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Cultural Presentation

“Cultural presentation” has been consistently a theme throughout this course. To varying degrees “cultural presentation” has defined the group it represents. Some is available in everyday media often perpetuating stereotypes, while other forms of representation expand notions of what it means to be a part of a cultural group.

For example we have heard about the smugglers’ experience through folk songs, we have gained insight into the experience of young Muslim women in the modern world through literature, the experiences and pressures of young Japanese men.

Most recently we have explored cultural material that has focused on African and African American culture. It has come to us through a number of cultural presentations such as theater, music, academic research and scholarship and discourse.

Take into consideration ALL the forms of cultural expressions you absorb consciously and unconsciously. Think of the different perspectives you receive depending on where you receive the messages. Church, twitter, a presidential speech, (a presidential tweet) your favorite show, music videos, the comments you read on YouTube views, the courses you take in school, the readings you may have never been exposed to before. All of these things are culture. No matter how mundane it may seem, all of this reflects our culture.

Reflect on and evaluate what forms of African American culture you are exposed to everyday.  There are a number of contemporary social and cultural expressions to analyze, some often contradictory:

·        Films ranging from Selmato Straight Out of Compton.

·        Popular television shows such as Empire and Scandal present leading African American characters ranging from Cookie (from Empire) the sassy, no-nonsense, ex-con, business woman to Olivia Pope (from Scandal) the smart, politically savvy white house consultant and crisis manager.

·        In 2015, after 67 years of existence, an African American woman finallywon an Emmy for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic series,

·        Yet the same year, the 2015 Academy Awards was criticized for nominating not a single man or woman of color for an acting category (but they asked Chris Rock to host the next year)

·        In 2015-2016  an African American man was a front runner for the Republican nominee-with the intent of running for president

·        Meanwhile university students had to go on a hunger strike, hold protests and threaten to boycott football games to get their university to address the long standing racism and discrimination endured by the students the university that is supposed to protect and educate. 

·       Right now some of the most influential people in the world are black women, Oprah, Beyoncé, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama

·       Yet in the real world Black women are boxed into negative stereotypes. Studies show black women are less likely to get hired, even when using the exact same resume as her opponent—regardless of the gender or ethnicity of the opponent

·       Last Super Bowl there was drama about who refused and who agreed to perform in the half time show in the midst of racial conflict about “taking a knee”

Assignment Part One (500 word min)

Discuss the ways in which media, cultural presentation, and life experience have socialized “Us” effecting the way “You” view “Others”. Often the way we view others change over time. Discuss the cultural presentations you have encountered, and how they have effected your understanding of those who did not look like you. No one else will read this but me-you can share real feelings and experiences.

EX: (When I was in junior high and high school bi-racial dating was VERY RARE. If it did occur, it was very much a topic of gossip. (I didn’t have friends because I was a nerd so I never heard what other people said exactly). I was taken aback but I didn’t know why. I didn’t come from a racist household. It just didn’t fit my socialized idea of “normal”, I never saw it on t.v.). Now biracial couples are in commercials, television shows and movies.

“Cultural presentations” include but are not limited to music, language/slang, movies, vlogs, blogs, tweets, television, art, poets, athletes, theatre, painting, community life (ex: of community life would be church services, sororities/fraternities, bands, team sports, study groups, social media group).

PART 2

Approx. 500 word min. You must make reference to and use at least 3 of the concepts provided below. I included little considerations to stimulate your thoughts. You might see something you want to talk about. You may want to start the discussion with what children learn from the media from a very young age, or maybe write about something that changed the way you see yourself in the world.

Discuss how the media effects a person’s sense of

·       Cultural pride

·       Ethnic pride Consider the popularity of ancestry.com and such—touting the opportunity in finding one’s ancestral ethnicity—one commercial a women wears a traditional African outfit after finding out which people she “came” from in Africa.

·       Identity (Who and what shapes one’s identity? Over time new experiences continue to shape your identity…do biracial people struggle with their identity?)

·       Gender (media show us that women are supposed to act one way and men are supposed to act another way…sometime music tells us that “boys will be boys” or that women are there for the pleasure of men)

·       Cultural memory (Ex: We commemorate the struggle for civil rights as people continue to struggle with contemporary racism)

·       Cultural Relativism (not judging a culture by your own cultural standards)

·       Race, racism or one’s idea of racial stereotypes

·       Cultural adaptation (Ex: The television show Blackish touches upon numerous themes about race including—do you lose your “blackness” if you live a stereotypically “white” lifestyle?)

·       Ethnocentrism Ex: Some people accuse the Black Lives Matter movement of only caring about the live of Blacks and NO ONE else. (Black Lives Matter is about the inclusion of Black lives)

·       Transculturation (Adopting aspects of culture from someone else) ex: the play/musical Hamilton…the incorporation of rap into theater

Cultural Presentation

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