So Let it be Written, So Let it be Done!

June 25, 2008

The VSB Post I Never Wrote

Filed under: blogging,kamakula,rant — kamakula @ 10:05 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Hmm. I’ve been thinking about some things that have come up in the past couple days. I’m not sure if I should post this on VSB. In fact, I’ve decided not to post it. Perhaps I’m way off. But while I’d like to get a lot more feedback on this than posting it here would garner, I don’t quite feel its ready for a bigger audience. Perhaps I’m still feeling out my thoughts on this and don’t think it’s finished. Or perhaps I don’t want to ignite something or further shade the way people interpret my posts on that site. I’ve always known that people color what they read based on their perception of the person saying it. So, I usually attempt to present myself as neutrally as possible though for the most part I’ve not made any attempt to disgender the kamakula personality. Anyway, no more prefacing . . .

Black Nationalism (BN) to me is a response to the feeling that the best things can become is separate but equal. That while black peope may be able to wrest equal rights and treatment out of the government of the USA, blacks will never be accepted as equals. I feel this is a fundamental basis for BN and feel that this is flawed. Therefore, any further deductions will also be flawed though more or less self-consistent. I think it’s critical for some to realize that a flawed argument can still be self-consistent. Everything will hold together, it’s just an underlying assumption that would be shown to be wrong. Perhaps that’s what makes it hard to address those who are in the BN camp.

There are some who approach the argument (or perhaps another one altogether) from the point of preservation of black culture. I think I can make the argument that it’s a pretty big stretch to say that there is a black culture (or white culture) in the United States. When I think of culture, I think of something uniquely defined by language, religion, art, literature, customs, modes of behavior, and physical locality. If two groups of people have several of these things in common, I’d be hard pressed to say that they are different cultures.

Now, before I continue, let me get a dictionary definition of culture. This is the defintion of the sense of the word from merriam-webster:

5 a: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time <popular culture> <southern culture> c: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization <a corporate culture focused on the bottom line> d: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic <studying the effect of computers on print culture>

Black people don’t have a unique language or different language from the rest of the country. Black people don’t live in a different region of the country than everyone else. In fact, if I try to pin down the ways in which blacks as a people are different from the rest of the country, I’m left with just looks, the shared history of being oppressed by slavery/racism and the hiphop/rap music subculture. The remaining differences – art, other areas of music, and possibly behavior – I believe stem from regional variations and are not strong enough to stand on their own as a basis for identifying a separate culture.

So, in the context of my belief that our country is moving towards a more or less unified state where race does not matter, it would seem to me that not only does a black culture not really exist, but the natural progression of things will ensure that one does not emerge. The forces that push black people together into one group for common survival, interaction, and general enjoyment of life.

Yet, there is a flaw in my argument. Black people definitely look different from the rest of the country and while we’re attempting to minimize the effect of race on society, that is a strong cultural indicator. I don’t think that the context in which I frame this argument is strong enough to overcome this. I’m not sure it should.



  1. You don’t think there is a black culture in the United States…lmao!!

    Wow, we have our own style of literature, music, art, dance…we even have our own language and modes of behavior that have been paraphrased as “acting black”…come one now, do better. To say that there is no Black culture only future proves your lack of knowledge about the race as a whole.

    I am not a Black Nationalist, they are a tad bit liberal for my taste but I understand the foundation of their goals and beliefs. When we were forced to live amongst ourselves we were thriving as a community. We depended on one another to live and we respected one another’s thoughts and opinions. Now that we are able to outwardly receive things, we are not as dependent on one another and even often dismissive…our marriage rate has declined, our hunger for knowledge and working hard has also diminished. Integration has broken the black family.

    I’m not going to disrespect you personally on your blog but I think that maybe you should check out a book on the “Black Culture in America,” or maybe watch a documentary, do some research before making an assumption about a culture you know nothing about.

    Comment by Teacia — June 25, 2008 @ 10:30 pm | Reply

  2. Teacia was very blunt about it… but I think she is correct. Black people do have their own culture, and it is different from white people’s culture. That is one of the reasons people give for blacks doing worse on the GRE than whites… because it has questions inferring white culture that black people are not as likely to be exposed to.

    I will post more on this later.

    Comment by Fermi — June 25, 2008 @ 11:02 pm | Reply

  3. Teacia, perhaps you are making an assumption about what I know or don’t know about black “culture”.

    Fermi – I disagree with this. I’ve taken the GREs (obviously) and the only cultural advantage I saw in it would be one towards an American test taker over a non-American. Any perceived culture bias that excludes blacks would be predicated on the following:

    1. Reading for leisure is outside the “culture” of black people.

    Even then, this bias only exists in the verbal and perhaps the writing section.

    The Quantitative portion of the GRE only requires two things – an understanding of high school math (which you would have gotten in your first year of college if your HS was a bit behind and certainly would have by the time you’re taking the GREs) and practice – acclimating yourself to the type of questions that are asked on the GRE.

    So, I call BS on any “cultural” basis for discrepancies between white and black scores on the GRE. I think it’s a combination of preparation, motivation, and money.

    I took the GREs twice. My verbal score stayed the same. My writing score moved up (even as I was taking the test the first time, I felt rushed and didn’t think it was my best work. I also felt that my essay was a bit too vague in conveying some ideas, so I spent a bit more time thinking through the writing process when preparing for my second attempt). My Quant scores also went up to almost what I wanted to score – I think that after a certain point, one’s math skills don’t necessarily improve, you just get conditioned to working out certain problems. In my case, I got a bit more used to GRE style math problems and the second time around, the Quant ones I got were “my” type ones – the types I tend to do best on. (BTW, a similar thing used to apply to the SATs – if you took it multiple times, you’d eventually max out your math score when you get a test with “your” type questions. After that, you’d likely never surpass that score).

    In any case, the point was that I could (well, I really couldn’t, but I did it anyway) afford to take the GRE again until I got the scores I wanted. I also had the motivation and experience to know that I’d likely do better if I took it again.

    The score discrepancy probably has the most to do with a support network. Black students (who are taking GREs) in general have less people in their lives who are motivating and encouraging and guiding them on how best to tackle this standardized test.

    Comment by kamakula — June 26, 2008 @ 1:22 am | Reply

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