A manufactured street code for continued white supremacy. As used in common speech, could also be phrased, "keeping it submissive" or "keeping politically, socially, and economically irrelevant."
African-Americans (especially men) who have evolved into greatness through traditional paths are invalidated as they have not "kept it real." The term's definition relegates and caps many potential great African Americans through peer-pressure, advertising, greater social misunderstanding, and ambiguous racial identity.
The phrase is harmful in that it not only damages the collective psyche of a large portion of the American populace, it also limits (in all facets) the unlimited potential that this group could have upon the country.
"Thurgood Marshall, Barack Obama, Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Booker T. Washington, (Sports Analyst) James Brown, and Condoleeza Rice are not keeping it real."
"50 Cent and Michael Vick are keeping it real."