Authentically Black: Brother or Cornball Brother?

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Marti...

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In the United States, race has been forged into a matter of great concern—at least for some people. One of the not uncommonly expressed concerns is whether or not someone is black. In the past, this was often a concern that a black person might be attempting to pass as white. As might be imagined, this was mostly a matter of concern to certain white people. In more recent years a twist has been added to the matter of discerning a person’s blackness. To be specific, one matter that concerns some people is whether or not a person is authentically black as opposed, presumably, to being inauthentically black. In such cases, the racial classification of the person is generally not in dispute. That is, s/he is identified as being black. The concern is, rather, over whether or not the person is properly black. As such, this adds another normative level to the judgment being made.

One recent incident that raised this matter occurred on the ESPN program “First Take.” While this is a sports program, the conversation turned to race when Rob Parker asked if Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is “a brother or is he a cornball brother?” This, on the face of it, seems to be in inquiry into whether or not Griffin is “properly black” or not. When asked what he meant, Parker replied “well, he’s black, he kind of does his thing. But he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us. He’s kind of black. But he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with because he’s off to do something else.”

While Parker does not clearly lay out detailed standards for being authentically black, he did expand on his remarks in a way that suggested what he meant by “being down with the cause.” Parker noted that Griffin has a white fiancée and that there are rumors that he is a Republican.

Parker’s concern over Griffin having a white fiancée is not uncommon. While whites have often been dismayed by attempts to “mix the races” (and it was not until 1967 that the Supreme Court ruled against laws restricting marriage based on race), blacks sometimes criticize other blacks for having relationships with non-blacks. Interestingly and disturbingly, the reasons advanced against “race mixing” often mirror those advanced by racist whites (such as preserving the race). As such, this sort of criticism of Griffin seems to be racist. Naturally, there have been attempts to defend opposition to “race mixing” as being non-racist, but that seems to be a rather challenging (but perhaps not impossible) goal.

Of course, even if being suspicious of “race mixing” is at least a bit racist, it could still be argued that being authentically black requires that a person only have relationships with other black people. That is, that being involved with a non-black would somehow make a person less properly black. Presumably this could apply to other races, so that a white person who dates outside of her race is not properly white and so on for the other races. That is, to be a proper member of the race, one must only be involved with one’s own race. This, of course, requires working out an account of race so that people can date properly if they wish to be authentic. After all, if having a relationship with a person of another race causes one to be inauthentic, then presumably it would follow that dating someone of mixed race could lead to a partial inauthenticity. There is also the obvious problem that “race mixing” has already occurred on a rather large scale and hence those concerned with racial authenticity will need to sort out the matter of mixed-race people, such as President Obama and myself (I’m a colonial blend of English, French, Mohawk and “other”).

Parker’s second main point seems to be in regards to the rumor that Griffin is a Republican. While the Republicans were once popular with African-Americans, that certainly changed (and did so well before Obama ran for president in 2008). The modern Republican Party is often regarded as being tainted with racism and, at the very least, is regarded primarily as a white male party. Not surprisingly, known black Republicans, such as Colin Powell and Herman Cain, are sometimes accused of selling out or even of being “Uncle Toms.” The underlying assumption seems to be that the Republican Party is simply not the place for an authentic black American, presumably because of the values endorsed (or attributed to) the Republican Party.

This does, of course, raise the obvious question as to whether or not being properly black entails that one is obligated to hold to a specific set of political views (namely those not held by the Republican Party). This would seem to suggest that part of the definition of being authentically black involves not merely appearance (having black skin) but also ideology. This would indicate that authentic blackness is not merely a matter of race but also of mind. On the face of it, it does seem odd that being an authentic black would be incompatible with being Republican. After all, while the Republican Party is often presented as the white party, a white person who is a Democrat (or independent) is not regarded as being an inauthentic white. But perhaps things are different for whites.

As a final point, Parker does seem to regard physical appearance as an important part of being an authentic black. When speaking of Griffin’s braids he said, “To me, that’s very urban…. You’re a brother if you have braids on.”

While Parker might be presenting a sufficient condition for being “a brother” (presumably being authentically black), it seems reasonable to assume that it is not a necessary condition. It is not, however, clear to what degree the braids offset the other suspicious qualities of Griffin or others. However, combining this remark with the other claims made by Parker, it would seem that racial authenticity involves behavior (specifically relationships), ideology (specifically politics) and appearance (specifically hairstyle). This would seem to provide the basis for a theorist to work out an account of authenticity.

Given what Parker has said, one might wonder what Griffin thinks about the matter of color. Interestingly, Griffin echoes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said, “For me, you don’t ever want to be defined by the color of your skin. You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That’s what I’ve tried to go out and do.” Griffin, then, seems more concerned with being authentically himself than with meeting a Parker style standard of being authentically black. Not surprisingly, I agree with Griffin in this matter.

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  1. After our conversation yesterday (Will) about how the self is often a committee or even a dysfunctional family of contradictory “miniselves”, does it make any sense to demand that anyone be authentically “anything”, except authentically contradictory?

  2. Mike,

    This seems on the surface to be a reasonable post about social interaction in a society that is trying to overcome race issues, given a really bad history and some persistent racism.

    I know it’s hard to disentangle race and culture. There are some merely cultural issues here. For example, I love blues music, and a lot of R&B, and we can’t escape its routes in ‘black’ American culture – and as I’ve just done, and I take it Rob Parker intended, you can’t really avoid the term ‘black’ or any of its politically correct alternatives in a conversation like this because of this entanglement.

    Rob Parker may have been intending to talk totally about the cultural issue, but found himself digging a race issue hole for himself as he tried to explain his point. In his case I’d use Julee Wilson’s take and dismiss it as unhelpful (video on the first link you gave to Huff Post Sports).

    But, my problem with this post Mike is that it gives undue credibility to the whole concept of race that biological and hopefully sociological sciences would disown. I acknowledge the genuine biological diversity of humans that does result in different appearances of people, but those differences are entirely divisive when viewed this way.

    While I appreciate that you’re questioning the race issue involved I think some of your points, such as “it could still be argued that being authentically black requires that a person only have relationships with other black people”, don’t particularly contribute to a philosophical, much less a scientific view of race, or to a way of avoiding racist stereotyping.

    By the time you get into Parker’s point about Republican labelling you seem to be analysing in detail an off the cuff hole digging explanation by Parker that doesn’t’ warrant any philosophical analysis at all. A psychologist or linguist might have some interest in it, and possibly a sociologist and anthropologist as they study stereotyping language generally. But they wouldn’t be giving the credibility to unfounded race concepts that your post appears to, as I read it.

    I may have missed your point, but that could be because it’s buried in the stereotyping I see in the piece.

  3. Racism has been reintroduced, and will quickly find a home.

    The financial issues in this country caused me to realize that conservatism had gone too far right, so I left that party after 30 years.

    However, the liberals told me that I was a bigot, racism, and a woman hater. They will never get my vote.

    The fact that these comments were made seem to be indicative of an increasing racism in the general population. Blame the dirty politics of the last 6 months.

    The freedom to make such statements, do not absolve the commentator from the responsibility of what he chose to say. This indicates deeper issues and problems.

    The Greek philosophers pointed out the need of religion to help form behavior. They were correct, as the lack of faith causes more severe issues in society.

    I am not convinced that legislating morality works.

    The way to correct these social problems? The personal practice of what are called the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope, and Love.

    But maybe we should form a commission and study the issues for years.

  4. When we think about this issue, I think it’s important to remember that race isn’t just about physical appearance, it’s about community identity and a shared past. This is one reason, I think, why people doubt the president’s creds as truly black: his father is African, not African-American, so he doesn’t really inherit that history of slavery and Jim Crow.

    With that in mind, I think a lot of the things that confused you make a little more sense. Being black doesn’t mean you have inherited a certain set of beliefs. But it does mean you have inherited a past marked by oppression, where a focus on state/local rights was (and is) used as a shield to justify continued discrimination. What’s more the current libertarian strain in the GOP seems to assume all humans are atomistic rather than part of a culture they didn’t choose, and that they have an equal starting point. (The progressive wing of libertarianism doesn’t seem to emphasize this so much, for some reason.) African-Americans know that just because you can’t find a job it doesn’t mean you’ve actually done anything wrong.

    So I can see how an African-American would think voting GOP was a bit of a betrayal. From a certain perspective, it seems like the only way you could do that rationally is to separate yourself off from that history and even its modern reality. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I think it seems more reasonable than you paint here. It’s about community and history more than straight-out ideology.

  5. Ron,

    I’m not a fan of the notion of race, at least in terms of how it is used to divide up the human race. I’m fine with it in the context of fantasy and sci-fi settings. After all, elves are a different race than humans as are Klingons. But humans are humans.

    When I wrote “it could still be argued that being authentically black requires that a person only have relationships with other black people”, I was trying to be somewhat sarcastic-but apparently failed in my effort.

    I did apparently bury my points in the piece. My main objective was to try to hash through the sort of view presented by Parker. While his presentation was very limited, he does present a not uncommon view, namely that there is racial authenticity. I was endeavoring to see what might be meant by that. It seems to involve appearance, ideology (or culture), and behavior. I do not believe that race is a viable or grounded concept, but I was endeavoring to discuss the matter in the context of those who apparently take it to be such. I should have been clearer-a lesson to avoid writing during finals week. 🙂

  6. Tomrford,

    Committees and commissions tend to be less than effective, but perhaps this will be an exception.

    Griffin’s view seems to be the right approach-if people were focused on the personal qualities of individuals rather than being concerned about how well they fit some alleged racial class, then that would certainly be an important step towards a better society.

  7. Marta L.

    Excellent points.

    I don’t think I am confused about the matter, unless confusion is a matter of trying to sort out what might be going on in regards to what some people mean by racial authenticity. But perhaps I am confused about my confusion. 🙂

    The idea of an inherited past is interesting. However, I can see the confusion have over the term “black.” After all, intuitively it would seem to refer to color, so that Obama is black. But, as you noted, his father was from Africa and that side of his family did not experience the oppression in America. So, he would not be “black” in that sense.

    Interestingly, Griffin seems to be taking an individualist view in that people should be assessed not by their skin color but by their individual personality, character and so on. Then again, he might be saying this is how things should be and he could still accept the view that people do get placed in a cultural perception by others that has a causal impact (like not getting a job or being steered unjustly into a higher interest rate on a mortgage).

    You are right to make your point regarding the GOP. As you note, joining up with the GOP could be seen as joining up with a party that has often been against minorities and women based on their being minorities or women. At least the social conservatives.

    Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

  8. Awareness is the first step, but then a reaction is needed.

    Part of what I find offensive is related to my past, having grown up where we had water fountains and bathrooms for whites only.

    I think it almost impossible to be proactive without teaching principles to children.

    My comment about committees were laden with tongue-in-cheek sarcasm relating to the way government addressed the situation.

  9. “Confused” was a poor word choice on my part. I’m still a bit frazzled after yesterday, so my language choice isn’t where it should be. Sorry about that. When I said confused, what I really meant was that there are things you couldn’t explain if being black referred to a phenotype but that those things made more sense on a blackness-as-community-membership approach.

    Personally, I find Aristotelian/communitarian ethics quite plausible. I don’t agree with them on every point, but I do tend to think that approach makes sense in general. So I’m more open to the idea that we are born into communities that are morally relevant. Maybe that makes me more ready to think about inherited community identities. It doesn’t mean I’m right, of course, but it would explain why I’m happy going that route.

    Interestingly, we had an incident at my school last year (Fordham U.) with some racist graffiti. One of the victims is Afro-Caribbean and only came to the US for school. She made a point in interviews after the incident that she was black but not Afro-American. As someone who grew up in the Carolinas in the 1980s + 1990s, the term “black” seems mildly racist whereas Afro-American or African-American is more descriptive. But of course she had a valid point! It was a rather weird headspace to be in.

  10. There should really be no race other than the human one. And that comes in various colors, beliefs, and values. I am proud that my kids had to ask me what race was when they heard it on TV and at school, learning about racial discrimination. I had to explain that it is a false distinction which divides humans and is used for purposes of hate and ostracism. There are different cultures and these are appropriate to learn about, without a value judgement that one is superior to the other. The idea of a cornball brother is inherently racist, and to be condemned.

    I assume that “down with the cause” should really mean what MLK stood for. Thats when the term race is irrelevant except in historical context. When the US census no longer asks what race you are because it doesn’t mean anything anyway. But it sounds like it really means racial separation and maintaining purity of cultural and political values.

  11. Marta L.

    Finals? They do damage the soul, thus proving its existence. 🙂

  12. I meant the shooting in Connecticut, actually. But it had the same effect, and so would be just as a good a proof, I guess!

  13. Mike,

    Thanks for that clarification. Marta’s comments seemed to be the right sort of analysis, for me.

    But the language is tricky. Even Marta’s ‘inherited a certain set of beliefs’, which in that context obviously doesn’t mean biologically inherited but simply acquired from the culture you’re embedded in, and in this case the perception of race that it entails. But still, ‘inherited’, which has a genuinely biological meaning, and ‘race’ which hasn’t.

  14. I don’t understand why Griffin has to be loyal to the interests of his “race”.

    Let’s accept that Republican policies do not favor the interests of the average African American.

    Now, maybe Griffin votes, not as an
    average African American, but as a wealthy person and is in favor of Republican tax policies which favor the wealthy.

    Why would that be bad, unless you make the argument that tax policies should favor redistribution of wealth in general?

    By the way, although I do not live in the U.S., I do not favor the Repubicans, but am in general to the left of the Democrats and I myself generally vote for candidates who tax the rich.

    However, I do not see why Griffins must necessarily favor policies which lead him to pay higher taxes (being rich), just because he is an African-American.

    I’m Jewish myself and do not support Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. Some people might call me an “inauthentic” or “self-hating” Jew.

    Do I have to favor policies which are “good for the Jews”? Does Griffin have to favor policies which are “good for African-Americans”?

    I am puzzled.

  15. Marta L.

    It does make some sense that we are born into morally relevant communities and that these can create moral obligations. In the Crito, Socrates’ case for obeying the state can also be seen as a case for a moral obligation to one’s community. One difference, of course, is that people can leave political communities but leaving one’s ethnic background would generally be harder. Although there is the matter of people endeavoring to “pass” as being of another background.

    When I was in grad school, a friend of mine was born in Kenya to American parents. He had dual citizenship, making him African-American, though he was white. He went and applied for an African-American scholarship, bringing along his passports to prove he was African-American. The end result was an awkward moment when the administrator had to say something like “….we mean ‘black’…so you don’t qualify.”

  16. David Olifant,

    You seem to have it right. After all, Griffin’s stated position is that it is not skin color but the content of character that matters. As such, he seems down with MLK’s cause. In marked contrast, Parker seemed to be flailing about in what might some regard as waters tainted with racism.

    Of course, Parker might be struggling with the matter of identity-what it is to be black in America and what it is to be authentic. Of course, he might be engaged in an impossible task-after all, if racial categories are constructs of oppression, then they would seem to lack authenticity. Authenticity would thus be found elsewhere, perhaps in a person’s values and character.

  17. Marta L.

    Yes, the shooting was horrific. My friends who are parents of young children were generally very badly shaken by the murders. I have also seen a lot of rage against gun owners and the NRA. There might be a push for new gun laws and this would result in an angry push back, especially since there are people who are actually terrified that the government plans to take their guns. I know people who would shoot it out with authorities rather than hand over their guns.

  18. Ron Murphy,

    Your comment brought to mind Chappelle’s blind black white supremacist. The character is a blind black man who thinks he is white and embraces white supremacy-he is even a KKK leader. So, he inherited being black in one way and inherited “being” (or rather “believbeing”) white in another.

  19. Swallerstein,

    Good points.

    As you note, Griffin makes a good living as a pro football player and he would benefit financially from Republican policies. As such, he would have a good practical reason to be a Republican or at least support the party. He might, of course, have other reasons to not support the party and he might not be a Republican at all.

    You certainly get the issue in focus when you ask why he would have a reason to vote contrary to his financial interests just because he is African-American. Now, a moral argument could be made that he should be opposed to policies that benefit the very rich but this would seem to be distinct from a moral obligation to oppose the Republicans because he is African-American.

    A general issue here would seem to be whether or not being of ethnicity X creates a moral obligation to act in the interests of X. This also leads to many other issues, such as sorting out what is in the interest of X. Do we go with some sort of average of the majority of Xs or use some other factors?

  20. Mike:

    Thanks, your reply clears some issues up for me.

    It seems to me that politics is either about interests or about justice.

    What is just and what is in my interests do not always coincide, unfortunately.

    Now, I think that one can make a good case that taxing the wealthy to provide public education, public healthcare and other basic social services for the non-wealthy is just.

    But what is just is just, whether one is African-American or Jewish or from Wall Street.

    If Griffin views politics from the standpoint of justice (as I understand it), he cannot support Republican tax policies. However, if he views politics from the standpoint of his interests (in financial terms, as most people see their interests), then he might well be advised to vote Republican.

    Of course, libertarians and neoliberal economists will affirm that lower taxes for the rich are the essence of justice, but then we are debating about what is just, which has nothing to do with one’s ethnicity.

    So perhaps the right approach would be to try to convince Griffin that Republican policies are not just. In that case, he might reply that paying lower taxes interests him more than justice does. At least that would make things clearer than the talk about ethnicity.

  21. It’s never about skin colour. It is everything to do with materialism.

    In American, the white middle-class are the economically dominant class. They define themselves through a system of etiquette and deportment – this does not spring from some intrinsic faculty in their genetic makeup, it’s a social construction. It’s the system by which they include and exclude (the social exclusions may not hurt, but economic and political ones do.)

    A working class black American has two options available to them should they wish to escape the privations of poverty and exploitation. Become an incredibly successful sports star or musician, or ingratiate themselves with the dominant class, by adopting as much of their life style, “culture”, etc as they can – in the process abandoning anything that the typical white middle-class person would see as defining them as black working class (a class to be feared, excluded and exploited). The effect you’re looking to achieve is “Gee, he’s not like the other ones – he’s nearly like one of us”.

    But it’s not just about skin colour. A white working class person will have to do the same should they wish material advancement in the world.

    Parkers crime was not in speaking a truth (what he said was just silly), but what he spoke was revealing a truth that is meant to be unspoken.

  22. I’ve seen a similar attitude among Native Americans: It’s not true Indian to be as good as a white man. It’s in the blood, you know. Blue blood does not have enough oxygen to carry envy to the liver.

    But now I have a duple (tuple actually) of questions. Is this topic in the nature of philosophy or clinical psychology? If clinical psychology, is there a treatment for Parker’s attitude?

    If not, are we merely being smug about our talent for clinical diagnosis? Why do we care, especially since Parker hasn’t paid a fee?

  23. JMRC,

    Thanks for the comment. I had not thought of that.

    But then again, America has always been called the melting pot. Granted, America has excluded African Americans from acceptance for far too long. The African American culture therefore took on different aspects from white middle class culture, because of this exclusion. As the walls of separation slowly continue to break down, the angst amongst individual ethnic groups worrying about loss of identity is understandable. Growing up in a Jewish family the great problem stated was about marrying outside the Jewish faith. The worry that the children would not be Jewish, that the culture would be lost, or less. Well, now over 50% of Jews marry someone not Jewish, and indeed there is less adherence to Jewish traditions by the majority of Jews in America. It is true that when in Rome, you do as do the Romans, if you want to reap the social and economic benefits of the land you live in. Intermarriage is both the sign of, and also a major driver of assimilation. Not necessarily a bad word, if we still remember and cherish our cultural roots.

  24. Some of this discussion echoes or nuances points made on Mike’s earlier post ‘Race in America’. The ‘angels on the head of a pin’ discussions that follow on taking race seriously (as Griffin does) as opposed to taking racism seriously, are distressing.

    I’ve copied here a reply I made to Mike’s earlier piece: It explains why I wouldn’t give any racist argument (i.e. one based on the notion of race) any time. In the UK, as I suspect for the USA, it is more common to see, read, hear ‘white’ racist attitudes rather than ‘black’ ones – but both exist. Yes, and all the versions in between.

    Griffin’s views just seem to conform to yet another ghetto-ising stereotype. Whilst grotesque pre-1960s racism is clearly still a significant, if diminishing, feature of life in the US, surely the mainstream argument needs to move on and catch up with reality. That reality is that race notions are meaningless and should receive the derision any nonsense ideas merit. For me, the softer cultural targets of ‘ethnicity’ are too easily put up and adopted as a pale (?!) substitute for overt, old-fashoned racism. I’m not at all sure about ‘cherishing our cultural roots’ either (pace David Olifant above). As the elegant British TV commentator Jonathan Meads says: “only vegetables have roots”.

    “I’m completely with you on this. Specifying “race’ on forms does merely promote the concept – however good the intentions of the form-composers might be.

    The genetic argument has been underplayed in Mike LaBossiere’s piece. The simple fact is that for Humankind there is no useful genetic distinction that equates with the biological concept of ‘race’. The lack of reproductive isolation (despite the efforts of so many racist regimes in geologically recent history!) ensures that racial distinctiveness has not evolved in Mankind. (So .. all – not “many” – Americans are indubitably ‘mixed’! Actually, as I’m arguing here, they’re not ‘mixed’ either since there are no ‘races’ to be mixed). It is often noted that the degree of genetic variability between humans across the globe is less than that between the true races of chimpanzees. Despite their relatively tiny total numbers, races of chimpanzees have been completely genetically isolated for at least tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of years … unlike any part of humankind.

    (Yes, there are some significant correlations of certain disease traits and other physiological features with certain ‘racial’ groupings, but these are decidedly detected at the ‘statistical’ level rather than being defining attributes that would be consistent with a true biological race).

    This is not a sterile ‘technical’ point of molecular biology. The reality about ‘race’ that modern genetics has revealed should be providing the basis for a profound rethinking of how racism (an all too real socio-political phenomenon) is understood and tackled. Surely, it’s a vital starting point for general education to keep hammering the point that there is no basis for ascribing racial distinctions. This allows us to attack racism for the nonsense it is. But this aspiration is fundamentally undermined if we persist in cataloguing people’s ‘racial’ details. We must simply legislate against discrimination (again, on the grounds that there is no bio-logical, or other -logical, basis for it) and then see those provisions powerfully enacted until people’s behaviour comes into line with our state of knowledge and ethics.

    For me, just as Mike LaB expressed it, the cause is put back 150 years by the widespread acceptance of President Obama as being ‘black’. At last (I thought and hoped in 2008) the US now has someone in power who quintessentially cannot be represented as ‘black’ or ‘white’, but he was hailed as the first black president. Another opportunity missed.
    So an end to ‘African-American’, ‘Caucasian’ or, as here in the UK, to ‘British-Asian’, etc. There is one box on the identity form – it reads ‘Human’!”

  25. Swallerstein Dec 15th
    “I myself generally vote for candidates who tax the rich.”
    Assuming you are not rich, were you rich, would you continue to vote for those who tax the rich. But surely the rich are taxed!

  26. Don Bird:

    Perhaps one reason that I’ve never tried to become rich is that I never wanted to be faced with the dilemma which you hint at.

    Of course, I could become rich without trying and if so, then I’ll answer your question honestly.

  27. Boreas,

    Depending on how the questions are asked, it could be either, both or neither. 🙂

    My main interest was not in considering Parker’s psychology, rather to sort of muddle through the notion of authenticity. Parker, I think, raised a question that is not supposed to be raised in public yet is one that many more people probably think about. For example, when Obama was first elected there were questions raised about his “blackness.” Black Republicans also face similar challenges.

  28. Mike LaBossiere, I don’t think Parker was really thinking, and had a momentary brain bubble where he forgot where he was, and who his audience was. Something got free from his subconscious.

    If you remember Jesse Jackson was similarly caught out a few years back – during Obama’s initial run for president. He didn’t realise his voice was being recorded. Jackson was caught voicing his suspicion of Obama – in political terms, in terms of what they meant, there is a similarity with both what Parker and Jackson said.

    The race issue in America is very complicated. To avoid conflict, and also to avoid progress through dialogue, there is a phony peace. An agreement on what should not be spoken. These kinds of agreements can be very confusing. As the rules are not explicitly written anywhere – as that would recognise there is an agreement which would defeat the whole purpose of the agreement – the rules must be unspoken too. They are meant to be known through social awareness. You are considered an idiot with poor soft skills if you break them.

    And here lies another problem. How the subject assimilates unspoken rules. For one person, they may compartalise them – they’re conscious of their function -they’re never confused. For another person it may be more difficult – there is a cognitive dissonance – which they resolve with absurd and contradictory narratives (the racist may even think that everyone else is racist and thinks just like them, but for some other there must be silence). There is also the social pervert and political radical who know the rules, and break them with intent: Lisa Brown, speaking the unspeakable word.

    There is an amazing demographic shift happening in the US at the moment. The people, white middle-class males, who traditionally set the rules, are being politically marginalised, if not economically. So, it’s going to get very interesting. History did not end.

  29. JMRC,

    Good points.

    As you note, one cannot say what the rules are regarding what one must not say in such a context. Hmm, there is probably some sort of paradox in there for a clever person to make into a paper.

    The US is certainly experiencing a demographic shift. In some ways, this is a new thing. In others, it is the same old thing: American has seen many waves of immigrants and demographic changes, yet people often forget history and believe that they live in unique times.

    The Daily Show did a clever bit on Bill O’Reilly lamenting the change in demographics-he pointed out that the Irish were once the outsiders and subject to all sorts of prejudice and lamentations from the old order.

  30. Race matters when you bring it up. I do not notice it otherwise. 🙄

  31. Odins Acolyte, are you one of these people at a cocktail party, who does not notice the loxodonta, drinking a rather large dry martini over by the piano, until someone mentions it to you.

    “Elephant?….Elephant?….OhMyGod, that thing is huge. How did it get in here.”

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