When Younger Black Millennials Don't Know What You're Talking About
I'm a millennial, but barely. I'm just shy of being Gen-X. Culturally-speaking, I'm probably somewhere between a legit Gen-Xer and a legit Millennial. But, technically, I'm a Millennial.
That said, I was chilling at home with my family one day, probably somewhere around 2004/2005, and I made a joke about somebody wearing a Gordon Gartrell shirt. We all laughed.
Except for my little brother. He just stood there, blinking.
Gordon Gartrell. You know, from the Cosby Show.
I've never seen that.
YOU'VE NEVER SEEN THAT?!
No! I don't know what you're talking about.
In that moment, I knew it was my failure. I'm nine years older than my brother. If he didn't get a Gordon Gartrell reference, I could only blame myself (and my sister. This was also her fault). I could not, would not stand for his having no knowledge of Denise's raggedy creation and Theo's legendary reaction. Oh, no. NOT ON MY WATCH. We marched to the living room immediately and I grabbed the Cosby Show DVD. And we watched. And he got it. And now he knows.
Lately, I've had too many moments such as this with a coworker. Let's call her Sherrice. To protect the guilty.
"Sherrice" is also a younger millennial in her mid-twenties. One night we were at a bar having drinks at talking shop during a work trip. Somewhere in the conversation I brought up something about 90's R&B artist (and now one of the stars of R&B Divas LA) Michel'le. I have no idea why, but she came up.
"Sherrice" was like:
You know! Michel'le! The one with the really high pitched speaking voice. From L.A. Sang Something in my Heart. And No More Lies. Has a son with Dr. Dre!
*sings a line from Something in My Heart*
*waits for her to be like "oh, yeah!"*
Fine. I gave her the benefit of the doubt on that one. I wasn't even a tween when Michel'le was big, so "Sherrice" was probably just a baby, if she was even born yet. And Michel'le only had a few hits. So, I suppose there's a chance her music collection could go overlooked.
But, Lord, today. TODAY WAS THE LAST STRAW.
Today I found out that "Sherrice" is new to A Different World. She remembers bits and pieces, but that's about it. She's never seen the full library of this wonderful, classic Black show.
How did this happen? How, Sway?!
We all went to Hillman College in our minds. The on-again off-again Whitley and D'Wayne saga sprinkled with Kinu and Julian and Olivia Pope's daddy was our own The Young & The Restless. Freddie and Kimberly Reese and Jaleesa and Colonel Taylor and Ron and Terrence and Mr. Gaines and Walter Oaks and Lena and Charmaine - these were our friends.
And the guest stars. THE GUEST STARS. Pattie LaBelle and Dihann Carroll and Whoopi Goldberg and Tupac and Jenifer Lewis (see faint above) and En Vogue and Lena Horne and Phylicia Rashad. Directed by THEE Debbie Allen. Featuring a classic theme song sung by THEE Aretha Franklin. COME ON. THIS IS BLACK HISTORY!
Today when I said, "so you haven't seen the Tupac episode?!" I got that same face again. I think I actually heard crickets.
"I remember the wedding episode, though!" -Sherrice.
To her credit, she is taking advantage of Netflix and has been binge watching. She has two more seasons to go. Let's wish her well as she catches up.
Has anybody else experienced this? I have never felt so old. We clearly need to develop a Black History Pop Culture Reference Guide. This can't keep happening.