Thursday, December 9, 2010

History and Culture

It is always interesting to see the differences among individuals in their knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement. Not only in the sense of historical facts, but as to the different cultural influences that have crafted their concepts of the Civil Rights and the fight against racism. I believe I can speak for a majority when I say that during school we all spent at least some, whether it may have been a lot or not, time studying the “basics” of the Civil Rights Era. We are all taught about the courageous efforts of Rosa Parks and MLK, the different views of Malcom X, and of course the Jim Crow Laws. But I truly believe that it takes the history accompanied with cultural and life experiences to create a self-definition of racism.

A perfect example of this can be seen in Martin Luther King Jr’s philosophy of nonviolence rooted from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. During my history classes it was emphasized over and over that MLK was a proprietor of nonviolence, and while I had accepted that historical fact then, it was not until I watched the Academy Award winning film Gandhi (1982) that I truly understood the enduring pain that supporters of the nonviolence movement suffered. The movie helped illustrate to me the same anguish that was experienced during the nonviolent protest in the Civil Rights culture.

While movies such as Higher Learning (1995), American History X (1998), and the classic Remember the Titans (2000) helped build my connotations of racism, it is important to see that any cultural or life experience can be significant in the development of one’s personal beliefs concerning racism. Whether it may be a personal encounter with racism or a strong piece of influential media, it is the combination of history and our life experiences that build our unique perception of racism in today’s world.

What I’m curious to know is to what experiences help build what you know about the Civil Rights Era? As I was looking through Facebook today, I noticed a Youtube video that one of my friends had posted (see below). It was after watching this video I realized the many different perspectives that can be taken during a test of racial tension, even one as frequent as this situation. My questions to you is, are there any particular movies or songs that help you relate to the racial tensions of today? Perhaps there are not any movies or songs, but life experiences that helped form your views. I ask this question hoping to see the diverse attitudes within this blog demonstrate the importance of a historical and cultural experience when dealing with issues such as racism.

1 comment:

  1. Hamza, I think you make a good point that our views on the Civil Rights Movement have a lot to do with not only what we were told but the movies, music, and culture around us. I think that this makes it so that our views on the subject are heavily influenced by when and where we grow up and who we talk to about the subject outside of the normal history classroom. For me, the two places I saw racial tension expressed the most in pop culture were music and comedy. In both hip-hop and stand up comedy I feel like race is a very common subject due to its presence still today.