5 Things To Know About Black Culture Now
A powerful piece written by Justin Simien, Special to CNN and filmmaker known for his movie, “Dear White People.”
There’s a scene in my satirical film “Dear White People” in which social misfit Lionel Higgins is asked to write a black culture piece by the editor of a campus newspaper staffed with mostly white people.
Lionel accepts the assignment with some trepidation. Despite the benefit of being black, large Afro and all, he feels underqualified, because he has yet to find a pocket of culture he identifies with at the fictional Winchester University.
Lionel’s dilemma is one many black Americans share: a deep desire to have an identity rooted in black culture coupled with the knowledge that what’s seen as “authentically black” in popular culture doesn’t reflect our actual experience.
We’re left in a sort of no-man’s land, because we don’t often see ourselves reflected in mainstream culture, nor in popular “Black Culture.”
In making the film and engaging in debates about the state of “black film,” here are five things I’ve come to know about black culture now:
1. There is a difference between black culture and “Black Culture”
Black culture, sans quotes, is the sum total of cultural contributions to the mainstream by the black subculture. It’s a fluid and a multifaceted, often contradictory thing.
Meanwhile “Black Culture” is a lifestyle standard made of assumptions about black identity, often used successfully by marketers, studio heads, fashion brands and music labels to make money.
It can be the “cool factor” that makes kids line up for hours to spend their last dime on brand new Michael Jordan sneakers. Or the thing that makes white people call me “brotha” and blast 2 Chainz when I hop in the car.
To read the entire article, go to the CNN Article.