Racial, Ethnic & Sexual Identity & Difference - Pt 4
Last Updated: 14 June 2016
Racialism/Racism in Popular CultureIt would be nice to see pop and rap artists not use the word 'nigga' and not call themselves 'black', as it reinforces perceptions of difference (regardless of intention and meaning to different segments of the audience), and the slavish, imperialist positions society has put people in for hundreds of years. It not doubt encourages inverted racism, and there really is no excuse in a supposedly politically correct society, which in reality is highly hypocritical, supporting and reinforcing difference in one area, but condeming and not allowing identities of difference in other areas, such as the majority. One day I am confident we will have a colourless, heterogeneous society (not a uniform 'white, heterosexual, middle class' society) where no one uses difference as identity as it is 'soooo 21st Century' and is totally uncool!
'Rap culture' has over the last 30 years moved away from a form of positive expression for 'black' youth in poor urban areas in New York, for example, the projects, and has slowly mutated over time to the materialism and racism of gangsta rap and modern R'n'B. Modern 'rap' music is often about gang violence, social commentary, cussing, style, flirting with the gangster image, money, bling, sex, women ('hoes' or 'bitches'), expensive cars and guns. There is little positivity left. Modern 'R'n'B' is about sex, style and bling. All the soul from hip hop seems to have disappeared somewhere along the line. It was clear that Gangsta Rap could sell records and that grossly exaggerating how bad ghetto areas were (or rather focussing solely on the most negative and profane aspects of life) has created a fad that inspired others to jump onto the bandwagon. Those who claim their were once gangsters are often grossly exaggerating, to try to maintain street cred, and dislike to show any soft side to their character as it is 'weak' or uncool. Perhaps this is to make up for a lack of talent, originality, personality, cheekiness, humour or having anything to say. It is not surprising that youth who grow up listening to such music do not receive a broad and positive cultural musical education! In a sense, obsession with bling and money is an example of overcompensation and vanity; that in poor communities, it has often been up to the individual to 'hustle' or to make opportunities and careers for themselves and not rely on the state or anyone else. This individualism often involves making as much money as possible and showing it off, to feel good about not being poor any longer; the wealth that they and their previous generations have aspired to. However, associating materialism with one's identity is a somewhat vain preoccupation! In a sense, it is another way of making up for a past of slavery and poverty, much like the black power and pro-black movement has been since the 1960s. Whilst serving a purpose in boosting people's self esteem, it is ultimately limiting in terms of really getting to grips with one's identity that isn't tied to superficial physical attributes such as skin colour or the size of one's wallet, and in terms of reducing social tension and not reinforcing stereotypes and differences.
It seems to a trend although not a universal rule for many people to support the candidate or sports person from their own group. If an Afro-American or Afro-Caribbean person supports their chosen candidate or sportsperson for racial reasons, this is seen as being acceptable, non-racist and a positive form of support for 'one's community'. If a 'white causasian' person chooses to support a 'white' person over 'persons of colour' then it is regarded as being racist, unacceptable and divisive. There is an expression that one cannot have one's cake and eat it. There are a large number of people who have stuffing their 'cake holes' and are in need of a diet!
Anyone who supports a candidate or sports person based on biological and/or racial characteristics is highly misguided and experiencing a moment of irrationality. Many people succumb to this behaviour in specific contexts, often disguising our racial prejudices with logic and reasoning about the better suitability of the candidate from 'our group' - even when most of the time they may regard such behaviour as unacceptable. Such people may have a 'blind spot' then in certain contexts or situations. Some people embrace a racial stereotype as being 'cool' or 'one of us' whereas the next person may find it totally distasteful or culturally backwards. It is easier to become annoyed about racial stereotypes from 'other races' than in one's own, where one may not notice it or become annoyed by it.
It should be noted that slavery was not something that was exclusively a 'white' orchestrated form of oppression. Slaves have been used and traded for thousands of years. The first West African slaves were traded by Muslim traders, and later on the Portugese. Slaves from northern part of the West African coast were in general better educated than those slaves on the more southerly part of the West African coast, and as such were more likely to form rebellions. Less educated slaves were therefore preferred, and those who had already experience of agricultural labour. The expanding New World required a large labour source, and for this African slaves were used.
'Between 1450 and the end of the nineteenth century, slaves were obtained from along the west coast of Africa with the full and active co-operation of African kings and merchants. (There were occasional military campaigns organised by Europeans to capture slaves, especially by the Portuguese in what is now Angola, but this accounts for only a small percentage of the total.) In return, the African kings and merchants received various trade goods including beads, cowrie shells (used as money), textiles, brandy, horses, and perhaps most importantly, guns. The guns were used to help expand empires and obtain more slaves, until they were finally used against the European colonisers. The export of trade goods from Europe to Africa forms the first side of the triangular trade.'
When looking for scapegoats for African slavery, who is the most guilty? The actual end users of the slaves, i.e. the new colonies of the New World? The traders who bought the slaves in exchange for European goods, and shipping the slaves (often in horrific conditions) from one continent to another, making a large profit in the process? Or the African kings and merchants who sold their old people as a commmodity, selling them into slavery and often death? It is easy to blame the former two groups of people and over look the latter. Either way, those who are to 'blame' have been dead for at least hundreds of years and it does not make rational sense to blame anyone who is alive today for this. Blaming others for one's problems is never a constructive mindset and only traps oneself into negative thought and identity concepts. Clearly the economic effects of slave labour and plantations can be felt today, but the world picture is much more complicated in economic and social terms now. Clearly these social and economic effects and historical memories can still be felt by many African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans, but it is hoped with the development of 'black consciousness' over the last 100 years and the levelling of the playing field and clear role models - in 2008 alone, Lewis Hamilton, the first 'black' (or 'half black') Formula one champion and Barrack Obama, the first 'black' president of the United States, will help to develop this consciousness further and hopefully divert focus away from skin colour and awareness of race, and focus on attributes,actions and personality. Once the media (who have been very 'helpful' in mentioning race and skin colour over and over again in connection with these 'black' role models throughout 2007 and 2008, whilst strangely not doing so with their historical non-black counterparts (e.g. the 'white' president George W. Bush or 'white' F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen) shut up about mentioning skin colour, even if they think it is a positive thing, which clearly mentioning race never is, and the novelty factor has worn off for them, then we can all move on and become more mature as a society.
A common complain by supporters of 'white' power is that anti-racists only seem to protest or demonstate about white on black racism, for example, at political marches by extreme right groups, but rarely if ever to they actually have the guts to stand up publicly and complain about anti-white racism, or 'black' racism, for example in popular culture or indeed political/religious affilitations (e.g. Barack Obama's slightly racist former church). Is this because although they nominally oppose all racism in theory, they have not the guts to stand up in all cases, but focus on the 'enemy' that is easiest and most fashionable to hate? Do they still feel guilty about past slavery still and social oppression of ethnic minorities? Are they lacking in confidence in their own roots? How long are they intending to feel guilty about this for? Anti-racists are seen by the extreme right to be anti-'white' rather than against all racism - they accuse anti-racists, commonly associated with the political left, as being actually racist! Whilst supporting freedom of speeach, anti-racists do not appear to tolerate white-power type marches or freedom of expression, and certain elements of the anti-racism movement often intimidate and pour abuse at marchers, and even send death threats. Is this form of discrimination based on a groups' beliefs a reflection of their belief in equality and the right to exist without prejudice, judgement, discrimination or abuse? If 'white' racists were seen to behave like this with 'black' protesters, would there not be a huge public outcry? To what extent does one really support freedom of speech? As long as they do not incite hatred or say anything that the anti-racists don't agree with? But is anti-racist hatred then acceptable? Do two wrongs make a right? Is mocking and insulting a group of people likely to promote social cohesion? Is threatening someone into silence and non-participation likely to change attitudes in our society for the better? Or is it likely to strengthen resistenace to the anti-racism movement further? Some say according to the law of attraction that if you simply react to what you don't like and focus on that, then you will get more of it rather than less; than if you positively promoted equality and 'non-race'. Is hating a certain subset of racists likely to reduce their racism and likely to promote education, empathy and tolerance? However, for white power supporters to call anti-racists racist is a little like the pot calling the kettle black, or indeed, throwing stones in a glass house!
The lyrics of the CRASS song 'white punks on hope':
Return to Individuality and EqualityIf we are to achieve our goal of eliminating difference, then people need to be what they can be and achieve any goal they want, show that they can reach the top of society and that they are no different to the next person, and emphasise equality and the lack of difference between people, that people with characteristic 'A' are really no different to people with characteristic 'B'. This goal may not really achieved by emphasising the fact that one is different and calling oneself something different to everyone else. We are just people. It is unlikely we will ever eliminate all momentary thoughts people have about difference and stereotypes of group characteristics, much as temptation can never be eradicated from everybody's minds (should this indeed be the desired goal). However, it is clear we can considerably improve the situation from where it is today.
Is it really possible to make value judgements about people who one perceives to be part of a group or different to ourselves (and indeed are these made by default of a perceived difference)? Well, firstly the group (the difference) would have to be clearly definable. Is 'race' always clearly definable? It would also be necessary to interview/study every member of the group to be 100% certain. If you interview or study a large cross section of people (a statistically significant number) and prove a theory correct, it is still just a theory, and only requires one exception to disprove it. The only thing a bad experience with an individual or bad experiences with a number of individuals in different situations and at different times actually proves is that one had a bad experience with that individual or those individuals. Drawing any further conclusions is up to you, but it will be a subjective opinion and an emotional distinction and not a rational one. Often where no actual references, direct experiences or memories exist about a certain 'race' or about 'gay people', we create our own imagined references, depending on what other people have said, our peer group, the media and so on. In such instances it might be wise to actually form relationships with such people before formulating any opinion or belief. Often we may create negative beliefs about people we do not know through fear or jealousy, as it provides us with a sense of certainty about who we are and why we are where we are, providing us with an excuse. The mind often vividly remembers people we don't like and recalls painful experiences, but does not as readily acknowledge or recall positive or neutral experiences. Therefore recollections of occasional bad experiences can cloud our judgement and help to formulate our beliefs, not only about people, but ourselves and our abilities and what we can achieve.
Clearly associating definite social characteristics with all individuals that share a common physical characteristic or similar physical characteristic is meaningless. It is as meaningless as holding beliefs and perceived characteristics about your own group that you think you belong to and that you consider as part of your identity. Are all members of your own identity group perfect citizens and role models? Do any members of your own identity group ever behave badly or commit crimes or cause social problems? Are all members of 'other' identity groups imperfect and socially irresponsible? It is clear there are 'bad pennies' everywhere we look, in all areas of life and they are not restricted to people with certain physical characteristics or sexual preferences. It is useful to stand up for oneself as and when one believes one is being unfairly persecuted and treated or pushed around. It is not useful to keep quiet and suffer in silence and then take it out on the next person that comes along that reminds you of the bad person you met previously; or even to fear the next person that comes along that reminds you of that bad individual. This only creates animosity. Of course, this is easier said than done sometimes, but if you don't try, you will never know.
A person's identity should of course be whatever he or she wants it to be. It is most useful if that sense of identity really focusses on their excellent personal qualities and unique attributes, rather than classification as a particular type of meat or based on one or two of one's negative qualities. Identity based on who one is is infinitely more useful than identity based on a historical imbalance or defined by being against something else. Basing one's identity on one's physical attributes and one's particular sexual interests is rather crude. It is the kind of thing you would expect from a cave man, not an educated, civilised person. What separates us from the animal kingdom is the mind. Ultimately one should be oneself and not a cardboard cut out out what one is supposed to be and how one is supposed to act. One's sense of identity will dictate one's actions and behaviour.
This web site is not condeming difference. This web site seeks to encourage people to expand on their personal qualities and strengths, choose their own personal style, and get to know their own personality and personal psychological orientations, and to ultimately be the best they can be in all areas of their lives. To really develop their personal qualities. In different situations, we temporarily adopt a group identity or at least identity 'sameness' with others we are working with, based on what task people are performing etc (e.g. during a corporate negotation - our company entering an engagement with 'their company', or support team working together and serving the sales team etc., or supporting your national football team at an international tournament), but this may not be something we want to retain as a permanent sense of identity or be taken too seriously to prevent you seeing other people as they are not and not according to how you think they are according to what you perceive their group affiliation to be. Often people will view people's affiliations through their own sense of personal orientation (e.g. preference to associating similar items together or preference to notice differences between items), and this is explored more on the Personality Orientation page. This web site therefore celebrates the differences between people in terms of who they actually are and what they can really be and what they can achieve and/or create. This web site does not promote the concept of association with stereotypical group identities as a long term or permanent strategy.
It would be a positive step also if terms such as 'race' were not used in professional applications and contexts. The removal of 'race' from employment application forms would be hugely beneficial. It is no more relevant to a job that asking the application to tell what coloured eyes he or she has. Why religion is field on many forms is another mystery. Are one's political beliefs also relevant? Or one's beliefs about romance? Perhaps one should declare what one's favourite pop group is also. Why beliefs should be recorded is anyone's guess. It is just not relevant!