Saturday, September 19, 2009

Color vs. Culture

I read a blog today written by a mixed race man, explaining how his Grandmother hated his father’s race, but loved him (the grandson) despite him sharing his father’s DNA.
It seemed to be an illogical inconsistency in racial bias. Was it shared blood? Maybe.
More likely it’s more than that. Its race, plus culture.

I have written before about instances where one claims to have no racial bias, pointing to a black/white relative, who they love, as proof. How can one be racist when they truly love someone of a different color? Easy. Because it is really culture not color.

Many who claim to be racially blind will point to ideals or tendencies in the “others” culture that they see as unacceptable to their own, or detrimental to society at large. White people point to disproportionate crime rates, lower test scores, and unwed motherhood statistics as the root of what ails the black community. Racism is dead and no longer an issue. It’s their own shortcomings that hold them back now. Stop whining about racism and fix your own behavior… your own selves are the problem!

Many of the criticisms leveled by one race at another have a level of legitimacy. Single parenthood is a problem. Criminal behavior is a problem. Bad behavior is one’s own fault and consequences should be suffered.

But legitimacy of the accusations, or critiques, does not make one free of racial bias.

I would like for one race to find one single misbehavior, or social ill, that they see as a problem in another’s race, which is not also a problem in their own.

Does black or white have a monopoly on drug use, infidelity, or crime? Is either group free from hate, greed, or selfishness? The answer is obvious that any human or human group, at the root, is the same.

So when one finds themselves looking at numbers that skew one way or another at an unusual rate, or one begins to think that a particular problem is more prevalent in a single group, don’t stop there. Go the next step and ask the important question why? Why would a problem have a greater affect on one group rather than the other? Is it DNA or is it social?

If you think it DNA, we are done here. If it is cultural, then how did it get that way? How and when did our cultures form? What shapes who we are and what we find acceptable? If one does not identify with another group, ask why not. Ask what it is that separates one from another, and then go the next step and ask how that separation was created.

That is not racism that is cultural. Here is where culture gets tinged with race:

When one blames Hip-Hop for the poisoning of our youth’s morals but ignores Rock n’ Roll.
When one rants about the race based hate coming from the “others” but ignore when your own do the same.
When one ignores the color of a friend when they act in a way you approve of, but then wonder at or disparage the actions of the greater group.
When one cries out against crack use in the inner cities, but ignores the meth in the suburbs.

We are all the same. So ask yourself why things affect us differently? Are you looking out while ignoring the mirror?


uglyblackjohn said...

They effect us the same but the affect is that they are different.

Corbie said...

Great post - it's an issue that comes up a lot in discussions about race (nature vs. nurture) and I think you make some very good points.

Speaking of points, how's the football team doing?

brohammas said...

@ubj, it has taken me years to remember which of those words is which... I still mess it up.

@Corbie, its rough at practice when we have 40 kids and thirty helmets. I have kids trading helmets every five plays. They dont even have lockers. We check the pads in and out at the office every day.

Man, football must be from heaven for us to love it this much.

Lindsey said...

I have always believed this, but on a personal level. I find when I'm complaining about a character flaw in someone else, if I think about it I realize I have that same flaw. Someone bothers me because they always talk about themselves and nothing else: whoops! I do that too! Someone else makes me wait and can never get anywhere on time: whoops! Late to church AGAIN! I never just took this to the next level to look at it in a group setting, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I like this post. I mull over these same things all the time. There are people in my life who like to use STATISTICS! and FACTS! to *prove* this race or that race is inferior to whites.

Like the color of your skin forces you into drug use or single parenthood or whathaveyou, but social factors like institutionalized racism or gross wealth inequalities totally have no effect on human behavior at all.

Brandon said...

Where would we be without hip hop, I dont even want to think about that one.