Thursday, April 17, 2008

Awareness Pt. 2

From a 1995 interview between Vibe magazine and bell hooks -

Vibe: You say "we" as if you identify strongly with these rappers.

bell hooks: I think all the artists who use the black vernacular in this society understand that, to white minds, the black vernacular has always been associated with the idea of being stupid. I guess I feel like part of my mission as an artist-this is what binds me culturally to an Ice Cube and even a Snoop Doggy Dogg-is understanding the beauty and aesthetic complexity in the vernacular. In the minds not only of whites but of privileged-class blacks, vernacular culture is seen as lacking complexity and depth. Even though black folks like Henry Louis Gates will step up in defense of "vernacular culture," the way they mount their defense has this patronizing aura, like, "We know better than these down-low black people what they really mean, and we can be the mediators between them and the dominant white culture."

(though she makes the extension from white to privileged-class black defense of rap, the same criticism could easily be launched at my previous post in which I talk about Z-Ro's prison interview, or really anything I've written in the blog thus far, and probably will write, ever in relation to "the black vernacular.")