The Countercultures of the 1960’s and 2000’s

The Sixties has distinguished itself as a decade that saw great cultural and political upheavals. The movements of the Sixties were struggling against the most problematic and difficult issues of post-war world — racism and poverty, dehumanization in the developed world due to technology, and Third World liberation (Morgan 4). By the 1960s, the ghetto communities of California became overly poor, overly policed, and extremely resentful. This tension between a racist and repressive police force led to civil disturbance and unrest in the United States.

Growing unrest led to the rise of the civil rights movements such as the Black Panthers in Oakland, the Black Berets (Chicano) in San Jose, and the Brown Berets in Los Angeles. In an effort to divert or destroy growing movements for social change, the government infiltrated most civil rights and community activist groups, precipitating their demise or diminishing their influence (Rodriguez 12). In the fall of 1966, two young black militants, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California.

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They wanted to have African-American history courses taught in the college as well as the employment of additional black teachers but soon evolved in response to a survey of the community to include a ten-point platform which called for “Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice and Peace. ” This basic ideology has been flexible enough to be adapted to meet the needs of all those who conceptualized the Black Nationalist struggle as one of both race and class (Harris 162). The Brown Berets was an organization who initially led the cultural awareness and social-political activism in the 1960’s for the young Hipics.
They were a new generation of Mexican students characterized by increasing militancy over continuing inequity in education and inequality in economic opportunity. However, the Brown Beret’s resistance to police harassment, coupled with their military idolatry and political romanticism caused the organization to degenerate into militant violence and, gradually, to alienate the Mexican community and its youth altogether (Alfieri 1569). In the late 1960’s, a group was formed calling for a new gay radicalism. It was called the Gay Liberation Front which aimed to fight the cultural homophobia alongside racism, sexism, and militarism.
It was formed after the Stonewall Riots which started with the raid on a gay bar. The police was met with much resistance and shouts of “Gay Power! ” The movement aimed to free sexuality, transform the family as an institution, end anti-queer violence, and develop a new vocabulary for the erotic (Shepard 49). The 1960’s also saw the rise of rock music and alongside it, the movement known as the counterculture emerged. America’s youth was vulnerable to the messages of rock music’s sounds. From this emerged a group called the hippie.
“Hippie” meant different things to the older and younger generations. According to Terry Anderson in The Movement and the Sixties (1996): Parents usually stated that hippies included everyone revolting against something, or simply revolting to them, and mainstream journalists simply labeled them “dirty, costumed protesters” who had long hair, smelled, and smoked dope. Marijuana was the “staple of hippiedom,” declared Time, “L. S. D. its caviar,” and Nicholas von Hoffman added, “if the word means anything, it means a hippie is a dope dealer.
” At the end of the decade a journalist summed up the older generations’ level of knowledge of the counterculture when he gave his peers advise on how to spot a hippie: “Well, hippies look like hippies” (243). The hippies promote a bloodless revolution of young urbanites, who, although they protest against much in society, are non-violent protesters, and who symbolize their attempt to overthrow western values by their home-made clothes, their rejection of the distinction between ‘decent’ and ‘obscene’, their disbelief in political solutions, and their desperate attempt to be ‘folk’ (Wilson 195).
In the twenty first century, fads and lifestyle are likewise influenced by music and less due to civil activism. It is rooted more on pop culture. Pop started in the underground in the “subcultural movements of Black youth, White gays or artistic avant-gardes… pop as a way of living means a way of thinking and feeling, of living and also of dying…from Jimi Hendrix to Kurt Cobain” (Muggleton & Weinzerl 42).
An example is Goth which was initially a musical genre that emerged in the late 70s post punk era and has now evolved into a full-blown sub culture with the introduction of Gothic fashion and imagery movement. A Goth is someone who is usually into the darker side of the world is deep into thought and feeling and often creates or modifies their clothing usually consisting of mainly black. Tribal designs and religion-related jewelry are common, such as crucifixes and pentagrams (Muggleton & Weinzerl 290).
Then there is hip-hop, a sub-culture or lifestyle which started as a name for the four elements of the late 70’s New York City renaissance which includes break dancing, emceeing, (rapping) graffiti, and turntablism. We see its proponents wear loose pants and shirts for men, tight pants and shirts for women and bling-blings. Music and dance has also created an identity and a sense of belonging within the clubbing crowd called rave technotribalism. They are dress upped for parties and clubs.
In contrast, we have the Gen X who feel politically dispossessed and express their agitation in the name of democracy, environment, fair trade and other societal issues who dress up in jeans and shirts and carrying back packs (Muggleton & Weinzerl 68-69). Works Cited Alfieri, Anthony V. “Racism on Trial: The Chicano Fight for Justice. ” Duke Law Journal. 53. 5. (2004). 1569+. Anderson, Terry H. The Movement and the Sixties. New York: Oxford UP, 1996. Harris, Jessica Christina. “Revolutionary Black Nationalism: The Black Panther Party. ” The Journal of Negro History.
85. 3. (2000). 162. Morgan, Edward P. The 60s Experience: Hard Lessons about Modern America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991. Muggleton, David & Weinzierl, Rupert (eds. ) The Post-Subcultures. New York: Berg, 2003. Rodriguez, Luis. “The End of the Line: California Gangs and the Promise of Street Peace. ” Social Justice. 32. 3. (2005). 12-16. Shepard, Benjamin H. “The Queer/Gay Assimilationist Split: The Suits vs. the Sluts. ” Monthly Review. 53. 1. (May 2001). 49. Wilson, Bryan. The Youth Culture and the Universities. London: Faber, 1970.

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