Monday, August 8, 2011

Black Bottom

I've been thinking about this all week and I'm still really torn. I can easily see both sides of the disagreement we had last week.

Here's my thoughts on both perspectives:

Against using any reference to the "Black Bottom"
- If some people in our class think that there is a racially negative connotation associated with Black Bottom, it's very likely that some portion of our "audience" will make that association as well.
- I generally think it's important to avoid making any group of people (grouped by gender, race, geographic location, etc) seem inferior in any way. Is "the bottom" a pejorative word? Does is imply inferiority, even if in the context of our project, we mean nothing negative by the title?

For using a reference to the "Black Bottom"
- I agree that it really isn't our place to assign a racial stigma to a term that people proudly accept for themselves
- I don't think the term is inherently discriminatory. I think WE are making it out to be so, which means we are the ones creating this potential racial tension, not the term itself.

Here are some websites/articles that reference the area called the Black Bottom. From everything I've read, The Black Bottom is just a very blunt recognition of a geographic area and what was once a racial majority in the area. It doesn't seem like there is any association of shame involved.

From the last link I just posted:
In 1976, six people from the neighborhood founded the Black Bottom Association. In September of that same year, the Association held a dinner party to celebrate their first “family reunion.” More than 100 people attended the affair.

The first Black Bottom Association annual picnic was held during the summer of 1984 at Belmont and Parkside Avenues. Two hundred people, contacted simply by word of mouth, attended the gathering. Many of the families had not seen each other since 1976. To this day, the Black Bottom Association has an annual picnic on the last Sunday of July.

In addition, On March 25th, 1999, the Council of the City of Philadelphia designated the last Sunday of August as Black Bottom Day in Philadelphia, “in fitting tribute to the great history and legacy of this great and historic community.”

Though the families may have been physically displaced, spiritually the former residents of the Black Bottom remain united.

To me it really seems like "The Bottom" is something that is very matter of fact, very rooted in the history of the area, and is celebrated for what it is and what it means to the people here.

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