Cultural Appropriation: You Don’t Want To Go Down That Road

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This got my goat the other day.

Maybe it was because my sister sported dreads for a time. For the record, I was against this style choice (the ex’s opposition was based on opposition to cultural appropriation, mine from a sense of aesthetic and biology as her hair wasn’t wired for it).  But if anyone gave her crap for it, I’d give them what for.

The meme above doesn’t make sense at a number of levels, and frankly, the creator undermines him or herself. Continue reading

The Crossing: MLK and Malcolm X

 

I have taught AP English Language and Composition for three years now. I always run a comparison between Malcolm X’s “Ballot and the Bullet” and MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” They are both remarkable pieces and highlight the assimilationist v. separatist approaches to America’s cultural and racial problems.

Malcolm X’s piece is a treat to read. It is full of invective (those damn “crackers!”) and defiance. The anger is palpable. Rhetorically he pulls no punches. The black man has gotten a raw deal for too long. The whites have given him window dressing rights. Fuck the police. The relationship is irreconcilable—probably. The choice (bullets or the ballot?) haunts the speech. There is much that resonates with the current atmosphere especially in light of events in Dallas.

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Harlem: White Guilt, Gentrification, and Historical Consciousness

 

I live in Harlem, but I’m an outsider. Race is the obvious reason for this: I can walk a half mile in Harlem and only see a couple white faces. But race is not the only reason. Many of families in Harlem have lived here for generations. In this way, my status of outsider would be similar in backwoods West Virginia.

A fellow white resident told me he felt like an occupier living in Harlem. This struck me as an overwrought and guilt-ridden way of looking at the situation, but he accurately identified a level of unease. But the unease is diminishing to an extent: young white professionals who want to live in NYC have begun moving into Harlem because the rent is cheaper. Over the past year, I’ve noticed an uptick in white faces. This white migration in turn has begun to contribute to the gentrification of the area and the slow but steady rise of rent costs that will ultimately drive out multi-generational black families. This in turn has led to guilt-ridden condemnation of gentrification—numerous white neighbors argue this line. It’s quite nauseating especially when coupled (as it always is) with cliché anti-cop rhetoric. It’s straight up hypocrisy: if they really cared about preserving black Harlem, they wouldn’t move there. So why do they? Continue reading

An Infinitely Indescernible Quality of Mind

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 An Urgent Revolution

I cannot tell if this revolution sweeping through our country’s colleges is a legitimate revolution or merely a strange version of a limbo contest. The limbo contest was my first and immediate choice, but all things deserve more than a cursory glance. What I mean by ‘limbo contest’ is the definition of racism seems to be changing even more rapidly with cultural shifts in our country. Racism used to be a withholding of rights under the constitution, but then laws changed and the bar was lowered to the more nebulous but legitimate “denial of access”, and now we have lowered the bar to awkward social situations in which nobody has been directly verbally attacked. If you want to take a step up from that, then we can include poop swastikas that had no accompanying letter to explain who exactly the fecal feature was attacking. My first guess would have been that the Jews should be the most offended people at Mizzou, but hey what do I know?

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Dead White Men. Also, an Introduction (of sorts) to Bellewether.

I am an educator at an international high school. Most my day is spent teaching students history and interacting with colleagues. It’s a good gig. I’ll mention it more in the future since kids from abroad have a way of casting a strange light on American culture. They generally seem to like Americans (although they find our drinking laws preposterous) but they find some of our sexual mores (among other things) peculiar. We are both too liberal and too conservative.

I digress, but will return to this at a later date.

One day I headed home with a fellow teacher and in the course of the conversation classical education came up and after a I give her a brief description the teacher says, without a hint of real cynicism in her voice, “Oh, so dead white men education.” Continue reading