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November 04, 2017

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where they have a choice to maintain their culture or try and become part of the majority culture.

Interesting to frame that as a "choice," or that African-Americans are other "immigrants." Skipping over the latter, I often wonder what choice means in terms of a group of people that is not ordered in an hierarchical way.

That is, it's one thing to say Congress made a "choice" to pass certain legislation because it is a defined group of people each with a (nominally) equal vote, governed by a known set of rules by which everyone involved can determine the outcome.

But we often see comments/suggestions that the issues African-Americans have in the US is primarily/wholly/in large part/whatever their "culture," and if they'd just change their culture then things would (eventually) be fine. But *how* does that come about? I often get the feeling people (not necessarily you LJ) think this is some that can just be decided and then change.

However we are talking about millions and millions of people, that are not organized in any particular manner, that have no set of rules by which they get to decide what their "culture" is and then, once decided, can move toward implementing that decision and determine when it has been achieved. There are no officially designated leaders of African-Americans who can be said to represent their interests because those leaders were chosen through some sort of just process taking place across all AAs (although the press and ISTM conservatives are all to happy to anoint certain African-Americans as such).

Moreover a substantial obstacle faced by and facing African-Americans that ISTM was/is not faced by other immigrants (or at least is done to a much greater degree to AAs) is widespread, longstanding, and violent resistance by the dominant white culture to African-American assimilation, overt and covert. Coates covers the lesser known, less violent, and yet just as debilitating aspects of this in his essay on reparations.

Thus, even if African-Americans somehow made a cultural choice to assimilate/change their culture to "do better" (however you want to define it) in America, would white America be on board? Will white America ever be on board?

In Germany classic anti-Judaism turned into modern anti-semitism at about the same time that Jews actively tried to assimilate and got the legal means to do it.
Let's taka a hypothetical: Someone invents a device that lets black people look exactly like 'natural' whites permanently. What would the reaction be? My guess is that there would be a lot of 'the person next to you could be a n-word without you knowing it. How we have to fight that menace.' Expect a revival of the super-predator meme with whitened young blacks going after lily-white virgins.

just chiming in briefly to say that IMO Young's observation as cited by LJ is remarkably apt.

There's a lot to say about TNC, and I'm sure much of will (may?) be said here, but I think he is bound by his personal history to a particular experience of being black in America.

IMO he's an important, legitimate, and authentic voice, but he speaks from a particular body of experience. A real body of experience, but a particular one.

they have a choice to maintain their culture or try and become part of the majority culture.

That's the binary choice that isn't binary. What actually happens historically is that immigrants mostly become part of the majority culture. While maintaining some parts of their own culture and at the same time some of those parts become features of the majority culture. And a few years later the majority culture has lost track of the fact that those new features weren't always a part of it.

also want to generally second ugh's points.

black people have been in english-speaking north america pretty much exactly as long as white people. and they generally arrived as some form of property, or at least bound to some form of servitude.

they are not an immigrant population trying to assimilate into a pre-existing american culture. their presence, the standing or lack thereof that they have been allowed to hold, the roles they have been allowed to play, are all an integral part of american culture.

i do not believe in a 'black culture' that is separate from american culture. black culture *is* american culture. not the whole of it, because no cultural tradition can be considered to be the whole of 'american culture'. but not distinct from or separable from it.

black americans are not immigrants unless every single person living in the united states other than native americans is an immigrant.

I appreciated Young's comment as cited in LJ's post because, in addition to the very real narrative of animus and exclusion that informs so much of TNC's work, the traditions of black americans also include narratives of profound joy, grace, patience, humor, resourcefulness, resilience, forgiveness, and community.

there is a lot to say about how inextricably woven the american black experience is into the nation's history and identity. much more than i am qualified or able to express. suffice it to say that they cannot be considered a people separate and distinct from the rest of us, culturally or otherwise,

they are american. they are us, from the get.

suffice it to say that they cannot be considered a people separate and distinct from the rest of us, culturally or otherwise,

not that 400 years of white folk haven't tried to say exactly that.

they are american. they are us, from the get.

I have some problems with this, not in the sense of wanting to exclude blacks, white sumpremacists, asian-americans, Jews, Norwegian immigrants etc etc from "Americaness" but in proposing that there is some sort of unified original history and identity in the first place, rather than a set of historical constructions, legal, social, political economic and imaginary created precisely to divide and control.

Pluralism is the problematic, not the solution.

not that 400 years of white folk haven't tried to say exactly that.

They've tried; at least some of them have. But the case has been less than convincing -- at least to anyone except those with a serious vested interest in it being true.

Which is pretty parallel to a lot of our other current political discussions. Some people desperately want to believe certain things. And they discount any mere facts that run contrary to that desire. Which doesn't make their beliefs into reality, at least as most of us understand objective reality. But they sure try hard.

And here we keep on going. Basically most of your desired inclusion of blacks in your pluralistic melting pot is to exclude white supremacy.

To go analogical, Kaiser Wilhelm and the factory worker were not both "Germans" in 1914, not in an important sense and last analysis. Not was it a matter of converting Wilhelm to the true real Germanness or proletarian consciousness that would have avoided war.

It is not the case that White Supremacy is not truly American. Th problem here is with the latter term, "American."

This recognition of unbridgeable difference of course applies to race, gender, locality etc simultaneously and intersectionally.

The positing of some kind or level of desired analytical homogeneity or universality is the problem derived actually from the liberal project of persuasion. People with wildly different circumstances and histories can through reason and shared experience find "common ground."

There is no common ground. There is no unitary America that blacks are excluded from. There is no consensual reality.

i would say that there is no unitary america, but that common ground is at least potentially available. where, by common ground, i mean mutually acceptable understandings of the conditions for living together and sharing a common polity.

which may sound like 'barely putting up with each other', but i don't think it needs to be quite that grim.

but yeah, clearly there is not a consensual reality. which complicates things.

overall my point, such as it is, is that whatever construction or collection of constructions might be called 'america', black people are part of it. whatever "america" is, and whatever "american culture" is, black people and "black culture" are inextricable from it.

I should have put choice in quotations. In fact, I'm going to go back and do that.

This just in. I link to the Torygraph, which supports a party that pulls the same sort of shit, but apparently, the shade thrown on cricket must not stand
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/02/racist-make-edison-great-flyers-target-cricket-new-jersey/

As for pluralism being the problem, my question is what do you suggest to replace it? The analogy is nice, which I guess is why Renoir titled his film La Grande Illusion, so 80 years later, what else can you suggest?

Gayl Jones argued that any sort of multiculturalism is simply a way of diluting the minority to acceptable levels. She has a point, but if the alternative is resistance, it is pretty easy to see how many minority groups got steamrollered. In fact, Jones' own life history suggests the dangers with hewing to that line.

People need some common ground, that's why you have stories and people look for shared experiences. If there is no consensual reality (even if it is manufactured rather than true) you simply are granting that the majority will always have its way. And maybe it will, but pluralism seems to be the best way to convince the majority that they don't have a monopoly on what is correct and good.

Double checking some stuff about Gayl Jones turns up this

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?cc=mqr;c=mqr;c=mqrarchive;idno=act2080.0040.217;g=mqrg;rgn=main;view=text;xc=1

which has this quote from Jones' Mosquito (which I recommend)

a true jazz story, where the peoples that listens can just enter the story and start telling it and adding things wherever they wants. The story would provide the jazz foundation, the subject, but they be improvising around that subject or them subjects and be composing they own jazz story. If it be a book, they be reading it and start telling it theyselves whiles they's reading . . . anyplace in the novel they wants to integrate they own story or the stories of the peoples they knows, so they be reading and composing for theyselves, and writing in the margins and ain't just have to write in the margins, 'cause I ain't wanting my listeners to just be reserved to the margins, but they writing between the lines, and even between the words, and be adding they own adjectives here and there. . . . I ain't know if I wants them peoples to be changing names, though they can compose around the themes, but they could still bring in they own multiple perspectives everywhere in that novel, and they own freedom.

I realize that I've said a number of times that I stopped reading fiction, and here I am recommending Mosquito. It's not that I don't consider it fiction, but my path to books is usually thru their author and I very much want to hear what s/he has to say, which places it outside of what 'fiction' is to me, which is that I want to know about the story. It's unfair to the writer in some ways, I mean, the reason one writes fiction (presumably) is to put the story in front of them, but I've spent the past 20 years with the constant question being 'why did s/he say that?'.

This recognition of unbridgeable difference of course applies to race, gender, locality etc simultaneously and intersectionally.

Ah, but are these really "unbridgeable"? Unbridged, I will grant. But I have seen enough progress in my lifetime that I don't believe that it will never happen.

Just to take one obvious example: when I was born, interracial marriage was flat illegal in most of the US. (Including California, where I was.) By the time I was graduating high school, Loving v Virginia had happened, and it was legal everywhere. Disapproved, in lots of places, but legal. Today, there are pockets where it is still disapproved, and mixed race children have poorer adoption prospects; but mostly people don't get excited if they see a mixed race couple. Certainly the only time it occurs to me to be concerned about how people will react to my marriage is when traveling overseas. In North America, it's simply a non-issue.

Similarly in the workplace. My grandmother was a massive anomaly as a career woman in the early 1900s. (My mother and uncle were latchkey children long before the term was invented.) Today, there are still disparities in the workplace, but the idea that a woman might have a career is widely accepted. Far from universally, but widely.

In both cases, the differences remain, but are far less than they were in living memory. So arguing that they are unbridgeable, just because they have not yet been bridged, seems like a serious stretch.

Wj, Progress! I dislike long back and forths, and don't mind being ignored.

I am not a huge fan of Coates, but he does have a knack for koans, sentences to contemplate.

"Obama was our President." says he.

Is Coates including me there? Do I have a right to ask to be included, or presume? Am I offended by him personalizing that relationship, or tribalizing it? Should I be?

Nomadism, critique, intersectionality, specificity/concreteness. Don't stand still, keep moving, no place is home, don't belong.

"Weinstein raped McGowan" or "Don't touch her like that." does not justify the step to "Sexual harassment is a workplace problem." That step is a step to the impersonal and abstract, the personal political as power and hegemony. It weaponizes the events usually for others to wield.

Pretty soon we think the state or HR will take care of an ever decreasing problem. We take refuge in abstractions.

PS:For reasons, I googled up the images of Kawanishi Hide this afternoon, and I was astonished by how comfortable and familiar they felt. I recognized places and scenes, and it was no big. So many movies there is little exoticism left in Japan, or at least some 30s idealized image of Japan.

OTOH, anime show, girls passing new transfer student say:"He's wearing a gakuren." Spent a hour, I knew what a gakuren was, but nobody wanted to tell me what it meant in 2017. I presume something like a private school, upper-class school, military academy, or boys only school?

Ah, but are these really "unbridgeable"?

imo they are not.

people don't just inhabit social constructions, they have minds and a consciousness of their own. which are capable of recognizing the mind and consciousness and integral selfhood of others.

so, bridges are always available. imo.

So arguing that they are unbridgeable, just because they have not yet been bridged, seems like a serious stretch.

Working towards empathy is helpful. Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose work is revelatory, and Kevin Young (the poem, part of a full-length book sequence, is a reference to this, which answered this) provide opportunities for empathy and reflection.

How to be effective at being humane - we need to figure that out.

Is Coates including me there?

when i read coates, i never consider what he says as if he is speaking for me. or thinks he is, or wants to.

what i take away from reading coates is a sense that he is trying to make sense of his own experience in the context of the american history that he is living through, and finding that it's as bad as he suspected it might be.

I agree with russell's 8:43.
I am a sincere admirer of TNC, having started out finding him exceptionally annoying, but nonetheless interesting. What originally hooked me was his insistence (and the very large amount of time he put into it) on high standards of argument in his comments sections and his willingness to engage with well made contrary arguments.

bob mcmanus,
I'm assuming that it's gakuran, which is also called a tsumi-eri. Without knowing which anime, can I assume that it is set in the modern day?

The gakuran is a middle school/high school uniform modeled after Prussian school uniforms, which was the model for secondary education (the model for primary ed was the US, infused with Deweyan ideals, so there is actually a disjunction between primary and junior high school) The girls wore sailor suits, which is why Sailor Moon wears what she does
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailor_Moon

If the anime is modern, the gakuran possibly indicates either 1) the student is from a more traditional school or 2) the student is in the cheerleader club.
http://goinjapanesque.com/13091/

it could be a shout-out to a scene in a classic Japanese novel that I now forget where one of the characters (a female) sees a boy in a gakuran and immediately realizes that he is from a much higher class than her.

Gakuran are also used to indicate juvenile delinquents, who wear a gakuran that has been modified so it has a long hem
http://gaijinrider.altervista.org/Glossary/Glossary_Kishidan_band.html

It could also suggest some homosexual aspect, a famous yaoi manga (popular among females with one male protagonist seducing a second male character) as one yaoi is called Gakuran Tengoku (school uniform heaven)
http://www.mangago.me/read-manga/gakuran_tengoku/

and many other of these manga have a gakuran wearing couple, but I've got no idea how one knows what is popular or not.

There are other markers that can be associated with gakuran, but I'm not sure what buttons the one you mention is hitting. However, I don't think there is one particular marker associated with gakuran, it is a number of different and contradictory markers that could be indicated.

what i take away from reading coates is a sense that he is trying to make sense of his own experience in the context of the american history that he is living through

And what I am interested in is the use of narrative as argument and the growth of personal narrative as argument. Coates is an exemplar. I am also (more) interested in images and editing as arguments, since they are also texts.

Not "Just a story" since when a story is related or told the telling becomes purposeful. People are purposeful. The narrative or story displaces propositions, and makes certain kinds of responses very difficult, often to be considered anti-social, hostile, privileged. It contains implied propositions within it, usually agreed presuppositions within an assumed or desired or created community, that excludes other communities or definitions of community.

"Obama was our President" is of course a relating of Coates history and affect. It is also a political act, the meaning of which depends, though not entirely, on the reader. Coates absolutely knows what he is doing.

Narrative as argument is usually meant to exclude propositional or analytical responses, and force emotional or socialized ones.

However, I don't think there is one particular marker associated with gakuran, it is a number of different and contradictory markers that could be indicated.

Perhaps. Most of the context doesn't matter, takes place in 2017, what the young lady said seemed to be comprehensible to her classmates. It could have been just "different from students wearing blazers and ties" but probably more specifically different than if he had been wearing a clown suit or baseball uniform. IOW, the gakuran carried signification that the audience was expected to share.

I remember another movie in which a young man followed his girlfriend from dying school to consolidated district, even though it meant buzz cut and gakuran. So maybe up to local admistrators, but I can't imagine it being a popular imposition.

Narrative as argument is usually meant to exclude propositional or analytical responses, and force emotional or socialized ones.

How do you figure? I can (maybe) see that being the effect sometimes. But how do you figure intent?

italiexo!

poof!

wj: Sadly, that usually happens when someone left out the / in the end italics. Which means you need TWO /i's or /em's. That's why I usually end up logging into the blog control website to fix it -- at least then I can see what is wrong.

I'm sure that it means something to the viewers, and they would pull out the appropriate meaning, but there are a range of meanings rather than just one

So maybe up to local admistrators, but I can't imagine it being a popular imposition.

I taught at a HS where the gakuran was optional, yet 90% of the guys wore one. It was a boy's HS and this was 25 years ago so a quick google check indicates that they merged with the girl's HS (where I taught the subsequent year) I was quite curious about this and when I asked the boys about why they would wear a uniform when they didn't have to, they said it was a lot easier to throw on a uniform than to have to pick out clothes in the morning.

Back to TNC,

I am a sincere admirer of TNC, having started out finding him exceptionally annoying, but nonetheless interesting.

I'm similarly inclined, though replace "annoying" with the much more uncharitable "inoffensive because of who was signing his paychecks". However, IMO he's grown into a writer who has been willing to tell hard truths. It's been a pleasure to watch, if it hadn't been prompted by the kind of developments that we have seen.

Narrative as argument is usually meant to exclude propositional or analytical responses, and force emotional or socialized ones.

humans are far more amenable to narrative than they are to propositions. just saying.

if you think marxism and critical theory are not narratives, imo you have lost the plot.

Not to minimize the importance of anything, but I do find comparisons of the northern urban male black experience versus the southern rural female black experience occasionally annoying. I live in a sizeable region of the country where blacks aren't the largest minority group. In some states they're not even the second largest minority group.

I'm a registered Dem, and I know I'm being somewhat paranoid, but I get concerned when it looks like the national party is consumed over matters of identity politics that largely ignore us.

IMO he's grown into a writer who has been willing to tell hard truths...

Not least about himself.

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