On the Question of Culture

If you’re down with the culture, hip hop culture that is, then you’ve probably been bumping the new Migos album, if that trap sound is to your taste. After having given it a good listen, personally I think a number of the tracks are well-crafted. As far as the release as a body of work, it’s solid. I say that because the album title itself manages to conjure up the question of culture. For any trend observer, it’s quite obvious the hip hop genre and elements associated with it have penetrated many cultures beyond the black.

I came across a remark one of the group members made which got me thinking and ultimately sparked the idea for this piece. In a statement, he reportedly said: “It’s time to let the culture be known. It’s time to claim it.” I found that particularly fascinating and here’s why:

Firstly, let me pose a question. What does culture mean to you? If you’re wondering what my answer to that question is, then let me elaborate: aside from the obvious which is – everything relating to ideas, arts, social behaviours, and customs; personally I feel it’s much to do with ownership. That’s why I can relate to the aforementioned statement in quotes. What is interesting is that the question of ownership, as a black man writing this from my own personal observations of self and kin, is one we have not given enough thought, if our collective actions are anything to go by. But the fact that there are more conversation around it signifies a forward step in the direction of gaining some perspective and hopefully the betterment of our grasp of that particular subject since it has great implications beyond the scope of this article and which I can’t claim to have the expertise to expatiate on and consequently no intention of asserting because that is up to the people to contemplate, debate and ultimately act upon.

I’m no expert but in my humble opinion I believe that it’s time for a shift. Time for us to think more broadly as a nation of people however geographically dispersed. Time to be aware of our position relative to power. In essence, it’s time for Africans and those of African descent to rise up and begin to establish the basis for equal equity in today’s civilisation.

I remember a time when mama asked me what I wanted from an education, and what I was to do with it, and who I was hoping to become as a result of its attainment. I told her: “Not a superstar but a disrupter, an African innovator, the black Jack Ma” and what I meant is simply – something akin to what he is to China. She replied: “Now you’re talking my son. Go ahead, explore everything the world has to offer!”

Years later, after having traveled to other parts of the world, mixed and mingled with people from different cultures, and even having met many of my own people who are like-minded, I’m more than ever convinced that there’s still a greater need for us, especially the people of Africa, particularly the youth, who make up the world’s largest young demographic, to realise that success doesn’t equate to fame. There’s so much more we can offer outside our most notable sphere of influence which is admittedly, predominantly in the entertainment industry. But for that to occur on a larger scale than is currently, and by the numbers necessary to secure not only our advancement but our very livelihoods, then we need to adjust our reference points and widen our sources of inspirations.

For clarity’s sake, I’m not insinuating that there aren’t African people, or those of African descent who have made great achievements outside entertainment. But there’s need for a change in our attitudes and expectations for ourselves in order that we don’t continue to fall victim to ‘culture vultures’ and actually see our creativity and ingenuity translate into the upliftment of our collective condition which currently, at this point in history is still in a state that is dire. Because even though we are influencers of today’s globalised culture, we don’t have the systematic structures in place to make us bona fide beneficiaries.


© Heath Muchena, 2017

4 Comments on “On the Question of Culture”

  1. vivachange77 says:

    Bravo,Heath. You have a wonderful mama who sent you out to freely explore. I understand what you are saying, particularly about African youth. I hadn’t thought about that before. I am aware of the sad waste of black lives in the US. Racism is rampant under Trump. But that is not what you are talking about. I hear you saying you want Africans to act, not react. To be disrupters. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I of July says:

    It’s good to know one need not be black to relate. Thanks for being so brave to even make a comment. I know some people may think it’s not their place but it’s really not a matter of racial relations but simply empowerment to enable self-preservation in a time when so much is at stake.

    To understand the vulnerability of the condition in which the race exists is to imagine that if any other wishes to annihilate, the vulnerable have no real protections in place to prevent that from happening which equates to suggesting that as a race we are at the mercy of the others.

    To rectify this for generations to come since it’s imperative it be done if you consider history ie. something the Jewish people once faced – extinction to some extent, it’s not surprising that they have now become as a group of people the wealthiest and we know that wealth is power. Could this have been an unconscious result of creative evolution? I think it’s no coincidence, it’s adaptation.

    The white race as a collective consciousness was quick to learn about the vulnerability of their genetic material in the sense that the dark man’s gene is dominant when the two come into contact and again subconscious adaptation followed.

    Not speaking eugenics or superiority/inferiority complexes here but simple facts if one cares enough to go deep into the research and look at it from a logical perspective without the bias of political correctness.

    So my call is just for us as blacks to secure our stake in civilisation so we can guarantee our progeny a fighting chance should the age of tolerance be replaced which may be hard to imagine taking place in the near future but no guarantee can be set to ensure that will never be the case in future history. What we are witnessing in protectionist elements could one day be viewed in light of history as another shift in consciousness and who can be certain what future that can birth?

    So for blacks to ensure survival, not from some apocalyptic or insecure perspective but pure mathematical fact they need to adapt and whether that adaptation will be unconscious or conscious it doesn’t mean to do so would require the going against any others but only a greater unity among ourselves.

    It would not be too difficult when you consider we occupy the wealthiest space on the planet earth. An awareness of our real condition in light of power or lack thereof is what’s needed at this stage. Self-deception equals self-annihilation in my humble opinion. I must stress these are just my opinions. I hope that all makes sense.

    Thanks again for your comment. LOVE ALWAYS!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. vivachange77 says:

    These days being white offers no guarantees, at least in the US under Trump. I am sick at heart that he can sweep away the best we as a country have long struggled for as we work to include and safeguard all people. The protests and the love and compassion moving many Americans is real but politics and the awful drive for power is a terrible reality also. I have not known this fear before. I am afraid for my own children and grandchildren and the world’s children. Before social media we couldn’t speak of these things to people who live in other parts of the world that we have never seen face to face. Something new is being birthed out of this fault line of hatred that Trump has unleashed. I could not have imagined that my last decades would be ripped apart and I will be part of an epic struggle. I did not want this but can’t believe that God will abandon the world. As Jesse Jackson, a black man, wrote, “The long arc of history tends toward justice.” Love to you forever, Heath. ❤


  4. I of July says:

    I am not American so I really try to not have opinions about internal politics although they have global implications. There’s enough of our own politics to worry about. However, I do ready myself for the effects since we live in a globalised world now. What I will say is that from what I have observed, most people take the media’s interpretation of his rhetoric as the real meaning behind his words or actions for that matter. But if one is wise enough, in my opinion, they would understand that it’s not as simple as that. We live in world of opposing interests and forces down to the individual level so the manifestations on the political scene are not so surprising to me. In fact they are simply symptomatic. I’m empathetic towards all people including those who champion Trump’s stance. Blame and hate does little to bridge divides whichever way one looks at it. I personally don’t get emotional over politics, I just observe and see it for what it is – an element of human history and existence in essence. I’ve read a lot of it to know not to be too opinionated but I appreciate where you’re coming from. Thanks


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