Thursday, October 19, 2006

White, Nerdy and Still in Charge

Hip Hop remains black power cultural space. Ever since Vanilla Ice tried to rip off hip hop, the fathers of hip hop have aggressively asserted hip hop as black cultural space, such that non-black artists like Bubba Sparxxx, Jin, and of course Eminem must acknowledge black ownership of hip hop before they're welcome to participate. More importantly, coolness resides (in this line of thinking) exclusively in black hands.

Here's Weird Al's satire of Chamillionaire's Ridin Dirty. Wierd Al affirms that whiteness is not cool, and that the opposite of not-cool is hip hop. The problem is that even as black and cool are equated, white and educated/intelligent are as well. White men can't Jump, or Flow, but that's ok: white (men) are smart(er).

I'm not saying that Weird Al is a racist. And as a comedian, he is not exactly nerdy. He is satirizing a broader cultural bias: that black people can be cool and can sing and leap, but whites are still superior.

Posted By: Weird Al Yankovic

Way back in 1970, Black-Power theologian Tom Skinner said:

This is the white man's world, and in his world he controls things from the top to the bottom. He might allow you to be a jazz player, a rock-and-roll singer or the janitor in his building. But he will not allow you to compete with him on an open basis to make a tangible contribution to society. He does not consider you to be his equal.

We've made big strides since 1970. But White and Nerdy doesn't evidence any of that. Whites today have a good awareness of what white isn't. But we still don't know what white is.

There's nothing shameful about being white, unless that whiteness is defined negatively, in opposition to others.


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