Culture Conflict Theory
The way people view culture today is quite different from what it was intended to be viewed as. It has brought completely different results from what it was intended to yield. The word “culture” strikes terror in some instead of bringing a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, it has one man kill another, something that brings both pain and tears in many people’s hearts and eyes. Culture identifies an individual. It tells him or her where they have come from and where he/she is. It tells him where he/she belongs, where he/she is and for that reason, they know which direction to take from there. On the contrary, culture has been a source of conflict among people living in the same country, in the same state, in the same neighborhood and worse of all, between people living in the same home. To narrow down on this, the root of criminality can be found in a clash of values between various socialized groups over what they term as acceptable or proper behavior.
In America, there are as many different cultures as in the people. However, the most evident cultures are those of the African Americans, Whites, Asians, Middle East, Mexicans and Native Americans. Of all those cultures, the ones that have been in conflict since time immemorial are the African American and the White cultures. This is mostly because they constitute the majority of the people of all the races present. The African American community constitutes 12.6% and the Whites constitute 72.4% of the population according to the census carried out in the year 2010 (U.S Census Bureau, 2010). The Whites and the African Americans have always been in conflict with one another in their conscious or unconscious state over one thing or another. Although the conflicts have reduced as compared to the earlier days, those conflicts are still present.
The question of whether ones culture influences them how they will turn out to be have been a topic of debate for quite some time. Can the conflicts between two cultures influence how the young people will turn out to be? Can people become criminals because there is a clash of values between two or more cultures in a society? Can one thing be good to one culture but completely unacceptable in another? To hit the nail on the head, the answer is “Yes” to all these questions. Many things come up when one culture tries to defend their ways from the others. This is when criminal activities slowly come in. without blaming others; a culture on its own can also be a catalyst of criminal activities all by itself.
The African Americans have always to be different from the Whites but be treated as their equals at the same time. There are those who insist on talking in a different way, those who try to walk differently and some just want to go to segregated schools just for them, amongst others. In fact, there are neighborhoods that belong to specific people. In the African American community, like other communities, music is a very important part of them. They express themselves through music. Having many genres of music in the Unites States alone, there is a specific one known as Hip-hop. This kind of music, as most must have heard of it, involves a lot of rapping more than the actual singing (Alim 162). It is sung by musicians like, Ja Rule, Jay Z, 50 Cent, DMX, P. Diddy, Missy Eliot, Snoop Dogg, Bow Wow, amongst others.
These kind of music is can be used in a very positive way. It can be used to educate the young about sexuality, drugs and substance abuse and generally staying out of trouble. Unfortunately, it is mostly not used in this kind way. Musicians use it to curse, get back at each other using embarrassing words, smoking weed, amongst others that are of no much help. Most of the people who listen to this kind of people are teenagers and the youth. Most of the musicians are African Americans. If you go and tell one or a couple of people that this kinds of music are not a good influence to them, especially if you come from another race, then you have started creating enemies. Most of these musicians have been accused of engaging in drug pedaling. Are drugs not major influences of criminal activities? (Gabbidon & Helen 50)
As mentioned earlier, there are places where the criminal activities are more than others are. They are considered as places that are not so safe to walk around just as one wishes without having heard a gunshot, an arrest or death. Brooklyn in New York City for example, was known to have a high crime rate especially in the nineties and the years before. It has an almost equal African American and White population of 34.4% and 34.7% respectively. With this in mind, the people who were found doing these crimes were the young people. Most drugs, prostitution and other activities were being carried out using the young people. Although it may not have been entirely caused by the difference in culture, culture a major role to play. Each group was out there to prove out a point.
There is no one who likes being left out or being looked down upon. The African Americans were out there to show the rest of the ones that they were present. They wanted to show that they were not to be looked after. By then, racism and discrimination were openly taking place (Marsella 654). The young people used crime to draw attention to themselves. They were ready to do anything to show the rest of the word that their culture also mattered and they were capable of doing anything. By then, African American young people were known as people who involved themselves in criminal activities and who had no good upbringing. On the other hand, the young people from the White community attended school, achieved good grades and climbed up the social and academic ladder.
The difference between the two cultures and people’s perception on them has brought calamity in many neighborhoods and a nation in general. Each rises up to defend its own culture. Unfortunately, the rest of the society does little or nothing at all to help the situation. The media uses these kinds of situation to their advantage instead of bringing togetherness. Movies are released that “paint a very bad picture” of a particular culture and their people instead of trying to unite the two cultures. Numerous movies have been released showing the African American community as a community that has many youths doing all sorts of criminal activities and the White police officers are out there to get them.
Cultures are held very closely by the people. Some people would do anything to defend it. Others will commit different crimes in the name of protecting it. Having the differences in culture perspectives can be a root cause in criminal activities. People will sing Hip Hop and if they feel that you are against it as an individual or as a community, things might get bad. It is important for the society to use the media available in promoting peace and unity instead of adding insult to injury. Releasing movies that portray a particular community as the evil one and the others ready to get them is not an actual way of promoting unity (Marsella 672). Indirectly using hate speech during election time in order to gather votes is also not some of the good qualities of a leader.
It is important that the issue of culture be taken seriously with the sensitivity it carries. It must be appreciated that things a little better than they were in the nineties. However, there is still a long way to go. There are people who are still on the wrong path as far as shaping ones future is concerned. It is only fair that we derive the available resources into promoting better pictures of the cultures to avoid future conflicts and mistakes. Let people have a general understanding of each other’s culture. Hip-hop is not bad. It only becomes bad when it is done by the wrong people. The musicians should also know that the music they play has a major influence on the people and especially the young people. It is only fair to come up with something that will influence them positively rather than negatively.
Alim, H. S. “Critical Hip-Hop Language Pedagogies: Combat, Consciousness, and the Cultural Politics of Communication.” Journal of Language, Identity, and Education. 6.2 (2007): 161-176. Print.
Gabbidon, Shaun and Helen Greene. Race and Crime. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005. Print
Marsella, Anthony. Culture and conflict: Understanding, negotiating, and reconciling conflicting constructions of reality. International Journal of intercultural Relations. 29.6 (2005): 651-673.
U.S Census Bureau. “State & County QuickFacts.” U.S Census Bureau, 2010. Web. 8 July, 2011.