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NPR Code Switch | When Our Kids Own America
"It’s much harder now to patrol the ramparts of our cultures, to distinguish between the appreciators and appropriators. Just who gets to play in which cultural sandboxes? Who gets to be the bouncer at the velvet rope?"



"If something is everywhere and everyone trafficks in it, who gets to decide when it’s real or not? What happens when hip-hop stops being black culture and becomes simply youth culture?"



"So once some piece of black American culture slips outside that culture, when does it stop being black and just become this new thing? Where do the borders of one culture end and another begin?"



"When young people inherit the new America, this reconfigured hip-hop will be part of their birthright: the code-switching, style-shifting, and swagger-jacking that’s always been there, mashed up with stories about thrift-shopping, border-crossing and rich South Koreans. Lest anyone get it twisted and think this new America will be some kind of Benetton ad, be forewarned: it’s going to be confusing and it’s going to be messy."



"My generation started writing our chapters on race during the Crack Era — the time of of Rodney King, The Cosby Show, and Menace II Society. But that was 20-something years ago, and we’re still applying the templates that we created in 1992 and 1963 to the chapters that are being scripted now. Those old stories reflect a starkly different demographic reality than the one we now inhabit. It’s not that those stories are wrong, it’s that they’re incomplete. And so we find ourselves having to assimilate into these places we thought we knew and that we thought were ours.

The Afropunk skater in Philly, the Korean b-boy graffiti artist in Los Angeles, the bluegrass-loving Latino hipster in Austin — they’re all inheriting an America in which they’ll have access to even more hyphens in their self-definitions. That’s undoubtedly a good thing. But it’s important that those stories be complete as well. If you’re in Maricopa County, Ariz., and brown, the sheriff’s deputies won’t care whether you’re bumping Little Dragon in your ride when they pull you over. The way each of us experiences culture each day may be increasingly unmoored from genre, from geography, and yes, even from race, but America will not be easily untethered from the anchor of its history. We may be more equal, but mostly in our iPods.

How the country fares in the next century will depend in part on how it deals with these dissonances. It will be determined by whether we grapple with the complications of some basic assumptions about our spaces — who gets to play and work and live in them and how they get to do that.

And so, the “Harlem Shake” kerfuffle isn’t just about some hip-hop dance, but about these anxieties of ownership of the past and future, about generational tensions around acknowledgement, respect and reverence, about the understandable if futile impulse to want culture to retain something like purity, about disparities in power both real and perceived, about land and property, about realness and authenticity and race and history.

For good or ill, the country our kids are creating will work by new, confounding rules.

It’s the rest of us, those of us who’ve been here for awhile and who still find comfort with these old modes of viewing the world, who will start to face the discomfort of assimilating. A Minnesota suburb that looks more like a Brooklyn ‘hood. A “Harlem Shake” that looks nothing like Harlem."
codeswitch  codeswitching  2013  culture  appropriation  us  appreciation  gentrification  diversity  race  ethnicity  harlemshake  genedemby  rafaelcastillo  laurenrock  npr  harlem  nyc  oakland  brooklynpark  minnesota  discrimination  sterotypes  popularculture  hiphop  marginalization  teens  youth  youthculture  ebonics  ceciliacutler  civilrightsmovement  blackpanthers  joshkun  signaling  separateness  hsamyalim  language  communication  english  wealth  power  access  borders  repurposing  shereenmarisolmeraji  chantalgarcia  music  remixing  sampling  dumbfounded  jonathanpark  losangeles  biboying  breakdancing  messiness  stevesaldivar  hansilowang  karengrigsbybates  assimilation  generation  demographics  evolution  change  canon  remixculture  blackpantherparty 
april 2013 by robertogreco

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