domingo, 7 de diciembre de 2014

Black 2

I think what makes black is the desire to stunt. And this is not tied to race. It stems from a means of expression because the modes available to you to truly express yourself are not deemed useful or are not available. Our fashion is loud because it is one of few avenues to yell 'I matter!'. Our names are complex. Instead of stating our College on Monday Night Football, we state our High Schools, we want to leave a mark. We high-step into the endzone. We play our music loud to say, we are here, you can't shame me. We candy paint our cars and put 26 inch rims on them just so you turn your head.

In general, black does mainly deal with black people in America. We are in a rare case of not belonging anywhere. South Africans have tradition, history, pride. Jamaicans have their own country. Aboriginals may be slightly similar but they still have native status. We can't go to Africa because we have no mothers there. We live in the land where we suffered most and have no where else to turn.

Muhammad asked how long does it take historically to feel a tradition, or feel a sense of belonging, and I don't know. I think it takes something happening to identify with and take pride in. Black people don't have any of that right now. Athletics? It's so mirrors slavery it's hard to really feel prideful in that especially because we don't invent our own sports. And it is so often conflated with being an animal and being dumb, that it can't be a cure all.

The period during the Civil Rights Era was our proudest moment. We got something done, and we wanted more. There isn't actually much pride in getting people to just accept you, so far as allowing you to be part of their society. Government said, 'okay Negros, you can join us', but what if we just want our own? The argument for segregation gets interesting here. We had Black Wall Street and a vibrant culture when forced to do it ourselves, but at the same time it was ridiculously inefficient and completely unequal.

So after the Civil Rights Era, we decided to take it up a notch. Nation of Islam. Black Panthers. Many other organizations such as the Islamic Party, which is where I am a descendant. We even invented a holiday, Kwanzaa! These were the natural order of things, establishing a foundation to base yourself off of. And it was working, it was attractive. So attractive, the Government was legitimately concerned - COINTELPRO. That was a real thing. I'm convinced they made sure these groups appeared to eat themselves from within. 'Make them hate themselves, and look to us as the peaceful, righteous, path' Gov't said. Kanye said it best, the whole All Falls Down is so rich and precise. Kanye could have not written another rap and that would have been enough. 'Cause they made us hate ourselves, and love they wealth'. 'Even when your in a Benz, you're just a nigga in a coupe'.

So how did these groups fall? We were at the height of black pride, we had something to feel good about. We had leaders like Fred Hampton who advocated for a true culture building program that didn't concern itself with aligning or non-aligning with the 'white' way. Malcolm X shot. MLK shot. Fred Hampton shot, completely illegal. So we were scared and ran back to our normal roles collecting the scraps from the popular culture. And to completely blow everything to smithereens, CRACK happened.

So who really is going to care about extravagant things like establishing an identity when you have to worry about just getting out of the jails and projects? It became and still is a game of just reaching normalcy. You can't even think of being yourself until then. I've talked with Muhammad a couple times and he has said his main concern was to just not be poor. I went to college with that feeling as well. All I wanted to be was a shining example of a black man that isn't in trouble. But lately I have been feeling very empty having been able to reach a level where I can see what 'normal' life is like. Especially feeling that even when all your numbers line up, the fact that your background is different, you still can't truly participate in the culture you long for.

Now this is a feeling that a few of the population are even privileged to feel, most of us are either in the jailing system, dealing with hood problems, fatherless issues, substance abuse, have been sold the dream of material wealth, or have just accepted the role as 'house nigga'.

I never thought I would care about race as much as I do now. For as long as I can remember, my main goal racially was to show others blacks can be 'normal' too. Talking with Muhammad today, we both have felt the trap that exists there. You will never be normal. The best you can be is a good black that acts white. There is no such thing as a good black that acts black. 'Acting black' immediately bring up images of jungle behaviour, shootings, rudeness, danger.

So what is the point to all this? I think that as someone who has been fortunate enough to overcome the trappings of the 'system' (if you will), it is my duty to find a way to inspire new culture that isn't reactive, that isn't assimulative, but is simply pure. Expressive. My bet is that the advantage of the black experience is that we have less tradition and culture to hold us back from truly delving into ourselves and being who we want to be. We have the power to be the leaders of culture, and for the most part we have been, in a way. We can be the early adopters, there is no 'shame' we have to worry about bringing on our family.

Subversive - Counter Culture
Superversive - Reinforcing Culture

Think about the average white middle class family. Their main purpose in life is to keep up with the Jones'. It makes sense to them, it is what has been done forever. It is what all their relatives do except for their hippie uncle. They have their Christmas lights up right now, without thinking. They are superversive. Now Imagine a world where blacks are middle class and have the faculty to do as they please, live where they please, etc. I can't even imagine the culture that would develop there. Once you don't have to keep up appearances so as not to appear 'black', there is no precedent for what's next. What is the architecture of that typology? What is the fashion game like? What is the town layout like? Which sports would there be in the high schools? What type of shows would be on TV?

Just to reinforce, I am not speaking specifically to African Americans. I am speaking to the spirit of anyone who truly feels like they do not have a home, a mixed race, a poor white, anybody who feels let down by what society has promised them, gays, atheist, etc.

And I am advocating for these to be the leaders of culture. These have the freshest, most objective eyes in approaching new ideas and innovations.

The questions I want answers to are: 1. What is the best, most efficient way in promoting the feeling of faculty to express oneself? Fashion? 2. Where does culture and tradition root itself mostly? 3. Is it possible to engender in people a love for the scary/surprising/confusing? Is it latent within us?

Endnote - Some things happening that are important:
will.i.am - Puls, he is doing something along the lines of what I see doing
Kanye West- Donda, he is trying to make a design collective, has a open(?) studio in Chicago
Fred Hampton Speech - Rap Genius has the annotation, he has ideas I am trying to push for, and he started doing it e.g. Free Breakfast Program