Is being a DJ the most exciting job to elementary school kids? An examination based on a very small sample set.

OPINION: I showed up to do a DJ gig for my kids' school, and all of a sudden, all of the kids wanted to talk and/or hi-five me.

Photo by Yana Iskayeva/Getty Images

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

My youngest kids’ elementary school recently had a big Black History Month celebration. You know, an assembly-style gathering with African dancing, kids reciting poems and performances. To bring it to a close, they had a Divine 9 showcase where a bunch of kids represented the nine National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations — Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Iota Phi Theta — lead by parents, of course, who were members of each organization. And because it’s Black History Month, the whole shebang ended with Beyoncé’s rendition of the classic Maze featuring Frankie Beverly record, “Before I Let Go.” 

I don’t know how exactly I ended up in the mix on this one — no pun intended — but I was tapped to put together the music for the D9 showcase, which required me to put together a musical playlist of sorts with songs set to certain cues and running for a certain amount of time. It took a bit of time to put the music together. But then I was asked to put together the music for the rest of the program. Now, I’m no professional DJ. But I know how to use a DJ controller and Serato (the most common DJ software used; the artist formerly known as Kanye West famously questioned why there was no Yeezy in a DJ’s serato on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”). So I took to putting the music together and setting it up so I could run the music based on the requested snippets, etc. 

On one of the practice days, I went to the school to do it all in real time, and as soon as I took my DJ controller out of the carrying case and set it up, I became famous within those walls. My own kid wouldn’t leave my side without prodding as I imagine he was trying to catch some clout off of his father’s equipment. Several of the kids at this practice came to speak to me about being a DJ and asking me if it was hard or if it was something they could do. Like, I don’t know the order of “Coolest Jobs to Elementary Schoolers” but I imagine DJ is up there close to superhero. The kids all wanted to touch the decks and make the DJ scratch noise. I took note of this because I don’t think I even really knew what a DJ was when I was 6 years old (the age of my son in the showcase). All of these kids, however, not only knew but were impressed by the simple fact that I looked like one. 

When the day of the program came, and all of the kids came into the gym after I was set up, many hi-fived me and more than a few pointed out that I was a DJ. Even adults think it’s a cool gig, interestingly enough. I mean, it is, but it’s funny that folks look at DJs as if there’s some kind of magical power present. Admittedly, I always thought DJs were cool; there’s a certain swag that most DJs seem to have about themselves. They’re the center of attention when music is playing even if they’re in the background. No matter what they’re doing it looks both cool, amazing and impossible, though a few lessons and a lot of practice can show you the ropes with relative ease. I also think the DJ controller itself just looks like a spaceship of knobs and buttons; it looks like the kind of thing only the coolest, smartest person would know how to work. So maybe that’s what kids see, too. 

As soon as I started setting up, in fact, a kid ran over to me and was like, “(My son’s name) DAD IS A DJ!!!!!!” and went to tell other people, and then I saw a bevy of tiny faces looking at me as if I was on display. But in a cool way, not a weird way. That kind of confirmed it to me; DJs are really, really cool to elementary school kids. I’ll have an update on older kids as my kids traverse the ranks of public and/or private school education. Also, it really makes me want to teach my kids how to use the equipment; it will be both good for money and their egos. It’s a win-win really. 

In the meantime, I’ll make sure to dress cooler next time I have to DJ a gig at my kids’ school. It’s one thing to just be cool, but I need to look like a rock star, too. But one truism remains, I think DJs really might be the coolest job to a bunch of elementary school kids. 

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.