Bulletin Board Archive

Topic: All Soul'd Out-What Happens Once Everyone Tires of Blackness

  1. Aug 28, 2005 08:21am by NRG - livin the art that is life ! www.64111clinic.com fam www.nrginmotion.com massage www.myspace.com/nrginmotion world community Location: havenhouse KCK/ 64111 Clinic 4 Life
    All Soul’d Out: What happens once everyone’s Gets tired of ‘blackness’? By Hadji Williams To see how this discussion is progressing over at Davey D's site click on this link: http://p076.ezboard.com/fpoliticalpalacefrm57.showMessage?topicID=404.topic Every successful product launch or trend eventually suffers a backlash. The product loses its luster, people get annoyed by its ubiquitousness, they deem it obsolete, etc… And in today’s global economy Blackness, America’s most lucrative product, has long gone worldwide and is in slowly but surely headed down that every path. Consider: Chinese kids are trading in mandarin for E-40 slang. Japanese kids have locked and twisted their hair and become turntablists. Young French and Italian girls have traded their couture for BabyPhat, Sean John, Ecko, etc. White girls from Boston to Belgium to Borneo now have “ghetto booties.” Maori, Aborigine, and even Native American kids are embracing Black street culture as their own leaving their ancestors’ culture to fade away. I’ve heard drunken Irish kids call themselves “the Blacks of Europe.” Young Cuban, Portuguese, Brazilians, and Philippinos are B-boying and graf writing while their indigenous traditions atrophy from neglect. African kids from Algeria to Kenya to Mozambique quote Tupac, BIG, Nas, and Jay-Z bar for bar while slowly forgetting their native tongues. Everyone from Paris Hilton and Prince William to the average collegiate and suburbanite has rocked cornrows, dreadlocks, and afros while most all Black hair styles have been reduced to costume party accessories and visual punchlines. Whole generations of UKers, Russians, and Germans have grown up crip-walking, twerking, jooking, Harlem shaking, poppin’ collars, and getting crunk. Middle Eastern kids from Afghanistan to Israel to Jordan “rep their ‘hoods.” “Ghetto” and “thug” have become global euphemisms for all things Black American while “nigger” remains among the most popular words in the world. And regardless of culture or heritage, many under 35 speak in occasional “Blackcents” just for fun… All around the world it’s the same song. But what happens when the party’s over? What happens once these consumers get older, get bored or start hungering for substance, like knowledge of the cultures their parents and grandparents tried to pass down? What happens once they realize what they’ve sacrificed in order to consume blackness? What happens when they want to undo the damage? My guess: Blacklash. As many have noted, there is indeed a culture war brewing, culture; and blackness is slowly joining terrorism, free speech, and family values as a key battleground topic. Much of our current culture war is being driven by a growing desire to protect what many see as “traditional western values” against what is, in their minds, the corruptive influence of minority cultures. Of course, few openly call themselves “anti-minority” as that would be overtly racist. But their actions and words are proving otherwise. In recent years, culture critics, both liberal and conservative, have begun blasting “urban” music, art, fashion, and political views like never before. And on a seemingly weekly basis, major media outlets run stories linking black music to violence, crime, misogyny, STDs, and general societal decay. Affirmative Action and Mexican immigration are attacked on an almost hourly basis… But things are just warming up. I predict that by 2010 blacklash will drop minority celebrities to “second-tier” status in terms of marketability and perceived artistic merit. Brands and products traditionally recognized as “urban” will become significantly less popular with mainstream consumers. And slowly, blackness will cease to be cool among many mainstreamers. Keep in mind, at some point markets usually get saturated, consumers get bored, annoyed or outraged, and backlash follows. Every wildly successful brand/phenomenon feels it. Barney the Dinosaur, Acid-wash jeans, J. Lo, boy bands, and ‘80s hair bands all felt it. Hit shows like Beverly Hills 90210 felt it; Reality TV is feeling it. The fast-food and tobacco industries are feeling it. And as a product, black culture’s turn is coming, too. However, difference will be the extent and severity of the backlash. First off, black culture has been consumed by the greater society like nothing before. For that reason alone the impending reaction against it may be at least as widespread. Secondly, let’s consider similar cultural phenomena of the past: grunge, the yuppie materialism of the 1980s, the psychedelic counter-culture of the ‘60s, the sexual revolution and the women’s movement of the 1970s… The leaders and most vocal participants and supporters of those products were primarily white and mainstream. And not surprisingly, the backlash always had palpable undertones of paternal disappointment and “how could you do this, you’re one of us?” frustration. There were also consistent undertones of “if you change back, we’ll take you back.” But since the faces of hip-hop, Blackness, and immigration are people of color or those mimicking people of color; the blowback may well be meaner, more visceral, and less compassionate. Also, the undertones previously present may not exist for obvious reasons. For an already well-documented history of American blacklash, look no further than the music world: From the late 1890s thru the early 1930s much of Jazz, Blues and later Rhythm and Blues were marginalized as “race music” and “nigger music.” The longstanding belief was the masses of White Americans needed protecting from the corruptive powers of black music and black culture. It wasn’t until Jewish, Italian and other non-black musicians began playing Jazz and blues did those art forms become more acceptable and harder to marginalize. Also, much of the backlash against early Rock & Roll was rooted in racism; the biggest often slurs levied against such artists as Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Beatles was that they were race-traitors for bringing a version of the blues and soul to white audiences. And whether it was made by the Bee Gees, Donna Summers, or ABBA, historians agree that the crux of Disco music was “black dance music for the masses” and the backlash against disco in was rooted largely in racism and of course, homophobia given the rising AIDS epidemic of the early 1980s. And then there was NippleGate 2004. Despite the fact that MTV produced the Super Bowl halftime show, despite the fact that fellow acts Kid Rock and Aerosmith had misogynistic lyrics and behavior, etc., despite the fact that Mark Roberts jumped onto the field, stripped down to a G-string and danced an Irish Jig and moonwalked in the 3rd quarter stunt he promoted in advance on his website, and despite the fact that Just Timberlake ripped Jackson’s top off prior to singing the lyrics, “…Gonna have you naked by the end of this song,” only Janet Jackson and the black artists were blamed for the fiasco. The NFL responded in 2005’s Super Bowl with a virtually all-white broadcast and halftime show featuring ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and his all white band. And that’s what you call “blacklash.” Other examples range from our fascination with closing the Mexican border while ignoring the (perceived-to-be lily-white) Canadian border. “Watch for The Hook!” As the blacklash reaches a tipping point, people may take sides. Companies may be asked to choose between “urban” and “mainstream” identities and consumers. Many companies may begin de-emphasizing diversity initiatives in favor of “colorblindness.” Ethnicity-based affirmative action may be eroded while anti-immigration sentiments will grow. Musically, look for artists who’ve long trafficked in “blue-eyed soul,” hip-hop, R&B, etc. to strategically embrace more “mainstream” sounds. (We’ve already seeing an explosion in rock, alternative, and Latin genres.) Expect Hollywood to focus more on “middle America” and less on “urban America.” Expect fashion designers to ditch “street” influences for haute couture and “more traditional” styles. Expect politicians to re-energize their base by targeting NASCAR Dads, Soccermoms, Heartlanders, Boomers and aging Gen-Xers… Lastly, as I touched on earlier, blackness has reached a global scale. And in countries with high levels of anti-Americanism, many link much of what they hate/fear about America with black American culture. American companies may face blacklash from foreign consumers and businesses looking to “protect” their own cultures and communities from “negative western influences” (i.e. Blackness). Now, I’m not saying that global or even widespread domestic blacklash are 100% certainties, but with the way things are progressing, don’t bet against it. People are always talking about the influence the Negroes had on me. What about it? We all loved the fetishes. Van Gogh said his generation had Japanese art— we have the Negroes. —Pablo Picasso(1) A 13-year ad/marketing industry veteran, Hadji Williams is also author of KNOCK THE HUSTLE: How to save Your Job and Your Life from Corporate America. (www.knockthehustle.com, coming September 2005.) Email him: [email protected].