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Forum nameOkay Activist Archives
Topic subjectBlacks have no culture?
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=22&topic_id=2845
2845, Blacks have no culture?
Posted by MizClayton, Mon Nov-24-03 04:39 PM
I was talking with my father about why Black businesses don't do well in our community. This conversation lead to a "what is wrong with Black people" conversation.

In a nut-shell, I said Black folks don't stick together like other cultures, i.e. Asians, Arabs, even Africans.

He said, Black people have NO real culture as these other ethnic groups, and that the culture that Blacks do have was designed by the white man so that Black people would not trust each other, and that it this was all a part of some plan, a plan to strip Black people of their culture and make distrust each other.

Do you beleive this? The fact that the lack of unity in the Black community is because of our lack of our own culture?

2846, RE: Blacks have no culture?
Posted by PulpHustler, Mon Nov-24-03 04:51 PM
I think there's some truth to that.

Black americans, really don't have a culture the way other groups do. Everything we do has been and continues to be in reaction to what white did to us or how whites view us. The thing with immigrants and even blaks from other countries like parts of africa or haitia or jamacia is that their culture is more about developing their sense of self rather than fighting against how other folks see them...

When you don't have a real sense of who and what you are, it's hard to love and respect yourself or anyone who's like you.

As consumers, blacks still meausre quality as it relates to whites. Nobody brags about shopping in the hood or in a black store. We brag about being able to shop where white people shop. We brag about being able to by brands and product owned by whites. As artists we don't feel successful until Rolling Stone or Billboard or MTV or a bunch of white consumers tell us we're good or that they like us.

Secondly, you go where the money is. There are 20.8 million businesses according to the Department of Labor. Only about 900,000 are owned by blacks and 1.2 million owned by hispanics... Black people just don't own that much stuff. At somepoint you're gonna shop outside your community simply because you don't have a choice.

It's a complicated mess, but it gets down to not a lot of self-love or willingness to sacrifice for each other. But again, when you don't have a culutre or a sense of self to call your's whaddya expect?

"So what kind of power have you got as a man, if the very
way you define yourself comes from outside your
environment, your domain, your soul?

--Kevin Powell
2847, RE: Blacks have no culture?
Posted by Chris40, Tue Nov-25-03 07:16 AM
"As consumers, blacks still meausre quality as it relates to whites. Nobody brags about shopping in the hood or in a black store. We brag about being able to shop where white people shop. We brag about being able to by brands and product owned by whites. As artists we don't feel successful until Rolling Stone or Billboard or MTV or a bunch of white consumers tell us we're good or that they like us."

Sad but true!!!!!!

2848, RE: Blacks have no culture?
Posted by loveluv, Mon Nov-24-03 05:20 PM
I don't think we can say that blacks Afro americans have no culture becasue we do we have in the last in the last centuries made numerous contributions in the area of culture music books art drama and religion (i think it is safe to say that black christianity silam is different than others)
More to the order of what youa are talking about

I think that it becomes a dangerous game to compare blacks to
immigrant groups

first immigrants who come to america believe in the american drea
2849, RE: We have a culture!
Posted by brokenchains79, Mon Nov-24-03 05:53 PM
But what is culture?
Spirit of the people, world view, and ideology.

Our spirit is there, our world view is fucked up, and we hangin off the nuts of other peoples ideology, pick a religion, or institutional practice, if its not about Sankofa then it's some other shit.
2850, I can agree with that
Posted by NfectionOfTruth, Tue Nov-25-03 07:55 AM
I honestly believe that we do lack a sense of community. One of the entire points behind slavery was to break us down mentally emotionally, spiritually, and keep us from having normal relationships with our families. When we left slavery all we could depend upon were ourselves, and it wasn't untill we gained our " equal" rights 50 years ago that we dropped the ball our sense of community has slowly but surely declined but, we can't blame "others" for us dropping the ball. Alright I see I drifted here but my basic point is that yea we did have a sense of community and it wasn't that long ago when we did have it question is what will it take for us to get it back ?
2851, poverty, crack, racism, lack of education
Posted by codewarrior, Thu Nov-27-03 04:50 PM
all make it hard for cats to develop that unity and awareness
2852, Dumbest thing I have heard in a week.
Posted by Buddy_Gilapagos, Tue Nov-25-03 12:16 PM
There is no truth to that statement.

First off there are a couple of definitions of culture we are working with here.There is one definition of culture as the customary beliefs, social forms, and traits of a group of people. He is wrong by this definition because culture is the product of interaction and anywhere people are routinely interacting, a culture develops. There is a culture at your job, in prison, and on your block. So it is impossible for people interacting to not develop some form of culture.

Then there is the second definition of culture as refined taste. High Culture. To say that black people have no culture in this regard is a value judgement and he is entitled to his opnion. But I find it hard for a black person not to appreciate Black Food, Music, Art and the many other things produced by Black Culture.

AS far as since of business, well, black people aren't especially known for it. But there is a long history of successful black businesse and business people. and enterpernuialship is a buzz in every black community I know. Where its a young brother starting his own barbershop or its P-diddy with a record label and clothing line. We don't much of a history in FINANCE where the real big time money is. but we never had access to the type of capital it takes to make a name for yourself in the field. Heck, no one besides white men have had access to that type of cash. JP Morgan wasn't doing business with Black folks.
2853, chine/japa + nese
Posted by deejboram, Tue Nov-25-03 12:36 PM
my chinese coworker was partially breakin this shit down to me the other day while i was helpin her move.
in a nutshell she was saying that the chinese-american problems are the same as black folks problems.

crabs in a barrel.

not so much crabs in a barrel but a i ain't gonna help you if you ain't smart enough/good enough to be helped. whereas the japanese always reach back to help they folks no matter what. she was like if 50 japanese are together they all be chillin and are at peace with one another. she was like get 50 chinese together and they be at each others throats. now keep in mind she's from hunan and her husband shanghai but she only knows hunan so this could be regional. i've been waitin for her to break this shit down for me so i was salivating for the info. basically goes like this. her husband is a very esteemed prof and has taught/post-doc'd at many prestigous schools (UCLA, Berkely, Stanford, Princeton, Harvard) I think he was even at Temple for a spell. Anyway, she was just puttin me up on game on how he and his associates (on wall street) would or would not help another chinese given their abilities where no matter what a japanese would help their own. i alread said that right?
but this goes back to an earlier post that didn't have nothin to do with this one where i stated that japanese are very nationalistic/ethnic in that if you're a gaijen then you ain't shit!
it was a time recently in history where the japanese govt didn't let anyone in or out of the country for fear of diluting the superior and pure japanese stock.
2854, RE: chine/japa + nese
Posted by fuulblass, Wed Nov-26-03 02:31 AM
man...for some reason you strike a nerve with me...i think it's the fact that you place people's academic background as clout for giving a perfect explanation about the issue at hand...it's all relative.
2855, RE: Blacks have no culture?
Posted by soulgyal, Wed Nov-26-03 03:41 AM
I've written on many posts about topics similar to this one. To sum my beliefs up quickly, I'll just say that, yes, blacks Americans have a "recognized" culture where we live. Caribbean and Latino blacks have a culture as well, which is different from those of American blacks. But these cultures were mostly, if not totally influenced by the surroundings into which we were brought. You can list names like Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey, and Jimi Hendrix and the such until you turn blue in the face. But in the end, everyone must admit that these famous black Americans were all products of a white society that has oppressed them and replaced their own culture with that of the new world. Black American culture is not pure. It is a mix of the forced culture and our own, which we can barely remember. Same goes for black Latinos and Caribbean blacks. There is nothing solely our own, purely of us, that is left. That's why we tend to clash with each other. Because we cling to these new cultures which, by the way, changes all the time, and are unwilling to find that which links us ALL together.
2856, much of the culture was born of reaction to slavery
Posted by obsidianchrysalis, Wed Nov-26-03 10:19 AM
much of the culture is a culture of immediacy or intensity, whether it's expressed thru speech or artifacts of culture. and while it helps in certain expressions of culture, (art and music) it doesn't lend itself to other endevors like business or building community or solidarity. for much of the history of black people in this country our fight or struggle has been to end something immediately to preserve dignity or life. whether it's been slavery or jim crow much of the knowledge and aims that were produced were to work towards the end of some outside force. like another poster said it's only been a development of the past 40 years or so that there have been black people who have had access to money to be able to compete within areas of society (finance, management, etc) where the end is more of a long term goal.

2857, RE: Blacks have no culture?
Posted by Drk_n_Lvle1, Wed Nov-26-03 02:09 PM
Your dad appears to be an observant man. He is right about the cohesion & trust thing, will take get the negro down every time.
2858, If Blacks have no culture
Posted by 40thStreetBlack, Wed Nov-26-03 02:19 PM
Then how, and why, do other people all over the world try to appropriate/co-opt (or steal, in the parlance of our times) Black culture? You can't appropriate/co-opt/steal (however you want to phrase it) something that doesn't exist.

" 'Dear Homer, I.O.U. one emergency donut. Signed, Homer.'
...Bastard! He's always one step ahead." - Homer
2859, RE: If Blacks have no culture
Posted by PulpHustler, Wed Nov-26-03 02:33 PM
That's precisely what is meant by our lack of culture. People worldwide not only cop what we do, but they help define it, manipulate it and control it as well. This has been going on for generations. This is what i meant in my earlier post about us being reactionary to whites. So much of black american culture came as result of constantly having to react to what we were and are allowed to do allowed to be etc...

When you have true culture, your identity is proactive... And also when you have a truly developed culture, not only is is not for sale, but it is defined by you and yours and passed down thru the generations accordingly.

I got a lot of friends from other cultures--jewish, isreali, japanese, german... no matter how much i may dig what they do, they make it clear that who they are and what they are belongs to them. if they choose to share it, fine. But otherwise step-off. Ain't no co-option of what they are... ain't no real mass marketing of their identity being done by folks outside their community.

That's culture. And that's what we as black americans and to a certain degree black folks in every country are lacking--a communal bond that belongs to us.

Hell, remember FUBU? They can't even really be called For Us By Us anymore given that they make their clothes for mainstream (non-black) consumers. I saw an interview with those cats trying to dance around that issue because they want that white dollar. they've had to change so much of their flavor that it's all milquetoast.

Hip & R&B's audience is 80% white and non-black. has been since the early 90s. The retailers, labels, radio stations, etc. are almost exclusively black-owned. When you have white marketers and manufacturers making product and images to reach white consumers, as a black person there's no way in hell you can say you have a culture.

now when you have your own culture and control your own culture, you don't do that kinda stuff.

Do you?
"So what kind of power have
you got as a man, if the very
way you define yourself comes
from outside your
environment, your domain,
your soul?

--Kevin Powell
2860, CO- tothe SIGN!
Posted by soulgyal, Wed Nov-26-03 02:43 PM
Thank you, Pulp Hustler!
2861, RE: If Blacks have no culture
Posted by Drk_n_Lvle1, Wed Nov-26-03 03:31 PM
FUBU still has clothes on the market?
2862, I totally feel and see what you're saying
Posted by MizClayton, Wed Nov-26-03 03:48 PM
It's all about the communal element, where it exist consitently and not according to what white people are doing to us. If you think of the most purest elements of what could be called "Black culture", it's all reactionary.
2863, RE: If Blacks have no culture
Posted by soulgyal, Wed Nov-26-03 02:40 PM
Whose culture? Are you talking about America's hip hop culture? Or maybe the Caribbean's reggae/rasta/calypso culture? Or do you mean some native cultures of Africa? What are you saying is "Black" culture exactly? More than likely it's America's, I'm sure. So you're saying the American black's culture speaks for ALL blacks? Most of the time, when a country's people co-opt "black" culture, as you would call it...it means "American-hip hop/rap" culture. That doesn't necessarily label all blacks, which is what I was trying to say all along.
2864, RE: If Blacks have no culture
Posted by PulpHustler, Wed Nov-26-03 02:47 PM
When I say "black culture" i'm speaking on black folks worldwide because it's gone on everywhere that black folks have been. With the exception of a couple percentages, black folks primary spread from africa was the international slave trade, so our collective culture and all its offshoots and branches has been dealing with co-option ever since.

Every generation of blacks on every continent in effect has to reinvent itself, not by choice, but because what ever they had and attempted to pass down got watered down, controlled, represensed, etc. Hiphop which is a collection of lots of africa, islander and north american black expressions is just the latest example of this...

"So what kind of power have you got as a man, if the very
way you define yourself comes from outside your
environment, your domain, your soul?

--Kevin Powell
2865, Naw, PulpHustler...
Posted by soulgyal, Wed Nov-26-03 03:31 PM
That message was directed towards 40thstreetblack. I know YOU know what i'm talkin about.
2866, RE: Blacks have no culture?
Posted by Lou, Wed Nov-26-03 09:10 PM
i think the catch is grouping all blacks in one category.. similar to grouping all asians in one category..

can you tell the difference between an ethiopian and a kemetian and someone who grew up in ghana??

what i find, is not many ppl can.. including not many black ppl..

but guarantee that a chinese person knows the difference between a japanese and a malaysian..

there's TOO MUCH unity, and yes, it's been a result of white influence on black cultures.

in fact, some black ppl don't even KNOW their ancestry.. i can tell you right now i have a kemetian bloodline.. but *way* too many kats i meet can only tell you they're black and descend from africa.. like africa is one country.
2867, Like you said...
Posted by soulgyal, Thu Nov-27-03 03:50 AM
Daaat's...not really our fault, ya know. All that was informations that was practically lost to us. Although I hear, that blacks can have their geneology traced through some simple (yet very expensive) DNA testing....Of course,there's always the old fashioned way of going through thousands of records...(for free!). But seriously, whatever way we do it, I think that it is imperitive that we do. Our culture's created by the Diaspora are based on fighting and intolerance for us...We need something to look back on that is proud, happy, and solely our own.
2868, RE: Like you said...
Posted by Lou, Thu Nov-27-03 02:39 PM
i back your words 100%
2869, You can't measure culture or unity "at home"
Posted by Cocobrotha2, Thu Nov-27-03 04:52 AM
Before comparing African Americans to other cultures in america, you've got to put us in the same situation. African americans (despite the dysfunctional "American family" life) are at "home" in America because this is the cradle of our culture.

To make a valid comparison to Chinese immigrannts, for example, you'd have to flip the paradigm... deposit a sizable African American population in China. In that setting, African American culture and unity would be evident and *necessary*. We'd share a common language and the inability to speak the native language. Even if we didn't all eat chittlins or cornbread, we'd know of it.We'd keep alot of customs that don't appear to be customs bc we're used to everyone else doing them. Many would attempt to form their own businesses like the capitlists they were raised (conditioned) to be. Being so different from the natives in so many ways, we would have to depend on each other and make decisions as a unit.

The main points of my thought experiment are that a culture cannot appreciate itself without referencing other cultures and unity only occurs when a well defined group has a purpose.

Applying the first point to African Americans in America, I think the reason so many people want to argue there is no African American culture is because they don't want to admit, if it existed, it would be a subset of American culture. African Americans built this country so it's only logical we would have a integral part in creating this American culture. To extend my previous thought experiement, include a population of general "Americans" and a population of Nigerians. I would bet the majority of African Americans would feel closer to the other Americans than the Nigerians.

In regard to the second point, I think it appears we have no unity because our homogeniety logically decreases with every step toward equality. There aren't as many common, concrete, measurable goals for all African Americans since there are fewer common, conrete, measurable, and universal impediments to us. We're becoming less like the chinese person in America and more like the chinese person in China.
2870, Very true
Posted by MizClayton, Thu Nov-27-03 06:27 PM
I agree. African-American is American culture. This isn't a foreign land to us, as it is to Asians. AA have been here since the beginning.

I think it's hard for people to say African-American culture is American culture, like you said, because Blacks want to keep what is theirs, theirs. I even feel this way. Everyone seems to benefiting more from the culture than Afrian-Americans, who have helped to shape it.

It makes me mad an Asian can come over here, in a Black community, and make mad loot off of Blacks with their African-American hair care shops and such, but a Black person can barely keep anything open in the Black community (at least that's how it is where I live).