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Race and Culture in Columbus

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  • #548767

    InnerCore
    Participant

    lattethunder said:
    I grew up in mostly white schools and neighborhoods, but obviously being black I did not have all of the same cultural experiences as my peers. I was absolutely expected to know who the Beatles were, it was unfathomable that hadn’t heard it at home growing up, because that’s “American Culture.” Yet, no one felt that way about the temptations, or Marvin Gaye, or any other (and more recent) hugely important (to music) black artists.

    I’ve never met a white person who was old enough who didn’t know who the Temptations or Marvin Gaye was. They might struggle to recognize them by person or name their actual songs but as soon as you played one of their more popular songs they instantly would recognize the song. Because whether they personally listen to them or not, Marvin Gaye is a part of AMERICAN culture. His music is played and sampled in other music, commmercials, movies, video games, etc.

    lattethunder said:The Beatles are absolutely not part of my culture. Music is HIGHLY segregated in this country and there were separate White and Black billboard charts until the 80s. Musically, Blacks and Whites grow up listening to vastly different artists. If I met a white person who was hugely knowledgeable about gospel music for instance, I would absolutely think “Wow, they are well versed in black music.”

    Again the Beatles ARE a part of your culture. I’m absoloutly sure you have watched a movie or TV show that has made reference to the Beatles and you recognized that they were. I didn’t grow up listening to the Beatles and I couldn’t name one of their songs of the top of my head. The only two names that I know are John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I’m sure you’ve at least heard that John Lennon was shot. Or know Paul McCartney from his music and interactions with Michael Jackson.

    You seem to think that just because you particularly don’t like something that it’s not a part of your culture. You’re basically saying that because you didn’t listen to the Beatles that no black people listened to the Beatles. And again even if they didn’t the music from the Beatles was still embedded in other parts of your/mine/black people’s culture.

    There is an AMERICAN culture and then there are subcultures underneath all of that. Punk rock bands are part of a subculture, gospel is part of a subculture, hip hop used to be part of a subculture before gaining popularity and becoming part of the mainstream and therefore regular culture.

    lattethunder said:Do we? Do we consider Jay -Z not to be Black? Or Oprah? Or hell, George Washington Carver? That’s a cop out answer.

    I kinda feel like you missed the point of my earlier post. Why does “American culture” have to be so monochromatic? Why is it Elvis, the Bealtes, Blonde Haired and Blue eyed “all american” looks? Why is anything else American in origin that doesn’t blend well with the white experience not “American Culture” as well? We can label things like southern culture or Appalachian culture and no one seems perturbed by an “otherness” but “African American” seems to be polarizing.

    Again you seem to be contradicting yourself and arguing old stereotypes. I think if you asked anyone TODAY black or white to name the biggest music acts and they would be naming both white and black music artist, if you asked them the biggest movie stars they would be naming both white and black actors, the biggest athletes they would be naming mainly black but a few white athletes.

    #548768

    geoyui
    Participant

    ChrisSunami said:
    I think that was actually his point, if you read his post carefully. I.E. “fake swords and bonsai trees” are the “masks and spears” of the Asian festival.

    ———-

    I’d like to realign this thread back on a more positive line of thought: For those of us who share a goal of a diverse, integrated (but not assimilated) community here in Columbus, what can we do to make that happen?

    I think for starters its about how we dialogue about diversity. It’s always framed as a “Black or White, Black vs. White, Black/White, etc.” It’s creates an immediate friction that brings in other factors that then reinforces the stereotypes. It also excludes so many groups that belong in the discussions surrounding diversity and community integration.

    #548769

    InnerCore
    Participant

    lattethunder said:
    So much this. I’ve been lucky to do a fair amount of traveling the last year in North and Central America, and my “american-ness” has consistantly been questioned. Even once I got people to believe I was from the US, the very next question is always, “Well where are your parents from?” I actually got lectured by a canadian once for not “embracing my heritage” when I told him I was American (he remained convinced I was Jamaican – which I am not even the slightest bit).

    To respond to your post Walker, people like Will Smith or Oprah, are absolutely mainstream culture, but they are exceptions to the rule. Do you see a representative sample of minorities on TV? or in Childrens Books? or hell, superheros?

    The standard America we project is decidedly Western European/White.

    Also, to Tarak’s other post, I can’t speak directly on Columbus versus whichever city she is from in Kentucky, but generally the North is more segregated than the South.

    I’m not going to dispute that we project the western european white image the most. But let’s not also forget that black people only make up about 13% of the population. If you asked someone to name 10 actors or music artist you going to get at least (if not more) than 1 black person out of that 10.

    And I wouldn’t say that Columbus is more segregated than the south. Every time I comeback to visit Columbus I’m always astonished of how when I go out to clubs and bars there are always black and white people there. In most other cities I go to you really don’t see that mix. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that there are only so many places to go out in Columbus so basically black and white people have to go to the same place.

    An example of the top of my head was going to Sushi Rock one night. You had frat style white boys with shorts pounding down shots, younger white girls with dresses and heels, older white couguars, black guys with fitted caps (hitting on the white cougars), older black guys with suits and stacy adams, and some asians, all in the same bar.

    When I lived in Atlanta you never had that kind of diversity. It was either an all black club with a couple of random white girls who liked black guys or an all white club with a couple of random black guys who liked white girls.

    #548771

    lattethunder
    Participant

    InnerCore said:
    I’ve never met a white person who was old enough who didn’t know who the Temptations or Marvin Gaye was. They might struggle to recognize them by person or name their actual songs but as soon as you played one of their more popular songs they instantly would recognize the song. Because whether they personally listen to them or not, Marvin Gaye is a part of AMERICAN culture. His music is played and sampled in other music, commmercials, movies, video games, etc.

    Please take note that that example was taken from my childhood, I absolutely ran into many people who did not know who these people were. I haven’t taken a poll, but I would think you could find people my age who could not point out who those artists are or a brief description even if they do know of one or two songs.

    Again the Beatles ARE a part of your culture. I’m absoloutly sure you have watched a movie or TV show that has made reference to the Beatles and you recognized that they were. I didn’t grow up listening to the Beatles and I couldn’t name one of their songs of the top of my head. The only two names that I know are John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I’m sure you’ve at least heard that John Lennon was shot. Or know Paul McCartney from his music and interactions with Michael Jackson.

    You seem to think that just because you particularly don’t like something that it’s not a part of your culture. You’re basically saying that because you didn’t listen to the Beatles that no black people listened to the Beatles. And again even if they didn’t the music from the Beatles was still embedded in other parts of your/mine/black people’s culture.

    Please note that I made no comment on my personal feelings on the beatles, and I’ve been quick to point out that not all black people have had the same experience.

    That being said, no, they are not a part of MY culture. There are tons of references to many things in TV shows, and I doubt you or I get them all. I’ve had moments when watching an old episode of say, the Simpsons for example for a second time as an adult and I see a lot of references I missed as a child. The Beatles is actually the biggest instance of this. I took a rock and roll history class in highschool and if it weren’t for that I don’t know if I would recongnize iconic things like the Abbey Road Cover for instance. I certainly didn’t before that class.

    Also, although I want to point out again that I am NOT saying my experience as a black person is the same as yours, there very much was a serious segregation in music. You would have to be completely ignorant of modern history to not recognize that.

    There is an AMERICAN culture and then there are subcultures underneath all of that. Punk rock bands are part of a subculture, gospel is part of a subculture, hip hop used to be part of a subculture before gaining popularity and becoming part of the mainstream and therefore regular culture.

    This is what I take issue to. Ok, sure Puck rock is a subculture. But why is blackness in that same category?

    Again you seem to be contradicting yourself and arguing old stereotypes. I think if you asked anyone TODAY black or white to name the biggest music acts and they would be naming both white and black music artist, if you asked them the biggest movie stars they would be naming both white and black actors, the biggest athletes they would be naming mainly black but a few white athletes.

    What stereotype did I argue with? No disrepect intended, but in my eyes your argument read much more like a stereotype than mine did. And with the exception of music and althetics, which black people have been more sucessful with recently, do you really think there any sort of racial equality with acting?

    That has been such a contested issue for years now, and I don’t think anyone would say black actors (let alone other racial groups) are well represented in film or TV.

    #548772

    Graybeak
    Participant

    #548773

    lattethunder
    Participant

    InnerCore said:
    I’m not going to dispute that we project the western european white image the most. But let’s not also forget that black people only make up about 13% of the population. If you asked someone to name 10 actors or music artist you going to get at least (if not more) than 1 black person out of that 10.

    And I wouldn’t say that Columbus is more segregated than the south. Every time I comeback to visit Columbus I’m always astonished of how when I go out to clubs and bars there are always black and white people there. In most other cities I go to you really don’t see that mix. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that there are only so many places to go out in Columbus so basically black and white people have to go to the same place.

    An example of the top of my head was going to Sushi Rock one night. You had frat style white boys with shorts pounding down shots, younger white girls with dresses and heels, older white couguars, black guys with fitted caps (hitting on the white cougars), older black guys with suits and stacy adams, and some asians, all in the same bar.

    When I lived in Atlanta you never had that kind of diversity. It was either an all black club with a couple of random white girls who liked black guys or an all white club with a couple of random black guys who liked white girls.

    This not the best source, but check out the section on contemporary segregation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_segregation_in_the_United_States

    It pretty much states that segregation is worse in the Northeast/Midwest and better in the south and west. Atlanta is listed as an notable exception.

    I’ll edit this post if I can find a good link, but the last census’ data pretty accurately showed this.

    EDIT: To your first point, I’d like to point out that White people make up only 9 percent of South Africans, yet the global image of a South African very much includes the white population. Actually, I think I can name more White South Africans than black ones (Nelson Mandela is all i’ve got). A county as diverse as the U.S. should certainly be able to have a more diverse cultural representation.

    I never thought I’d put South Africa in a better light than anyone when it came to race relations…

    #548774

    hivner1
    Member

    It’s difficult to keep into context the effects of slavery and the persistent mistreatment post-1860s (neo-slavery, if you will). There are multiple generations alive and in power who advocated racism as legit public policy. This stuff isn’t ancient history. Very recent. The historical atrocities are illegal now but have they ever truly been acknowledged by those in power? It’s interesting to see what happened in post-Apartheid South Africa and the response advocated by Desmond Tutu, et al, where the trials mainly consisted of getting people to get honest about what they did as a means of racial reconciliation instead of just “moving on.” I’m probably rambling off Chris’ original topic, but all this to say that diversity on a communal/national level, not just on someone’s experiential level (“that’s now I feel”) takes trust and honesty and that’s not something that most of black culture has experienced at the structural level in this country. It’s the opposite of someone’s Norse-American identifications I think…

    #548775

    lattethunder
    Participant

    geoyui said:
    I think for starters its about how we dialogue about diversity. It’s always framed as a “Black or White, Black vs. White, Black/White, etc.” It’s creates an immediate friction that brings in other factors that then reinforces the stereotypes. It also excludes so many groups that belong in the discussions surrounding diversity and community integration.

    That “immediate fricken” is due to the long history of black/white racial tensions in this country. Plenty of solid arguments have been made towards Asian/white issues and Hispanic/white issues. I have to say, I don’t feel excluded when those arguments are made. Race issues are basically a Mainstream/other situation, and as Whites are the majority in this county they will usually fill that “mainstream” slot.

    That being said, I think dialog is the best way to fix these issues. Regardless to our races, we all have differing persectives on this subject, and sharing those perspectives allows for empathy.

    Thank you for starting this thread Chris, even if it makes some people, including myself, uncomfortable I think it has highlighted an important issue in our community. (also, unrelated, but I’m female, btw).

    #548776

    InnerCore
    Participant

    lattethunder said:
    Please take note that that example was taken from my childhood, I absolutely ran into many people who did not know who these people were. I haven’t taken a poll, but I would think you could find people my age who could not point out who those artists are or a brief description even if they do know of one or two songs.

    Were talking about culture, not personal taste. If you can actually recognize two of their songs then its probably a part of your culture.

    lattethunder said:Please note that I made no comment on my personal feelings on the beatles, and I’ve been quick to point out that not all black people have had the same experience.

    Exactly not all black peoples experience are the same, just like not all white people experiences are the same. Were not talking about anyones particular experience were talking about the culture at large.

    lattethunder said:That being said, no, they are not a part of MY culture. There are tons of references to many things in TV shows, and I doubt you or I get them all. I’ve had moments when watching an old episode of say, the Simpsons for example for a second time as an adult and I see a lot of references I missed as a child. The Beatles is actually the biggest instance of this. I took a rock and roll history class in highschool and if it weren’t for that I don’t know if I would recongnize iconic things like the Abbey Road Cover for instance. I certainly didn’t before that class.

    You seem to be saying that the Beatles aren’t a part of your culture but yet you seem to have experienced them multiples times. Maybe you didn’t recognize the reference while watching the Simpsons as a kid. But the fact that you watched the Simpsons (therefore part of your culture) and the Simpsons thought it prudent to put a reference to the Beatles makes it a part of your culture as well.

    lattethunder said:Also, although I want to point out again that I am NOT saying my experience as a black person is the same as yours, there very much was a serious segregation in music. You would have to be completely ignorant of modern history to not recognize that.

    I’ve already told you that as a black kid growing up in a black neighborhood it was pretty much only acceptable to listen to black music. It wasn’t until I was older that I recognized that the guy from Michael Jackson’s “The Girl is Mine” was the same guy from the Beatles. But just because you don’t listen to something doesn’t mean its not a part of your culture.

    You could be a racist skinhead but the Martin Luther King Jr. speach would still be a part of your culture. You may not know all the words but if someone said “I have a dream” you immediately know what they were making reference to.

    lattethunder said:This is what I take issue to. Ok, sure Puck rock is a subculture. But why is blackness in that same category?

    WTF is blackness. Black people aren’t a subculture. Again hip hop started out as a subculture and is now mainstream and a part of ALL Americans culture. More white people listen to hip hop than black people.

    Culture and subculture is about those experience where we seem to agree that all people have different ones. The main culture is things that all people come in contact with. The subculture is things that you would have to go out of your way to find. So for example let’s take food and grocery stores. If you can go to Kroger and buy it then its a part of the main culture. You may not personally buy everything at the store but it is readily available to everyone and you are therefore exposed to it. You might not like Cap’n Crunch but when you go to pick up another cereal you see the box and recognize the character. It’s the same whether you live in a poor or rich area in Columbus or NY. Now take sorghum syrup. It’s common is some parts of the south. If you lived in Columbus you’d probably never come in contact with it in any of the regular grocery stores. You’d never see a commercial for. Unless you specifically know someone who told you about then you would probably never come in contact with it. It’s not that you see and and know what it is but just choose not to use it. That would be more like a subculture.

    “Blackness” or black people aren’t a subculture. White people see black people and instantly know who they are. They hear Marvin Gaye and instantly recognize the song. A lot of our culture has now become part of their culture.

    lattethunder said:What stereotype did I argue with? No disrepect intended, but in my eyes your argument read much more like a stereotype than mine did. And with the exception of music and althetics, which black people have been more sucessful with recently, do you really think there any sort of racial equality with acting?

    That has been such a contested issue for years now, and I don’t think anyone would say black actors (let alone other racial groups) are well represented in film or TV.

    Racial equality and culture are two completely different subjects. Black actors don’t have to be deemed equal to be apart of American culture.

    Numbers wise black people are well represented in film and TV. Again black people only make up 13% of the population and I’d say that most people see black people in at least 13% of the roles they watch. I think the issue with black actors is that they are always acting in the same roles and people would like to see them in a variety of different roles.

    But a lot of that is sort of art imitating life. By the numbers black people don’t make up a large percentage of the doctors, laywers, executives, etc. I was in a program called MLT that was there to help minorities into top MBA programs in the hopes that we would one day move into C level positions. At the time black people made up 12% of the population, but only 3% of C level positions.

    So if black people only make of 3% of C level positions then when it comes time to play the roll of an executive why would they pick a black person when there is a 97% chance that the real person in that position isn’t black? But on the other side part of the reason that more black people aren’t in those positions is because people don’t perceive them to be competent enough to have them.

    So when people are arguing for parity in acting sometimes that actually want MORE black actors in these positions then are actually represented in reality as a way of breaking down a barrier. So if people get comfortable with say 15% of the C level positions on film being played by a black actors then maybe they get comfortable with 15% of the C level positions in real life being filled by black business people.

    #548778

    lattethunder
    Participant

    Most of this has been the two of us “arguing” our different experiences, and we aren’t going to get anywhere with that, but theres a couple things I want to point out:

    InnerCore said:
    You seem to be saying that the Beatles aren’t a part of your culture but yet you seem to have experienced them multiples times. Maybe you didn’t recognize the reference while watching the Simpsons as a kid. But the fact that you watched the Simpsons (therefore part of your culture) and the Simpsons thought it prudent to put a reference to the Beatles makes it a part of your culture as well.

    The simpsons are shown the world over. By your definition, they are a part of multiple world cultures, because people in those cultures are aware of its existence. By extension, then things like Kabuki theater are a part of American Culture because references of them have been made on TV.

    I disagree with this. Culture is such a broad thing, and neither of us are sociologists, but to me , visually seeing a reference to something does not make that something a part of culture.

    WTF is blackness. Black people aren’t a subculture. Again hip hop started out as a subculture and is now mainstream and a part of ALL Americans culture. More white people listen to hip hop than black people.

    “Blackness” or black people aren’t a subculture. White people see black people and instantly know who they are. They hear Marvin Gaye and instantly recognize the song. A lot of our culture has now become part of their culture.

    Maybe I misread your earlier post, but this seems contradictory. I read your post to suggest you thought black culture was the same as any other subculture. I DO NOT think black people are a subculture. Surely you recognize that parts of black american culture exist outside white american culture as you reference “our” culture and “their” culture. My point is to simply reinforce that black culture IS also american culture, and while every aspect of black culture does not carry weight with white culture, the opposite is also true.

    You seem to think it’s ridiculous that I reject aspects of white american culture as my own culture, while many people on this board have rejected aspects of black american culture as their own culture. This reinforces Chris’ earlier point, people are absolutely exspected to know things about white culture (the Beatles) but black culture is not viewed the same way.

    I won’t get into the acting thing except to note that, while a serious point, I did not bring up the roles black actors play, but their existence at all. A show like HIMYM, which takes place in NYC, has very very few POC, for example. It’s not at all representative of NYC; just an example of how we project things to be much more white than they actually are.

    #548779

    InnerCore
    Participant

    lattethunder said:
    This not the best source, but check out the section on contemporary segregation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_segregation_in_the_United_States

    It pretty much states that segregation is worse in the Northeast/Midwest and better in the south and west. Atlanta is listed as an notable exception.

    I’ll edit this post if I can find a good link, but the last census’ data pretty accurately showed this.

    That’s approaching it more from where people live. Here is a good article with graphic representation showing the that same info:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/most-segregated-cities-in-america-2011-3?op=1

    Cleveland and Cincinnati both make the list but Columbus doesn’t. But with that being said I was speaking more from the places people choose to go to. When I go out to grab drinks I always see white and black people. When I go to Easton I always see white and black people. Here in Miami it just isn’t that way. Not only do black people live in black neighborhoods but they only shop in black stores. If you go to any of the nicer malls you’ll be luck to to see a couple of black people. And chances are they aren’t American black people.

    lattethunder said:EDIT: To your first point, I’d like to point out that White people make up only 9 percent of South Africans, yet the global image of a South African very much includes the white population. Actually, I think I can name more White South Africans than black ones (Nelson Mandela is all i’ve got). A county as diverse as the U.S. should certainly be able to have a more diverse cultural representation.

    Not that this is the best experiment but I just walked around the office and ask people to name any famous South Africans and Nelson Mandela was the only one anyone here could come up with. The only other person I knew was Charlize Theron so I guess I was 50/50 but not really a good percentage representation when you’re talking about 2 people. And when I told them about her interesting enough none of them had even hear that she was South African.

    #548780

    lattethunder
    Participant

    InnerCore said:
    Not that this is the best experiment but I just walked around the office and ask people to name any famous South Africans and Nelson Mandela was the only one anyone here could come up with. The only other person I knew was Charlize Theron so I guess I was 50/50 but not really a good percentage representation when you’re talking about 2 people. And when I told them about her interesting enough none of them had even hear that she was South African.

    The two other white ones I came up with were the guy who Directed District 9 and Elysium, and the guy who starred in District 9 and Elysium. Anyway though, do you think the people in your office are not aware of White South Africans? Would they reject or at least be suprised by a white South African as a representation of that country?

    Oh and to your segregation point, yes, I most definately would say Columbus is well integrated socially. Again, I can’t speak on Columbus versus wherever, KY (give us a City, Tarak!) but GENERALLY the south is more segegrated. I think this is due to rural areas more than cities, as the south actually has rural black people whereas rural areas in the north are overwhelmingly white.

    And then there’s Cleveland, Cincy, and Milwaukee, which are just amazingly segregated.

    #548781
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    lattethunder said:
    To respond to your post Walker, people like Will Smith or Oprah, are absolutely mainstream culture, but they are exceptions to the rule. Do you see a representative sample of minorities on TV? or in Childrens Books? or hell, superheros?

    Yes, yes and yes.

    Of course, YMMV depending on what kinds of TV shows, movies, books and other media you consume.

    #548782

    TaraK
    Participant

    InnerCore said:
    I’m not going to dispute that we project the western european white image the most. But let’s not also forget that black people only make up about 13% of the population. If you asked someone to name 10 actors or music artist you going to get at least (if not more) than 1 black person out of that 10.

    But internationally folks DO have very strong perceptions of Black People in America, and they’re very offensive. We’ve exported this:

    Americans: people who look like Scarlet Johansen and Brad Pitt

    Black people: scary, dangerous, loud, talk funny

    Oprah: the rich, famous black American lady

    Seriously. Students straight from the airport heading to dorms would say, “I cannot have a black roommate, right? I don’t want that.” And they’d never met a black person before; this was our racism we’d exported. So those perceptions aren’t based on proportional population representation, I assure you.

    (But I also assure you that just-arriving international students have many, many false assumptions that get tested and broken very quickly in this country, including the ones mentioned above. One of the first lessons in American Races is that they are now an other, which many don’t come prepared to deal with. And for students from middle eastern or asian countries, they often learn quickly that, counter to their own culture, they’re not considered “white” here.)

    #548783
    Chris Sunami
    Chris Sunami
    Participant

    Someone earlier mentioned Michael Jordan. I think black athletes have a special role in American life, because non-black people can easily identify with them due to the fact that they (typically) represent a team. (For black athletes in solo sports, such as the Williams sisters in tennis, mainstream love is not as easy to gain.)

    I think this is the key to the whole issue. To frame it in a positive way, what is it that needs to happen here in Columbus so that the city as a whole can relate to (and identify with) its local black artists –as though we were all on the same team, rather than on opposing teams?

    I myself started out this thread using the language of “our culture” and “their culture”, but that’s really the mindset that forces people apart.

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