Sunday, September 25, 2005

The New Black Revolution?

"Get money", heralded as a theme of gnagsta hip-hop seems to be the theme of the middle-upper class black people also. The "get rich or die trying" that we see and complain about as prevelant in poo, impoverished r and working-class Blacks is just as prevalent in the middle and upper class. However there are two main differences i see. Though both are remarkably materialistic, and both aim at gaining power, these two differences create a wide disparity.

The first difference is that the working-class 'get mone'y ethic stems from a nihilism and reaction against poverty, while in the middle-upper class the 'get money' ethic flows from a recognition that though the rights and opportunities fought for in the sixities (actually, since landing in this country) didn't correspond with a commanding power. Though while in the university halls and a few conglomerate boardrooms the black educated class (educlass) has a sense that the 'struggle' ain't over until they have control for and of themselves. At the same time, the hungry desparation of residents of the ghettoes (urban, suburban and rural) of America chant the same song out of a desparation for some way from the shakles of the ghettoes.

The second difference is in the nature of the power weilded for the rich and hood rich. The relative scope of power to which these communities aspire split too. The hood rich afficianados with kitted-up cars and platinum chains see wealth as and end in itself while the rich see it as a means to an end. We can simplify this contrast between 'power over' and 'power to do'. The 'power to do' operates with a sense of hard struggle and greuling aspirations where middle-upper class blacks understand that their money is a tool to enhance their personal and communal cohesion and control over what they can and cannot do. This may take the form of outings with like-minded people, trips to fanciful places where they can wash away the pain of racism at in-pool bars in foreign countries. The 'power over' hood rich folk are caught up in a vicious cirlce of ever smaller decisions to both keep and further control over their centers of influence.

This contrast between 'power over' and 'power to do' camps can be explained by referring to the difference between a hierarchy and a network. In a hierarchy, there is only on god. In a network, there are many gods. Of course, the social scene really floats back and forth between these two poles, but the stabilizing point in each social scene tends to either side. The 'power over', of course in the hierarchy camp while the power to do sits in the 'power to do' camp.

The overt and subtle power-struggles and nuanced king-of-the-hill-games of who has what plays out differently in each camp. In the 'power over' camp hierarchy riegns supreme. So the king of the power games more-or-less dictates what happens in and around the lower levels of his or her minions. In the 'power to do' networks, there is no single leader. What exists is a more subtle group of dominant figures who influence but do not dictate what happens in the rest of the group.

So what? We have nihilism vs not-enoughism and 'power over' vs 'power to do'. What next? I don't know. i just thought this was a good way to analyze a couple people.

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