Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Culture Theft?

Hard Rock Legends
Originally uploaded by NyteByter.

Culture Theft is a significant accusation that is highly relevant to the issue of cool.

These are the facts:

  • African Americans, then and now, felt that rock and roll was stolen from them.
  • What white musicians created was, however, new. Elements of Rock came from black music. But other elements came from white music.
  • White rockers made way more money off their music than black rockers.

Beyond that, there is a lot that's open for debate. But the issue continues to be relevant because much of the Black Power movement was about securing cultural space. Hip Hop remains an African American art, and retains a black aesthetic, because of the Black Power movement's refusal for Elvis to happen all over again.

Hip Hop's primary device for enforcing a black center is cool, and the corresponding device of shame. White rappers obey the rules, out of fear of being shamed and thus uncooled.

Over the course of the next several months, I will return to this issue, because I believe we cannot create a truly multiethnic society until we drop our cool. Whites need to take the humbling step of respecting their roots. That's the first step.


At 9:28 AM, September 29, 2006, Blogger Craver VII said...

Black, white, asian, hispanic...
are we not all sons of Adam?

At 3:05 PM, September 29, 2006, Blogger locutus est said...

Of course we are. But I have a feeling you mean more than that.

The sons of Adam have a long track record of fighting, oppressing each other, and enslaving each other.

I am certainly not saying we're not all "sons of Adam". But the way to become a reconciled community - an Ephesian Church - is not to paint some colorblindness on top of boiling racial tensions and identity wars.

Hip hop has a long relationship with the Black Power movement, which had both positive (creative) and negative (destructive) elements. Race is never far from hip hop. Cool is never far from hip hop. And cool and race grew up together.

So we really need to talk race if we're ever going to become a healthy church.

Does that answer your question?

At 5:38 PM, September 29, 2006, Blogger Craver VII said...

Locutus?! Aaaagh! Borg! Everybody run!

Actually, it was more of a rhetorical statement. We can and should acknowledge differences, but only to a point. When it comes to food, those differences are celebrated. So I am not thinking we should all be assimilated (wink!) into one great big greyish pool. Still, I thoroughly enjoy moving past the dividing lines and enjoying what we have in common. As I suggested in my own blog, the language of heaven will probably not be English only.

BTW, I think your book idea sounds really cool. Um, I mean great; I'm looking forward to it.


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