Culture

3/8/2015

 

Let’s be honest for a minute. I don’t know the majority of the readership of what I post, but when I post, if I have something non-specific to write, I generally write as if my readership is similar to myself.

So, let’s be real for a minute. For those of us that happen to be white (I don’t like being called Caucasian; I’m not from Caucasia), and are not living in ghettos or barrios or other “rough” parts of town, especially if we’ve never lived there (I have, so I’m simply grouping myself in for illustration purposes), it’s sometimes difficult to connect with the groups of people who do live in those environments.

And if we are being honest, we can admit that racism, no matter whom it is from or toward, exist dues to stereotypes. Stereotypes subsist because of our human tendency to mentally categorize people of similarity together. It’s not a rule, but a tendency.

As such, we have a certain impression and stereotype associated with various “rough” areas of town, depending on the race or ethnicity of its inhabitants. It is not uncommon for those of us outside of these areas to have predisposed associations with these types of areas and to think of these places as “uncultured” or even “uncivilized.”

Why do I bring this up? I bring this up because no one group holds the market on culture. I would even dare to say that some of these “rough” parts of town uphold a greater sense of culture than do the nicer, more upper class parts of town.

In fact, if you look at the “culture” of upper-middle class to upper class, what do you find? Most people are not concerned about community, only family. Some are even more concerned with self than family. How exactly is that “civilized” or “culturally rich”?

This came to mind today as I passed an area of town some would consider a ghetto. I saw a barber shop, which is a stereotypical place of social gathering for this particular ethnic group. I noticed they were having a bar-b-cue at this barber shop, just right there, in the open, likely available for anyone of the community to join. I witnessed happiness and fellowship as I drove past.

How often does this happen in the “civilized” culture of upper-middle class (or higher) white people? Sure, there may be things like this on occasion, but it wouldn’t be in the open and you’d have to be a part of that specific group’s clique; that specific church, that specific country club, that specific hunting club, etc.

I honestly don’t know what would have happened if I had attempted to join that bar-b-cue today. Would they have granted me admittance? Maybe so, maybe not. But if they did not, I think it would be more because I am not an active member of that community rather than because I am white. I don’t believe it’s a race issue nearly as often as people make it out to be. I believe racism is still alive because we refuse to let it go.

I can already hear the question; “if they wouldn’t grant access because you’re not a part of their community, how is it different from those gatherings of upper-middle class churches and country clubs?” I would say the difference is the arrogant disposition of superiority. There is a vast distinction between seeing others as “less than” and seeing them as “other than”.  On one side there is the concept of protecting your community from those who seek to reap the benefits without investing anything into the community. On the other side, admittance is denied because membership is available only to those who fit the predetermined qualification of elitism.

Which is more civilized? Who is more culturally sound?

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