Washington Post book reviewer Jabari Asim writes in a column on the Post website that he hopes the newfound notoriety for the Oscar-winning rap song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" will make the P-word too mainstream, that it will lose its "luster of hipness," and suggests new African-American slang.
My first suggestion: "scholar."
Imagine yourself amid all the men who used to gather aimlessly on street corners, lounge on the steps of other people's houses and hang out with the rest of the worshipful congregations outside package liquor stores -- all of you deeply absorbed in library books.
Except you can top them all by trundling down the street with -- you guessed it -- a wheelbarrow almost overflowing with the latest volumes by our nation's best authors.
You'll help to popularize an exciting new trend. Once it catches on in "urban" neighborhoods, it will inevitably "cross over" into white ones and, before you know it, openly building one's intellectual muscles will be known as "acting black."
You can win friends and influence people -- plus earn the undying admiration of the women in your neighborhood who are pining for an intelligent, well-read mate -- by handling your load with a mixture of staunch self-discipline and weary resignation.
"Say, brother," one of your fellow intellectuals might say, "looks like you have quite a bit of studying to do this fine evening."
"You're right," you might reply. "I could be off luring vulnerable women into an exploitative economic relationship based on the trading of sex for money -- behavior that would benefit neither myself, the hapless women or all those desperate, duplicitous and disease-spreading customers who should be home with their wives and children (see below). But what can I tell you? It's hard out here for a scholar."
A second suggestion: "husband."
American society seems perfectly poised for the reintroduction of a once-revered but fading tradition -- and you, my trend-savvy friend, can be at the forefront! It's really not so hard to picture yourself in a committed relationship with one -- just one -- of those smart, attractive African-American women who have spent their single years dreaming of a faithful, loving and hard-working scholar (see above). I can see you now, hurrying home with your briefcase or lunch bucket in tow, rushing to keep pace with that growing assembly of black men striding with similar briskness home to their wives and children (see below).
"Say, brother," one of your equally dedicated peers might say, "looks like you're doing your utmost to keep those home fires burning. And might I also say that you are carrying one lovely bouquet?"
"Why, thanks," you might reply. "A dozen roses for my sweet, but that's not all." Here you lean forward with a conspiratorial wink. "I also have a paycheck in my breast pocket." After a mutually celebratory chuckle, you could add: "I guess I could have chosen a less disciplined life of slacking, stealing and engaging in exploitative relationships that involve the trading of sex for money (see above), but what I can say? It's hard out here for a husband."
Finally, a word that, like our previous suggestion, seems to have lost much of its prestige during an era in which 68 percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock: "father."