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In reaction to my prior post about Trayvon Martin, a reader here named Happy left a comment that is so well-worded I'm going to reproduce it below. The central brilliance of Happy's writing is that he substituted an unloaded word for a loaded word and it transformed the argument. I even like his choices for line spacing and pacing. And check out the word economy; nothing wasted.

I'm not endorsing Happy's opinion. I'm just impressed by the persuasiveness of his writing. In Happy's words...

"When I buy a can of Coke, I see the label, and I know what to expect.

Stereotypes are wrong of course. But brands are good.

So if there are a bunch of people that dress a certain way, and act a certain way, they are creating a brand for themselves.

There's a nerd brand. There's a metro-sexual brand. There's a jock brand, a cheerleader brand, a gothic brand... I can go on but of course you know what I mean.

Then there is a gangster brand.

This may be shocking, but if you dress like a gangster - talk like a gangster - and ride around in a car like a gangster, people are bound to pick up on the brand you're showcasing.

I suppose it could be related to race - but I don't think so. I can have the above stereotypes in any race - no problem.

If you want to be treated like a nerd, dress like a nerd. You want to be treated like a gangster, knock yourself out, and dress and act like a bad-ass.

But when you do, don't get upset when people react to the brand you're pushing.

Does that make it right for someone to beat you up because you're a nerd, or shoot you in cold blood because you look like a gangster? Hell no - of course not.

But on the other hand - if you dress like a respectable member of society, the chance of getting treated better is certainly going to be higher.

So why bother acting like a bad-ass?

I don't get it.

I'm not going to get into the specifics of this case - that's not the point. The important thing to remember for us and our families is that it's important to portray the right, positive brand. It won't hurt to make the world a better place, now will it?

So put away the gangster image. Don't do it - and don't let your family do it. The world will be a better place for it."

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Someone famous once said, "You're not a writer until a writer tells you you're a writer." You're a writer, Happy. But I suspect you already do that for a living.




 
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Jul 25, 2013
Yeahp, he's gotten halfway there.

The thing is, brands are a form of cultural signalling, just like dress sense, accents, the movies you say you like, the festivals you choose to celebrate, body language, etc. Where people exist, communities exist and hence cultures exist. Each of these cultures have their signs, their aesthetics which you either conform to and be seen as part of the in-group, or you don't conform to and are seen as an outsider. Self-identity is intertwined with this cultural identity, giving you the motivation to seemingly and willingly dress like a gangster to an outside observer, but what you're really doing is to signal to your immediate community that you are a part of them, to identify with them.

Perhaps this transcends race and class, but really, this is where the argument fails. Because even though race and class aren't the only factors in how you 'brand' yourself, they often are pretty heavy influences.

That's why talk about peer pressure and rejection of peer pressure is so infuriating. Peer pressure is the fundamental mechanism of humanity.
 
 
Jul 25, 2013
Glad you posted that. Would have missed that extraordinary piece of writing as I don't read the comments section. Very well done Happy.
 
 
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Jul 25, 2013
Brilliant; a longer version of the ... "if it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, ..., then its ***likely*** to be a duck."

There are risks associated with certain brands, and when split-second life-or-death decisions are being made, your choice of brand can make a lot of difference.
 
 
Jul 25, 2013
Excellently put.
 
 
Jul 25, 2013
That is phenomenal...
 
 
 
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