Wednesday, March 3, 2010

DAMage Report - You're not Black So Give it Back

Let me start by saying this kind of shit burns my ass up. Intolerance, discrimination, elitism, narrow-minded weenies: they are all my biggest hot buttons and will inevitably bring out the ginger in me.

A white sorority team won an Atlanta Step Show contest and walked away with a $100,000 prize in what  has been a black-only competition.  The lily-white girls winning has caused an uproar on both sides of the discrimination issue. So much so that the sponsor, Coca Cola, has announced scoring discrepancies and also awarded a black sorority team with a co-win prize of the same amount. Controversy arose when some complained that step shows are supposed to highlight the black Greek tradition. (Think about the term black greek tradition for a moment will you.)

Are you fucking kidding me?

At what point in time will we stop with the stupid shit and quit qualifying people on their skin color, ethnic backgrounds, religious preferences and sexual orientations? Since when did any of that have a damn thing to do with artistic ability? Apparently not only can't white boys jump, white girls can't Step in some narrow minds.

I respect an ethnic group's right to dominate or focus on an area of the arts that is rich with cultural history, but it doesn't give any group an exclusive, nor should it. It certainly doesn't invalidate other artists' right to explore those areas and topics. Billie Holiday rocked the blues but so did Janis Joplin. Think of the loss if someone had insisted that Janis wasn't allowed to sing in a predominantly black genre of the arts.  Or if someone had told Jessye Norman she couldn't sing opera because that is only for fat white chicks. Native American made arts hold a higher value as they should because it reflects a direct line back to a rich cultural history. But that doesn't mean I can't paint a damn half naked warrior on a pony if I want. Or do african drumming (which i love), or belly dancing in turkish veils, or any number of other arts related activities that tie back into a particular culture. Exploring them and exploring the history or beliefs of any group of people is not only healthy, it makes us better people.

Stereotypes and moronic rules of who can and can't explore subjects and ethnic genres in the arts are debilitating to everyone. The barriers that keep being thrown up need to come down. People need to stop dictating what others can and cannot do - in the arts and in life.

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