Notes From A Psyche-Evaluation(1st Quarter)

“Going through this thang y’all…about to pull this thang out…BUT IT’S AGAINST THE LAW…” – Erykah Badu, “Agitation”, New American Part Two(2010)

One growth spurt that I have picked up recently was a more comprehensive understanding of groupthink. I originally had the popular understanding that groupthink was more about conforming in a sort of Orwellian manner. After reading the section on it, and watching Erykah Badu’s video entitled “Window Seat”, and observing the reactions to that, I can admit to having a much more comprehensive understanding of it now, than then. Groupthink affects decision making and judgment because it proceeds from a very influential place: one’s peers, one’s authority figures, and even one’s idols(role models, possibly).

In the past week I have been criticized for critiquing Erykah Badu’s piece, supposedly a passionate artistic depiction of expression. I felt it was sexy. The video is of Ms. Badu stripping naked while walking the route that Former President John Kennedy took before his assassination. She is originally from Dallas, Texas, so I understood the underlying tones. However, I still felt that as a video that is as sensationalistic, resonating on primal levels for certain, there was more than just artistic expression being displayed. Furthermore, I still reserve the right to critique an artist. Especially an artist that has a great influence on people.

For me the problem of group decision making is the questioning of authority. When I say authority, I’m speaking about “experts”. I don’t have any evidence that can remotely suggests that the findings with regard to people being apt at choosing the expert opinion is incorrect. I would question the control environment in which any study of this nature would have to be conducted under. In cases of emotional appeals of influence it can be difficult for people to think critically. In fact, the most emotionally appealing(highest sensual[“of the senses”] expression/vibration) person becomes the “expert.” And it would seem as though their suggestions on any topic will be considered sanctioned by a body of their peers.

It can be difficult for a group of people to think and operate correctly if they are homogenous. The more we think alike, the fewer differences of opinion we can create, and the more difficult it will be to create best case versus worst case scenarios. If the judgment is based on a group of people’s emotional appeal to the “expert” of the group, then even more likely because we are all conforming based on our need to appease the “expert”.

Regardless, I felt the sting pretty deeply. The only case that anyone has been able to present for the defense of this video is Ms. Badu’s closing segment, while she is completely nude she simulates being shot. While on the ground a blueish green fluid flows from her head that reads “Group Think.” And this is what makes the piece supposedly political, and because she is a popular, “conscious” American Black woman, I am not supposed to critique her. Go figure, right?

eh…”get munny…don’t run from me trying to get away…”…

The Greatest Understanding Is Only Reached By The Student In Conflict With The Teacher…

Groupthink Interpretions and Other Slick, Hip, and Cool Concepts…

I was always around some extremely urbane and hip type person. Once I was able to fend for myself well enough outside of the borders of the kingdom provided for me by my parents, I was a cohort to a brother who fit the description well. He would always tell me, “Now, I don’t have to like you to love you, but I do like you…”

I was reminded of this tonight. And although it can sting, I think it is only proper for to be able to seperate the two, and even more important for anyone to be able to candidly express it. Whether it be that I like you, but don’t love you;or that I love you, but don’t exactly like you, or to be exact, like the behaviors you display. I do believe that American Black suffer from the inability to accept one another unless we fit this jello mold of activities. As though, in order to love me, you have to like everything that I do. How often have I seen family members stand up together against neighborhood threats, and yet, not one of them actually liked the other’s habits and idiosyncracies.

Often enough I realize that my style doesn’t reflect the stereotype, nor should I chose it to. I don’t like everything “Black”. I do love my “Black people”, but that doesn’t mean I have to like everything that we do. I think that is a very fine point that we often have difficulty addressing. And seriously, why should you trust me just because I laugh at all of your jokes? Why should you trust me because I “yes!” or “amen” all of your affirmations? Have American Blacks lost the ability to be critical? Are we so overwhelmed by groupthink that everything that we do must be compliant to the group norm? Can I not like skinny jeans, but understand that is only one form of dress in this vast world of various styles and fashions? Can I think that Erykah Badu was possibly aroused in some way while walking naked in Dallas, Texas without being labeled some derogatory term?

Can I reserve the right to not like everything that most American Blacks like?

Do we have to be “building” everytime we discuss something other than Kobe and Lebron? Does it have to be a “cypher”? Can we not slap fives at every well articulated point? Can I not be trying to “white/european/western” if I call it a “dialectical synthesis”? If I don’t rhyme or say something that we have been saying since the 1930s, can I please avoid ridicule? I’m not saying I love you any less…I just don’t always like doing everything we always do…

Can I avoid being labeled a sexist or a “little boy” if I don’t think Queens were all that moral? I mean, will you avoid my glances even more when we pass by on the streets if I remind you that Queens had concubines for their sexual enjoyment? [REITERATION: PURE SEXUAL ENJOYMENT]. So, if I call you Queen…I might be calling you a loaded term that may or may not represent you well. And for that matter, maybe I ought to think about who I call King. I mean, were ALL the kings noble? Were ALL the kings of great stature? I mean, is it alright for me to dislike some of the kings? Maybe I don’t agree with them. Maybe I think Hannibal should have made a left instead of a right. Maybe I think he was too haughty. Will I be lashed out against? Will I have to qualify all my statements with,”In all due respect”, or “not to disrespect the elder”?

I am an American Black because I was born in a global war that was lost, nobody made me one, and I’d like to keep it like that. I would like to reserve the right to act and carry myself the way I choose to based on my experiences, instincts, and the judgments that develop from them when allowed. I refuse to be bound by a culture that considers dance and sport more important that math and reason. I refuse to be bound by a culture that considers Jordans and Polos more important than being able to recite Wright or Jomo Kenyatta. But those are my likes, and we all have our very own. I still love you…but I’m learning to like you…give me time…as I work to give your space to learn me…

Erykah Badu’s Window Seat: All The Groupthinkers Get Down On The Floor…

The voice that is heard is often the opinion that gets voiced the most afterwards…

 

“Can I get a window seat…don’t want nobody next to me…I just want a chance to fly…a chance to cry…” – Erykah Badu, “Window Seat”(2010)

 

So, I’ve been on a twitter Hiatus, and I’ve noticed that I’ve been losing hits to the blog. Eh…what can you do right? Sometimes spiritual health is more important than ratings and hits. In essence, I’ll still be away for awhile, but I’ve sort of grown accustomed to blogging at this rate of one post a day, so, I’ll attempt to keep it up.

 

 

If you are on a mobile device, click link here for video(mp4 format) of Erykah Badu’s Window Seat

 

So what should I find when I check through a few of my other favorite social media sites….Erykah “On and On” Badu has put out another video(of course, we are going to discuss Erykah Badu’s Window Seat, did you not see the video and Erykah Badu’s booty?). Not one to critique the grand mind and artist that most brothers in the community credit with transforming Dre from Outkast to Andre3000, well, let us say I wouldn’t dare critique this piece without due diligence. The video opens up with a voice over of the original broadcast of President Kennedy’s arrival in Texas, and the news of gathering crowds to see the former President before his assassination. Before the crisp static of the broadcaster’s voice begins, we are told that the video is “Inspired By Matt and Kim”. That inspiration would be the video of indie group “Matt and Kim” that stripped down to their born day skinnies while walking down New York City’s Time Square.

 

 

Although I must say Mz. Badu is looking real nice for a sister that has had three children. I’m not going to even qualify my manhood. She looks right. And yes, fellas, I saw the bubble bounce. Of course, I also read the words “Evolving” written across her back. The question is what does one take away from this? What does the evolution of Mz. Badu mean for the rest of us who have gotten over the fact that we probably will not ever get a chance to palm the exposed one’s callipygian? In the retelling of Black Afrikan Amerikkkan(Black African American) history, will we not recall this as that time Erykah Badu got naked in that video? Will Black history remember the artistic penetration Erykah was pioneering when Erykah Badu went nude in a video?

 

And yeah, I’m being slightly facetious with Erykah Badu’s Window Seat. I understand the degree of courage it must have taken the sister to strip naked in downtown Dallas. The question remains, and lets not get too persnickety here…I witnessed the culture of Black Women in the US go from yelling about a rough neck, to practicing the 5% teachings, to practicing the ancient rituals and beliefs of the
Yoraba. We all have had our spiritual transitions, and even our political ones. The question is, what is Mz. Booty Badu’s naked commentary on groupthink going to influence? You do realize that Erykah Badu’s Window Seat, her exhibition, will now also be a part of a particular range of groupthink?

 

Well, before we discuss this, what exactly is groupthink?

 

The phrase coined by William H. Whyte in 1952 as the title of an article in Fortune Magazine.(source). In that article it is written,”Groupthink is becoming a national philosophy…Groupthink being a coinage — and, admittedly, a loaded one — a working definition is in order. We are not talking about mere instinctive conformity — it is, after all, a perennial failing of mankind. What we are talking about is a rationalized conformity — an open, articulate philosophy which holds that group values are not only expedient but right and good as well.”

 

The phrase is given considerably more concentration through the work of Irving Janis. Irving Janis in 1972 “used the term ‘groupthink’ to describe the type of decision making that occurs in groups that are highly cohesive, insular and have directed leadership.”(Newell, Lagnado, Shanks, 2007, p. 202) Janis is quoted as stating that “groupthink-dominated groups were characterized by strong pressures towards uniformity, which inclined their members to avoid raising controversial issues, questioning weak arguments, or calling a halt to soft-headed thinking”(Jani & Mann, 1977, p. 130).

 

Janis considered and put together a model of the groupthink, and delineated the symptoms of groupthink:

 

-the illusion of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encourgaging extreme risk taking;

 

-collective efforts to rationalize in order to discount warnings that might lead members to reconsider their assumptions;

 

-an unquestioned belief in the inherent morality of the group, inclining members to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of decisions;

 

-stereotyped views of rivals and enemies as too evil to warrant genuine attempts to negotiate;

 

-direct pressure on any members that express strong arguments against any of the group stereotypes;

 

-self-censorship of doubts or counterarguments that a member might have in order to create an illusion of unanimtiy within the group; and

 

-the emergence of self-appointed ‘mindguards’ who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter shared complacency about the effectivenss and morality of the group’s decision.

 

Now, back to bare back Badu…

 

We are given a metaphor. The butterfly. Well, the reversed butterfly…(I coined that if you do porn). The naked woman. The black naked woman. The assassination. The social group as herd. The human as fish, and prone to form schools as such. Much of what is addressed as the bootyful Badu returns to her nativity, commits a very real act(that guy behind her probably doesn’t have much time to wait to get those clothes she’s so daintily tossing behind her…), this is a real act of transformation…but how much is it diverging from groupthink? I don’t know yet…what are your thoughts?