February 29, 2016

Do #BlackNamesMatter? How do they relate to #BlackLivesMatter? To #ReversePrivilege and #SJW ideas? (updated for certain classes of white names)

I'm posting this in advance. I'm on vacation at the time this post goes live.

Because I have comments set on moderation, if your comment doesn't go up right away, that's because I'm not online.

The hashtag is deliberate in a non-snarky way.

It's related to this blog post, and related thoughts posted by a friend on Facebook, that we shouldn't snicker ("we" being "whites") at first names from a certain subculture within African-American culture.

I agree on snickering. However, I do have a right (not just a First Amendment right, but a sociological "right") to question such naming, as well as questioning any idea that I have no "right" to such questioning.

Part of what I said, in response to both, was the issue of assimilation, or "conformity," per the Facebook person.

I don't question the desire to establish a certain subculture within African American culture.

I do question, though:
1. The specific tools being used to create that subculture
2. How the tools are being used
3. Whether these tools and/or their use are the best ways to reach any goals
3. The specific goals of that subculture, to the degree it has specific goals, rather than nebulosity
5. Whether it's a culture, rather than a subculture (a commenter on the blog post used "subculture" and I agree)

On point 1 and 2, to the Facebooker, I quote Sam Rayburn's "to get along, go along," after he derided conformity in general.

Beyond that?

I can question, sometimes question strongly, without being bigoted. I do resent, and there's no other word for it, when, on someone else's Facebook post, I expanded this to the issue of American Indian names, or Indonesians (normally one-named) being forced to adopt a first name/surname format, of being anti- #BlackLivesMatter. I resent that, and being indirectly accused of privilege as well.

I respect that it was his thread. I respect that his focus was just on this certain subculture of African-American culture.

That said, I disagree to the degree he seemed to indicate it should be part of African-American culture in general, and to the degree that, without nuance, he "went off" on Bill Cosby. And, I think that was his intent. After my Sam Rayburn quote, and attempt to expand, he insisted it was conformity within black culture; unlike the blog commenter, he didn't mention subculture.

I also tried to expand the focus beyond ethnicity entirely. I said, what if people wanted to, as has been done, named kids something like 3.14159, or tried to name them after Social Security numbers? He rejected that entirely.

I accept that he didn't want to expand the focus, as I indicated already on just the ethnic part.

But, I still resent how he rejected my attempt to expand the focus.

Beyond that?

And, for somebody insightful, I don't resent, but I do ponder, even scratch my head at, his not distinguishing, especially within black America, classism from racism. One could make a better argument against Bill Cosby on classism grounds. Or on subculture rather than culture grounds.

Per Rayburn, I mentioned first-generation Hispanics naming their kids "Daisy Fuentes." (I've seen plenty of this in the last several years, courtesy of my career.) I mentioned "Alberto Fujimori" as former president of Peru, noting such naming assimilation isn't limited to the US. (I would "expect" Caucasians in a culture like China, if they were permanent migrants, to look at doing the same.)

And, at the risk of irritating some, but, standing by and developing my own goals of becoming ever more of a Neo-Cynic, I've created that "Reverse Privilege" hashtag. The Facebook poster, whom I've not unfriended, and who has some other interesting thoughts on matters philosophical (but whom I may move to "acquaintances" at some point), was coming close to engaging in reverse privilege, or so it felt to me. (I suspect the Facebooker, if he thought about it more, would reject the classism angle because it would lessen the apparent reverse privilege angle in particular, and lessen his other angles as well.)

And, per "reverse racism" being at bottom line just another form of racism, so, "reverse privilege" is just another version of privilege.

And, some African-Americans, not conservative ones, either, have some related issues. Adolph Reed, in a definite thought-provoker, says identity politics in general is a form of neoliberalism.

Back to the names issue, now that I've noted that it, as a subpoint of identity politics, is problematic.

Respect for names matters. That said, if the certain subculture is anti-assimilationist, I have the sociological "right" to make judgments, including if those judgments are based in part on names, the names have a fair degree of correlation to that subculture, and that subculture's anti-assimilation is arguably problematic.

That includes a certain African-American subculture, certain ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews from Kiryas Joel, New York, and others.

In other words, subcultures that reject assimilation, and do so by visibly or audibly recognizable markers, shouldn't be surprised when the majority culture reacts. And, because of that, they shouldn't readily play racism cards, at least not when such reaction is serious and non-condescending.

I did make nuanced initial comments on Facebook, and I want to do that here, too.

So, I should note that the naming issue may not be deliberately anti-assimilationist. However, I do think that that is exactly the result.

And, beyond that, what's fair for the goose is good for the gander.

As for ideas of privilege, reverse privilege and the SJW movement world? If I see people like that joking about "redneck" names like "Billy Bob" or "Joe Don," or openly tolerating it in others, I'll let them know. There are arguable parallels. And, I'm not going to personally comment, but, it's possible a hiring manager might, in the white collar world, look at a resume with a name like "Billy Bob" or "Joe Don" on a resume and file 13 it just like a resume with a stereotypically black first name.

Living in Deep East Texas, where I've seen redneck-subculture white folks with kids having names like Danyell (for Danielle, presumably), on the flip side, were I a hiring manager? It's very likely I'd have some sort of subconscious, and even above-subconscious, bias about them, too.

We all make judgment calls; it's part of the nature of "fast thinking." Questioning whether such judgment calls are at times unwarranted stereotypes is part of self-examination. Questioning whether others' claims of stereotyping isn't rather a generalization, not valid for every member of a class or group, but valid enough to be retained, while acknowledged to be a generalization, is also, in my opinion, part of self-examination, and just as much a part of growth.

Yet more beneath the second fold.

Another way of looking at this is via analogy. It is like a stew or soup. Somebody can put Brussels sprouts in it. Not only do I not have to eat them, I can deliberately pick them out. Now you may have hidden a diamond, or at least a luscious dark chocolate, inside one of those Brussels sprouts. Missing that special Brussels sprout is a chance I'm prepared to take.

And, again, that's not a stereotype. It is, instead, a generalization.

And, I'm also prepared to stand by that generalization. And other anti-SJW generalizations, like the role of alcohol in campus sexual assault.

At the same time, a few additional caveats.

Besides trying to nuance this issue in general, I'm not against ethnic-focused cultural individualism and individuation.

Along that point of mind, I have a Facebook friend who dislikes bat flips because they're not "old school." He was specifically talking about Jose Bautista in this year's one AL Division Series.

I responded that "old school" here often equals "white school." He, possibly in part from knowing I'm a Cardinals' fan of long standing, said "what would Bob Gibson do"?

I, in turn, first responded that today, Pirate star Andrew McCutcheon has specifically said, more than once, that such old school ideas are, in his mind, part of lower African-American involvement in baseball than decades past.

He may be right. At a minimum, he's led me to a more open mind.

And, per this Facebook person worrying further about loss of some aspects of "culture" as a white liberal, to other thoughts.


keith said...

We live under the rule that the majority cannot rule over the minority.

Joe Bob is a nickname. Joseph Robert would be his name and wouldn't be on an application at all.

Tayshaun isn't hard to pronounce and to trash an application based on that name is in fact an act of white supremacy.

We don't have to assimilate to the majority and to dismiss this fact is the problem here.

Gadfly said...

Erm, wrong. Wrong from the start.

I actually knew someone with the given name "Joe Bob." And I don't doubt that others, or actual given name "Billy Bob"s, exist. Maybe not common. Even within "redneck" subculture, certainly less common than the names within this particular subset of African American culture.

And, no, I never said you have to do anything. I also said that, without claims of white supremacy aside, and with names harder to both spell and pronounce than Tayshaun, you can accept the consequences.

And, given that you're "Keith," who is this "we" that you are speaking about?