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At times the self may be bicultural only in ideas and thought, for the individual lacks the opportunity to actual live biculturally. Very recent immigrants who are barely learning the language of the new country, and have yet to fully understand social cues and the deeper nuances of the language and social customs of the new country would fall into this category. Indeed, the chapter on becoming musically bicultural is an example of the bicultural self as ideas and thoughts, and we could extend Simmel's analogy to include, in this case, living musically in one world while socially restricted by segregation from living in some of the situations which provided the creative fuel for the world from which one is excluded. It is in this same sense that millions of teenagers in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America may experience Black American musical culture hip-hop and rap, and attempt to sing, dress, and act as if they are in an environment similar to the ones they have seen in American movies and videos. Their bicultural selves are rooted in images and are fed by their youthful imagination, but the social structural background where theses, at least some of them, middle class youth, play out the drama of rap and hip-hop reside in the bicultural self as idea and thought. In a Kantian mode, also may be Schopenhauerian, it might be suggested that the idea and thought always precede the actual doing or living.
The idea of biculturalism or multiculturalism has come into sharper focus due to changing intra-national and international demographic shifts, expanding global economic markets, and persistent ethnic and religious warfare across many continents. These global political, cultural, and economic dynamics have forced us to deal with two intensely reverberating, and conflicting, cultural themes and tradition that threaten to unravel many social and political units deemed heretofore strong and unbreakable. One tradition supports and justifies a monocultural view of the world. This perspective asserts that a nation-state functions best when it is defined and controlled by one dominate cultural framework. The logic and justification for such a view is mirrored in the history and philosophy of societies and nation states which have waged relentless wars of conquest; in such wars, victors have attained and often maintained both political power and cultural hegemony over the defeated. Whether the initial causes of warfare were grounded in disputes over religious differences, land disputes, control of the seas, or overseas colonies, the reality is the victory of one nation or society over another would result in the submergence and subservience of one culture over another, as reflected in the victor's religion, language, political system, etc. The laws and rules of conquest and defeat reverberate throughout human history and whether in Africa, Asia, Europe, or North and South America and are deeply rooted in human, tribal, and clan differences. The various religions have historically justified the conquest by their zealots over non-believers, but it is only in recent history that a new and devastating logic was proffered to justify the domination of one group over another. The combination of European colonialism and imperialism, aided by the scientism of Social Darwinism and the nationalistic ideas of Manifest Destiny gave support to the ideals of White supremacy. Despite subtle political and religious differences between Western nations what they held in common was the belief that they represented the destiny of world civilization, and thus had an obligation to conquer the “uncivilized” world in order to save and perpetuate Western values and ideals. Thus, the growth and evolution of European and American social, political, economic and religious history and thought was not one in which conquering countries and groups sought to “understand” the conquered, nor would it be predicated on any cultural equality, or cultural equivalency between the victors and the vanquished. For example, in the United States the colonial government and the young republic fought Native Americans, the French, Spain (twice), the British (twice), then Mexico, for cultural, political, economic, and social hegemony over what is currently the landmass of the United States.
I don’t remember exactly when I began to be interested in music, but my mother and godmother would laughingly recall when they knew I would be musically inclined. Though I…
I don’t remember exactly when I began to be interested in music, but my mother and godmother would laughingly recall when they knew I would be musically inclined. Though I was then in diapers, whenever Tommy Dorsey's recording of Boogie Woogie was played, I would immediately begin to pat my feet. My first conscious memory of reacting to music when I was very young were the times my father would sing little ditties and play his banjo. He could carry a tune, and he played the banjo quite well. His greatest musical feat, however, was as a whistler, and I would try to imitate his whistling style, without success as I grew older. Then too, my siblings and I would sing and recite little nursery rhymes before our parents, and I would compose songs for my sisters to sing. Before he died an early death at 37 my father gave me a mouth harp and a harmonica which I kept for many years; I later misplaced it while in college. I later bought another harmonica which I kept throughout my years in the U.S. Army, my travels throughout Europe, and throughout my years in graduate school. How and why we each possess the talents and skills we have are questions I’ve never fully understood. So I’ve concluded that we just have them, and we’ll never be able to explain it. Throughout this chapter four reference points will be used to explain my exposure to music and my music biculturality: schools, churches, home, and my neighborhood. If I make very few references to whites, it is simply because during my early life my contact with whites was minimal, and white individuals played a minor role in my life, as at home my world centered around my parents and godparents, siblings, and other family members, and neighborhood friends; at school my world was a completely black world. The first white I got to know outside of my early work experiences was the white Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church who visited St. John's Episcopal Church at least six or seven times a year.