One of my friends JP told me about a book that argued the following. White people have much less limited access to what they want in our society, compared to people of color. Disaffected white people tend to dress to express a desired social distance, a rejection of society. Disaffected people of color tend to dress to express a desire for full access to social goods. This is all very reductive, but it does track onto interesting questions. This year I went to a big victory celebration for a union local made up primarily of older latinos; folk were mostly dressed to the nines. I also went to an anarchist bookfair made up primarily of white youth; folk were mostly dressed really raggedy. I’m not sure what any of this means. I’d like to know.

I also was wondering if there’s a parallel here musically. I’m over the visual aesthetic of social rejection but I’m drawn to a musical version of it. I like a fair amount of intensely abrasive music. I like the sound very, very much. Unfortunately, this sound is sometimes accompanied by a parallel lyrical abrasiveness/extremity that includes some pretty seriously hateful content (and sometimes for me this has been genuinely hurtful). Most of this music involves subcultures that are primarily white.
At the same time, I’ve recently started to get excited about much more music that is genuinely pretty or beautiful, some of which is also very powerful – today as I miss my family who are out of town, I found a video of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” – and which deals with much more pro-social lyrical content. There’s some connection here to race as well but my mental pilot light just went out, it’s late and I have to be up early and have much to finish yet before bed. I’ll have to cogitate on this one.

A few sputtering sparks… Sort of related, I think. Hip hop culture as multiracial youth scene, at least in some cities. There are punk scenes like this too sometimes, I would guess (perhaps unfairly) that the dynamics are somewhat different, perhaps in part because punk is still a majority white and I think white hegemonic subculture, which hip hop is not (I think, I’m not very familiar with the genre). A parallel here perhaps with ska in England in the 70s. Some connection here between the tangle of inspiration and appropriation on the part of white musicians – the Clash, for instance. Some analogy here as well to the idea of black freedom struggles as central to the real movement that abolishes the existing order.

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