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Race And Culture, overlap and divergence
Carnal Malefacto...
post Feb 15 2007, 05:38 PM
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I recently heard people talk about how Illinois senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama can't really be considered 'black' because, while he is of African descent [his father was a Kenyan immigrant], he is not descended from West African slaves, and therefore has not lived the 'black experience' in America.

This got me thinking about other ways in which race, particularly in the American melting pot, has been overshadowed by culture.

Take the idea of the 'Uncle Tom'. Because of a long history of having to fight tooth and nail for equal rights and social advancement, it seems to me that many black Americans have fallen into the trap of not expecting themselves to succeed. The last couple of generations in particular have largely adopted a 'ghetto' culture, wherein poverty and crime seem to be glorified rather than repudiated. In many circles, those who reject such a culture are seen as sell-outs or 'Uncle Toms'. Someone of a black heritage, but wielding a great deal of power and disagreeing with the typical beliefs of blacks [i.e. Condolleezza Rice, Colin Powell] are often not even seen as really being black.

The same is true of Asians and Hispanics who adopt a stereotypically 'white' culture and world view in this country. Often, they are seen as pariahs by members of their own race.

The only race this doesn't seem to apply to is whites, who seem capable of being culturally mercurial, but still reap the benefits of being seen as white, no matter how they act. Though in some corners, it seems as though mainstream whites have begun to view those who do not 'act white' as a sort of underclass. In Great Britain, this seems to be the social niche 'chavs' occupy, though there is not yet a direct counterpart in the U.S. for such a group.

So the question is, do you see a member of a particular race that doesn't embody the norm of that race as becoming something other than what they were born as? Can you adopt a different race by adopting its cultural attributes, or does this merely alienate you from your own race?


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Nepharski
post Feb 15 2007, 06:45 PM
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I don't see the world in terms of race, I see it in terms of individuals. This isn't the bloody Borg or Zerg or some like-minded collection of hive workers; we're personalities, free radicals. I address people by their names, not their races.

It doesn't matter that Barack Obama wasn't descended from West African slaves, or that Condolleezza Rice is Republican (given away in the racial draft), what matters is that they are Barack and Condolleezza, and that's who they need to be.


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In the event that Hiromu Arakawa can skillfully maneuver around this narrative plot hole, I will eat my words with a pinch of salt.
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Carnal Malefacto...
post Feb 15 2007, 06:58 PM
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That's a great way of seeing things, but unfortunately the world seldom agrees with you. In America, if you're non-white, the question of race hangs over everything you do if you're a public figure. Barack Obama isn't a particularly accomplished politician yet, so the racial question is that much more prevalent with him, because he is currently viewed above all else as the first truly electable African-American presidential candidate.


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Nepharski
post Feb 15 2007, 07:08 PM
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If the world doesn't see things that way, that's its problem, not mine. Race is a non-issue for me; we're all human beings, and that's enough. If I vote for someone, its going to be because I agree with their promise of leadership, not because of their race, gender, or even political party.

My vote is not affirmative action, it's deserved.


--------------------
Attention Manga Lust fans:
Lust is dead. Finished. Kaput. Joined the Choir Invisible. Roy Mustang incinerated her repeatedly until her Philosopher's Stone dried up and dissolved into nothingness ("Mu" for you Japanese cultural enthusiasts). And she will remain killed off, written out of the plot. Greed was reincarnated because Father saved his Philosopher's Stone and had a guinea pig on hand. Lust is gone. Stop trying to play God with the plot line and bring her back at every possibly junction.
In the event that Hiromu Arakawa can skillfully maneuver around this narrative plot hole, I will eat my words with a pinch of salt.
Nepharski - Our first, last, and hopeful not only line of defense against bad Homunculi theories.

My LiveJournal, because I'm a closet conformist
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Carnal Malefacto...
post Feb 15 2007, 07:09 PM
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You remind me of a very young Stephen Colbert. tongue.gif


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Nepharski
post Feb 15 2007, 07:10 PM
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You speak truthiness, Abstruse.


--------------------
Attention Manga Lust fans:
Lust is dead. Finished. Kaput. Joined the Choir Invisible. Roy Mustang incinerated her repeatedly until her Philosopher's Stone dried up and dissolved into nothingness ("Mu" for you Japanese cultural enthusiasts). And she will remain killed off, written out of the plot. Greed was reincarnated because Father saved his Philosopher's Stone and had a guinea pig on hand. Lust is gone. Stop trying to play God with the plot line and bring her back at every possibly junction.
In the event that Hiromu Arakawa can skillfully maneuver around this narrative plot hole, I will eat my words with a pinch of salt.
Nepharski - Our first, last, and hopeful not only line of defense against bad Homunculi theories.

My LiveJournal, because I'm a closet conformist
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ed_drink_your_mi...
post Feb 15 2007, 07:13 PM
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Well, though I agree with Nepharski in that I don't see people by race, I do think that you can't change race because of your actions. This is a blessing and a curse, depending on how your race is treated, but I think that the whole point of race (and why I think people shouldn't be judged by it) is that it's something that an individual cannot control. It's not like a religion where you can convert. You can't convert to 'white'. It just can't be done. You are how you are born. There are things in your life that you can change and race isn't one of them. Which, like I said, is a perfect reason why people shouldn't be judged by thier race.


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Toby-Chan
post Feb 15 2007, 07:18 PM
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@ The original post about Whites having no boundaries- What about the subculture of 'Wiggers'? (though that seems to be more of a teenage phase than a social class.)

At the very least, there are racists who consider any whites who adopt other cultural aspects to be 'traitors.' Even if it isn't as great of a social hindrance, there are social stereotypes about white people who take interest in other cultures to the point of modifying their lives and behavior. The Wapanese are a small trendy group right now. More widely, those who adopt asian aspects of life are often seen as new age hippies. Those don't pose much more than an inconvenience, but the issue is still there.

(I had a few more paragraphs of thought on the subject, then said 'screw it' because my brain isn't in the best working order this evening.)


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Carnal Malefacto...
post Feb 15 2007, 07:19 PM
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The point was that 'wiggers' aren't really treated as an underclass the way chavs are in Britain. They still receive all the benefits of being white while completely adopting black culture.


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ed_drink_your_mi...
post Feb 15 2007, 07:21 PM
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Well, race and social class are different topics (though they tend to be closely related). You can change your social class because that's more a measure of money and influence. Race is a physical characteristic and unless you want to be drastic *cough*Michael Jackson*cough*, you can't change it. (And yes, I think 'wiggers' are more of a teenage phase.)


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Carnal Malefacto...
post Feb 15 2007, 07:24 PM
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But how far does culture go in defining racial attributes? Especially in an age in which multiracial people have become far more common. If you have a white parent an a black parent [presumably from differnet socio-economic backgrounds], but are raised with the values of one parent and not the other, does that make you more one race than the other?

To put it simply, does race only mean biology, or does it go beyond that?


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ed_drink_your_mi...
post Feb 15 2007, 07:27 PM
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Society started attaching attributes to different races, and thus, fixed stereotypes have developed. So, people can act 'black' or act 'white' and so on, but that still doesn't mean they are. Race is superficial. Look down. That's what race you are. Now, can you have the stereotypical attributes of another race? Yes. But that's your personality, not your race.


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Carnal Malefacto...
post Feb 15 2007, 07:32 PM
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Ah, but again, you must look at the original question of whether Barack Obama [or someone with a similar background] can be considered black, regardless of what he or she looks like.

I'm not asking about the morality of judging someone by race. That's not the question.

I'm asking if race an culture are mutually exclusive, or inexorably bound.


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Taskinst
post Feb 15 2007, 07:38 PM
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I DO think you can adopt a different race by adopting it's cultural attributes. For example for there are some African-American Jews. But I don't think this really changes the race that you are. If your black your black. If your white your white. I think that your race is something that sticks to you forever, no matter what. Race is a family, tribe, or nation of the same people.


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post Feb 15 2007, 07:41 PM
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They are connected, and personally, I think Obama is black. Black isn't just an 'american experience'. There are black people all over the world and you don't have to have a black 'american experience' to be black in america. But yes, I neglected to add that Race isn't all superficial, there is history in it. Ex. I'm white, but I'm also Jewish and Irish, and I look it. I look like a white Irish Jew. And nothign I do can change that. I was going to say plastic surgery could, but then I realized, even that can't completely change race, because I would still be Jewish and Irish by heritage, which is part of my race. So, you're right, race isn't all looks, but it's still not something that can be changed.

As for culture, I think it has a smaller bond with race than heritage. I'll use myself as an example. I was raised in a suburb outside of Newark, and so there was a certain culture there that isn't here. I believe that culture is part heritage, (smaller) part race, and part habitat. So, a white person and a black person can share parts of the same culture, but they can't share race.


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