Wednesday, January 06, 2016

"When Beatlemania Is a Microaggression..."

When Beatlemania Is a Microaggression... - Hit & Run : "...a tale that sums up the low stakes of much debate over political correctness, microaggressions, and the like. Forget about mediocre ethnic food served up in cafeterias, claiming that "America is the land of opportunity," or saying yoga is yoga, rather than "mindful stretching." It's Beatlemania that is culturally insensitive and intolerant. Psychology professor Adam J. Rodriguez of California's Notre Dame de Namaur University tells the story of a friend who "is a really, really big Beatles fan" and "insisted that I dedicate time to listen to them." Summarizes Timpf: Rodriguez, who is Puerto Rican, explained that his friend was part of “the dominant culture” that makes people Beatles fans — and the fact that he dared to criticize Rodriguez for not being one was insensitive and meant he just didn’t recognize the “power and privileges” he had as a white dude that Rodriguez did not have. “All cultures contain within them many subcultures, with one cultural dimension often dominant,” Rodriguez wrote. “When one is a member of the dominant culture, that person enjoys particular power and privileges, including the freedom to not have to consider other perspectives.”... According to Rodriguez, his friend was just not culturally literate enough to realize that while he “grew up a white middle-class male in the 70s and 80s, to parents who grew up on the Beatles,” Rodriguez grew up “a Puerto Rican lower-class male in the 80s whose parents played guajira, salsa, and Motown/classic R&B/soul...

To be sure, Rodriguez's friend, like all friends who have a band or performer they absoutely insist that YOU MUST LOVE, sounds like a real pain in the ass (however well-meaning he might be). What bothers me ultimately in all this is the sheer banality and humorlessness of Rodriguez's complaint, the hypersensitivity to real and imagined slights, especially at a time when the most serious and punishing forms of racism and cultural insensitivity have mostly been vanquished from everyday society. Which isn't to say everything is peachy. 

I suspect he would agree with me that the drug war continues at least in part because of institutional racism that views black and dark-skinned casualties as less worth of concern than, say, Al Gore's son. Immigration policy has always been influenced by manifest and latent racial prejudice and that certainly still is the case. White Americans tolerate and even insist on maintaining godawful urban public schools because the mostly minority kids who go there don't matter to them (this is changing, of course, and many advocates of school choice talk about the issue as the civil rights struggle of our day). And on and on. Yet on virtually every level, things are vastly different than they were when, say, my Italian relatives in the '30s and '40s were dismissed out of hand as not being college material due to their ethnicity and lower-class status. If you're getting that bent out of shape because your friend (friend!) is forcing you to listen to the French horn solo on "For No One" or pretend that "Revolution 9" doesn't totally suck, you've got nothing left to complain about."

No comments:

Post a Comment