Friday, May 30, 2008

Race to an idea

It is an idea, this thing we call race. It is interesting to me that race exists even more obviously as a construction in Second Life than in first life. We choose our race here, except that it chooses us. But what do I mean by race? Something that really the word race does not describe. Race is something that people impute in to others, not something that really is intrinsic to a person.

And it is also that there is an appropriation of the characteristics that people impute as race. How much of anti-social transgressive behavior in Second Life is the appropriation of urban African American culture, and how much of avatarization centers around adopting stances, names, and behaviors that would be called "black" in the outside world. The appropriation of, and at the same time submergence of the actual racial characteristics from the visible avatar is important to me, in that at the same time that one sees few African avatars one sees a great deal of behavior which is, overtly and directly, modeled on urban African American behavior. Second Life has a lot of "pimps and hos" parties and places. It is a white place run by white people acting like their fantasy construction of what blackness is.

Now why is this? Why do people who are economically successful enough decide to act in a model which is less so? I'm going to write on this when I am done with some RL things that are taking up my time, because it is a prevalent issue in escorting, since so much of the direct sex trade is modeled on this lower end of the rl sex industry.


  1. I don't know, but I don't think the process is unique to SL; back in the 1950s white artists covered songs by black artists, and later the British Invasion made tons of money in part by selling us our own musical culture. Jive made its way to the general public, and now hip-hop and gangsta [sic] slang is doing the same. I'd rather the misogyny didn't come along for the ride.

  2. Race and power and the friction around it create a backdrop for expression that white urban culture lacks.

  3. I'm of two opinions about this. I've noticed that many "blingtards" I encounter in world are European, and a large percentage of them are French. I do know that hip hop has been popular in France for quite some time, which might explain why they seem to gravitate toward this culture in SL. It's amusing at best, disturbing at worst, regarding their interpretation of what they consider "hip hop" or "American black culture". (That's right kiddies, you're not fooling anyone when you wear a Yankees cap, a Raiders jersey, and a pink bandana at the same time!)

    And yet. A quick look at Myspace proves that, yes, so-called "ghetto" people are perfectly capable of owning and operating computers. So why do (probably white, although I shouldn't assume) people act surprised to see black people in SL? When I first came to SL, I danced in a "blingtard" club whose ownership was indeed African-American (they'd all met at another social networking site, they were from various places in and around Philadelphia, they met and hung out in real life, so I had no doubt that they were who they said they were). I don't really think it's fair to assume that the person behind the avatar is always white- in many cases, and I am living proof of this, the real life person is definitely not white.

  4. Yes, I am agree with you. Its painful experience for me. its so tough and painful to get killer abs.