Sunday, August 5, 2007

I'm doin' stuff...

... so I'll repost an excerpt of my musings from elsewhere.

"...Black people, as I know them, are all individually excellent (at something or other) mostly because our background tends to make us dig down deep within ourselves and pull forth whatever it is that you can excel at and be twice as good at just to get by on average. That sort of crucible creates a sort of inward focus; because no one can help you with you. There really is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path and all the well meaning advice in the world will fail to be fully adaptable to your exquisitely specific life situation. So, you unleash your talent(s) on the world with the knowledge that it was really you that enabled you. This also tends to explain our collective exuberant confidence, because you know exactly what you can do and within your purview of skill no one on earth can deny you. This also generates our 'it's me against them' mindset.

I think the underlying cause is cultural. We tend to come from cultures that exult and revel in individual skill. We all know growing up that if you can be in the top percentile of anything, YOU will be respected in your community. Look at a lot of European cultures and Japanese culture which had lengthy histories of feudalism. The social class table was set, your advancement was primarily predicated by those ranking above you. If you wanted to succeed in those societies you got good at pleasing your superiors who had the power to lift you out of the muck in which you dwelled. They, and their ancestors, knew that if you can be useful to the rulers you will get advanced in social status, and YOUR STATUS will be respected in the community. This is also known as the 'good soldier' mindset.

Am I saying that (recently) African descended people aren't loyal or that Europeans can't be individually brilliant, no. I'm saying our cultures shape us to strive for betterment differently..."

P.S. You could obviously also apply this to any oppressed/suppressed group... I'm black, so when I talk about repression I usually talk about black people (that whole I have personal experience thing I suppose).

9 comments:

Lucy said...

Honestly, I have no idea what you're saying here.

"...Black people, as I know them, are all individually excellent (at something or other) mostly because our background tends to make us dig down deep within ourselves and pull forth whatever it is that you can excel at and be twice as good at just to get by on average.

You're saying that because we're black we are genetically hardwired to overcome odds? Then why don't we see more blacks achieving? (i.e. graduating from college/university, innovating and inventing new technology, authoring books, heading up companies, and starting up new ones, for that matter.)

What about white people? Or Asians? Couldn't they dig deep and "pull forth" when they have their backs against the wall? And haven't we seen that evidenced amongst all races? Don't we all react that way, not just blacks?

I'm all about patting ourselves on the back, but this is a little far-fetched.

How about: "We as black people have to work harder because of societal implications, i.e. racism." Not because our culture or background tells us we have the ability to work twice as hard, but because we have to because that's the way American society works.

What about those black people that do "get by" or do "make it." (i.e. Tiger Woods, Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Kenneth Chenault, Colin Powell, Maya Angelou, etc. Or let's take it back, waaayyy back: Dr. Susan McKinney Steward, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglas--shall I keep going?) So they've all achieved in various areas and specialties. Is that cultural? No, it's just because they have mindset to achieve-- independent of culture, independent of background, independent of their being black.

Are you speculating that had they been born white, their traits and attributes would be diminished because they didn't have the "it's me against them' mindset"? Is that specific mindset only a luxury afforded to blacks?

"...our collective exuberant confidence..."?

What confidence?

"The social class table was set, your advancement was primarily predicated by those ranking above you."

How is that different from today? Today we call is a "glass ceiling" or "racial profiling" or just plain old "prejudice". That is a part of the "social class table," specific to blacks.

I just don't think you've proven your point via this post.

Lucy said...

To further emphasis my point, read this link, on how "Race does not dictate behavior."

P.J. said...

I have to take exception to the last paragraph on the basis of a few issues. You are actually referring to these roles exclusively in American society and not outside it.

It seems that the division of African and European issues, be it achievement, advancement, whatever, are viewed entirely different elsewhere. Look just 2 hours over the border where a true melting pot has occurred. Toronto is a city with lots to offer anyone willing to take and a blink eye towards where you came from to get here.

So, the sociological implications are totally American-centric.

showard said...

I'm gonna have to disagree on p.j.'s Toronto comment. Toronto's not free from the chains of racial bias, it' just more subtle up there.

Check this article from the CBC.

I'm a white dude, so I have no idea what it's like to be in a really racist situation. Thus, I have no preference for either subtle or overt racism... they both seem ignorant to me.

On the topic of the post:

If you feel that race gives you a motivation to excel in your craft. I'm all for it. Do what you gotta do to be what you gotta be.

Until a few hundred years ago, racism and xenophobia were considered moral values in some circles. Thankfully we're evolving past that. (I'd like to think I'm past it, as would most everyone I know.)

Maybe I'm an optimist, but I'd like to think that in another generation, this entire topic will be as archaic and idiotic as slavery seems to us today.

For some reason, when I watch the news, I seem to see equal opportunity for all races, cultures , and creeds to pump out moron after moron.

Mwangangi said...

- Lucy:

No, I am not saying we are hardwired to do anything. Since I did not say that (or imply it) your follow up questions based on that assertion are not applicable.

As far as patting anyone on the back, I have no idea where you picked up the self congratulatory thread. If anything I thought I would be criticized for implying that we don't work together easily. I can't believe that you can mention racism and then go on to mention culture as if one hasn't affected the other.

In reference to traits, I'm not speculating anything. However, working with your speculation; I'd suppose that it depended on what you consider a trait. If you mean things such as work ethic, ambition, drive, etc... then my answer is maybe.

What do you mean, what confidence? In all of my experience, most of the black people I know are very confident and have a bit (or more than a bit) of swagger. YMMV.

While I will agree that humanity as a whole seems hell bent on returning to our Malthusian past, it is a recent trend. This is not a traditionally feudal society, and if you have the merit you can chart you own path (e.g. the people you listed above).

I am pleased that you were able to discern a theme in my mental meandering, but I'd stop short of saying there was a concrete point as this is neither specific nor complete.

Thanks for the comment(s).

P.S. I disagree with your statement that, "Race, in itself, is a figment of our imagination".



- P.J.:

I will admit that the bulk of my existence has been spent in the U.S. This does not mean that I have only socialized with African descended people who were born here or that are of slave stock. Whether East African, West African or Carribean the their related experiences are similar to what I wrote.

P.J. said...

Oh I understand you've had a plethora of experiences (yes, I used the word plethora) outside the US. I was just saying that in my experience, it seems other groups "replace" (for want of a better word) the experience of African descendants in the US.

For example, when I was in Sweden a few of the black people I met (and there were very few) felt they were on par with everyone else...except those Arabs. The Muslims (as they were referred to regardless of their religious preference) were the disregarded, the ones who felt they needed to work twice as hard to be on the level with others.

That was more the point I was trying to make. Culture is a factor in a lot of things, but culture also evolves over time. With that in mind, America seems to be the Neanderthal as far as racial reaction and relation. So what's at the base of this?

My opinion is mostly religion. And I can't really even say religion, but the misconstruance of religious ideas by a very vocal minority.

But I'll leave all that for another post.


By the way...this is almost like having you East Coast again. Too bad we can't start BBS style gaming. Wish you were here...

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

RE: Blog Apartheid:

I understand and agree with what you said above about Black people (the ones who survive) having often developed strong skills in one or more areas.

For my part, I love to write and I love to share my thoughts with others. But, I'm sick and tired of the constant grumblings about banning me at the whitosphere MyLeftWing blog, for criticizing the blog apartheid practiced at DailyKos. For example, in response to my essay of yesterday, Gottlieb said in comments:

"My interpretation of MSOC's remarks was she has tried to gently guide the 'editorial' direction of this board, and part of that direction is not to become known as a 'kos bashing' site. Simple. What's not so simple is where to draw the editorial line between 'free speech' and 'bashing'. Assuming, the journalism is sound.If the journalism isn't sound and you're making wild accusations on the slimmest of evidence, then you should be banned forthwith."

Our of sheer self-defense, we Blacks have learned over the years to know just what whites say and how they behave when a lynch mob is forming.

Let's see: If I "cross the line" into "bashing" America's foremost blog apartheid site, which was "bashed" in the Washington Post this week about this very issue, then I should be banned?!

That's like saying, "It's alright to blog about Apartheid, but you MAY NOT bash P.W. Botha." And don't be a Nelson Mandela "shill" either! I's like saying, "Write about the Klan, but don't 'bash' the Klan!"

This is what happens to white people's minds under the influence of color-aroused emotions, ideation and behavior.

And if we're not careful, they make US responsible for making sense out of all of this crap.

Blacks subjected to these mental games are at risk for color- aroused emotional, ideational and behavioral disorder, unless we stick together and refuse to play along.

There are constant suggestions that "if this and that were to happen" then that would constitute a valid reason to ban Francis L. Holland, and this discussion is, in and of itself, a kind of constant oppression that warns ALL Black that we MUST NOT aggressively argue for our own liberation in the context of the whitosphere. At whitosphere blogs, we're "always outnumbered and always out-gunned."

But, maybe if we stick up for each other through the AfroSpear Black bloggers movement when this grumbling begins, then we can impress upon white bloggers that, in addition to the handful of whites demanding Black bloggers' expulsion and our heads on a platter, there are at least five dozen Black blogger opinion-makers, with significant Democratic-leaning voter audiences, and these Black bloggers are organized, angry and tired of the bullshit!

This is the e-mail address of Maryscott O'Connor, the owner of the MyLeftWing whitosphere blog who has publicly threatened to ban me for "bashing" the blog apartheid practiced at DailyKos. Please write her a e-mail and tell her that bashing apartheid is precisely what we should be doing at progressive blogs.

myleftwing@gmail.com

"Mary,

Is it true that Francis Holland may get banned from your site MyLeftWing?

If so, why?

Regards,

Adrianne George
Black Women in Europe
Blog"

Francis

natural muze said...

"There really is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path and all the well meaning advice in the world will fail to be fully adaptable to your exquisitely specific life situation"

love this. THIS is true regardless of ethnicity, race, culture...etc.

now, i can say i agree with you to a certain extent. i do believe that as black people we do feel that we have to be twice as good to get half the credit. but i don't know if we're all programmed to recognize this. many of us do have the drive to be 'individually excellent', but many of us don't. many of us are followers. which is why black people are in the dire situation we are in today.

i don't know if the quest for glory independent of others is a good thing for us. actually i think it's a damaging thing if we never learn how to work together.

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