Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Problem with G's to Gent's

So here's the thing about G's to Gents...

Last season when I watched it I couldn't put my finger on what it was about the show that bothered me.

I watched the entire season, and at times was relatively entertained... but throughout... there was something about it that irked me...

And while watching Real World (which I love by the way... lol)... I finally put my finger on it...

The whole premise of the show is that Bentley (the show's host) is supposed to be changing the young men from "gangsta's" to "gentleman"... which on its face seems to be a very positive thing...

He encourages the men to be more involved in the lives of their children, to be less violent and to even be more financially responsible...

The problem is this, the entire show is situated within this "gentleman's club" constructed by Bently... which is supposed to mimick an elite country club... ironically... the same type of country club's that excluded blacks as a general policy not even 40 years ago...

The show places the construction of the "gentleman" as the ideal that all of these men [mostly men of color] are supposed to be striving for. the problem with their conceptualization of what constitutes a gentleman, and according to the show, what constititues "manhood," is how euro-centered it is.

In order to become "men"/"gentleman," the shows participants have to cut their hair, shed their clothing, and any other non-european cultural signifiers.

This is problematic because it infers that listening to hip-hop music, and participating in black/latino cultural traditions is one and the same as being violent, irresponsible and "deviant."

While lots of people would agree that whether we like it or not, black professionals often have to make cultural sacrifices in order to be a part of corporate or academic America. I think there is a difference between being willing to make the sacrifice so that we can change these environments for the future of our children... and actively perpetuating the attitude that european cultural norms are what is "professional," "acceptable," and/or even "normal."

If we accept "europeanness" as the goal... instead of cultural diversity and understanding... then ultimately, we are actively participating in rendering our own cultures and values illegitimate...

peace.

1 comment:

Academic Butterfly said...

Excellent post... I love you!