The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 August 2003

Authentic street gibberish

On this entry yesterday, I posted the following comment:

The Wino Look seems to have two separate sets of champions: young black men, who desperately fear being tagged as "acting white", and young white men, who desperately need to annoy their parental units.

At the time, I wondered if maybe "desperately" was too strong a word. Now I don't. Here's John McWhorter in the New York Post on the culture so airily dismissed as "urban":

The attitude and style expressed in the hip-hop "identity" keeps blacks down. Almost all hip-hop, gangsta or not, is delivered with a cocky, confrontational cadence that is fast becoming...a common speech style among young black males. Similarly, the arm-slinging, hand-hurling gestures of rap performers have made their way into many young blacks' casual gesticulations, becoming integral to their self-expression. The problem with such speech and mannerisms is that they make potential employers wary of young black men and can impede a young black's ability to interact comfortably with co-workers and customers. The black community has gone through too much to sacrifice upward mobility to the passing kick of an adversarial hip-hop "identity."

For those who insist that even the invisible structures of society reinforce racism, the burden of proof should rest with them to explain why hip-hop's bloody and sexist lyrics and videos and the criminal behavior of many rappers wouldn't have a negative effect upon whites' conception of black people.

I take issue with McWhorter's negative characterization of "The Message" elsewhere in his article — to me, it's far more an expression of despair than a call to street action, and besides, it's a damned good record — but for the most part, he's nailed it. Replacing "Tha Man hates us 'cause we're black" with "Tha Man hates us 'cause we're assholes" is not my idea of an improvement.

(Muchas gracias: Phillip "delusional duck" Coons.)

Posted at 3:46 PM to Almost Yogurt