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September 16, 2007

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Sara

Well I don't buy "bling." I count myself lucky everyday that my Mother, Grandmother and Greatgrandmoter all loved diamonds, emeralds and pearls. There is something to be said for being the only girl of an only girl of an only girl - you get to inherit all the goodie girl stuff.

SteveMG

'Twas I who posted about the (obvious, I thought) need to differentiate between "racism and "racialism". Documenting differences between/among races is not racism.

As anyone reading the commenters can see, it's a lost cause.

But I refrained from mentioning Veblein's "conspicous consumption" theory. Black people buy "bling" in order to impress their peers; whites buy homes (?) to impress theirs.

One man can do only so much.

SMG

Sara

SteveMG - when I was maybe 9 or 10, I asked an adult, "why do all the "colored" people (I know really dating myself) drive expensive Cadillacs." I was told it was because they weren't allowed to spend their money on nice homes because they had to stay in the bad parts of town.

I've thought about that from time to time. When I got old enough to understand what racism is, I thought that statement was racist, until I learned that it was describing a truism, at least in my hometown, were redlining mortgages was prevalent. Oft times it seems we call the description of a problem racist, instead of dealing with the underlying issues or the context.

Ralph L

I noticed as a child that the shabby houses of the blacks near our country club had fancier (and cleaner) cars than we did. As if white people were immune to overspending for reasons of status.

SteveMG

Sarah:
SteveMG - when I was maybe 9 or 10, I asked an adult, "why do all the "colored" people (I know really dating myself) drive expensive Cadillacs." I

Yes, I had a similar experience (we're all dating ourselves).

When I was about 5 or 6 about 40 years ago, we lived in Jacksonville, NC as my father was stationed at Camp Lejeune marine base.

A black driver had rear-ended my father's car and agreed to pay the damages. Well, several weeks went by and every time my father went to his house, he said he didn't have the money.

Eventually, my father asked a policeman to go with him (I tagged along) to go to the black man's home and get the money.

Well, the house was, sad to say, a shack. Just terrible. But his car was, yep, a cadillac. I remember thinking that all the black people I had seen drove cadillacs.

Even worse, when the black man saw my father with a police officer, he started to shake and get real scared. He pulled out his wallet and paid my dad.

Until then, I really had no knowledge or experience with black people.

(Okay, Harper Lee I ain't).

SMG

kim

Sara, I knew a woman who was the daughter, grand-daughter, great grand-daughter, and great great grand-daughter of four blacksmiths, the last two of whom collected anvils. She had a collection of two hundred anvils, and the Smithsonian wanted them, but expected her to pay the freight. Needless to say, a smaller, more local, museum got them.
===============================

sylvia

Perhaps we can trace this cultural difference of the love of bling or houses all the way back generations to the climate of the respective races. Europeans mostly came from cold climates where the house was a life or death situation, Africans came from a warmer climate where shelter had less significance. Could be a theory.

By the way, love the reference above to Swede philosopher Thorsten Veblein(sp?). I picked up his book accidentally in my highschool library and even though the writing style was kind of hard to understand (maybe it was the translation) started reading it and it really opened my eyes to the meaning behind so many of our status symbols. I think his writing is just as important as Freud to understand our societal psychology.

BarbaraS

When I was a kid cars to the blacks were bling. They lived in rental shacks owned by whites. Filthy run down places with no grass just dirt yards but had cadillacs parked in the front yard. This was their bling. There were nicer neighborhoods they could have moved to but it was way cool for them to drive down the streets so everyone could see them. Yeah, their houses were dirty, nasty shacks they never cleaned up but the cars shone with cleanliness. Go figure.

BarbaraS

Also gold teeth fillings were bling to the blacks. The cars and the fillings were their way of showing success.

Aaron

My Taiwanese wife tried to buy me god-awful thick gold necklace bling...I tried to explain to her that "my people" didn't wear bling, but it did not compute. I tried to explain that maybe Italians could wear it...was it a Friends episode where Joey and Chandler has matching bling?

It was interesting as usual to have your deep-rooted cultural preferences come to the surface.

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