Friday, July 18, 2014

“All American ” and other Silliness - Part III


If you want to stereotype Blacks and sound silly doing it, use the term "urban"
 to connote Blacks and Black culture (as in "urban movies", "urban stores","urban marketing", etc.). Black people live in all types of settings, including the suburbs. Substituting "Black" for "urban" also reinforces images of our country's history of legal segregation, with the suburbs assumed to be a space for Whites only.  

Listing groups of people in a racial pecking order, rather than alphabetically or arbitrarily 

Here is how Whites tend to list racial groups in discussion, especially when talking about politics:

Of course I'm liberal! I talk to all sorts of ethnic people ... Latinos, Asians, Africans ... whoever.  

Africans/Blacks are typically listed last when the topic of discussion is neutral or positive, and Asians tend to be either second, last or completely forgotten.

When Africans or Blacks are listed first, the thought is usually structured like this: 

I think mean people suck. Doesn't matter whether they're Black, White, purple or green

If the context is negative, often Blacks get top billing on the list. 

This is particularly evident in mainstream news, including venues considered the most politically liberal. Europe or European countries are listed first. Africa or African countries are listed last, unless the topic is poverty or political corruption, then Africa is listed first.

Dividing the world by who and what is "Western" & "Eastern"

There is a sociological concept called the "East-West dichotomy". Politically-minded people and others express it when they allude to "the West", "Western ideas" or make statements about the "East", or "Eastern philosophy". Basically, the East-West dichotomy is used to identify and categorize all world cultures and political systems by way of a single, rigid, binary socio-political model. 

Thorsten J. Pattberg reveals his own flawed reasoning with such an over-simplied deduction of the world, in his book The East-West Dichotomy. 

In the following passage (from the link above), he unintentionally shows how the East-West dichotomy renders large groups of Blacks, non-Whites and people of very mixed ancestry invisible (most of Australia not withstanding): 

 " ... we don’t need much space to explain the role of the periphery regions: Middle East, Africa, Australia or Latin America all have close cultural, economical, and political affiliation, shared history and values, and general relationship with either Europe or Asia, or both in equal terms, in which case the [sic] may keep a balance for a while or else turn to one side or the other eventually."

First, it's absurd to consider the Middle East "peripherial", as it is situated centrally, both geographically and politically, on the world stage. How can the author rationalize leaving so much of the world's population out of a geo-political, two-system world model? 

Rather than declaring those regions and their people indefinitely East/West-ambiguous and invisible when it comes to membership in the  global community, a better solution is to brainstorm a more comprehensive, all-inclusive paradigm that reflects reality. 

One gets the sneaking suspicion that, at least in part, Mr. Pattberg supports the East-West dichotomy because his academic and social interests are European and Asian, and that he has comparatively less interest in other, equally outstanding world regions. 


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