotypes. Growing up, I was the epitome of urban life, often watching shows such as “The Proud Family”, listening to the latest funk influenced sound, to wearing my curls in its signature puff. As the emblem of a little black girl, I was to take on the world while simultaneously remaining in my place, or simply, the caricature of what I was to be held to. The coils of my hair remained tight, ever so futile as the hold that society had on me increased. As I grew older, the expectations against me had been lowered, not in the eyes of family, but rather by society. To fit into my prototype, I was expected to listen to the latest r music, never straying away from the diverse sounds that influenced the greats before my time. Loudness was to be the volume that my voice resonated to, and I was expected to use this to my advantage. The dreaded teen years, as they say, were supposed to be permeated with angst filled rebellion, often credited from being nurtured by a single mother. Her struggles, guided by a life of determination, would be blamed upon the problems plaguing in the plural form of ‘us’  and not ‘I’. My foreboding rebellion, predetermined by society, became manifested in alternative music. Divulging in the latest pop rock group became the tip of the iceberg as my peers questioning why I, a minority, would participate in a culture that became the antithesis of my own.  Questioning my own beliefs, I pondered over the music that my ears synchronized with pleasure. The subtle bass tones in “Smells like Teen Spirit”, infused with a booming rift signified the anthem of a generation, a generation where certain souls like I were determined to not have a definite place. Yet, I chose to embrace the musical diversity that embodies my individuality, appreciating the deep history that marks the reason why I have the stamina to listen. My key to freedom became embedded in the form of music and the melody of a song that was a universal language, one that I soon came to speak. Slipping on my headphones began to take on a deeper meaning, and each time, it became a symbol in which that I deserved to follow my own path and embrace the characteristics that amalgamate to make me an individual. The simple beats of a song are each unique components of a whole. They stand as a metaphor for my culture, which is expected to clump together like mascara on an unsuspecting eye, while at the same time exceed a certain caliber of standards. We are told to follow the mold, never vying away from the metaphorical shackles that we have come to know. But once we find the golden ticket that often hides in plain sight, we open up our individuality that society attempts to suppress. The concept of individuality is a power tool in which allows for the progression of society, and because of that, I will continue to listen on.

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