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October 1994


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J Roberson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 30 Oct 1994 09:20:24 +0600
text/plain (113 lines)
This'll be the last from me on this topic. If anyone cares to respond.
Please make it private, sending your reply to either
[log in to unmask] or (more simply) [log in to unmask]
>conflict.  I view African American culture as broad, as the totality of
>expressions and experiences of African Americans, or black Americans, if
And if you extend it far enough, you get African-Americans with a culture
that is exactly like their white neighbors (or Aboriginal, or Native
America, etc). At that point why try to call it African-American simply
because some of the people in it are A-Af? If members of different races
are practicing the same culture, then isn't it pointless to try and define
culture by race?
>you prefer.  Conversely, you apparently see African American culture as
>embodied by all things stereotypically black in America.  I see people
Well, yes and no. I misread your other post - thank you for clarifying your
position on what an African-American culture. Truth be told, I would rather
define culture by things that are not ascribed: the drug culture, the
"computer technician" culture, the theatre culture, and the others.
Furthermore, it is one thing to recognize and deal with the stereotypes in
our society and quite another to support them. I know why the cop keeps a
close eyer on the group of young black men in Taco Bell who aren't doing
anything other than talking and eating - but I think it's a stupid reason.
>like your "computer-nerd" friend as adding to and potentially enriching
>African American culture, not outside of it.  Maybe that's why you "hardly
Well, yes, he is enriching and helping redefine what a black man can do.
But that doesn't mean that he has much in common with other
African-Americans besides the color of his skin.
>ever saw the 'black' side of his personality:" you were looking for a
>stereotype.  To me, your friend is every bit as black as Samuel L. Jackson
No, I wasn't looking for a stereotype. I didn't observe one, either - and
that's probably one reason we became friends. I don't like stereotypical
people ;)
>is, as Snoop Doggy Dogg is, as I am.  Yet we are each distinctly different
>individuals.  That paradox is essential.
Right, so if you're individuals, why try to group you together and say that
since you are African-Americans that there is some common culture between
you? Even if you define A-Af culture as whatever you are doing (again, I
think that would be silly: a car is a car no matter what the paint job ;)
why should there be any more in common between the four of you than there
is between an A-Af lawyer and an A-Af clerk at McDonald's other than the
Movie quote of the week (paraphrased):" A Farmer in France will have more
in common with a farmer in China than with an aristocrat in France." - Jean
Renoir believed that people associated with others of their own class more
than others of their own nation - and he was born during a time when
nation-states were still viewed as racial co-ops (i.e. Italians, French,
Slavs, etc were all viewed as different races).
>I view black people who also are painters, farmers, Wall Street lawyers,
>or actors as each contributing to an African American culture which exists
I just view them as painters, farmers, and Wall Street lawyers. I agree
that they serve as role models for other African-Americans and help redfine
what is possible for African_americans to achieve in our culture today.
>and is continually evolving.  Take rap music for an example.  It didn't
>exist 30 years ago.  And of course, rap is a part of current pop culture.
>Yet few would dispute that it had its origins in, and is a part of,
>African American culture.
I would not dispute that. Culture can have its roots in cultures of the
past - but I don't think race defines that culture. I mean, an A-Af who
listens to Wilson Phillips is not partaking of the musical portion of A-Af
culture ;)
Actually, he is, studying the history of music, but it's one thing to say
that A-Afs are expanding modern culture in everything they do (which is
true; I think all artists are engaged in that feat) but it is quite another
to relabel that as A-Af culture.
>I disagree.  Maybe our differences are semantic, but I would say that
>person may be acting non-stereotypically and, as such, is adding to the
>richness of African American experience and culture.
Maybe it is semantic, but I still don't see the point in labeling a culture
by race when the practitioners have everything in common *but* race. It's
like saying that a group would have a culture if they were all the same
race. I just don't see much point in defining things by race, unless for
some strange reason race is important to you.
>Perhaps we
>should all attempt to recognize the stereotypes, then look beyond them
>when considering individuals
In this we agree. I think that I've just taken it one step further by
ignoring race as much as possible - not in denial, but because it isn't
important in most cases. I try to look at everyone as an individual. If
someone slights me, and don't hold a grudge against others of the same race
and gender (or age, and so on). Rather than looking for a unique
African-American or a unique man in communicating with you, I look for a
uniqe human being, who is the sum of all parts.
>I've got to get back to work anyway.  Thanks for listening.
Thanks for the repartee'. I agree that we are *way* off the list's topic,
so if thins continues I'll take it private. Thank you for writing.
". . .that realm is never long in quiet, where the ruler is a soldier."
             -- Castruchio, *The Duchess of Malfi*, by John Webster.