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.
"50 Cent and Michael Vick are keeping it real."
Chris Rock had a good description:
(first person):"What's the capital of Zaire?"
(nigger):"Shit, I don't know that!....Keepin' it REAL!"
Rock: Yeah, real DUMB!
You are keeping it real as long as you do not harm yourself or anyone around you physically mentally or spiritually.
You try to benefit the environment and society that surrounds you and eventually serving humanity for the greater good.
By keeping it real you are authentic and do not follow the geopolitical or corporate economic norm, but you strive to develop a norm that is centered on peace, truth, and unity.
- Keeping it Real
Honesty, doing the right thing, genuineness, fairness and reasonability are generally aspects of keeping it real. Gandhi kept it real because even though his acts were controversial or illegal, they were never harmful and society now knows he was doing the right thing.
Also used in a more jocular way to explain an individual's behavior that they may have thought was the right thing to do out of stubbornness or disregard for others, but it wasn't really keeping it real because the social concensus is that it is not.
- Joe stands up against bullies at his school and defends kids who are getting made fun of, even though he is quite popular and doesn't hang out with those kids. He is keeping it real.
- Ashley skipped Friday night partying with her friends to stay at home and watch movies with her sister who just broke up with a boyfriend. Ashley is keeping it real.
- Josh just isn't a very smart person, but he puts effort into doing the best he can. He is keeping it real.
Latoya: Tanisha why did you call me out for buying my shoes at Walmart in front of everybody.
Tanisha: I'm just keeping it real, why does it matter where you buy your shoes?
Latoya: Girl you are not keeping it real, I know it doesn't matter where I buy my shoes but people still might make fun of me for it. It's really just none of their business.
Staying true to what you believe. Not being persuaded by your peers in any arena.