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January 20, 2005

White People Culture

Ya know, it may be futile, but it's always entertaining to try to figure out why teenagers behave the way they do. At its best it gives insight into the psyche, a glimpse into our unself-conscious selves.

One such insight came to me while observing one of my whitest, middle-classiest, never-been-to-the-hood boys talking "ghetto." He does it constantly but shifts into a caricature of ghetto talk when addressing black students in class, who just roll their eyes at him. Why does he insist on doing this?

He has no culture. White people have no culture. To be "black," even self-consciously, is to recognize and embrace a distinct culture. Think about this: a Mexican family eating "traditional" foods would dine on what? sopes, tacos, etc. What "traditional" foods would a white family eat? hamburgers? potatoes? mayonnaise?

The clothing teens wear--baggy pants, androgynous sportswear, expensive sneakers--can largely be attributed to hip-hop culture, which is dominated by African-American artists. White kids embrace this clothing and identify with this why? What are the options? Khakis? Business casual? No self-respecting, rebellious teen is gonna wear that unless forced. It's not cool. And it's not their culture.

What, if anything, is common among white people culturally? Ultra-sameness. Unwavering obedience. Conformity. We are what we're not. The only way to stand out in white culture is to do something "incorrect," like not mow your lawn often enough, speak another dialect, or, for gods' sake, wear navy and black together. This squashes spirit and stifles creativity, forming a negative culture, fearing the Other and constantly appealing to a lowest common denominator of thought, awareness, and creativity.

Posted by tat at January 20, 2005 10:28 AM