InDebate: Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Dialog?

newphoto Michael Thomas

Michael L. Thomas

Back in August, many Americans distracted themselves with an extended conversation about whether San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kapernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem before NFL games was an „appropriate“ form of protest against police brutality or, somehow, disrespectful to members of the US military. This discussion diverted attention from the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, which gave rise to the protest, while simultaneously ducking away from actual dialog about patterns of racism in America. As we now know, Americans’ inability to directly confront issues of race in this context was an ominous portent of things to come. The election of Donald Trump and subsequent explosion of racial violence have brought racism bubbling up to the surface of everyday life, thus beginning a the new low point in the cyclical narrative of racial inequality in the US.  Weiterlesen

InDebate: Hip-Hop Voices and the Problem of Black Experience

newphoto Michael Thomas

Michael L. Thomas

“…there are to-day no truer exponents of the pure human spirit of the Declaration of Independence than the American Negroes; there is no true American music but the wild sweet melodies of the Negro slave…” – W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

It was 1903 when Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk wrote that, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”  At this time, African Americans had gained emancipation from slavery, suffrage, and access to education, but their promise was extinguished by the principle that people of color were ultimately “equal but separate.” For Du Bois, the continued presence of the color line produces the “strange experience” for African Americans of “being a problem.” The problem of the color line, the division of the races, replicates itself as a “vast veil” that produces “double-consciousness,” the “sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” Weiterlesen