Sunday, August 30, 2009

Can I appropriate some black culture!?

So I was thinking of a lesson that I could teach my English class here in Japan. No holidays- it’s been done. No presidents- they all know Obama (and excuse me for saying, but if I hear one more person say ‘We Can Do It!’ I may have to tear out my hair)- no money- believe me they know all about American money ( and if I hear ‘ I have no money!’ one more time, I may tear out their hair- who taught them that!?) Besides, the dollar is getting its butt whipped by the yen right now. So what’s left? I’m supposed to be a cultural ambassador- okay, let’s teach some culture. But then I look around- what can I teach about American culture, African- American culture even? If you look at t. v. black culture is about money, dancing hoes-grammatical mistake there folks- I meant dancing..and dancing hoes- two separate categories but definitely intertwined in most people’s minds when it comes to black culture. Where did I leave off? Oh, yeah- I forgot the gratuitous violence, sexuality and ignorance prevalent in every media that depicts black people. Oh, yeah, it’s everywhere- it’s a multimedia empire- only a piece of which is actually owned by black people. So shame on us for not “moving on up” and getting our piece of the market share and shame on us for buying into the market that so obviously does not define us. Or maybe it does- maybe it truly is “for us, by us” – otherwise why haven’t we put our Nike clad feet down and said enough of this @#*^! Can I tell a class that what they see on BET is not the whole of black culture when I don’t know what is? The appropriation of "blackness" is apparently where its at- it means "massaging" the image of blackness as cool, hip and urban- which somehow sells Mcdonalds cheeseburgers and Lexuses (Lexii?) like nobody's business. It means every person of "African descent" - apparently the new way to say "black as hell"- can walk tall, because you can dance, play sports - and girl, you know you can saang! But let's get real. Historically, being black has been a state of confusion- the effects of colonization and slavery causing a ripple effect that will be felt for generations to come. But ignorance is its own reward. While we could blame the nontraditional family, the economy, and prejudice ( and we do- don’t get me started on that boogie monster “The Man” – who is purposely keeping black folk down- personally, I suspect that “The Man” has a deeper tan than most people want to admit), the truth is that culture is the result of a united people- and we haven’t been that for a long time, if ever. What is needed is unification of purpose- a people without purpose are nomads- and surely blacks in America are strangers in a strange land. A black girl in Japan – is just a curiosity- because the people here are unified. They want to educate their children- internationalize them and empower them to take over the world. And it’s working. That's why I’m here. So, what will I teach my class? That America and African- Americans are about hard work, independence, education and achievement-despite what they see on t.v. And while I’m teaching them, I’ll try really hard to believe it.


  1. Well, I think seeing you as an example of what African Americans are like is a start. It only takes one to start a revolution!

  2. Thanks for the love, Pooh! Right back at ya!



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