File spoon-archives/postcolonial.archive/postcolonial_2003/postcolonial.0309, message 31


Subject: Re: as a parent...
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003 23:10:05 +0000




Hello Friends,

I just read the reactions that the McWhorter article provoked.  I learned 
from all of you in one way or another. I must say though that I'm in 
agreement with most of what Susanna wrote. As for Margaret, I just want to 
say that it is very different to raise a child in New Zealand than let us 
say South Central Los Angeles. Your comparison ignores context, race and 
class. Why do you think advertisors spend billions of dollars if their 
methods of indoctrination weren't profitable?

Regards,

Horn OF Africa




>
>  I don't disagree that McWhorter's rhetoric largely vilifies hip-hop 
>artists and the black kids who emulate them.  And to what end?  How is he 
>helping them?  More importantly, how is he harming them/himself?
>
>With no imperical data, I'd guess that McWhorter is most popular with 
>whites who are relieved to finally hear a black man take the words right 
>out of their mouths about the problem with poverty and violence in black 
>communities.
>
>Still, studies have shown a direct link between exposure to TV violence and 
>violent acts in kids who are exposed.  Besides McWhorter is anyone talking 
>about this link at it relates to hip-hop and kids of any race?
>
>Also, another subject to throw into the mix:
>I have always been fascinated by the affinity white kids have for black 
>hip-hop.  I remember sitting in a cultural studies class at my little 
>liberal arts college listening to wealthy white hippy boys saying how much 
>they could "relate" to rap music.  None of them could exactly explain why.  
>I'm sure plenty has been written about this... anyone?
>
>-Susanna
>
>P.S.  I was raised without a TV until I was 18.  Indeed, I was overly 
>fascinated by TV and watched every chance I could when I was a kid. But, I 
>didn't freak out and rebel and become a drug addict or anything extreme.  
>And I firmly believe that there is a benefit in limiting a person's 
>exposure (kid or adult) to violence as entertainment.
>
>
>
>
>
>Dr. Michelle M. Wright wrote:
>
>>Hi all!
>>
>>Am loving the convo on McWhorter and wanted to add my
>>two cents:
>>
>>To my view, McWhorter has tapped into the lucractive
>>market of reiterating racist white discourse but
>>rendering it "legitimate" by being a bonafide black
>>himself--see "Losing the Race", in which he claims,
>>through childhood anecdotes, that black Americans are
>>at the bottom of the social and intellectual heap
>>because they actively discriminate againts brilliant
>>blacks such as himself. This book has received far
>>more press attention and sales than any of its
>>contemporaries that challenge racist stereotypes
>>through data and research rather than angry childhood
>>memories.
>>
>>In grad school, I always used to joke that as a black
>>lesbian I could make a pretty penny and score a great
>>job by writing a diatribe on how 1) blacks 2) women 3)
>>gays need to "quite whining and pull themselves up by
>>their bootstraps" because 1) it's their fault 2) hey,
>>I'm a "success" so why aren't they? and 3) all they're
>>doing is playing the race/gender/sexuality "card".
>>
>>With the arrival of McWhorter, I ain't laughing so
>>hard now.
>>
>>His latest diatribe--again through a personal
>>anecdote--simply repeats what anti-black discourse has
>>been pushing since the jazz era: black music is not
>>art, it's savagery and black muscians (like black
>>athletes) are not artists or sportsmen, they're
>>criminals. If you go back every few decades you'll see
>>the exact same charges being made against blues(the
>>cause of blacks raping white women), jazz (led to
>>heroin addiction), rock (led to communism and street
>>violence)--even gospel (mental breakdown of an already
>>inferior mind) comes in for the same irrational
>>invective. HipHop, I guess, leads to all of the above.
>>
>>Would anyone take his leaps of logic so seriously if
>>the exact same behavior was being described minus all
>>of the "black" markers? Say, some white prep school
>>kids at a Starbucks in a tony suburb of Connecticut
>>listening to grunge music? I would argue that we
>>wouldn't because, like all racist discourse, McWhorter
>>asks us to leave reality behind and join him on a
>>fantasy ride where we, with him, translate "black
>>youths" as "criminals" and "hiphop" into "violent
>>noise". Like him, we don't need a logical argument
>>because we have our imaginations.
>>
>>Thanks for the opportunity of getting that off my
>>chest!
>>
>>Michelle M Wright
>>Assoc Prof of English
>>Macalester College
>>
>>--- Susanna Stromberg <susanna-AT-circa1973.com> wrote:
>>
>>
>>>  With all do respect:
>>>From a cultural studies perspective, McWhorter's
>>>thesis is provocative and great fodder for academic discussions and
>>>arguments (valid enough). However, reading this as a parent, I feel 
>>>certain
>>>that many (if not most) parents would prefer that their children have
>>>"positive" non-violent role models -- if nothing else.  I am
>>>not condemning hip-hop in the way McWhorter does.  But his article gave 
>>>me
>>>pause.
>>>
>>>I believe that at a very basic human level it's
>>>worth considering who/what is shaping our children's values and
>>>dreams.  I also think that it is very easy to disregard or ignore 
>>>McWhorter's
>>>message when one does not see themself or their family as directly
>>>impacted by such negative messaging (ie one is not a black, single mother
>>>living in an urban ghetto trying to raise a kid with the hope for
>>>something better, for example.  For the record, I don't happen to be such
>>>a mother.)
>>>
>>>In other words, it would much easier for the mother
>>>of a white, upper middle class kid who does not live in an urban
>>>ghetto but who listens to hip-hop to find it more of a nuisance than a
>>>significant, negative impact on her kid's life, psyche and future goals
>>>worthy of concern.
>>>
>>>I do think McWhorter could give more attention to
>>>the superficial promise of fame and fortune promulgated by hip-hop. It 
>>>taps into the American dream, which cuts across racial and
>>>economic boundaries.  And it's what makes hip-hop so seductive to so 
>>>many.
>>>
>>>Susanna Stromberg Corcoran
>>>arm-chair cultural studies academitian and parent
>>>
>>>Luisa Rodriguez wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>>While I agree that music lyrics and attitudes do
>>>>
>>>>
>>>not create antisocial teens, it seems a bit naive to
>>>think that they do not influence teens with little
>>>else to engage their minds. And while the war in
>>>Iraq is very important to cover, so are the roots of
>>>antisocialism in our country. Luisa
>>>
>>>
>>>>Margaret Trawick <trawick-AT-clear.net.nz> wrote:Dear
>>>>
>>>>
>>>Horn of Africa,
>>>
>>>
>>>>With all due respect, it seems to me that a food
>>>>
>>>>
>>>fight among
>>>
>>>
>>>>fourteen-year-old boys at a K-Y Fry is not
>>>>
>>>>
>>>something to be alarmed about.
>>>
>>>
>>>>Abundant evidence suggests that such food fights
>>>>
>>>>
>>>have been occurring among
>>>
>>>
>>>>people of this age group of all classes and colors
>>>>
>>>>
>>>for decades if not
>>>
>>>
>>>>centuries. Similarly, verbal sass on the part of a
>>>>
>>>>
>>>young man in a car,
>>>
>>>
>>>>though it may be irritating, should not be cause
>>>>
>>>>
>>>for alarm. Such behavior,
>>>
>>>
>>>>like food fights, has been observed among black and
>>>>
>>>>
>>>white adolescents since
>>>
>>>
>>>>at least the 1950's. Therefore, one may reasonably
>>>>
>>>>
>>>conclude that hip-hop
>>>
>>>
>>>>music is not the cause of such behavior, nor even
>>>>
>>>>
>>>necessarily a contributing
>>>
>>>
>>>>factor. Before hip-hop there was punk, and before
>>>>
>>>>
>>>that the Beatles, and
>>>
>>>
>>>>before that Elvis, and so on back, and all such
>>>>
>>>>
>>>popular singers who flouted
>>>
>>>
>>>>the values of middle-class elders provoked alarm on
>>>>
>>>>
>>>the part of those who
>>>
>>>
>>>>espoused such values. For Elvis it was his open
>>>>
>>>>
>>>sexuality that got the
>>>
>>>
>>>>elders in a tiff, and for the Beatles it was their
>>>>
>>>>
>>>anti-authoritarian
>>>
>>>
>>>>stance, and for hip-hop it is the expression of
>>>>
>>>>
>>>violence in music. But to
>>>
>>>
>>>>assume a particular voice in music is not
>>>>
>>>>
>>>necessarily to identify with the
>>>
>>>
>>>>words of the speaker, nor to agree with him. It is
>>>>
>>>>
>>>only to say that this
>>>
>>>
>>>>voice is real. Hip-hop takes many forms, including
>>>>
>>>>
>>>gentle ones (such as
>>>
>>>
>>>>Maori hip-hopper Che Fu), and as you and others
>>>>
>>>>
>>>have noted, the majority of
>>>
>>>
>>>>hip-hop fans are white and middle class. I would
>>>>
>>>>
>>>bet my white ass that the
>>>
>>>
>>>>all of those who actually engage in criminal
>>>>
>>>>
>>>violence are subject to far
>>>
>>>
>>>>more pressing influences than hip-hop music, and
>>>>
>>>>
>>>would do what they do
>>>
>>>
>>>>regardless of what was playing on the radio.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>Meanwhile, the musicians
>>>
>>>
>>>>themselves, at least some of them, get rescued from
>>>>
>>>>
>>>the hopeless world of
>>>
>>>
>>>>the ghetto and its violence precisely by their
>>>>
>>>>
>>>music and its popularity.
>>>
>>>
>>>>And once they are out, they do all they can never
>>>>
>>>>
>>>to have to go back. It is
>>>
>>>
>>>>not the music that is adulated, I believe, so much
>>>>
>>>>
>>>as the singers
>>>
>>>
>>>>themselves, who through a combination of luck and
>>>>
>>>>
>>>talent have escaped the
>>>
>>>
>>>>life they describe. Finally, the message is, better
>>>>
>>>>
>>>to make music than to
>>>
>>>
>>>>deal drugs and get in barfights and pack a piece.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>So, what is the big deal,
>>>
>>>
>>>>really? I think you should spend your energy as a
>>>>
>>>>
>>>writer opposing bad
>>>
>>>
>>>>government, the war against Iraq, environmental
>>>>
>>>>
>>>destruction, and things like
>>>
>>>
>>>>that. As for hip-hop, just let it be.
>>>>
>>>>Regards,
>>>>Margaret
>>>>(b. 1948)
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>--- from list
>>>>
>>>>
>>>postcolonial-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu ---
>>>
>>>
>>>>Luisa Rodriguez, Assistant Professor Harry S Truman College 
>>>>Communications Department 1145 W. Wilson - Chicago, IL 60640 Office: 
>>>>773-907-4379 Home: 773-275-0631
>>>>
>>>>http://faculty.ccc.edu/lrodriguez/lrodriguez.html
>>>>"Hold a vision of each person doing their best."
>>>>
>>>>
>>>C. Yager
>>>
>>>
>>>>"Cada cabeza es un mundo aparte."   Unknown
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
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>>>
>>>
>>>>
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>>>
>>>
>>
>>====>>Dr. Michelle M. Wright
>>Associate Professor of English
>>Macalester College
>>St Paul, MN 55105
>>651-696-6501 (o)
>>mimawright-AT-yahoo.com
>>
>>__________________________________
>>Do you Yahoo!?
>>Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free, easy-to-use web site design software
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>>
>>
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