Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cornel West Is Always so Cutting Edge

Look, I know that it's a bit hacky and somewhat lazy to link to articles from The Onion, but this one is just too relevant to our recent discussions not to be linked to on the big board here. Whew! That's an egregious amount of prepositions. Comment on the article, and/or my bad grammar, below.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, this is very relevant to our discussions, especially the recent chapter from "Representation" on the "other." In one section, this chapter discussed the historic stereotypical roles of blacks: comedian, gangster, etc. These stereotypes have persisted, and just like the article says, black children have limited roles to which they can aspire (rapper, athlete, and president).

    I don't think the situation is as grim as West writes however. The fact that black kids can now aspire to be a future President of the United States is huge. Not only do we have a black president, but we also have a black First Lady. The socially constructed "whiteness" of the White House no longer exists. Black kids can now see black children in the White House, Sasha and Malia, and this is incredibly significant.

    But, what is so wrong with aspiring to be a famous athlete? Blacks are known for their dominance in sports and I think this is much more positive than their role as black rappers. I agree with West on the lamentableness of the rapper aspiration. It seems that all that this aspiration signifies is drugs, crime, and the degradation of women, especially black women when they are objectified and commodified in music video.

    In regards to West's disappointment in the lack of a black nerd model, much of black rap seems to deviate from this role. One will be hard-pressed to find rap that endorses education. In fact, black rap tends makes education "uncool." So black kids, when aspiring for this black rap image, start to internalize thoughts of drugs, crime, as opposed to the benefits of education.

    All of this, to me, only adds (even if just very subtly) to the high crime and imprisonment rates of black males. I find it interesting that the "hanging pants trend" so common in black rap, actually started in the prisons. (Prisoners would use belts to keep their prison clothes from falling down).