Welcome to CulturalConscious.com

In a world that is rapidly changing, where the advancements of technology create larger and larger gaps between generations, some things still remain the same. Technology is bridging the gaps between cultures throughout the world, bringing them closer and closer. Yet, our cultural subconscious fights to keep them apart.

Culture is defined as the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group. Conscious is defined as aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.

I define cultural conscious as being aware of your culture, while still being able to understand other cultures and the differences that exist between them. Unfortunately, most people do not reach the state where they are using their cultural conscious. People respond to and formulate opinions of cultural differences via their sub-conscious, meaning they form a response or an opinion without new thought. The problem here is the sub-conscious is developed based on one’s own culture, so any opinions are going to be based on a cultural bias until an experience occurs that changes the subconscious. Unfortunately, the subconscious is not easily changed.

On a daily basis, we all struggle with our subconscious. Situations arise where we formulate thoughts about other people based on stereotypes, media portrayal, "what we heard", appearance, ignorance, etc. Because decisions are made in the subconscious, we are unaware of any wrong doing unless someone else points it out to us. The goal of this blog is to point out areas where our conscience should override our subconscious.

These are my thoughts…This is my Cultural Conscious.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What Does It Mean to Be Black?

This question has been on my mind for a couple of years now. In the summer of 2005 I traveled to Barcelona , Spain, the first leg of a 5 week, 4 country trek. For five weeks, I observed different cultures, saw different faces, and visited all the historical monuments I had previously only seen in books or on TV, but there was one thing that stuck out…the first Black person that I saw. He was about 19 years old, had corn rows, wore baggy jeans and had an outfit that was reminiscent of something 50 Cent would wear or as Cornel West would say, "In his Paraphernalia of Suffering"

It was at this point, that I realized how much of an affect American media has on the global population of Black people. Then I began to ask myself, what does it mean to be Black? "Are we so narcissistic that we are only concerned with our own black experience and not others" - Cornel West

All the time, I hear people say absurd things like "Why are you talking white?" and "Why are you listening to white music?" Does being Black mean that I must use incorrect grammar when I speak or that I must only listen to one genre of music?

I've observed that we, as a collective people, tend to classify things based on color. Because of this, we tend to say that if you are Black, you should act or think a certain way. This is totally wrong. There are 40 million people living in the U.S. who consider themselves African Americans. How do you expect 40 million Americans to act or think the same way? I would think that it would be impossible, but I have run into many people from different backgrounds and who have attained different social status, and all have asked similar questions to the ones above.

Why is that? Why did the kid I mentioned above, in a city without many Black faces and a culture different from that in America, choose to dress himself as a thug portrayed in many rap videos. Did he feel it was necessary to dress like 50 Cent in order to express that he was Black? Does he, along with other Black youth across the world, feel that they must mimic Black individuals they see on TV in order to "Keep it Real" or "Keep it Black"?

This led to my final question. ARE WE BEING BLACK, OR ARE WE BEING WHAT "THEY" WANT BLACK TO BE? Think about it: who decides what gets played on the radio or what characters are portrayed on TV? I'm not saying that everything in the media is negative, but as a whole, the media paints a negative image of Black people. An additional problem is that we are attracted to and we strive to portray that negative image: It's the whole "Hollywood Shuffle" mentality. Who cares what I have to do to make it? I'm gonna be paid! There has to be a social conscience somewhere. Sure there will be Black CEO's and Black billionaire's, but as a whole, we will continue to be oppressed as a race as long as we continue to believe we must "Keep it Real" without truly understanding what "Real" is.

This is just the start. This Blog will address different observations and generalizations that affect us as a whole in the hopes that we can answer the question…"What does it mean to be Black?"



Anonymous said...

When I think of being Black, I think of our ancestors and the struggles that they went through in order for their descendants to live a far better life than they could possibly dream. I think of Nubian Kings and Queens who ruled the great lands and were forced to kneel to lesser man.

Being BLACK means being strong, intelligent, confident, love, honor and powerful. Being BLACK means that the blood African Kings, Queens, Warriors and Prophets run through our veins. Being BLACK is redbone, high yellow, paperbag brown and Hershey chocolate. Being BLACK means shouting from the rooftops that I am so proud that God has made me who I am.

“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.”

James W. Johnson, 1899


Anonymous said...

I think your story on Las Vegas was very good. You hit on a very common problem with people in general. American Society has put the focus of life on making money and impressing others. I call it "Consumer Theory". The basis of "Consumer Theory" is the idea that a person can buy respect and attention. The problem with this theory is the fact that it takes away from the focus on love and life but on impressing people by buying things.

oneworld805 said...

I had the good fortune to live in California the last 5 years. I moved to Atlanta in October, and I must say that I was shocked and appalled with what greeted me. Before I write of that, let me share of my experience in “Cali.”

I lived in the city of Oxnard, which is located 60 miles north of Los Angeles. The city is 80% Latino, most of which prefer the term Latino over Hispanic. Although the city is less than 2% black, it is infused with symbols of black culture in every way. Men measure their success in rim sizes and number of songs illegally downloaded. Women are fascinated by swap meet purses and the men that measure their success in rim sizes.

I must say, I was deliberate about not participating in the hype. Although many of the men that worked for me let me in on the best places to upgrade my rims, I refrained from doing so. Although, I was often shown the hottest sites to “acquire” music, I chose to keep it real by listening to the radio!

Even though these topics are very familiar to our black neighborhoods, I would argue that they have nothing to do with being black. Many would rationalize that these social norms were sculpted by hip hop, therefore forever linked with being black. I must argue that they are more linked with economic classification than race. If you’re black, it might be the size of the rims on your 300. If you’re white, if might be the size of the tires on your F150. The common denominator in this equation is the particular economic class within each race that measures its status by materialistic means. It is not about being black. It is about showcasing your “arrival,” regardless of your race.

As for my transition to Atlanta, I was greeted by a taxi driver that celebrated the fact that he didn’t have to buy his cab from “the white man.” He celebrated the fact that he did not have to buy his lunch from “the white man.” He celebrated… you get the idea! When I arrived at work, I was greeted by many of the folks that report to me with open arms… “we’re so glad that you are here; you’re our first black boss,” or “you’re the first black to make it to that level.” They did not know anything about me – how would I perform? How would I treat them? How would I grow the business? All they knew is that I was black.

That leads me to my biggest revelation. Atlanta might be the most racist city in America. However, it’s not racist in the traditional way that we think about it. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Most blacks in the city are outspokenly prejudiced towards whites, Latinos, Asians, and Middle Easterners – let’s just say “all other races.”

So what am I sawing? Does being Black mean being racist? Does it mean being a part of the hip hop culture? Does it mean whatever the media says it mean?

I don’t know. You tell me.