I was going to title this post ‘Tyler Perry Unitarian Universalism’ but Steven Rowe’s comment on my last post made me change my mind.
In his comment Steven says: Some of the “problems” with Brian McKnight might be more old fashion generation gap than culture gap…
I find this analysis fascinating and scary at the same time, for the same reason. If this is more generation gap than culture gap (and I’m not saying that I agree with that analysis), then how far back would I have had to go in order for most of the audience to get an R&B reference? Would Anita Baker have worked? Earth, Wind and Fire been ok? The Isley Brothers? Or would I have had to stick to Motown and Otis Redding?
Is it unreasonable to expect UUs to have some generational knowledge post-1985?
Now…the reason I think this is more cultural than generational is that I think I wouldn’t have had the same issue if my musical reference was Norah Jones and not Brian McKnight.
What I’m really trying to get at is that there seems to be a list of “approved” minority references that one can make in a UU church…for readings there is Ghandi….MLK Jr. …Amy Tan…Howard Thurman…Sandra Cisneros…in music there is Motown and Julio Iglesias…for TV and movies there’s Oprah…Rita Moreno….Bruce Lee…(I know there are more, but you get my drift)
As a member of a minority group, I have to be bi-/tri-/multi-cultural all the time. But, far too often in UU churches, there is the feeling that they don’t have to be. That anything other than NPR, classical music, PBS, golf and wine is not to be bothered with…that it is to be disdained.
So where does that leave those of us who actually LIKE pop culture? Or who have other cultural influences?
Do I think that everybody who walks into a UU church needs to know the current playlist of the local Urban Contemporary-/Country-/Latin- music station? No. Do I think you should know who Alicia Keys…Kenny Chessney…Enrique Iglesias are? Damn straight.
Do you need to know every person of color who is in the movies or on TV? Nope. But it helps if you know some beyond Denzel Washington…Will Smith…Antonio Banderas…Jackie Chan.
And for writers…how about going beyond the usual suspects of Tagore…Morrison…Walker…Tan…Cisneros.
Being multicultural is not as hard as UUs want to believe it is. It’s just really a matter of doing it, instead of just talking about doing it.