Written by Julian Kimble (@JRK316)
In August, a petition was launched to co-name the corner of St. James Place and Fulton Street Christopher Wallace Way in honor of the Notorious B.I.G., who grew up at 226 St. James Place. Community board members in Brooklyn's Clinton Hill section are predictably opposed to the idea, as Biggie was apparently too violent and vulgar to deserve the honor. Then there's the matter of his appearance.
According to DNAinfo, CB2 member Lucy Koteen shared her Biggie research at a Tuesday night board meeting. "He started selling drugs at 12, he was a school dropout at 17, he was arrested for drugs and weapons charge, he was arrested for parole violations, he was arrested in North Carolina for crack cocaine, in 1996 he was again arrested for assault, he had a violent death and physically the man is not exactly a role model for youth," Koteen told fellow board members. "I don't see how this guy was a role model and frankly it offends me," she added.
Pause for a second. Digest all of that, then revisit "and physically the man is not exactly a role model for youth." So, aside from past transgressions that were just that—past transgressions—and the "violent death" that he didn't instigate, the reason a corner can't share its name with Biggie is because he was fat? Or is this really about fear, fear of someone who was well over 300 pounds and, proclaimed himself, "black and ugly as ever"?
If we assume Koteen combed through his lyrics, we also have to assume she missed "Sky's The Limit's" inspirational words of wisdom, right? Or, in that very song, his hope that his daughter, T'yanna, gets the best education possible (which happened, by the way) so she doesn't need a man to take care of her. Or how about Ready to Die's elephant in the room: blatant self-loathing (check "Everyday Struggle" or the opening bars of "Suicidal Thoughts")? But if Common, with his Good Morning America-friendly lyrics and SAG card, shouldn't be invited to the White House, there's no way the intersection where Biggie grew up can share his government name, right?
Fear is one obstacle, but the bigger one is the fact that councilwoman and public advocate candidate Letitia James hasn't provided the letter necessary for the proposal to move forward.
Following the meeting, LeRoy McCarthy, the catalyst behind the Christopher Wallace Way movement, said that Biggie's appearance or death should not be held against him. "Biggie used the language from the streets he grew up in to convey what he wanted to say," he said. But the most frightening segments of his Wikipedia page and some profanity from an overweight man is too much for some people to look past.
Stereotypes of the black male misunderstood, but it's still all good.