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November 30, 2004

Somebody's Idea of Black Culture

Baldilocks is meditating on an old meditation. I thought I'd bring back some flavor to that discussion that we've discussed here and there.

The way I see it, there are two bogus arguments that fuel such problematic discussions and and one shady argument. The first bogus argument is the racist one. Blacks are genetically predisposed to be blockheads, so ugliness is inevitable. Second bogus argument is a slippery version of the first, racist, but trying not to sound racist: Black *culture* is predisposed to ugliness and so such behavior is to be expected. The third argument is the shady one which suggests that Black culture *should* have ugly elements in it because it's appropriate to the political struggle of African Americans.

If people really respected Artest as an individual (or disrespected him as an individual) we wouldn't be talking about black people, culture or authenticity. But now that we are, Mr. Peabody, crank up the wayback machine.

Boot To The Head Simply stated, one hundred years from now, people will forget Nelly, but they will still be playing Thelonius Monk. In the words of Stanley Crouch, there is some music which seeks to 'elevate with elegance', and then there is music to shake your ass to. Seeing as men and women will always have reason to shake their asses, it won't really matter if it's Nelly or someone who has yet to be born, rise to pop stardom and then fall into obscurity. The asses will be shook, the tune forgotten. But for those cultural productions which are part and parcel of the will to reach excellence and perfection, for those which sustain the spirit, the memories will be strong.

Mass Markets & The N Word
The stop dead in your tracks argument in my hip pocket about 'Why can't white people use the n-word when blacks like xxx use it all the time?' has changed. The answer I now give, when asked, turns the tables. Of all the African Americans there are, why is it that you wish to emulate blacks like xxx? This answer helps the clueless to understand that blacks recognize class distinctions between themselves, which is part of my reason for bloviating on behalf of the Old School into the blogosphere. But let's take this distinction one step further and talk about the commercialization of black culture.

Soul Plane & Minority Pride
Again, the little white man in some black heads still isn't dead. Worrying about what whitefolks think will drive you to drink. It's precisely because there will always be some who believe just what you fear. What these insufficiently proud African Americans forget is that Hollywood is irrelevant to that racist thinking. The Klan doesn't need Soul Plane as an excuse. And nobody needs white liberal guilt shushing people in sensitive response to the bleating boycotters.

There. That should keep their heads ringing for a minute.

Posted by mbowen at November 30, 2004 03:31 PM

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