Observations from a Surburban White Boy


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The first-person narrative is simply beautiful to read, and I felt I was observing the story unfold in 3D as the characters grew flesh and bones inside my mind. The Hate U Give is an outstanding debut novel and says more about the contemporary black experience in America than any book I have read for years, whether fiction or non-fiction.


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The Hate U Give is published by Walker. Topics Children and teenagers. Fiction reviews. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? Most popular. The lines, then, are rather clearly drawn. Collins and Jacobson see the values of commercialism and community in unequal combat, with community values the loser in a " me only " cocooning world, while Schudson sees a synergy, apparently fueled by the sell interests of the market mechanism.

Egalitarian values. The concern here, Collins and Jacobson assert, "is that at some point championing excessive, consumption exacerbates social disparities of the kind linked to class conflicts, especially along racial lines. Some critiques of materialism, Schudson observes, are Marxist or socialist in their orientation, particularly those involving the accentuation of class differences. Collins and Jacobson, in contrast, assert that if consumption values dominate there will inevitably be the haves and the have-nots as defined by standards based not on intrinsic character or spirituality, but access to money as the means to the and of acquisition.

The value of thought. Here one is reminded of what Schudson calls the "Puritan critique' which 'worries about whether people invest an appropriate amount of meaning in goods. We are, then, for Collins, Jacobson, and Williams, clearly animale symbolica, easily distracted from function to fantasy, particularly with the symbol packages of advertising, all at the price of our more rational capabilities.

Predictably, Schudson places greater value on individual choice, symbol laden or not. In reviewing Schudson's article, George Will captures the theme: "Possession of a house that provides privacy, a car that confers mobility, clothes that express individuality, travel that broadens, is not a trivial thing. The clash on this subject of "the value of thought' then, would seem to be over a definition of 'thought" itself.

Clearly one interpretation is far more liberal than another. Simple and honest living. Frugality was a key word in the founders' civic vocabulary.


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  4. Addressing this elusive standard, he adds, 'How do we arrive at a baseline for consensus - and, if we can't and I think we can't , then what is the character of the moral objection to excessive consumption? In the past generation, people have listened to one set of voices from the East and have. Now we are listening to a different set of voices from a different East - the voices of Yeltsins and the unashamed emulation of economic abundance.

    Now, what have we learned from this ideological Super Bowl? Clearly that there are starkly different. One mechanism which may allow us to explore the subject with somewhat greater order and subtlety is the so-called "Potter Box," a mechanism for facilitating ethical analysis developed by Dr.

    Ralph Potter of the Harvard Divinity School. As you can see, the Potter Box first requires a precise definition of the situation to be assessed - what, in other words, is seen through the eyes of the beholders. Next, there is a need to address operating values - our presuppositions about social life and human nature - held important to us in relation to the particular situation assessed. Then there is a need to see these values in some way linked to solid ethical principles, to be rooted in some well thought out system of assessing rights and wrongs that transcend the whims of the moment.

    A final critical stop of analysis is then an assessment of where loyalty is owed - to the individual, for example, to colleagues, friends, or some abstractions such as the group, or society. For whether we observe a coherent pattern or not, by illuminating each of these rich variables we can better assess whether or not each of us is in agreement with the values, principles, and loyalties addressed. In other words, we can develop more acute insights into what we consider "unprincipled" activity if, for example, we assume a party is operating without coherent situation-values-principles-loyalties linkages or if we simply disagree with those which are in play.

    Definition of the situation - Collins and Jacobson could be interpreted as "seeing' a situation in which the values and actions characteristic of American society are increasingly dominated by commercialism and materialism, to the detriment of the commonweal.

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    Defining the "same' landscape, Schudson could perceive an 'Ideology of choice," with the benefits of a materialistic society outweighing the costs. What is of importance here? For Collins and Jacobson, there is apparently much to be valued, ranging from the psychological e. For Schudson, it would not be inappropriate to characterize his predominant value to be. As suggested earlier, in a general sense ethical principles can be divided into those that weigh the ethics of an act by standards that are dependent on the consequences of the act, and those that are not.

    Collins and Jacobson would seem to rely upon principles failing into the latter category. By contrast, Schudson is clearly concerned with consequences, and positions himself defender of materialism, largely because, "Consumer culture and advertising, along with elections, are the most important institutions that promote the ideology of choice. If one were to argue that Collins and Jacobson's loyalties were primarily to the individual, it could be added that it would not be to the individuals currently afoot in the market.

    Those individuals are, after all, responsible for at least the manifestations of materialism that the authors decry.

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    Rather, it would seem apt to consider their loyalty primarily to the shaping of the culture in non-commercial, non-material ways, often with a reliance upon a higher civic order such as government. In contrast, with his references to goods as authentic sources of meaning' for individuals, it can be contended that Schudson's primary loyalty is to individual choice, with the resulting decisions manifesting themselves in a "Consumer culture" without apology, and expressed in 1. To summarize:. At least these critics of the values and products of materialism tend to define the situation in terms of exploitation, placing emphasis on social and psychological values of rationality, simplicity, and social harmony, with ethical principles rooted in absolutist imperatives of higher truths, and loyalties to abstractions such as a society less reflective of, and dependent on, commercialism and materialism.

    By contrast, at least this defender defines a consumer culture as an arena of search for meaning in material goods, values individual choice in that pursuit, relies upon the familiar market system support of utilitarianism, and finds meaningful loyalty in the unapologetic consumer choice process. This seems, then, to borrow from a pioneering work by Bauer and Greyser, a classic example of a "dialogue that never happens.

    I began this exploration with the hope that, by attempting to examine some of the assumptions apparently underlying two representative positions in a controversial field, we could arrive at perhaps slightly enhanced understanding of some of the nuances involved. At the end of the quest, then, let me offer these thoughts:. For most of the perpetrators, relying frequently on market mechanisms to signal whether they have perhaps gone "over the line," there is simply no "off' button.

    Generally, the market is telling the commercializers and materialists, 'We're doing fine, thanks, except we could use just a little more. If this were the case, boycotts, letter writing efforts and the like could be organized, thus confronting the commercializer's normal reliance on the assumption of the greatest good for the greatest number. This is not, of course, likely to be a particularly easy sell, given the entrenched market rationale confronting it. A French intellectual was recently quoted as hoping with all his heart that Euro Disneyland "burns to the ground.

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    I do believe Schudson is right to focus our attentions on what he calls the "search for meaning" in consumption choices. We need, after ail, to start with individuals as we find them and certainly, for most of us, consumption plays a part, if not a defining one, in each of our lives. Hopefully, than, one avenue to greater understanding and action in this important area of societal focus is to examine the assumptions behind the words and the actions of those involved.

    Polemics are, after all, better tools for reinforcement than conversion. Ronald K. L Collins and Michael F. George Will, 'U.

    Observations from a Surburban White Boy Observations from a Surburban White Boy
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    Observations from a Surburban White Boy Observations from a Surburban White Boy
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