November 07, 2015

Classical music, 'race' and double standards

Scare quote on "race" in the header because what many people claim as "race" is basically a sociological construct. If we want to speak about a level above ethnicity in terms of biology, in other words, rather than the difference within different "whites," different "blacks," etc., my suggested term, harking back to the classical Greek, is "ethnos."

That said, a couple of stipulations.
1. People of any "race," or ethnos, can be racist. "Reverse racism" is racism.
2. People of any ethnos can commit double standards. A "reverse double standard" is a double standard.

That note aside, let's get to the meat.

In a blog comment thread, I heard someone respond to a comment I made about being "hot" for female classical violinists, after others had been posting about various female rock stars. I noted it would be out in left field, and just let it go at that.

One commenter, a woman, then responded, "That's so white."

If she meant literally, I mentioned Midori, then moved from violinists to opera and Denyce Graves. (I could also have mentioned Kiri Te Kanawa.)

If she meant figuratively, then we're into double standards. "That's so white," or similar? If I said "that's so black" about hip-hop, I'd get flamed by a lot of liberals, even ones not stereotypically PC.

If she meant "white" because of the relative lack of minorities? True, but it's improving. And, the "that's so white" stereotype is already used by black kids in school to hold each other back intellectually. It's only worse for whites to offer it up as a tool to hold blacks back artistically, or claim classical music is part of the dead white males canon, or whatever.

Claiming that classical music (or, say, national parks, which suffer from a similar perception, and fairly deservedly) are "oh so white," in a structural and not just sociological sense, perpetuates double standards, and stereotypes.

Of course, white people, every one of them individually as well as an ethnos, are believed by some to be endowed with privilege and thus can't be stereotyped.

I'm not saying this person was coming from that point. But, are some people with similar ideas?


paintedjaguar said...

Yeah. Self-satisfied liberals rag on right wingers (with good reason) for their "it's OK when we do it" beliefs. Then the liberals turn right around and build an entire ideology (identitarianism) to justify the same sort of mindset.

Rationalisation. With blinders on. It's what's for dinner.

All you lesser evilism so called "centrists" are the worst, so don't go patting yourself on the back either.

Gadfly said...

Comment above published even though it makes less than zero sense.

joshuaism said...

Sounds to me you're just being trolled. This being the internet the person who called you out is probably whiter than you are, like the guy that created the blog Stuff White People Like. It seems they've explicitly called out classical music for how white it is.

Call me a reverse racist or whatever, but I think that as far as stereotypes go, this one is rather harmless. If it isn't self-parody, then it is punching-up when calling out how white something is. I'd only worry if it damaged a minority's enjoyment of a thing.

Gadfly said...

Josh, it may have been meant harmlessly. That said, I know the commenter from various sites for a few years; said person's a fairly serious SJW. And, that's my main concern, kind of related to your last comment; do we really need to make the arts sound like they're "white"?