the second language of the american dream

kelley oudies at
Wed Aug 4 07:41:43 PDT 1999

heyaz chaz!

one thing that i wonder: although everyone seems to suggest that people dream of a world in which they don't have to work, apparently those folks who do win go on working, often in their very same jobs.

chaz baby writes:

>Charles: My recall of Coleman Young's autobiography is that he has a
thesis similar to Kelley's regarding the hustler/workhorse types in Detroit's Black Bottom working class neighborhoods in the 1930's through maybe the 1970's and even to today.

though she takes a rather 'conservative' view of family compared to some feminist, patricia hazard gordon argues that part of the decline of urban areas wasn't just deindustrialization but the loss of opportunities for hustling outside the legit economy. she specifically addressed the legalization of gambling. though, i get thoroughly pissed about this, too often folks valorize these alternative practices forgetting that they emerged because there wasn't access to legit, well paid jobs. so white feminists have often looked to the alternative practices they find in black families as a way of critiquing the hegemony of "the family" yet sometimes don't acknowledge the role of capitalist racism in forcing people to develop these alternative. carrol stack sullivan's _all our kin_ is a good example of work that acknowledged this problem but was valorized in a way that left out sullivan's critique of the role of capitalist racism.

another movie example of contemporary hustling: white men can't jump. wesley snipe's character hustles precisely in order to achieve the american dream of family, house in suburbs. his wife stands in the doorway of that house, holding the kid, and demands that he achieve the dream so she can be a housewife and live in the suburbs [resonates for me too coz this is what my mom did: saw upward mobility as escaping the factory work that me gram did]

>As alluded to by SnitgrrRl, most rich are rich by chance of birth; they
make their money the old fashion way; they inherit it. Thus, the theme of luck in gambling is another aspect of the rich life in a varied form along with escaping in an illusory way the tyranny of money, worrying about paying bills, debts.

yah, which makes it counterhegemonic in the sense that it reveals that ppl know that the first american dream is a lie. see, this is what i mean by how social research and activity with already existing social movements or practices of resistance can reveal contradictions. were we to just look at survey research on opinions and attitudes then we wouldn't see this, people would speak in the first language of the americandream. but we can see it in people's activities and, in some forms of research/ political practices, we can reveal the contradictions and raise consciousness. oh so hopelessly idealistic i am, eh chaz???? i ought to be shot and put out of my misery.

>I think it is important that Kelley has introduced the contradictory class
category of "hustler". This is a street entrepreneurship in which the opposites working class/bourgeois unite in a spectacular way. The two main classes are the bougeois and the working class.

another movie that just came to mind: Rainman. cruise's character rejects his father's old capitalist values and is pissed off that he didn't get the money coz he 'misbehaved' so he ends up leading a life in which he imagines that he can rebell against old capitalism in favor of new capitalism. but the seemingly deviant brother who he treats as a means to an end and the good caring girlfriend teach him how to have good old fashioned capitalist values. and old faschioned capitalism wins the day!! siss boom bah!

>he petit bourgeoisie are almost a strata. In some ways, the full opposites
bourgeois/working class have more in common than either do witht eh petit bourgeoisie. The street hustler is a transform of the real bourgeoisie , who are much more "street" than might be thought. Capitalism is a jungle like the street.

mebbe. though don't you think the street hustler rejects the big biz capitalism in the same way folks reject corporate capitalism that's supposedly lost its entrepreneurial spirit: set in their ways, dead wood, not innovative, and the like. the entrepreneurial spirit is supposed to rescue us from the hold of bad capitalism. gak. anyone seen that tv flick about bill gates and steve whatshisface? the young bucks against IBM; young bucks fuck IBM over by exploiting their established capitalist practices, signified by the gray-suited sameness, ritual, dim-wittedness. i mean talk about very nearly portraying old capitalism as gray and dull and stupid as communism is typically portrayed.

> Maybe Pete Rose will be rehabilitated and make the hall of fame.

now that is very likely if'n ya ask me. but not coz of legalized gambling.

not that i agree. sorry. i think he's a shit and i don't want my kid looking up to him. though my dad thinks i'm waaaaay wrong. of course. ;-)

>The entertainment industry and Hollywood dreams does get over , and that
industry is allied with casinos, those palaces of dreams of luck.

but don't forget it's about playing lady luck in just the right way. which is why it's still about hard work and still replays the hard work aspect of the hegemonic american dream--that one can take fate in one's hands. that the system can be overcome by the foxy street smarts of the individual underdog.

an american dream that still rejects society as the enemy really. one retreats to family and friends, a society of one's own choosing.


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