Blog: Goffman “England riots: ‘The whites have become black’ says David Starkey”

David Starkey states that “the whites have become black.” What does it mean to be black? Or be white? Is being black a result of being ignorant, speaking broken English and dressing a certain way, while being white is being right. Speaking proper English, economically stable and better fashion? David claims that it’s based on “black culture” not skin color. An example that was brought up was if a successful black man were to speak on TV, turn off the video, listen to only audio, David thinks that an individual would come to the conclusion and say he’s “white” based on the way he speaks. Personally David doesn’t have an idea what is going on within poor black nor poor Caucasian communities. This is a form of Goffmans labeling theory which states how public labeling, or branding, as deviant, has adverse consequences for further social participation and self-image.

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4 responses to “Blog: Goffman “England riots: ‘The whites have become black’ says David Starkey”

  1. I once heard a black guy say that I was acting white, I don’t think that he was aware that he was contributing verbally to the symbol, black means unenthusiastic. The more these symbols are being created, the more black people who self internalize such symbols and whites who believe in them become separated. We need to make new symbols to work together optimally, and this needs to occur be rooting out all pasts ones and ritualizing black, white, and anyone else’s inventions. We need more respect for each other and ourselves.

  2. You’ve identified the central questions: What does it mean to “be black”? Or “be white”? Starkey says it’s a collection of cultural characteristics — or symbols, as Crystal suggests — and not “skin color.” Thus, Starkey contends his perspective doesn’t qualify as racism. He seems to assume that categorizing — and ranking — people on the basis of cultural values and practices,is something different from racism. But to social science researchers on race, this is an example of the “new racism,” which comes with “race neutral” rhetoric and uses culture to group and rank populations in terms of worth and capacity. In any case, notice that he keeps the white-black symbolic hierarchy intact.

  3. My experience, when a black person is identified as acting white, most laugh at the comment, and most of the time the person takes it as compliment. What’s that about? It must be something good, and when a white person acts black it suggests something deviant about the individual. How do we change this a society?

  4. Starkey seemed to label blacks a lot throughout the video. He would refer to blacks as “these people” and put them in a negative light. He wouldn’t admit that his idea of the black community was racist, but he would generalize the black community based upon what he seen in the media or what he’s experienced. I remember he talked about rap and said that it causes riots and tried to basically say all rap is negative. Crystal said that all rap is not negative and asked him when was the last time he listened to a rap song. Crystal is right, I listen to rap myself and have listened to a lot of positive rap songs that promote school and send out positive messages to young kids. Starkey might’ve heard one negative rap song and generalized all rap music to be bad.

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