America Needs Some Perspective

culturedivide

I used to think that Americans like me who had a strong point of view on topics related to positive social change all had some sort of elevated perspective that precluded them from falling victim to ignorance – like the racists, misogynists, classists, elitists and other “ists” they fight so hard against with their good intentions and enlightened actions.

I used to think that I, as an anthropologist, had a pretty solid handle on the various cultures operating within our country’s borders and the direction we were headed in from a unified cultural values perspective.

Then November 2016 happened and I realized that – while I did see at least some of the writing on the wall, I had blinders on to a lot of things i didn’t want to see – like the depths of my own privilege and “class cluelessness”. I started out like everyone else in the professional managerial and media elite thinking ” WTF Happened! How did we not see this coming?” And I am not just referring to politics but also to the general cultural wars that have been exploding like volcanoes all around us – the tides of nationalism and regionalism and racism and all those other “isms” aforementioned.

So here’s the thing – there are a number of social scientists and journalists and writers and other concerned American voices like me who have decided that it’s well past time we all got some perspective. And not just from the conversations we have in our social media echo-chambers with people who think just like us.

We all need to get out of our comfort zones a bit. We need to admit that we have all been narcissistic in our own right – believing our experiences of the world to be undoubtedly true and right and valuable to the exclusion of the experiences of those who don’t look like us or live like us. We are all guilty of it – from the Holler to C Suite and everywhere in between.

But I know who I am talking to with this blog. I am talking to people who care about seeking first to understand. I am writing for people who are seeking perspectives other than their own. So I am going to do my best to, as regularly as possible, use this forum to introduce new perspectives on our American Culture.

I will highlight popular and unpopular points of view and seek to break them down. I will present uncomfortable perspectives. I will challenge us all to be the change we want to see in the world by seeking first to understand and then to be understood.

Because I believe somebody has to notice and somebody has to talk about this stuff and it might as be the job of a Narcissistic Anthropologist. So – I am making an official commitment to do my part to make America great by giving us a look in our national mirror, showing us the good, the bad and the ugly.

As a starter recommendation, I suggest the following books:

White Working Cass: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America by Joan C. Williams

Hand To Mouth: Living In Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture In Crisis by J.D. Vance

Even if you come from roots in the working class or working poor (like I do) or from deep in the foothills of rural America, it’s always worth it to put our experiences in context from another human’s studied perspective.

I implore you to share this blog with whomever you believe will find it valuable in whatever way that means to you. I also humbly ask that you share thoughts on topics you would like to see covered here: whether that be related to specific subcultures, points of view, political ideologies, religious values, etc. If it’s a part of our American culture and it’s not being talked about enough or being talked about too much without going deep enough – I want to know about it and do my best to help us all understand.

Thanks to everyone who still clicks on this blog so very many years later. It’s an archive of my social conscience and I hope it means even half as much to you as it does to this Narcissistic Anthropologist.

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