When I was growing up, the entire world was in the grip of Beatlemania. I attended an all-girl’s school in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and hours were spent listening to and discussing John, Ringo (my favorite), George and Paul. Among the greatest fans was one of my classmates, a very talented jazz and classical pianist who grew up to become a very successful professional musician.
It is with some amusement that I read this,
A professor at Notre Dame de Namur University in California wrote a piece published by the Huffington Post claiming that his white friend trying to convince him to like the Beatles was basically a microaggression against him.
Psychology professor Adam J. Rodriguez, who is Puerto Rican, explained that his friend was part of “the dominant culture” that makes people Beatles fans — and the fact that he dared to criticize Rodriguez for not being one was insensitive and meant he just didn’t recognize the “power and privileges” he had as a white dude that Rodriguez did not have.
For starters, Mr. Rodriguez (no relation) confuses race with ethnicity, but, let’s take a look at the HuffPo article by the San Francisco psychologist,
Here’s what my friend did not consider: He grew up a white middle-class male in the 70s and 80s, to parents who grew up on the Beatles and were immensely influenced by them and other rock and roll bands. I grew up a Puerto Rican lower-class male in the 80s whose parents played guajira, salsa, and Motown/classic R&B/soul growing up. My ears had grown up hearing syncopation, multi-chordal harmonies, diverse percussion, horns, and groove-oriented rhythm sections. The Beatles CDs I listened to were classic rock, non-syncopated, guitar- and drum-dominated, and rhythmically and harmonically simpler. The type of music that he grew up listening to and loving was quite simply different from mine. It was neither better nor worse. Only different. My friend, caught in his ethnocentric blindness, could not grasp that somebody would have a different experience and values from him.
Notice how the Beatles were “neither better nor worse,” yet “rhythmically and harmonically simpler.” Hmm.
He piles on his (probably former) friend because his friend, a true Beatles and Led Zeppelin fan, couldn’t talk him into liking both years ago,
(yes, this is when music was not yet streaming)
There is an implication of a paradigm of normality, and when someone does not fit into that paradigm, it can be uncomfortable for that person, especially if they are dismissed because of their difference like I was.
Seems to me, that, if you have to go back to the olden days “when music was not yet streaming” to come up with an instance when one was made “uncomfortable”, one has been living a privileged existence indeed.
Especially when the HuffPo promises two more articles on social justice by Mr. Rodriguez.
As a person born and raised in Puerto Rico, I fail to sympathize with the outrage. I enjoy a large range of music, from Early Music and Gregorian Chant, to Matisyahu, but a little salsa goes a long way with me. It’s wonderful that so many of this blog’s readers enjoy the opera selections in the Sunday palate cleansers, but jumping from there into conclusions about “ethnocentric blindness” strikes me as, oh yes, ethnocentrically blind (or ethnocentrically deaf, since we’re talking about music).
No wonder Milo has declared war on so-called social justice (emphasis added),
Let me explain. In 2015, I saw the seeds of a movement begin to sprout. Across the internet, and even in fear-gripped halls on campuses, young people began to stand up and challenge the humourless, divisive, identity-obsessed elites that have taken over our cultural discourse. People of seemingly disparate interests and politics — gamers, pundits, metalheads, comic book and science fiction fans, atheists, Catholics, conservatives, libertarians and even many disaffected liberals — came together to agree on only one thing: art and culture should be left alone.
That movement is called cultural libertarianism. It stands against any authoritarian, from the Right or the Left, who sucks fun and freedom from the world like some kind of vampire without the cool factor, and who uses faux grievances and exaggerated victimhood to get what they want. Cultural libertarianism rejects the fainting-couch feminism and race-baiting of the Left in favour of deliberately provocative joyfulness and exuberance. It also predicates facts over hurt feelings, versus the social justice crowd who want to turn harrowing anecdotes into “lived experience” — which we are then expected to treat like scientific data.
And, failing those, there are the not-harrowing Beatles anecdotes.
2016 is going to be an interesting year.
Now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to listen to the White Album.