After Magritte

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Turning Japanese at Duke

Japan is an interesting place. One of the interesting things about Japan is how the language and the culture are intertwined. In Japanese, there is in-group and out-group. What group you are referring too changes the words you use. The groups are constantly changing. So, when talking to a co-worker, in the office, I would use in-group language as we are peers. However, if I see that person in a bar, while out with friends, I would use the more formal/polite out-group language for them, but the in-group language when referring to my friends. You are constantly thinking about people’s relation to you when speaking with them. It is interesting and may be part of why the Japanese are so (outwardly at least) polite.

The concept of a changing in-group/out-group is interesting when looking at how we identify as Americans. What lines do we draw in terms of race, class, gender, geography, etc? In the Duke lacrosse rape case, you have a group of white, upper class, male lacrosse players from Duke accused of raping a poorer, black woman. So, how do white, upper class, female lacrosse players from Duke identify?
Well, so much for the sisterhood. "Innocent" arm bands.

I am curious what it was that caused them to identify that way: race, class, school, stupid sport?

3 Comments:

Blogger Vanilla Bullshit said...

"[Your name], go stu-dy some Jap-a-nese." -- Stephen Hawking

I experienced this dynamic in the South when I was walking. Us vs. them. Sometimes I was us because I was white, sometimes I was them because I was a hippie. I heard the word "nigger" used every single day I was in the South. The vast majority of the time it was not said perjoratively - it was utterly casual, interchangeable with "guy." And not always used by white people either. It was kind of fascinating, in a horrifying sort of way. It is seriously disconcerting to hear the word nigger used in a kindly tone, which it occasionally was.

I think the first division is cultural. The white Duke women lacrosse players have far more in common cultrually with guys their same age, playing their sport, going to classes and living away from home than they do with a poor black local community. People will always close cultural ranks first. Race is the primary demarcator of culture in our society because it is the most obvious. Class is a close second. In the Duke case you have both.

You need to start a blogger war with that guy who called you a scruffy hippie. That would be the pinnacle of comedy, plus you are smarter than him and could goad him into some good-times mockery. Please please please please. Give VB a cookie.

2:26 PM  
Blogger TubaOnFire said...

The problem with starting a blogger war is I have so little time to fight it. I barely have the time to post here a few times a week. My fear is that I will start something and not be able to give him the smackdown he deserves.

Actually, I read his blog and he is not as bad as your guy. I love your guy. This guy is more of a tech guy who is obsessed with the having the phone companies fuck up the net. He is for this, of course.

On "nigger". When teaching, the Asian kids would often call each other "nigger" which was tremendously amusing.

4:04 PM  
Blogger TubaOnFire said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:04 PM  

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