mercifulserpent: (Default)
how do you talk about human rights in the classroom?

FLEFF offers some really great digital games to use to prompt class discussion. These were collected by Ulysses Meijias, and have been really fantastically useful for me:

Homeless: It’s No Game
You’re homeless and alone. Can you survive on the city streets for 24 hours with your dignity intact?

Karma Tycoon
Learn what it takes to be a social entrepreneur, and maximize karma, not profit, while improving conditions in virtual communities across the United States.

McDonald’s Video Game
A business simulation that aims to demonstrate the social and environmental unsustainability of the fast-food industry.

A video game about the politics of nutrition. Explore the relationships between obesity, nutrition, and socioeconomics in the contemporary United States.

Stop Disasters!
A disaster simulation game from the United Nations and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, this game challenges players to create a safer environment for a population.

Food Force
This humanitarian educational video game focuses on the subject of world hunger and the work that goes into feeding people.

Peace Maker
Inspired by real events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this games challenges players to bring peace to the region.

World without Oil
This is an alternate reality game (ARG) that involves the collaborative imagining of how a global oil crisis might actually pan out.

Airport Security
The first in a series of news games called Arcade Wire, Airport Security offers a satirical critique of airport security practices circa early fall 2006, when security agencies in the United States and abroad changed their policies to prohibit common items, such as toothpaste and hair gel, on flights. Do knee-jerk reactions that limit our freedom of expression and travel make us safer? In Arcade Wire: Airport Security you inspect each passenger and his luggage and remove the forbidden items before allowing the passenger to go through-but the list of forbidden items changes on a moment-to-moment basis. Prohibited items may include pants, mouthwash, and hummus. It is also downloadable for your mobile phone from

Ayiti: The Cost of Life
What is it like to live in poverty, struggling every day to stay healthy, keep out of debt, and get educated? Find out now in this challenging role-playing game created by high school students. In this innovative video game, the player assumes the roles of various family members living in rural Haiti. Over the course of the game, the player balances goals, such as getting an education, making money, staying healthy, and seeking happiness, while encountering unexpected events. The game was developed in an after-school program where youth leaders from Global Kids, in the Playing 4 Keeps program, worked in partnership with the game developers at Gamelab.

Bacteria Salad
Your goal is simple: harvest mass amounts of cheap produce and sell it for as much profit as possible. But watch out for floods and animal waste, or your greens might turn, uh-brown-and your customers will get E. coli. It doesn't take someone with an M.B.A. to know that killing people is bad for business! Which are safer, small family farms or big industrial ones? Is it possible to run large agribusiness safely? These are the salad days for big agribusiness-play today!

Darfur Is Dying
This online, viral video game puts the player in the shoes of one of the 2.5 million refugees fighting for survival every day in the Darfur region of Sudan. Players learn about some of the challenges refugees and displaced persons face-and they learn how to take action to help stop the crisis. The game was developed for the Darfur Digital Activist Contest that was launched by mtvU in partnership with the Reebok Human Rights Foundation and the International Crisis Group. Directors: Susana Ruiz, Ashley York, and Huy Truong.

A Force More Powerful
A Force More Powerful is the first and only interactive teaching tool in the field of nonviolent conflict. Developed by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and the media firm York Zimmerman Inc., with design assistance from some of the Serbian resistance leaders who helped overthrow Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, the game simulates nonviolent struggles to win freedom and secure human rights against dictators, occupiers, colonizers, and corrupt regimes. It features campaigns for political and human rights for minorities and women.

The Gaming Meme

Games constitute a major meme in the contemporary media landscape. Computer games now outsell Hollywood theatrical films. Gaming imagery and design infuse popular culture, from fashion to movies to animation to websites to advertising. Games also generate epidemics of moral panic about uncontrolled violence, the corruption of youth, repetitive stress syndrome, manic obsessions, and social deviance.

Countering these hysterias and projections, radical gaming and social networking algorithms intervene into the panic and the manic by marshalling immersivity and interactivity for goals beyond the self and beyond empire.

New for 2007, this year's festival pairs emerging scholars from the humanities and social sciences with games with a conscience. The scholar will take you on a tour of the game-and ease your entry into the intoxicating and influential world of interventionist games that remap our political imaginaries.

Oil God
You are an oil god! Wreak havoc on the world's oil supplies by unleashing war and disaster. Bend governments and economies to your will to alter trade practices. Your goal? Double consumer gasoline prices in five years using whatever means necessary. Oil God is the second in an ongoing series of news games. The game explores the relationship between gas prices, geopolitics, and oil profits. Gasoline prices are affected most by possible or actual disruptions in oil producing regions, which might reduce supply without altering demand, thus driving prices up. One feature that characterizes the current fluctuations in gasoline prices, unlike previous ones in 1973 and 1981, are a multitude of simultaneous world events and geopolitical uncertainties: the Iraq war, missiles in North Korea, Hurricane Katrina, pipeline problems, the Iran/Korea nuclear, war between Israel and Lebanon war, and so forth.

PeaceMaker is a video game simulation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: a tool that can be used to promote dialog and understanding among Israelis, Palestinians, and interested people around the world.

September 12, a Toy World
The game analyzes the current situation of the United States' war on terror. The game uses traditional videogame aesthetics to model a political paradox: current U.S. tactics on the war on terror affect the civilian population and generate more terrorism.

Tropical America
Tropical America fuses the new world of video games to a compelling past through a journey to unravel the mysteries of the Americas. Developed in collaboration with Los Angeles artists, teachers, writers, and high school students, the game features a bilingual, thematic game play, accompanied by an online database of educational resource materials, source texts, and imagery. Tropical America has been archived on the Rhizome ArtBase, though it no longer accepts new logins.

Vectors re-jiggers the academic journal through a productive encounter with varied forms of interactivity and intermediality. It maps the multiple contours of daily life in an unevenly digital era, highlighting the social, political, and cultural stakes of our increasingly technologically mediated existence and addresses issues such as globalization, mobility, power, and access. Vectors only publishes works that need to exist online, fusing old and new media, and melding form and content to enact a second-order examination of the role of technology in culture. The journal features peer-reviewed submissions and specially commissioned works composed of moving- and still-images; voice, music, and sound; computational and interactive structures; social software; and much more.
mercifulserpent: (Default)
Reduced to the Small Screen
Incident, Reaction, Forget, Repeat: Formulaic Entertainment Replaces Serious Discussion on Race

By DeNeen L. Brown and Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 11, 2007; M01

Has racial conflict become amusement? Is the conversation about racism mere entertainment, dialogue rendered for show, inflammatory words tossed back and forth over a racial divide to excite an audience?

Thousands of black people are marooned after Hurricane Katrina amid government paralysis, and the race debate on TV kicks into overdrive. A black woman accuses some white men of rape at a Duke University party and the inflamed rhetoric flies.

Comedian Michael Richards shouts the N-word at a black man in a comedy club. Radio host Don Imus calls the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."

Shouts of injustice fill the small-town streets of Jena, La., after white teens are suspended from school for hanging nooses from a tree while black teens are charged with attempted murder for a schoolyard fight. Nooses are found at the University of Maryland, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Columbia University.

Fox News's Bill O'Reilly has his turn on the stage of race after dining at a famous soul food restaurant and musing at the surprising civility of black people. Then comes James D. Watson, Nobel Prize winner and head of one of the world's leading genetics research institutes, questioning the intelligence of black people.

And with each episode in the long-running Saga of Race in America, a string of characters lines up to react to the latest eruption. The media records them as they take up positions in the Great Race Debate. The media stokes the discussion as self-proclaimed black leaders scream outrage while opponents -- often white, sometimes black -- scream counter-outrage. The "colorblind" wonder why we all just can't get along. And the rest of us watch from ringside, rooting for one camp or another, sometimes in silence.

Then inevitably, the media turns away. The outrage fades. The talking heads go silent. The curtain falls, and the debate recedes to wherever it goes until the next eruption.

Which raises the question: Has the debate over race become a melodrama? A bad television soap opera? A theatrical stage play with complex issues boiled down to a script? Entertaining words thrown around simply to satisfy the 24-hour news cycle, the blogosphere?

Are we doomed to debate racism over and over -- stuck in purgatory, a cycle of skirmishes, of shock and awe, with nothing gained, nothing learned?

Or is there a way to change the ritual, to go deeper into our national consciousness and get off this merry-go-round?
'Putting On a Show'

There it was on television one afternoon, another episode in the Great Race Debate. A perky commentator moderated the banter between two intellectuals discussing the Jena 6 case and the debate over racial injustice.

Even with the sound off, it looked like entertainment, says Alan Bean, executive director of Friends of Justice, a Texas-based criminal justice reform organization that began probing the Jena 6 case long before it became big news. Bean was watching the show while sitting in an airport. That's when it occurred to him: The race debate had become theater.

"When I looked at the woman who was the correspondent refereeing the fight between two talking heads, I didn't get the impression she was concerned about enlightening the audience or coming to a meeting of the minds or shedding light on inequities in the criminal justice system," says Bean, who is white. "Her primary concern seemed to be putting on a show."

The talking-head debates about racial conflicts "exert a kind of car-wreck fascination," says John McWhorter, senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute.

The debates are like a "recreational source of psychological policing," McWhorter says, "which reminds me of the place that religious faith held in medieval society. Being charged with racism today is like being charged as a heretic in medieval Europe. One must indulge in all kinds of gestures which one may or may not feel because to not do these things is to invite condemnation as a moral pervert."

The debate dissolves into a routine, "where all good thinking people are supposed to condemn that person," he says.

An example: Michael Richards's racist tirade at a comedy club in Los Angeles, where he even evoked a lynching. His words were caught on tape and played over and over. Black leaders demanded an apology. Richards issued a statement and apologized again and again.

Then there was silence. Episode ended.

"And now here we are today and the whole humbug over that looks like the formulaic cartoon that it was," says McWhorter, who is black. "We know now and we knew then that what Michael Richards said some night in some club, in the grand scheme of things, was utterly insignificant. But there is a ritual that America has been going through for 40 years where we grab on to all and any opportunity to show we are morally pure in not being racist."

The Rev. Al Sharpton knows about this pattern, of course. Those accused of racism often go to him or to Rev. Jesse Jackson seeking absolution. Sharpton has carved out a leading role in racial matters. He defines himself, Jackson and others as strategists with a goal. But he is aware that some people define him as a demagogue.

"Don't assume that because a lot of us are screaming and hollering in the middle, we don't have a strategy," he says. The media "try to reduce us to being performers on their stage rather than thinkers in our studies."

Of his penitent radio show guests, such as Richards and Imus, Sharpton says, "I think that they want to appear like they want absolution, but I really don't think that's what they want."

But he plays along, hosting them on his show as part of an orchestrated trap. In the case of Imus, Sharpton wanted him fired, and he wanted his employers to change their policy regarding racial language.

"I wanted to make it very clear to people why it is that I'm going after them, and to let them trap themselves with their own language," he said.

On the Sharpton show, Imus complained that he just could not win with "you people." Sharpton and many other African Americans find that phrase offensive. More fuel for the Great Race Debate.

In April, Imus was fired. The punishment didn't last. He's set to return to the airwaves next month.

And the race show goes on.
'A Public Conversation'

If the debate over racism has indeed become entertainment, many say the media and the entertainment business are to blame for encouraging searing sound bites and rhetorical racial skirmishes instead of forums for intellectual discussion.

Most of the infamous episodes of late have been white on black -- except for the ongoing anti-immigrant rhetoric, which many view as discriminatory against Latinos, and not just by whites.

Whether it's about blacks, Latinos, whites, whatever, the race rhetoric has transfixed audiences on television, in blogs and in newspapers for months. Often it is covered as if the debate was simple enough for soundbites. And that, some say, is the problem.

"I think the media's contribution is to make racism an entertainment issue," says Ted Morgan, professor of political science at Lehigh University, whose upcoming book is about the media culture.

"Television makes politics entertaining by turning politics into polarized conflict between two sides," he says. "The audience sympathizes with one side or the other because they are basically getting entertained. It leaves the public with no place in the conversation."

The media treats racism the same way, says Morgan, who is white.

"A public conversation isn't what you get when you tune into the nightly news," he says. "TV is trying to give us a lot of drama, conflict, pictures, basically to entertain us, keep us there watching that channel. That is not a venue that is compatible with public conversation."

Pueng Vongs, diversity committee chair for the Society of Professional Journalists, one of the largest associations of journalists in the country, says racially charged comments -- much like shootings and fires -- have become "big clicker stories," that drive up traffic on news organization Web sites.

News has been molded to fit the short attention span of viewers, Vongs says.

"With the Internet there is a constant hunger for something new and exciting to get hits or with broadcast media to get the viewers," Vongs says.

While the media provides context for events and a frame of reference by which people understand each other and the broader culture, they also perpetuate stereotypes and fuel sensationalism in the race debate, says Doreen Loury, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at Arcadia University outside Philadelphia, where she teaches a course called "African American Images in the Media."

"I think it needs to do what it was charged to do," Loury, who is black, says of the news media. "It was charged to look at a situation and report . . . with some accuracy, not to look at racism as the flavor of the month."

"Objectivity is the key," she continues. "I know not every white person in Jena is a racist, but most of us think that now. The [media] objectivity isn't there. It's all about getting the story and not about getting the angle of the story to enhance the dialogue.

"Racism is a rough thing and it's real," she says. "I'm tired of people treating it as entertainment."
How White People Might See It

Racism. Isn't that the real rub here? Isn't all the shouting and hyperventilating and finger-pointing in the Great Race Debate about racism, its presence or its absence?

Let's put racism on the couch for a minute. Analyze it, get it to explain its tendency to persist despite attempts to kill it.

Often, whites don't see it -- or don't want to see it. Often, blacks know it is there -- or are primed to believe it is. That is the deep divide in how black and white Americans see racism, says John Dovidio, a Yale psychology professor.

That perception gap is complicated by the evolution of racism into a more "quiet" phenomenon, often viewed "as an exception, not typical," he says.

"From the perspective of the majority group, racism is not a big issue. We don't see it often. When we see it, we can explain it away," says Dovidio, author of "Prejudice, Discrimination and Racism."

"In surveys, 60 to 70 percent of white Americans say racism is a thing of the past," he says.

"From a white person's view, when certain incidents occur that are blatant, it is easy to recognize them, but the outrage is more localized. If you don't believe racism is widespread, you think once you take care of that little event, you can go back to business as usual. . . .

"Like Michael Richards: People were outraged. We have the debate. But because these are seen as rare and atypical events, they become like entertainment."

The problem in solving racism lies first in seeing it, says Dovidio, who is white. As with any process of healing, one must acknowledge the injury to get better.

The inability of many whites to acknowledge racism has a deep impact on the way race is discussed in society, because white people "control the discourse on what constitutes race in this country," says Paula Rothenberg, a senior fellow at City University in New York and author of "White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism."

"The reality is [in] every aspect of life -- economic, social, political -- white people benefit from the way the system is organized and black people experience deficiency," says Rothenberg, who is white. "The system is constructed so that it appears to be fair and just and neutral to all, when in fact white people inherit white supremacy and benefits. . . .

"White people are more likely to be hired. More likely to be paid higher salaries. Treated fairly. More likely to be assumed good people and kind people. . . . Every aspect of the system is rigged to benefit whites and to criticize or challenge people of color."
How Black People Might See It

For black Americans, the experience is the mirror opposite of whites. The eruptions do not appear to be merely isolated, but become more dots in the picture providing evidential clarity that racism is indeed real.

"Sixty to 70 percent of black Americans see racism as a continuing problem in America," Dovidio says. "Events will occur and minorities will see it not as an isolated event, but the tip of the iceberg of what they have been experiencing."

There is a genuine reaction not only to one offending event but a whole series of events in the past, says Dovidio.

"It confirms racism is out there and becomes a great way of pointing out racism is out there."

Because black people are aware that the broader society is often deaf to allegations of racism, "We get mad and feel like we have to express that we are mad," says Camille Z. Charles, associate director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Some black people then want to force society to hear their sense of grievance, thinking, "You have to acknowledge there was a wrong. I'm going to make you acknowledge that," says Charles, who is black.

But some argue that racism has been perpetuated, kept alive by people who benefit from the show. Benefit from stoking white guilt. Benefit from encouraging victimhood.

Robert L. Woodson, founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, calls such people "grievance merchants whose purpose in life is to racialize every situation conceivable without finding out what the facts are."

"Race is an intimidating issue," says Woodson, who is black. "If you want people to back off, all you have to do is inject race, and all the rules of dialogue, all the rules of comity are set aside. You are either for the people who are charging racism or you are for injustice."

Racism gets boiled down into inflammatory words, thrown like swords. Woodson argues that of course racism still exists, but people of color, particularly those with lower incomes, are hurt by perpetuated notions of their victimization.

Woodson, who worked in the civil rights movement, contrasts the marches of today with those of that era and its goal of fostering unity. "In today's world, the purpose is never to unite," he says. "The purpose is to make cheap headlines in the name of being champions of injustice. They are entertainers. I call them civil rights reenactors. Just like Civil War reenactors dress up and act like we are in still the Civil War."

Black people, as a group, are still beset by intractable problems, says Shelby Steele, who is black. He is author of "White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era."

Steele lists poverty, single-parent families, high school dropout rates. "But what do we do? Talk about Don Imus and Michael Richards and do nothing to explore the 70 percent illegitimacy rate." Yet, when it comes to race relations, he says, the country has made remarkable progress.

"White America has undergone a marvelous if unremarked moral evolution in the last 40 years and racism is no longer the barrier that it used to be," says Steele, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. "That doesn't mean it no longer exists, that it is no longer present. But it no longer stunts the life of black people.

"We have come to the point where we can entertain ourselves with it," he says, adding sarcastically, "Isn't that wonderful?"
And the Cycle Starts Again

And the Great Race Debate goes on. Nooses still appear, roiling the racial landscape. In the category of contrition, Duane "Dog" Chapman, TV's "Dog the Bounty Hunter," issued an apology late last month for using the N-word to describe his son's girlfriend. (His reality show was canceled.)

There's never a shortage of fodder for the race debate. And no shortage of people to comment, whether to enlighten or just to stir up the rancor.

Steele often is asked to participate in televised discussions. But sometimes the format is "racist," he says.

"I will not be in a situation where we have a white moderator and two blacks screaming at each other. That is profanity. It is gladiatorial, where blacks fight for the amusement of whites. And the white moderator never takes a stand, never tells you what he or she thinks. . . . Whites can say we are having a discussion on race. And whites will not tell you what they think. They come to blacks to get statements because only blacks have the moral authority to speak about race. That is how the formula gets established. I've always resented it."

Abigail Thernstrom, a white member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, says the race debate is one-sided because white people are afraid of revealing their thoughts in a climate of anger and accusation.

"People are afraid of saying the wrong thing, something that can be labeled as racially questionable," says Thernstrom. "It stifles the debate and lessens our public lives because there's much to be debated."

So the show goes on. The debate over racism becomes as predictable as reruns on basic cable. The audience watches the Great Race Debate for a while, then changes the channel -- until the next episode.
mercifulserpent: (Default)

The closest I ever came to saying what I wanted was in an American literature class last year. Gay rights came up again – I think I may have even steered the conversation in that direction. And a student finally said to me, “But what about teachers? We can't have homosexuals teaching students!” I resisted leaping up on the podium and flashing the big L emblazoned on a leotard beneath my blouse. Instead, I took a deep breath and began slowly. “Well, in my opinion, you don’t learn sexual preference in the classroom. I mean, that’s not what we are doing here. If you had a gay or lesbian teacher, he or she would not teach you about sexual preference.” I paused to catch my breath. They were all listening. “What he or she would say, if you had a gay teacher, is this…” (by now I was lightly beating on the podium) “…‘don’t let them make you afraid to be who you are. To know who you are.’ She would tell you, ‘Don’t let them get you. Don’t let them make you afraid.’” I stopped abruptly and in the silence turned to think of something to write on the board.

If they ever do have a lesbian teacher, that is exactly what she will say. (76, 77 –“Confessions of a Closet Baptist”)

mercifulserpent: (Default)
"They had scribes for each branch of knowledge.”
-- Ixtiuxochiti, a brother of the last native ruler of Texcoco

“The poets spoke or sang units of meaning – bundles of sound assembled into one long phrase in which the word elements were so fused as to be merely tribatory elements to a single, precise symbol or meaning.”
– Edward Kissam, Poems of the Aztec People

In Xóchitl in Cuicatl – Flower and Song

I am come
from the ocean
where water is dyed
with the morning.

(I am just
a singer.
My heart
is a flower!
I offer – my song.)

I am from the rainland,
come to please the deity!

(I am just
a singer.
My heart
is a flower!
I offer – my song.)


How do they fall? How do they fall?
These hearts, ripe fruit for harvest.

Look at them,
these fall, the hearts –
oh our arrows
these fall, the hearts –
oh our arrows

emeralds and
flowers fall
like rain –
your song!
as you are singing

in Mexico

the sun is shining!

The butterfly
the flower
my open heart,
a fragrant flower.
mercifulserpent: (Default)
>What's in a Name? Perhaps Plenty if You're a Job Seeker
>December 12, 2002
>WHAT'S in a name? Evidently plenty if you are looking for a
>To test whether employers discriminate against black job
>applicants, Marianne Bertrand of the University of Chicago
>and Sendhil Mullainathan of M.I.T. conducted an unusual
>experiment. They selected 1,300 help-wanted ads from
>newspapers in Boston and Chicago and submitted multiple
>r้sum้s from phantom job seekers. The researchers randomly
>assigned the first names on the r้sum้s, choosing from one
>set that is particularly common among blacks and from
>another that is common among whites.
>So Kristen and Tamika, and Brad and Tyrone, applied for
>jobs from the same pool of want ads and had equivalent
>r้sum้s. Nine names were selected to represent each
>category: black women, white women, black men and white
>men. Last names common to the racial group were also
>assigned. Four r้sum้s were typically submitted for each
>job opening, drawn from a reservoir of 160. Nearly 5,000
>applications were submitted from mid-2001 to mid-2002.
>Professors Bertrand and Mullainathan kept track of which
>candidates were invited for job interviews.
>No single employer was sent two identical r้sum้s, and the
>names on the r้sum้s were randomly assigned, so applicants
>with black- and white-sounding names applied for the same
>set of jobs with the same set of r้sum้s.
>Apart from their names, applicants had the same experience,
>education and skills, so employers had no reason to
>distinguish among them.
>The results are disturbing. Applicants with white-sounding
>names were 50 percent more likely to be called for
>interviews than were those with black-sounding names.
>Interviews were requested for 10.1 percent of applicants
>with white-sounding names and only 6.7 percent of those
>with black-sounding names.
>Within racial groups, applications with men's or women's
>names were equally likely to result in calls for
>interviews, providing little evidence of discrimination
>based on sex in these entry-level jobs.
>There were significant differences in interview-request
>rates among the nine names associated with black women, but
>not among the names within each of the other groups.
>At the low end, the interview-request rate was 2.2 percent
>for Aisha, 3.8 percent for Keisha and 5.4 percent for
>Tamika, compared with 9.1 percent for Kenya and Latonya and
>10.5 percent for Ebony.
>Only part of this variability reflects chance differences
>resulting from sampling, although the authors have not been
>able to find a good explanation for the wide range. Thus it
>is important that the names chosen for black women were not
>uncommon; they represent 7.1 percent of all names listed on
>Massachusetts birth certificates for black girls from 1974
>to 1979.
>The 50 percent advantage in interview requests for
>white-sounding names held in both Boston and Chicago, and
>for both men and women.
>This discrepancy complements findings from earlier studies
>in which researchers sent a small number of matched black
>and white "auditors" to apply for jobs in person.
>Typically, though not always, the black job seekers were
>less likely to be invited for an interview or offered a
>Those findings, however, were criticized because the
>applicants knew the intention of the study and might have
>behaved differently. In addition, the auditors might not
>have been well matched with the jobs in question; they
>could have been overqualified or underqualified.
>Professors Bertrand and Mullainathan's study is less
>susceptible to these concerns. First, they used a large
>number of names and inanimate r้sum้s. Second, the job
>openings involved administrative, sales, clerical and
>managerial positions, and they submitted r้sum้s patterned
>after real r้sum้s of people who were actually seeking
>similar jobs.
>Their most alarming finding is that the likelihood of being
>called for an interview rises sharply with an applicant's
>credentials - like experience and honors - for those with
>white-sounding names, but much less for those with
>black-sounding names. A grave concern is that this
>phenomenon may be damping the incentives for blacks to
>acquire job skills, producing a self-fulfilling prophecy
>that perpetuates prejudice and misallocates resources.
>Two main theories explain labor market discrimination. One,
>known as taste-based discrimination, posits that employers
>- or customers, co-workers or supervisors - have a
>preference against hiring minority applicants, even if they
>know they are equally productive.
>The other, known as statistical discrimination, assumes
>that employers personally harbor no racial animus but
>cannot perfectly predict workers' productivity. In this
>case, an employer assessing an applicant would assign some
>weight to the average performance of the person's racial
>group, instead of basing the judgment solely on the
>individual's merits.
>A difference between these models is that employers
>sacrifice profits to indulge in taste-based discrimination,
>while, in principle, statistical discrimination, if based
>on accurate information, can help the bottom line.
>Professors Bertrand and Mullainathan cannot distinguish
>between the models - and both may be applicable - but they
>suspect that their finding that employers in heavily black
>areas of Chicago are less likely to discriminate against
>black-sounding names augurs for taste-based discrimination.
>Nevertheless, either rationale for discrimination is
>illegal and prohibited.
>"That which we call a rose," Juliet said, "by any other
>name would smell as sweet." An organization like the Civil
>Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity
>Commission could perform a service if it routinely
>monitored discrimination by conducting audit studies
>similar to Professors Bertrand and Mullainathan's.
mercifulserpent: (Default)
Prose-Poem-Drama: "Proemdra" -- "Black Aesthetics" versus "White Aesthetics" in South Africa
Zander, Horst

As is well known, blacks in South Africa were not only at odds with political and economic colonialism right from the start, but also quarreled with white concepts of writing from the very. moment the colonialists imported them into the country. These Western views of literature differed considerably from those the blacks were familiar with in their oral tradition.

It has often been pointed out that in traditional African communities there are strong holistic tendencies. Various fields of social activities are not separated from each other, nor is there any apparent division of labor. A similar situation exists among the discourses in such communities. The political discourse, the historical discourse, the religious discourse, the literary discourse -- all these are intimately interwoven, or actually one. In addition, there also seem to be no clear-cut boundaries between different types or genres of texts, not even a real distinction between verse and prose (see, e.g., Finnegan 74-76, 361-68, 390-91, and Opland 33). This tendency towards an homogeneous, integrative discourse is particularly intensified by the orality of all communication in such societies, since a division of discourses is largely connected with literacy and print. It is true that studies on the African oral tradition regularly subdivide their corpus into various forms of literature, but then this kind of classification seems to represent primarily an effort of Western or Western-trained black scholars to organize their research material rather than a reflection of the actual features of traditional literature.(2) As it is, blacks in South Africa and in other parts of the continent regularly emphasize that in their tradition "art like life is whole" (Dathorne 5). This also means that literature is not regarded as performing a function differing from other discourses; instead, it serves definite social goals.

Up to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, European societies shared many features with traditional African communities. There, too, no clear distinction existed, for example, between religious and secular activities, between work and spare time, between a private and a public sphere. Similarly, no distinct borderlines were drawn between different types of discourse. And as far as a particular discourse was -- either at that time or subsequently -- identified as a specific literary discourse, it exercised apparently social and political functions.

All this changed, however, during the seventeenth and especially the eighteenth century, when many comparably autonomous spheres emerged, affecting the discourses as well. Now, for example, a news discourse was separated from a "novels discourse" (on this issue, cf. Lennard J. Davis) and from political, religious, and scientific forms of discourse, all of which achieved relative independence; from them the literary discourse was delimitated as well. Gradually, an increasing number of literary texts abstained from producing political or ecclesiastical propaganda, and they no longer served primarily to convey social information; instead, they aimed at entertainment and at providing literary experiences in their own right. This emergence of literature as an "autonomous" sphere was accompanied, moreover, by various efforts to differentiate within the field of literary texts, for instance between different genres -- especially in the wake of neoclassical orientations.

Subsequently, the "autonomous" literary sphere became the object of a similarly "autonomous" metadiscourse, initiated primarily by Kant, who uncoupled aesthetics from other fields of cognition. For Kant, there existed a hiatus between the discerning subject and the world, and he held that the beautiful in particular could not be seized by conceptual thought. Therefore, he regarded all judgments on aesthetic representations as judgments of taste, not, however, of cognition. Basically, he conceived of literary works as autonomous objects that are characterized by "purposiveness without purpose" and should be treated with "disinterested complacency."

Of course, Hegel subsequently attempted to conjoin all that Kant had shattered and to subject literature to conceptual thought, thus, in a way, reapproaching older Western as well as African conceptions. Following Hegel, in the twentieth century, we can find similar tendencies in Marxist literary theory. The mainstream of later Western literary theory and aesthetics adhered, however, to the conceptions of Kant, as is particularly evident in Formalism, New Criticism, and Structuralism. The literary artefact came to be regarded as a self-contained, self-sufficient world, as a text that is independent of its production and reception situation and that pursues exclusively literary aims (since all that is important happens within the text itself). It is especially this renunciation of all extratextual intentions that is, moreover, held to guarantee a text's transcendence of particular contexts and to turn the issues created by the text into "universal" issues. Literature that serves pragmatic goals (which nevertheless continued to be produced), didactic, political, religious, socially committed literature, is often dismissed in such an aesthetic view, based on a division of labor between the various discourses, as an inferior, bastardized form. This approach to literature was to culminate in modernist conceptions. It goes without saying that such theories claim universal validity.

In the nineteenth century, when blacks in South Africa were gradually starting to become literate, the clash of African and Western conceptions evidently contributed among blacks to an almost total refusal to write fictional texts, which -- according to Western views -- lacked any immediate social or political significance. Instead, black South African authors concentrated on imitating various forms of white journalistic writing: travelogues, biographies, and autobiographies that served obvious social functions. In fact, this kind of nonfictional writing was, more often than not, profoundly political, discussing the role of the blacks in a society dominated by whites.

In the early twentieth century, the strong tendency of black writers towards a politicized journalism continued. During the first three decades, a vast number of journalistic texts (both in English and in African languages) were published in newspapers and magazines, and various books appeared, all of them, however, factual ones. Apart from a few exceptions,(3) fictional and literary texts did not emerge until the end of the 1920s, when R. R. R. Dhlomo published An African Tragedy (1928), Sol. T. Plaatje at last managed to find a publisher for his novel Mhudi (1930), and Dhlomo started to write numerous stories for magazines and newspapers.

Though copying Western models, this black fiction was -- and for some two decades remained -- to a fair extent influenced by the oral tradition; and it regularly aimed at performing pragmatic functions. Thus Dhlomo's An African Tragedy occasionally turns into a fervent pamphlet, with no less overtly religious aims than in the case of a sermon; and Mhudi is not just intended as a fictional historical novel, but as an endeavor to re-read and re-write history from a black point of view.

With the beginning of the 1950s, black authors -- following the earlier example of Peter Abrahams -- began more intensively to copy Western, especially black American models of writing, refuting altogether literary conventions of the indigenous tradition. In fact, the authors of the so-called Drum generation perfected the imitation of white writing and largely complied with Western conceptions of literature. In one important aspect, however, these writers also deviated from orthodox Western aesthetics, namely in often producing works, predominantly short stories, of protest (though they appeared mainly in other outlets than Drum). It was primarily as a result of the introduction and implementation of the various apartheid laws during the 1950s that black authors used fictional texts as instruments to achieve political goals, to condemn the apartheid system, thus violating the Western ideal of the "purposelessness" of literature of quality. Because of their Western orientation, many authors were quite apologetic about their texts, but claimed that the political situation in South Africa left them no other option.

The 1960s witnessed a massive clampdown by the government on this type of protest writing (and black writing in general), resulting in the authors being silenced and driven into exile. And when, after this period of deprivation, black literature was revived in the following decade, it again looked quite different. Based now on the concepts of Black Consciousness, white literary orientations were no less denounced than the political values of whites: in fact, this new generation of blacks conceived of the Western literary conceptions as an integral part of Western imperialism. In a reaction that paralleled discussions by other Africans and black Americans about creating a black aesthetic as opposed to a white aesthetic (e.g., Gayle; Gurr and Zirimu; Chinweizu et al.; Johnson et al.), black South African authors now again returned to traditional African models of literature. And one of the most important aspects of their black aesthetic was to reject the Western idea of a division of labor between thevarious discourses. Thus Mothobi Mutloatse declared:

In a race-obsessed country like South Africa the part the black writer has to play is rather demanding -- but nevertheless worth it. It seems to me that he is expected to be a jack of all trades -- and a master of all! He has to be tradesman, docker, psychologist, nurse, miner, matshigilane, tshotsa, teacher, athlete, toddler, mother, musician, father, visionary, imbongi and -- above all -- oral historian. (1)(4)

This also meant renouncing the Western credo according to which "good" literature has to abstain from all political goals and is to pursue only literary aims of its own. In the black tradition, it was contended, literature always had distinct social functions. Zakes Mda points out:

I have dismally failed to respond to the strange aesthetic concepts so cherished in the western world that profess that artistic creation is an end in itself, independent of politics and social requirements. I draw from the traditional African aesthetics where art could not be separated from life. In our various African societies the artist was a social commentator. (296; see also Gwala)

Consequently, it was claimed that the current black literature, especially under the conditions of apartheid, had also primarily to serve political goals, namely the resistance against white oppression. Therefore, black South Africans not only saw no more reason to have a bad conscience when writing political fiction; black writers and critics now declared that "good" black literature necessarily had to be politically committed. As Mbulelo Mzamane puts it:

Since the most important lessons for South Africans are in the political sphere, a writer in that land is
unimportant, irrelevant and probably alienated unless he is political. Art and politics in South Africa, as
in many parts of Africa, have become inseparable for the simple reason that politics pervades all
aspects of a blackman's existence. (150)

In part as a reaction against the massive censorship in South Africa, this new black literature of the
1970s was mainly poetry (which could be transmitted orally, avoiding government control); but such
oral poetry also conformed well to the objectives of Black Consciousness. In contrast to the solitary
act of reading, orally performed poetry afforded a common social experience. Accordingly, the former
protest literature was now replaced by a resistance literature that appealed to black solidarity in the
struggle against white hegemony.

In written and printed literature, black authors displayed a similar recurrence to traditional African
concepts, even writers who had only little sympathy with Black Consciousness ideals.(5) A
particularly clear expression of the attack on Western literary conceptions appears in those texts that
were labeled "proemdras" and that, in the final decade of the apartheid regime, assumed in several
ways a programmatic status in the blacks' opposition to white aesthetics and values.

The development of the concept of the "proemdra" was also motivated by the spirit of Black
Consciousness; and it was Mothobi Mutloatse who coined the term and wrote a kind of manifesto,
namely in the introduction of the anthology Forced Landing (1980), from which some lines were
already quoted above:

We are involved in and consumed by an exciting experimental art form that I can only call, to coin a
phrase, `proemdra': Prose, Poem and Drama in one!

We will have to donder conventional literature: old-fashioned critic and reader alike. We are going to
pee, spit and shit on literary convention before we are through; we are going to kick and pull and push
and drag literature into the form we prefer. We are going to experiment and probe and not give a damn
what the critics have to say. Because we are in search of our true selves -- undergoing self-discovery
as a people.

We are not going to be told how to re-live our feelings, pains and aspirations by anybody who speaks
from the platform of his own rickety culture. We'll write our poems in a narrative form; we'll write
journalistic pieces in poetry form; we'll dramatise our poetic experiences; we'll poeticise our historical
dramas. We will do all these things at the same time. (5)

As the neologistic term "proemdra" indicates, the main target of this new kind of writing is the
Western compartmentalization of literature into different genres, hence the primary aim is the fusion of
modes. But as the phrase "we'll write journalistic pieces in poetry form" demonstrates, the boundary
between fictional and nonfictional discourse is under attack as well. Moreover, the condemnation of
critics and the reference to the self-discovery of blacks as a people disclose that the literary attack is
simultaneously a political attack: the emancipation from Western literary conceptions is part of the
liberation from white domination in general.

This exuberant introduction of the "proemdras" as a new and exclusively South African genre (or rather
nongenre) did not, however, evoke, as far as can be ascertained by evidence from printed texts, too
large an echo. Strangely enough, the anthology Forced Landing does not contain a single "proemdra."
That this text type did nevertheless enjoy some popularity is illustrated by the fact that occasionally
older texts, written long before the term "proemdra" was coined, were later relabeled "proemdras." This
is the case, for example, with a piece by Can Themba entitled "Music, Food of Love! Tale of a Girl
Whom Music Saved from the Blues," which Essop Patel classifies as a "proemdra" in the collection
The World of Can Themba (1985). The text offers a short love story, presented in what appear to be 14
little prose stanzas. Originally, however, these "stanzas" were subtexts to photographs; and what is
declared here to be a "proemdra" is but the verbal extract of a picture story published in Drum in
August 1957.

The label "proemdra" seems somewhat confusing, also with regard to Mothobi Mutloatse's "A Walk
Down Memory Lane," which is included in the anthology Reconstruction (1981) in a separate
"Proemdra" section. This piece deals with the first anniversary of 16 June 1976 (when the Soweto
uprise started) and recalls some of the main events, discussing the consequences and lessons for the
future they provide for both blacks and whites. The text gives the overall impression of an essay, but
employs a highly condensed language and displays numerous rhetorical devices, for instance when
Mutloatse writes:

Warped minds became alive; babies stopped crawling and started strutting; boozers jumped out of the
barrel; liars stopped cheating; conmen walked the straight way of the Lord; and the men of God
walked the way of the people; and the people walked the way of Unity. And they walked tall!

We were the enemies of fear. Fear was so afraid of us that it hid itself inside bullets and burst during a
fit of frustration and paranoia coupled with claustrophobia.

We smoked teargas and swallowed bullets, and vet we died so that we should live in peace and
harmony. We were reborn -- without the help of the Bible. We were new people. WE ARE


Yes, we all remember well how we burnt our useless voices singing songs from the bottoms of our
hearts; songs of hope; songs of thirst; songs of hunger; songs of metamorphosis; and songs of an
awakened people; songs of old of Zenzi; songs of we-shall-be-free-and-God-knows-it-too.

O, yes, we know what panic did to THEM.

And on the fourth day of the eighth month, we still managed to scrape up that hill to seek the release
of our brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends, sons and daughters who
had been whisked off to our reluctant resort -- jail. (306-07)

In these passages, Mutloatse's effort to transform his prose language into poetic diction are more than
evident, and though the importance of the Bible for blacks is dismissed, the text itself displays obvious
traits of a Biblical style. The last three lines of the piece then actually take the form of lines of
poetry.(6) Moreover, the motifs of life, death, and rebirth touched upon in the paragraphs quoted
meander through the whole text, and at the end the corpse becomes the central image for the whites
in the country.

Although "A Walk Down Memory Lane" may thus be an example of a journalistic article written in
poetry form, according to Mutloatse's programmatic declarations, there is no element of drama in this
text. Neither does this piece break new ground with regard to the distinction between fictional and
factual discourse. It is rather similar to many pieces of black South African journalism that use various
rhetorical and literary devices in order to enhance their political impact and of which some instances
are also included in the section "Journalism" of the anthology Reconstruction (R. V. Selope-Thema,
"How Congress Began"; Nokugcina Mhlope, "My Dear Madam"). The main difference between "A
Walk Down Memory Lane" and those articles therefore seems to lie simply in the label of this text --
and, in fact, in the influential magazine Staffrider, in which many of the pieces of the anthology first
appeared, and especially in the collection Reconstruction in the Staffrider Series, an arbitrary play with
labels seems to be part of a strategy to subvert different classifications of texts. Thus, the anthology
contains inter alia a section "Prose," implying fiction as opposed to the section "Journalism"; but two
of the allegedly fictional pieces (Mankati Kwadi's "Fate" and Narain Aiyer's "The Cane Is Singing") are
apparently journalistic texts. "Cane" was originally published as a "story" in Staffrider (3.4 [1980-81]),
as was Nokugcina Mhlope's piece "My Dear Madam" (3.4 [1980-81]; under the name Nogukcina
Sigwili) which in Reconstruction is relabeled "Journalism." Thus, the game with labels started by the
magazine, which aimed at showing the close affiliation of "documentary" and "imaginative" genres
(see Vaughan, "Staffrider" 200) is continued and intensified by Mutloatse in the collection
Reconstruction. He, too, places "Cane" in an apparently wrong section, whereas in the case of
Mhlope's text he seems to rectify the labeling. But in so doing, he again contributes to the game in
that this text now bears two different and contradicting labels. As it is, the Western differentiation
between journalism and (fictional) prose seems to be introduced in Reconstruction only in order to blur
such compartmentalizations. And in the case of "A Walk Down Memory Lane," the boundary
transgression of the alleged "proemdra" also lies primarily in its confounding label.

The situation is somewhat, though not altogether different in Maropodi Mapalakanye's "Somebody Is
Dangling (Edited Version of a Dramatic Presentation)" in the same collection. Although this text
contains no genuine prose, the verses are quite prosaic indeed. Furthermore, the beginning of the
"proemdra" displays an obvious narrative element, which is perhaps reminiscent of prose rather than of

Down Plein Street

At the park,

I met a privileged underdog.

Of his paint I couldn't draw

Whether pink or colourless.

This worn-out skeleton was pretty dirty.

I greeted,

He didn't reply;

I smiled

He begged;

I sympathised,

He knelt;

I offered 50 cents,

He played a raw comedy.

Then a black hobo landed with rage and motive

From somewhere, I don't know where

And --

`Don't give to that Nationalist!

He votes for our miseries,

He's a Broederbonder,

Take it back!

Don't let him have it.'

`Voertsek kaffir.'


I protested.

I lunged at him

Caught his paw

Enriched by my coin,

And --

`Asseblief, Asseblief,'

He begged me.

I meant business.

The black one Shared the Struggle.

We retrieved the coin,

And I gave it to the

Brother. (310-11)

Later, however, the text turns rather mediative or descriptive:

Let me say it:

Life here is rich with

Art and matter, mad with emotions

Whose human frictions and tensions

Contribute to earthquakes and revolutions.

Peasants here

Are terrorists to voters,

Voters terrorists to peasants,

Freedom fighters to soldiers terrorists,

Soldiers terrorists to freedom fighters.

Are our forces in combat with tornadoes

From outside

Intending to grab `our' Gold?

Or is it that our defender

Is a vulture to most species of this land?

Don't tell me

If you know.

If you don't,


Yourself with any class you belong to.

But make it yours.

I'm tired of human classification.

You know, I've learned enough from the dumps of bantu education. (312)

The poetic element represented by the verse form is further substantiated by occasional song-like
stanzas (313), and it is intensified in that the central image reoccurs refrain-like throughout the text,
namely that "somebody is dangling / From the branch of a rootless tree" (314), an image, naturally, for
the white people in the country. The dramatic element, finally, also emerges from the beginning of the
piece, which is perhaps as much drama as narrative; in addition, the text as a whole is described in
the subtitle as an "[e]dited version of a dramatic presentation" (310).

In fusing fictional and factual discourse, however, the text proves as little illuminating as "A Walk
Down Memory Lane." On the other hand, the piece displays, to a larger degree than Mutloatse's
"proemdra," features of mixing conventions of poetic texts with those of expository pieces. The second
quotation may serve as an example. As the antithetic and chiastic juxtaposition of the respective
"terrorists" demonstrates, the text's attack on such classifications is not only stated, but created in
exposing the interchangeability, of the classifying labels. Nevertheless, there is also the overt verdict
on such classifications in the lines further down. In a similar way, the whole "proemdra" -- which is
primarily concerned with such a "human classification," while striving to reveal it as an actually
"inhuman classification" (318) and dealing with the rift and hatred between blacks and whites as well
as with the pending danger emerging from this confrontation -- seems also constantly compelled to
spell out expressis verbis what it constitutes. It repeatedly creates the issues in a -- modernist --
poetic manner, and yet Mapalakanye seems afraid that they are too highly encoded and hence may
be obscured; he therefore simultaneously explains them as in an expository text. In this aspect,
"Somebody Is Dangling" is similar to much of the black poetry of the 1970s and 1980s, which
endeavors to be populist. Though opting for a poetic form, the authors nevertheless want their texts to
display some of the clarity and immediateness of a political pamphlet. Consequently, "Somebody Is
Dangling" also exercises the functions of such a pamphlet: like numerous other texts, it is designed
as a warning against whites and as an appeal to the solidarity and the liberation efforts of blacks (as is
evidenced by the capitalizatio
mercifulserpent: (Default)
Bay State Banner 2/18/1971 V.VI; N.23 p. 14
Word Count: 996

Visual arts and black aesthetics
Gaither, Edmund B. "Barry"

Aesthetics generally refers to the philosophy of beauty. It is an abstract notion used to define and
state intellectually those pleasurable experiences occasioned by artistic encounters.

In every case, aesthetics has, at its core represented the artistic judgment of creative arts within a
fixed cultural context. Though some notions of universal beauty and the like have been postulated, all
such views are in fact culture-bound, and therefore partisan. Aestheticians who have come from the
ranks of the educated elite have been charged with the job of defining, conserving, and promoting the
central artistic values of the "in" culture.

There is, however, another sense in which aesthetics may be used, a more popular sense. Aesthetics,
as a functional concept describes the coherency demonstrated in the struggle of people in a culture to
reveal their finest visions of the Good, the Beautiful. In this case, the term assumes a broader meaning
and corresponds essentially with commonly held cultural aspirations.

The specific creation of the artist is then, not only a particular exercise with an aesthetic value: it is
also an element of the struggle for a fuller realization of cultural potential. This one may see in the total
creation of the culture patterns of approved and cherished expression as well as of deviation.

Recently, young black visual artists and art historians have wrestled with discarding the semantic
burden of the terminology used in historical art discussion. At the same time, they have striven to give
meaning to terms such as black art, and black aesthetics, through equivalent terms. Always the
necessity to make distinctions, to judge quality and locate the contemporary in the traditional, recurs
and impresses itself anew. Consequently, the black discussant of the visual art has not escaped the
direct need to clarify and come to grips with the notion of aesthetics, of black aesthetics. And for
what it's worth, I offer my thoughts on the subject.

Cultures, though never fully synchronized, strive toward coherency. This struggle is perhaps no where
more apparent than in the arts. If a broad enough view of the total life of a culture can be gained, one
can then suggest central tenets of its ideals of the Justice, the Good, the Beautiful. These ideals are
internally generated and manifest themselves in all areas of the culture. Thus no question can be
raised as to whether different cultures have different aesthetics, nor of whether each culture's
aesthetics are self-validating.

It is evident that each culture has an essential and peculiar aesthetic system which is self-validating,
although such an umbrella aesthetic is also likely to contain competing systems giving rise to artistic
tensions. Occidental art is not Oriental art; each abides in its own system, each is valid, each is
diverse and in some sense contradictory, better or worse than the other.

How one may then ask, does all of this affect the black visual artist in the States? The answer is very
complex, drawing its greatest difficulty from the complicated relationship between black people and
their white matrix.

There were, and indeed there remain, intact aesthetic systems in Africa. Also there were, and remain,
largely intact, African aesthetic systems in parts of the Americas. There systems, manifested in visual
arts, dance, drama, music, speech, etc., vary in specific realization. However they seem broadly to
reflect an internally coherent life style emphasizing the rhythmic over the geometric, the spiritual over
the scientific, the human over the machine, the symbolic over the factual. And though increasingly
African tastes and African aesthetics are obscured by the input of colonial cultures, in many places
the African has been able to digest these new elements on his own terms.

In the United States, Africans were made into "negroes" and on the return to being African, have
become "black people." In being made into a "negro" in America, black people suffered major cultural
surgery at the hands of unsympathetic doctors. Presently, black people find themselves painfully
aware of a forced marriage in which they have been brutalized, while the colonialist and neo-colonialist,
through ruthlessness, have prevailed.

Black culture, which has never disappeared and which is incapable of death, has nevertheless been
forced to assume abhorrent forms, to lend itself to prostitution, and finally to be used to the advantage
of the oppressor against the oppressed. Black culture is not full intact, but it is vital. Black culture,
twisted and distorted by white usurpers, finds itself at once defensive and boldly declarative, at once
catholic and patriarchal. And the black visual artist, in honesty to himself, has to search for threads of
his own overly-complicated and oppressed existence.

The black visual artist cannot create a black aesthetic. Aesthetics, functional aesthetics, exist by
virtue of intact culture and its ideals. The degree to which black culture has remained intact in the
States is the degree to which there is black aesthetics. The degree to which black culture has
suffered perversion and distortion in the context of white culture is the degree to which black culture
has been compromised.

The degree to which the contemporary black artist is able to draw upon and make sense of the black
experience on its own terms is the degree to which black aesthetic finds concrete manifestation.

Would that one could declare that all is well with black aesthetics, but one cannot. The stay here has
been too tragic! in this nation time, the need is to reclaim the healthy facets of black culture, to add
the best of the present, and to lay the groundwork for a real flourishing of genuine black aesthetics, a
black aesthetic that is rich, honest, and capable of innovation within tradition.

Article copyright The Bay State Banner.
mercifulserpent: (Default)
Half-Japanese Mandy Willingham, 25, has been mistaken for a multitude of ethnicities, including Tahitian, Inuit, American Indian, East Indian, Spanish, Italian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian and Filipina. She's had waiters address her in Spanish in Mexican restaurants and on one occasion, a pharmacist even tried to argue with her in Arabic. Her boyfriend attributes all of this to what he calls her "ethnic currency." Willingham explains: "He says my appearance allows me to be accepted almost anywhere in the world. While I'm not sure if this is completely true, I've grown to appreciate the value of having a multi-ethnic look."


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