Sunday, June 06, 2010

Black Culture

I've been thinking about popular black culture and the negative ideal that it has spawned. There seems to be no need to go into the particulars of it, Bill Cosby has that covered, so instead I'll jump right into my thoughts.

I'm beginning to change my mind about popular black culture. One time, not that long ago, I was positive that black culture in the US was a terrible phenomenon that disregarded its heritage and history of the struggle for equality in a violently antagonistic society. Many historians have written about it, and I even had Bill Cosby on my side. And did you ever see the Cosby Show? That guy was right about everything!

But I have come to the realization that a lambasting of pop-black culture is contempocentric. Yes, it seems terrible, now, but what about in the grand scheme of things? Gangsta' culture has been around for barely twenty years! Even in human terms, that's nothing. If a person is a troublemaker for a few days, we don't then generalize that into her entire psyche. We frequently use the word "stage" or "phase." Sociologists will also describe society going through the same sorts of things, just over longer periods of time.

I have begun to think that popular black culture is an important and positive step in the development of "black" America. Basically, for the first time in history, blacks were allowed to act badly. Before this, if you were a black man acting badly, you were either killed or immediately thrown in jail. The incredibly intelligent, upstanding people who were the vanguard of civil rights movement had to be that way. If they were anything but irreproachably dignified they would have been ignored or branded as just some upstart nigger. If anything, we should be happy that our society has finally gotten to the point where blacks can act badly.

Is there racism in this process? Of course. We end up with police profiling, and white kids wanting to be black, and, well, you get the picture. We still have a label that we're using to describe blacks, as opposed to them just being people who are black. Black people breaking the law, as opposed to just people breaking the law. Black college graduates, as opposed to simply college grads. That's somewhat disheartening, but when racism is so deeply ingrained in our culture, our society, even our very population distribution, we're going to have to go through many phases before it's entirely expelled. As for now, I think that Cosby shouldn't be upset. His generation and the generations before him fought for the right for blacks to be fully actualized people in society, and that means being complete assholes, just like the rest of us.

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