Let me hip you to game. A Different World didn’t get one. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air didn’t get one. Martin, Living Single, Roc and Family Matters didn’t get one either. Not one. Not until Donald Glover walked onto that stage with his diverse group of colleagues and accepted the Golden Globe award for Best Television series – Musical or Comedy. We ain’t ever seen a n___a like him or a show like that win a damn award like a Golden Globe since the fucking Cosby Show.
The Cosby Show, my n___a! It’s fucking 2017!
What I do know is that the standard American public probably didn’t understand why so many black millennials were gassed the fuck up but it’s easy to comprehend in layman’s terms.
We Are All Earn’s Liver working through the muck and the shit of today’s contemporary society.
(I am Earn’s wavering depression//unmoved and removed from reality)
How are we like Earn? He’s just a television character in a show. Right? No. We are just like him. Everyday is a heavy sense of Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing in life? Why do I keep fucking it up? I really don’t know if I can keep going… But you do and you live. As a millennial, we can’t ignore that the decisions of adults before us have gravely affected our ability to attain our own version of wealth and happiness. Let me clarify by saying that I am not speaking for the millennials that can afford artisan, organic products or put their children through expensive private schools. I am speaking to the young adults like me in which everyday is a battle with ourselves. Some of us get lucky and spend every waking moment tugging and pulling at the strings of our destinies to maintain a level happiness. Some of us aren’t so lucky to be able to comprehend that we control our lives. The big beast of reality ate them alive and spit out the bones of bodies leaving hollow shells of former beautiful souls.
When we meet Earn, he works in the airport selling credit cards for an airline company. He’s emotionally removed from the reality that surrounds him. He’s just standing there in the airport looking like he’s in a state of silent anger about his lack of any power. Later, you learn that he makes selfish decisions that effect his relationships with his family and mother of his daughter. His facial expressions are vacant and empty. Same shit, different day. Life is Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day transferred to a young black man in Atlanta with a shit job. Yeah. That sounds like many of my compatriots. Until his cousin, PaperBoi, becomes a local radio hit with his self-titled song “PaperBoi.”
(I am Earn’s awakened sense of opportunity//igniting a forgotten passion)
Trials and tribulations are all we can go through to learn how to grow as individuals. In your 20s that statement sounds like pure bullshit. In your 30s, that statement is the gospel. However, it can also breed a chip on your shoulder when you meet or know people that don’t have half of a brain and are in a better position than you. What does it take? You ask yourself. How did they even get in that position? You begin to wonder. It’s quite true that you end up with more failures in life and they can be so crushing to your soul that you just want to go crawl into a little hole underneath a rock and never come out because for what? Another fucking failure? Shitting me. It’s extremely cozy in this soul crushing hole.
As the show progresses, Earn becomes his cousin’s manager because he sensed an opportunity. A musical advantage that he could use to propel him out of his current mundane state. There has to be more to life than this. What can I do to change everything around me? What kind of fight am I going to have to put up in order to get somewhere, anywhere but here? Earn ends up in jail with his cousin, PaperBoi. Earn has to repair his relationship with his cousin. Earn is pushed back two steps instead of moving two steps forward. Earn starts to feel alive. It’s small but it’s something versus the nothing he’s been feeling.
(I am no longer Earn. I am PaperBoi’s conscience. Wondering if I’m doing the right thing.)
As millennials, we’re somewhere in between these two guys. We can keep playing our position or we can claw our way out of the muck, mire and bullshit. In two sentences, I’m going to change the direction of the words you’ve been reading. If I choose to stop playing my position, I choose to no longer continue playing into common stereotypes of American adulthood. I’m personally left walking away from classic black notions while constantly thinking about how to change the stereotypical game of perception. What the fuck do I have to lose? Friends and family members?
I’ll get more of those.
This is the point why Glover’s Atlanta series is so important. On the surface, everything looks like it’s okay. Earn looks like has a job. PaperBoi sells weed and raps bringing his ace, Darius, along for the ride. It looks like something you would experience in Atlanta. It looks like something black people would do. Bullshit. The entire show is commentary on what it takes to get more than what’s been dealt to you. If you are me then you are a HAVE NOT. Life isn’t glittery filled with ice cream adventures or whatever the fuck.
It’s you who has to make the moves to get what you want. It’s you who has to make the hard decisions you’re forced to make to get what you want. It’s you who has to face the Goliath-sized obstacles on your personal journey to greatness. The great lie accepted by Americans when parents decided that all children needed to feel like they were a winner.
You didn’t win, kid. You lost. Get over it. Try again.
I refuse. I will lie, cheat and steal to get to that next level. Anything to get out of the soul crushing abyss of sameness.
(I am Earn’s hardening testicles//”fuck wit me if you want to”)
In order to achieve some sense of peace in our lives, we have to turn into the villain with goons to help us get there. We grow some balls and do what it takes to get by. That’s the honest definition of being a villain. You grow some balls and stand up for yourself. Some people get it earlier than others. I caught on to game super late. We watch Earn transform from his docile, empty state into a man that is seeking ownership and success. He had to a lie a few times, escape a few times and take on a few villains of his own.
He slowly begins to accept his responsibilities as a man and father. He trips and falls but gets up with no scratches. I feel the same way. I’ve accepted that nothing is going to be easy ever again and if it is then there’s a catch somewhere that I know nothing about. Remember the club episode and the promoter kept evading Earn because he didn’t want to pay him his money? The easy part was showing up. The hard part was getting paid. Kind of like life, right?
All I want is ownership of my mind and space. I can no longer do as I’ve been told because other people have done the same shit. I’ve learned that it only brings me empty feelings and disconnections.
That blue jacket episode. All for a key? To a storage unit? Really, fam?! YES, REALLY. We watched a man have no solid foundation for himself for an entire season while trying to dig his way into music industry via management. We saw him change clothes and lie about a non-existent relationship with his baby mama so she could find herself in a better position in life. We watched him pay off a radio station DJ to get plays for his cousin. Underneath it all, we experienced the growing urgency to provide for his little girl because that’s all that matters to Earn by the end of the season. You see him trying to repair the broken relationship between him and her. He could’ve kept the money his cousin gave him but instead gave it to her because black daughters matter.
The storage unit is a symbol. A small freedom of no longer being chained to anybody’s expectations. A place he earned based on how far he was willing to put himself out there for his cousin’s hood ass rap music. Fuck with him if you want to.
I envy Earn. I wish I could do the same.
Therefore, are we all like Earn? Yes. Even a non-black millennial would agree.
(I am Earn’s quieted mind//Shhh… It’s time to do my work.)