Cultural Groupings

01May08

This is more on Culturism

I spoke with an African American friend recently. In a discussion on culturism, he told me that some African Americans consider Tiger a “sell out” because he doesn’t dress African American or speak African American.

I think this supports the idea that it’s Culturism that divides us. Think about this:

The belief that Tiger is a sell-out necessitates these presuppositions:
1. There is an African American cultural group
2. Tiger is a part of it (presumably b/c of his skin color or genetic heritage)

Tiger sold-out by dressing and talking differently, therefore
3. One can change groups by dressing and talking differently (further affirming the idea of culturism).

Assuming “selling out” means – “assimilating yourself AS A MEANS TO gaining more money or success”
4. Tiger is wrong for changing his culture to make himself more palatable – to make more money

These statements are very interesting! They raise several questions:

Do cultural groups exist? Does skin color determine what group you’re in? If skin color determines your group, can you, nevertheless leave the group by talking and dressing differently?

The fact that people think that Tiger has sold-out, affirms the idea that, to them, African American-ness seems to be defined not only by skin color, but also by cultural things such as language and dress (and others). To call Tiger a sell-out is to affirm the stereotype of African Americans talking and dressing a certain way. To call Tiger a sell-out is to affirm that by changing his dress and language, he crossed a major dividing line, as if he entirely crossed-over to the white “group” from the African American “group”.

So what?

This affirms the idea that language and dress carry a stronger connection to a culture than skin color does. Americans who agree that Tiger “sold-out” also must believe in differences between races, but are discriminating more strongly on cultural things rather than skin color.

What do you think? Did Tiger sell-out?  Did Eminem sell-out?

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