Monday, March 17, 2014

More thoughts on Occupy and race in America

Because the Decolonize post was so popular, people might be interested in another update.

Race is a social construct, and the history of racism in America is a tragedy, from the slave trade through segregation to the present day, among others. The focus of the "Occupy Seattle" post, in case people weren't clear about it, wasn't about making generalizations about people who are African American as a whole, or about any other minority group in the United States. It was about a very small subset of people within that group, who I judged as individuals making their own choices, that they should be held accountable for.

On a broader scale in the United States, what I was referring to is indicative of a minority tendency within a minority tendency, with possibly one more layer of recursion added, one that can be applied to the small number of people who try to explain away their participation in crime or their own moral failings, and objections to them, by either reference to racial oppression or to accusations of racism against those who have a problem with it.

 Most people who are racial minorities are law abiding people. A small number either commit crimes or otherwise act dishonorably. A smaller number, more present on the West Coast than elsewhere, resort to explanations that trade on liberal guilt to shift the blame from themselves.

However, even though the amount overall is small, it's highly significant because, first of all, it pokes holes in the liberal notion that all people who come from oppressed backgrounds are inherently noble, as opposed to being a mixed bag of people who are good, those who are bad, and those who are indifferent, somewhere in the middle.

Secondly, the fact that a significant number of folks who are liberal believe these people, and I'm using that phrase, points out some of the weakness in ultra-liberal and progressive culture, namely that they don't realize the moral complexity of the real world but instead live in a dream world where the lines between who is a virtuous individual and who is a villain are bluntly drawn. And can't tell the difference between people who are manipulating them and trading on their guilt and compassion for their own purposes and those who aren't.

As a minority within a minority, the reality of the situation does not in any way resemble the stereotypes on Fox News, for instance, or the types of thinking that are behind laws requiring all welfare recipients to submit to drug tests before getting benefits. Both of those overstate the situation by quite a bit, and go into their own fantasy land of stereotyping.

But just because that over the top rhetoric isn't accurate doesn't mean that the reverse is.

I can think of no better example of people being taken in by stories of struggle used to justify criminal values than the gangster rap genre. You have people glorifying committing crimes, shooting people, disrespecting women, being concerned about making money only, on and on, and then justifying it by making reference to the struggle that they've experienced. It doesn't work that way. Either you sell drugs in your community, destroying it, and commit other crimes against others, mostly in your own community, hurting others, or your a virtuous person who's trying to transcend their circumstance. You can't be both at the same time.

Tupac, whose music I liked growing up, is a great example of this. There are great songs about struggle, and even about the challenges that black women face in our society....and yet on the same record there are the songs about bitches and ho's, songs that demean women as nothing but objects to be used for sexual pleasure, as well as songs glorifying murder and being in gangs.

At first, the more conscious people in the genre presented songs dealing with gang life as documents of the life they once lived, before getting out of it and pursuing something better. Then, that got lost, and it just became about praising the lifestyle itself, who cares about the greater social aspects.  

You can't support your community while you tear it down, and you can't tell me that the behavior that you're promoting that is against what not only the majority of people in American society believe in, as well as the majority of people in any society tolerate in their lives,  is somehow acceptable because of the history of oppression of yourself and of your community.

It's not white against black, it's the type of behavior necessary for a stable, good society, versus that which is incompatible with it.

The popularity of the music with white people from privileged backgrounds who themselves are sexist, fratboy, pigs, speaks wonders about what exactly it promotes.

Non gangster rap as well...."99 problems but a bitch ain't one"....would you honestly say that to someone who's female that you care about?

These artists glorify the worst tendencies in human society, and they expect the history of oppression in their community to legitimate it and excuse it. And, though they make constant reference to their community, they speak for themselves, as individuals, who have made their own choices, and they should be judged based on that. They shouldn't be given the opportunity to use the greater community that they're a part of, that for the most part does not break the law or engage in the kind of things they sing about, as a shield against what are their own problems.

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