Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Futility or Perhaps the Profoundness of Whiteness


I searched for a Black and White image. I found Bobby K.
You know I LOVE Bobby.

Blackness can only be understood in terms of Whiteness.

I came to this conclusion after reading Elsa Barkley Brown's

She writes,

We are likely to acknowledge that white middle class women
had a different experience from African American, Latina,
Asian American,
and native American women; but the relation, the fact that
these histories
exist simultaneously, in dialogue with each other, is
seldom apparent in
the studies we do, not even in those studies that perceive
as dealing with the diverse experiences of women. The
tendency now, it appears to me, is to acknowledge then ignore the differences
among women.

Barkley Browns general argument is that we can only
understand Black women's history if we look at White women's
history because the two require each other to work.

Whiteness ONLY works in relationship to Blackness.

This kinda shook me up.

Because I believe this to be true, I am struggling with
the Sociology readings that I have. Shit, its even hard for me
to read news paper articles or even to have conversations

with people about race.

Because a conversation about Blackness without mentioning Whiteness can
only be half right.

In the same way that a conversation about Hip Hop without mentioning capitalism
can only be half right.

Much of the discourse around race treats Male Heterosexual Whiteness
as the norm and everything else deviates from that.

Part of my ideas around the futility of Whiteness stems from reading work
by Black people, about race, that either implicitly or explicitly ask's
for White folks to see our humanity, to include us.

I arrived as an intact human in East Oakland over 30 years ago.

Whether or not a group of people SEE or validate my humanity is none
of my business.

I haven't always been this way. Growing up in East Oakland, it was difficult
to remain an intact human being, especially after the crack epidemic.

Having just started graduate school, it has become clear to me the
ways in which my education has played a role in my ability to remain
intact because many of us don't make it and we simply charge it to the game.

Its difficult for any one who isn't a White Heterosexual Male (WHM) to remain intact,
because both our laws and our mainstream culture presume that WHM is
the norm.

This norm in our society is reflected by the need to have a Civil Rights Movement,
a Women's Rights Movement, a Gay Rights Movement, an Equal Opportunities
Council Commission
, a Civil Rights Bill and Health Care Reform.

All of this brings me to a conversation I had on Twitter Friday with, @BlackNerds
about saving hip hop.

Normally I don't respond to these statements, because most likely
they prove to be futile. But I engaged and I am glad I did because I made a
connection that I hadn't seen before.

I asked him:
Saving hip hop from what?
Why is there such an investment in it?
What does it mean to "save hip hop" when most artist want
Black kids respect and white kids money?

As a result of our conversation, I then tweeted and this the important
connection that I made. The tweet said, "In some ways, I
think our
desire to like hip hop is
connected to our need to have White folks
recognize our humanity."

I am still working this out. What I do see today, is that both instances
involve looking
for validation in places that have clearly stated they it
has not, and will not
be offered. It can be struggled for, but it will
not be handed over. To struggle for it, would mean a new society.

You see the connection between Blackness and Whiteness?

Why is it so hard to accept that Rap music is now a tool to sell


Why do we want to save it so badly?

It feels good to be back. Thank you for reading.


z.bediako said...

byron hurt came to my university a couple of years back for a screening of 'beyond the beats' ( i think i commented once before ) at the end of the film, me & a sistafriend of mine asked him

' why we trynna save hip hop? when was hip hop ever a movement? why should hip hop be the movement? '

everybody is talking about the death and demise of hip hop. and i never truly felt right about being too opinionated because honestly, by the time i started really listening to it, it had already faded from what it once was. and i don't even know what it once was to people. I'm 24 & i love the tribe & jean grae bahamadia & de la soul -- but thats pretty much the extent of my knowledge of hip hop. i'd like to learn more about it.

anyway, from what i do know -- hip hop has never been a radical force in the community. i do think it was a freedom expression. i feel it was/and in some ways is still the war cries of black americans growing up in mid to low income communities. but i guess i've always known capitalism & consumption to be intertwined.

somebody want some money
somebody want some ass
somebody love black people and wave RBG, but still at the end of the day want money & ass.

i love that hip hop is black expression. its beautiful because it speaks to our condition. its honest. but as a far as a MOVEMENT? HMMM. not convinced. but imma read up.

As far as blackness & whiteness is concerned. because whiteness is a power structure that continues to persist and dominate - it is the source of a lot of socially constructed variables like race... blackness

Model Minority said...

What Up Z? I see you.

Whats bugged out to me is that those of us born in the early, mid and late 70's see hip hop as an organizing principal in our lives.

Whereas the young folks don't, necessarily.

But for young folks born in the 80's and 90's its just music. And I don't intend to undercut the ways in which the music normalizes hood shit about Black folks, or the way it traffics in uber sterotypes.

Sometimes, it seems like us old heads put too much on it that younger folks don't.

Nexgrl said...

In my profession, I've seen the connection between blackness and whiteness in person. Working in a system where there are only 8 full-time black librarians. Of those 8, only 1 is in mid-management. 3 are in low-level management and the rest of us are at the bottom. I have interviewed and applied for the low-level, but nothing has come of it for the past 5 years. I believe in my heart that those in upper management feel that there are already enough of us working as managers. The exception is, if we want to be a managing Children's librarian.
I've been a whitness to the evolution of hip hop. I remember it being just for fun, I remember when it began to bring a picture of our lives to others. I don't think hip hop is dying, it's just not in it's original form anymore. It truly mirrors the evolution of jazz.

Dale Wight said...

(Here’s one of my favorite RFK clips)
I understand your position, yet I still believe that wholeness can be had internally, without being defined by others and their reaction to you. In fact, I believe that wholeness ONLY can be had internally, without being defined by others and their reaction to you. This does not mean that what you experience won’t be influenced, or even determined, by others’ reaction to what you are but you aren’t all you if others have a say in what that is. You can use adverse conditions to perfect what you are instead of letting them determine that.
Victor Frankl, the Jewish survivor of Nazi concentration camps, explored and explained this idea in “Man’s Search for Meaning.” He discusses what he calls the ultimate freedom: to be able to choose one’s response to circumstances. He writes of prisoners who refused to become bitter, unloving. They would give their last bit of food to a neighbor, they would speak kindly to the guards who would torture and kill them because they chose to be that type of person for the rest of their lives. He found that the meaning of an experience is who we choose to be as we go through it. The difference in these choices explains why some find enlightenment and God but others find misery and selfishness in the same circumstances.
More personally, some of my people endured mob persecution to the point that they were driven from the U.S. in the mid-1800’s. Here is an excerpt from the life story of my g-g-grandmother:
“April 1859 we started from England and crossed the sea with a large company of saints to New York, then we traveled by Railroad and Steam boat to Florence where we waited 4 weeks to get our outfit to cross the Plains with. Here we sold part of our clothing and bedding to get the other part hauled across the plains in an ox team, and we traveled with the Hand Cart Company. We suffered extremely for the want of Provisions, my Mothers health was poor and it was impossible for us to get her the nourishments that she needed. We was four days without one bit of either Bread or flour with nothing to eat but what we could pick from the bones of an old ox that was killed to keep us alive, and that she could not touch it. On the third day that we was without bread, she died very sudden just as she was starting out of camp on the journey she fell down and we thought she had fainted and applied what we could to restore her but all in vain. She was entirely exhausted for the want of bread. She sighed twice after my father picked her up and life was extinct. If she could have bread to eat she would have lived. She said she felt better on the morning she died than she had done for a long time. She walked four miles that morning and died as we was camped for breakfast. It was on August 24th 1859. She lived and died a faithfull Latter Day Saint beloved by all who knew her. She never murmered although she suffered starvation for the Gospels sake, and she now lies a Martyr on the Plains. She died and is burried six miles this side the crossing of Green River [Wyoming], on the old Emegration road. We mourned her loss severly. It hurt us to leave her as we were compelled to do. She was burried without any Coffin. The sisters was very kind to us. They washed her and put her some clean clothing on, and then sewed her up tight in a white bed blanket, and put her in the grave that way, and just as soon as the grave was filled up we had to travel on, never to see it again. I was 13 years old at this time and I walked all the way and pulled at the hand cart every day.”
Neither Viktor Frankl nor my grandmother, Ann Berry Jarves, let the adversity put upon them define them or their Jewish-ness / Mormon-ness even though it defined the worlds in which they lived and caused them to face death. Although evil people defined their worlds, they choose not to be defined by others’ evil.

M.Dot. said...

Maenen. You know I love you, I cursed you when I saw the length of that comment.

I need coffee to read that thing, and I don't drink coffee after 12. Lols..

**Scrolls up and reads.

How is it that you have a written acount of your ggg grands.I swear Mormon folks have genealogly on LOCK down.Lols.

Of course we can't let outsiders define who and what we are. But THAT IS the eternal fight. No.

manaen said...

M.Dear, I love you also -- but you complain about the length of my comments after making me work through your opus magni so I can make them? Don't put so much CONTENT into your writing if you want the hipshots.
Bad news: part 2 on the way.
g-g-grandmother's story among those passed down through our family. Yes, we do genealogize a lot. After my brave statement about internal wholeness, I admit these histories give me a running start on who are I and my people.
"Of course we can't let outsiders define who and what we are. But THAT IS the eternal fight. No."
Yes. IMO, choosing who we will be is the essence of the eternal fight.

M.Dot. said...

I'm not complaining...thought I would just poke you a lil bit. Lols.

Yeah. This was quite the post. I think all this social + feminist theory reading is starting to take its toll. Lol.

I think I need to write about being a waitress next. What is hard about school is the ways in which low income and working poor white folks are erased from the conversation. I KNOW THEY EXIST, I saw them all summer.
Its like poor=Black
Powerful = White
Latinos = Job Stealers
Asians = Model Minorities
Invisible = Low income/working poor whites <<<,When in fact they are the LARGEST DEMOGRAPHIC in the country.

manaen said...

a conversation about Hip Hop without mentioning capitalism can only be half right.
cf your statement with,
"Everything that starts out as a cultural revolution ends up as a capitalist routine."
- David Brooks, NYT editorial, 15 Sep 2009
(FWIW, I knew you weren't complaining, just trying to gig you a little)

Model Minority said...

True indeed.

In the James Boggs, book, Notes from a Negro Workers Notebook, which I highly recommend,
he talks about how if a group doesn't seize power, it WILL BE CO-OPTED by the system in which it exists.

That was hard to read.

I try and think of things in terms of contradictions.
Alinsky encourages this. Meaning when the pendulum swings one way, its coming back in the other, and anticipating history can help us minimize the impact of the negatives. <<<<---Wow.

Post a Comment

eXTReMe Tracker