On the Perpetuation of Tribal Stereotypes

I awoke today to Andy Barrie’s [Toronto] CBC Metro Morning–a show I usually find enlightening and of a quality I was not used to in Edmonton’s local CBC broadcasts.

The discussion involved a panel comprising people raised in Canada of differing racial backgrounds. Okay.

Andy Barrie having noted how on the radio, minorities are usually hired if they have an ‘ethnic’ sounding voice as opposed to not, they moved on to the perspectives of Literature and their personal experience–

The requisite ‘Thug Black’ sounding guy responded with: ‘…with the recent death of J.D. Salinger, I remembered how growing up I didn’t really understand the draw everyone had with Holden Caulfield–the character didn’t represent anything to me: a white rich boy, raised in a New England private school…’

It was not only this statement. Others from the other panelists…sounded absolutely uninformed to me–with regards to being raised “with race” let’s say.

This is absolute garbage–nothing more than self-imposed ‘racisim’, tribalism, or segregation even.

Literature is about USING YOUR IMAGINATION. I never, while reading of the exploits of Holden Caulfield contemplated the fact that,  I did not share  this boy’s A: appearance, B: educational circumstance, C: potential income bracket of his parents.

Why is it EVER assumed that there exists hard and fast tribal dilineations, that must be ‘respected’ and ‘acknowledged’– Nod, Nod, Wink, Wink…

That to me, sounds much like the bullshit we afford indoctrinational ‘institutions’ such as churches and other religious bodies, to also perpetuate artificial tribal stereotypes.

What this actually spoke to, in my mind?  Is horrible ghettoized, tribal parenting.  Why must a 10 year old ‘black’ child NOT be capable of reading about green humanoids who live on an island on the other side of the Earth, and not identify the universal humanity which Literature is actually capable of showing us?

This black youth, on CBC mentioned how rather than being capable of placing himself in the shoes of Holden, he finally grasped literature, when he read Malcom X and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

The Catcher in the Rye is actually a universal story, well-liked by school curricula around the world because it DOES represent a universal.  The tragic metamosphosis one may experience when on the cusp of adulthood, but still a child facing adult truths and realities.  Race in all honestly has so very little to DO with the message of the book at all.

I mean give me a break! What disgusts me the most about this explicit perpetuation of tribal stereotyping is that RACE, all you small minded child-raisers of the world– IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT.

And a tribal collective merely constructs and re-constructs it every damn time a child is made to understand that they ‘should read books for their own kind’.

And as Andy Barrie showed, in Canada it seems, we all must nod and agree, lest we, in calling out the lunatic idiocy of this commentary be deemed a ‘racist’ ourselves.  I submit this: that a “victim” perpetuating definitions laid out by their historical oppressor is whom really needs to give their heads’ a shake.

This is just as true for all those I keep encountering who having been BORN and RAISED in Canada, of parents from another culture, describe themselves as “of their parents culture” due to the fact that they have followed some bullshit caricature of said culture such as Bollywood, Bhangra and Bhelpuri + Hindu temples, for South Asian offspring, or Pupusas, Piñatas and Pozole + Catholic Churches for Latin American offspring.  A handful of stereotypes + you in the middle, hardly = a distinct identity.

I’m sorry but ANYONE [of ANY BIOLOGICAL LINEAGE], born ANYWHERE can learn, appreciate and participate in these caricatures, and IT DOESN’T MAKE THEM PART OF ANY TRIBE.

Waving a badge of tribal affiliation is wrong.  Teaching children which tribes they do and do not belong to is? Child Abuse.

Identity is formed from a socialization process–parents + (usually in Canada) a Public Education System.

The sad thing about adopting children from Haiti (or Malawi, or Burkina Faso, or Bangladesh, or Romania, or Peru) is NOT that “they are being robbed of their culture”–it is that the new family DOES NOT SEEK OUT AND EXPOSE the entire family including the adoptee to not ONLY their own culture of biological origin, but to the great DIVERSITY of cultures that comprise the entire human diaspora.

Child Abuse is actually raising children with small minds, invisible internal borders of identity and a global misapprehension that Humanity is not one.


7 thoughts on “On the Perpetuation of Tribal Stereotypes

  1. my point made so WELL by A C Grayling–check out my post of him being interviewed on CBC’s IDEAS, somewhere on my blog. Offspring of Brits, raised in South Central Africa…he read books about England throughout his childhood, while surrounded by the natural lanscape of the southern tip of the rift valley…listen to what he says about this, and his ‘identity’.

    • Sociologically, you are ignorant. I suggest you read Erving Goffman.

      You refer to society as an autonomous …. actor.

      Read some existential literature on what people can and cannot do once abandoned at birth

      • I speak of multicultural interactions, does he? Was there a multicultural mileu for him to study in his day? You may have misunderstood my thesis. I wasn’t speaking about children raised by wolves.

        1959: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, University of Edinburgh Social Sciences Research Centre. ISBN 978-0-14-013571-8. Anchor Books edition
        1961: Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. New York, Doubleday. ISBN 0140137394
        1961: Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction – Fun in Games & Role Distance. Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill.
        1963: Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings, The Free Press. ISBN 0029119405
        1963: Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0671622447
        1967: Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior. Anchor Books. ISBN 0394706315
        1969: Strategic Interaction. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 034502804X
        1971: Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0061319570
        1974: Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. London: Harper and Row. ISBN 978-0-06-090372-5
        1979: Gender Advertisements, Macmillian. ISBN 0061320765
        1981: Forms of Talk, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-7790-6

  2. Oh I heard him. It is funny how the only time I spent in Spain made me realize we do a similar thing in Latin America… it is just that I never realized until I went there.

  3. monocultures are different from multicultures, however–there are certain expectations that multicultural societies aim for that are not contemplated in monocultural circumstances

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