Participation and Maintenance in Cultural Belonging and Development

For our consideration:

“A third possibility is that we can value a culture because we have participated in its maintenance or development. Here we value it because its reproduction is a product of our efforts. So, for example, by participating in black rhetorical repartee – what Gates calls the vernacular art of signifyin’ – one contributes to keeping this lively and enjoyable practive alive. As one’s contribution is a source of pride, one would therefore have a reason, apart from its intrinsic merits or utility, to value the culture. But, again, many nonblacks participate – to good effect, one might add – in black culture, while some blacks have made little or no contribution to the preservation or advancement of black culture. Some, arguably, have had a negative impact on it. Thus, some nonblacks could have an achievement-based reason to value black culture, notwithstanding the fact that the culture is not “theirs,” and some blacks will lack such a reason, despite the fact the culture ostensibly ‘belongs’ to them.”

The above is taken from Tommie Shelby’s, We Who Are Dark. While his work is a self-proclaimed philosophical work aimed at the foundations of black solidarity, I see within it plentiful food for thought where Muslims in America are concerned [insert Muslim for black]. The opening stream, especially as it talks about participation, is going to be key to our success. But where is our participation? Do we, as a Muslim community, even see a need to participate? And if not, how can we justify this apathy?

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