Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-01-19 06:16pm

Khaat wrote:My concern with "White Knighting" is this: white knighting can (not necessarily does, but can) imply or give the appearance of a patronizing view of the Silent Offended by the white knight. This muddies the water by becoming a distraction, suddenly the motives of the champion are (/can be) called into question and dissected, rather than the original offense. So, no, not automatically are, but can be.

Q: If none of the Silent Offended are present (or those present are not offended), can one express dissent over offense?
A: Absolutely. Again, there must be a degree of tact. Rather than addressed as a personal offense, it must be approached as an offense against equality, diversity, and inclusivity (things systemic, not native to the "victim" only.)

I think we're on the same page here? Hopefully this time I've explained myself better.


Ah I get what you're saying and that is an irritant in the conversation - perhaps because a lot of the involved are kids figuring things out themselves too, and now the scene has upgraded from MySpace and LiveJournal... It would be healthier to discuss it, as you say, in the systematic view. But I can't begrudge too much those who really are personally offended in a non-white knight kind of way.

I do agree that introspection and self-critique has to be done within advocate circles. Not outright tone policing but still... accountability and such.

On the other hand, I'm far more pissed off at the edgelords and alt-right coprophages. God, fuckem.
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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-01-19 06:26pm

TheFeniX wrote:Thankfully, by the time normal people flooded the Internet, I had outgrown my stupidity. This shit has to SUCK for dumbass kids growing up in the Internet age.


This.

And you're right, for better or worse there WILL be a shitshow because of how paradoxical people are, they're not monolithic groups. FEMEN feminists out running around topless because that's their thang. Whereas more prudish feminists. And then the Stoya feminists...rawr. Etc.

God bless them.

And unfortunately, the understandable and IMO great cause of normalizing breastfeeding that ends up going too far by shitting on women who formula feed because they really can't produce Mother's Milk and what "a commune for mothers sharing breastmilk" is like preposterously complicated and inaccessible if you're not in Kale district of the Quinoa County of San Franciscopolis whatever.

Elheru Aran wrote:'Cosplay blackface' is a strange situation given that cosplay is outside the social norm to start with (except perhaps in Japan?).


Over here the nerd community draws significantly from the privileged sheltered kids too. You gotta have moolah to spend all that time cosplaying. And... they've got issues.

I mean, considering what the disparities are like in my country/society. Neil Blomkamp levels. Eheh.
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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby TheFeniX » 2017-01-20 11:52am

Shroom Man 777 wrote:And you're right, for better or worse there WILL be a shitshow because of how paradoxical people are, they're not monolithic groups. FEMEN feminists out running around topless because that's their thang. Whereas more prudish feminists. And then the Stoya feminists...rawr. Etc.
I think white people in general have a hard time understanding that different groups are not all cut from the same cloth. For minorities, they HAVE to deal with a lot of white people in day to day business which is why I've found very few (aside from the Interwebs) that actually hate white people in general. They've had too many positive interactions with them over the years which help to drown out the negatives.

But try explaining to white people around here that BLM is not a professionally organized movement. There's a lot working against it. It's uncentralized, anyone can use the hashtag. But really, what I think is hurting the current civil rights movement (and I'm stealing from another person here, but I can't recall who or where) is that they have nothing "concrete" to fight against. This isn't like the 60s where, when asked what you're fighting for, you could point to Jim Crow laws and say "THIS. This is racism. This is wrong."

The current movement has to deal with the failures of fighting racism using the Internet and all the baggage that comes with it. But also fighting against a mentality that pervades U.S. Law Enforcement, but doesn't "officially" exist. So, because laws don't specifically exist anymore that target them, they should "get over it."

But around there: when a random black person on the Interwebs gets mad and says "fuck white people," they immediately write it off because "not all white people are the same" (which is true), but they also immediately associate that comment with BLM and black people in general. The irony is completely lost on them.

So, the "blackface" issue comes up and people HAVE to have an opinion. Malicious blackface isn't really done here anymore. Even white people consider it crass. So, if someone is doing blackface in a non-malicious way, white people kind of have a hard time understanding why some/many minorities might be offended.

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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby Starglider » 2017-01-20 02:27pm

TheFeniX wrote:I think white people in general have a hard time understanding that different groups are not all cut from the same cloth. For minorities, they HAVE to deal with a lot of white people in day to day business which is why I've found very few (aside from the Interwebs) that actually hate white people in general. They've had too many positive interactions with them over the years which help to drown out the negatives.


This is not a property of 'white people'. It's true for the racial majority of any country (save for a few very diverse ones). It just looks this way to you because you're reading English forums / media.
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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby Raw Shark » 2017-01-20 02:31pm

Yeah, honestly, at this point I consider it satire. If I saw Chris Rock or somebody doing whiteface make-up, I'd think it was funny. I believe it was he who said, "If you don't like fried chicken and watermelon, there's something wrong with you," and he's right. We are the melting pot. Let's just all share culture.

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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby TheFeniX » 2017-01-20 03:01pm

Starglider wrote:This is not a property of 'white people'. It's true for the racial majority of any country (save for a few very diverse ones). It just looks this way to you because you're reading English forums / media.
I laughed after posting that as I was painting a broad stroke while arguing against painting broad-strokes. Most of my experience would come from the Interwebs (where everyone sucks) and dealing with Texans. Texans are pretty hilarious in a few ways and that's really who I was taking a swing at. Nearly every Trump supportin' redneck I talk to looooves painting broad-strokes about whatever group and get offended when they are painted the same way.

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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby Civil War Man » 2017-01-20 03:25pm

Zixinus wrote:My chief question is why would you do blackface? How would it be funny in a non-racist way?

The only legitimate, non-racist use is if you have a non-black actor (or actor whose skin is not dark enough) acting the role of someone who has much darker skin. And perhaps making a satire of those that used black face (ie, white people spectacularly failing to be black people).


Another legit use of it would be some type of early Hollywood period piece where you have someone depicting, say, Al Jolson doing the Jazz Singer. Though that can probably go without saying since period pieces get a lot more leeway in that regard in the interest of maintaining some semblance of historical accuracy. It would also fall under the same umbrella as RDJ's character in Tropic Thunder, where it's not directly blackface, but someone portraying someone else in blackface.

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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby Elheru Aran » 2017-01-20 03:39pm

Civil War Man wrote:
Zixinus wrote:My chief question is why would you do blackface? How would it be funny in a non-racist way?

The only legitimate, non-racist use is if you have a non-black actor (or actor whose skin is not dark enough) acting the role of someone who has much darker skin. And perhaps making a satire of those that used black face (ie, white people spectacularly failing to be black people).


Another legit use of it would be some type of early Hollywood period piece where you have someone depicting, say, Al Jolson doing the Jazz Singer. Though that can probably go without saying since period pieces get a lot more leeway in that regard in the interest of maintaining some semblance of historical accuracy. It would also fall under the same umbrella as RDJ's character in Tropic Thunder, where it's not directly blackface, but someone portraying someone else in blackface.


Tropic Thunder also falls somewhat under the umbrella of 'comedy'-- in part at least, it was deliberately played up for humor.

Which isn't to say it'll always work when you do that-- White Chicks was widely panned critically, the little I've seen of it simply wasn't that funny, but then that's Wayans Brothers stuff for you-- but it's another example of comedy being a bit of a special case where you can pull stunts which would get you blacklisted otherwise. I swear I didn't mean to do that...

To put it another way-- if a white actor IRL decided to get cosmetic surgery to be turned 'black' for the purposes of appearing in a serious movie as a character of color, what would the likely response be? I doubt it'd be largely positive...
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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby Elfdart » 2017-01-21 09:12pm

I found this essay on the subject by Fredrik DeBoer very enlightning:

the sublime narcissism of getting offended on other people’s behalf

Posted on 17 March 2016 by Freddie

A few months back I got into a Twitter argument about the uselessness of complaints about cultural appropriation, in particular a muscular form that takes it as offensive to consume the goods of cultures to which one does not belong — food, clothing, music, and so on. I pointed out the usual problems with this thinking. All culture is hybrid; there is no place where legitimate appreciation ends and shameful appropriation begins; a world without cultural borrowing is a bleak and terrible place; and as I’ve said many times, saying “you should only consume that which comes from your own culture” is functionally identical to the efforts of white supremacists to keep the people pure.

Maybe most importantly, given that cultures are always large, diffuse, and made up of lots of different people, the idea of appropriation has to inevitably posit some ideal member of the group, when in reality all cultures are made up of many people. I had very earnest Twitterers telling me that American Chinese food is appropriation, not seeming to grasp that it was Chinese people who spread their cuisine in the United States, in order to make a living. In much the same way, thought white people doing yoga has been attacked as cultural appropriation, it was in fact a concerted effort by Indian people to spread the practice that has caused it to become an economic juggernaut in the West. Certainly members of those cultures can get mad at the other members of the cultures who spread these things. But they can hardly do so by claiming cultural appropriation on the part of those who they disagree with. Nor can any of us from outside those cultures rightly decide who’s an “authentic” member of the Chinese or Indian culture. But in order to make these complaints, you have to: you are, by definition, asserting a right to define the authentic for a culture you don’t belong to in order to claim that the authentic has been somehow corrupted.

What inevitably happens, when white progressives complain about culture appropriation, is the denial of the agency of people from other cultures. To accept the idea that, say, an art museum holding an event at which people wear kimonos is necessarily a heinous act of appropriation is to presume that you know that no Japanese people would ever approve of such a thing, even though actual people in Japan will be very happy to at least sell you a kimono. I’m sure some Japanese people wouldn’t like Kimono Wednesdays. I’m sure some Japanese people would find it flattering. I’m sure many wouldn’t care either way. A common response to the controversy, in Japan, appears to have been bewilderment that anyone could be upset about it. But to become offended on the behalf of Japanese people, you have to presume that Japanese people have no agency. You have to presume that no Japanese person could say to him- or herself “I’m gonna make a choice, not as an avatar of a culture of millions of people but as an individual, to accept/encourage/facilitate white Americans wearing kimonos.” In place of their agency, you put your own righteous judgment.

I’ve heard very passionate white academics talk about “the legacy of colonialism” at play when it comes to the love of some white people for aspects of Japanese culture. This is a confusing moment; I’m never sure if they’re aware that Japan was never colonized in traditional terms by white people, though of course the forcing open of their ports and the end of World War II involved many of the same functions. The point is that Japan can’t be simply forced into some simplistic conquering Europeans vs. conquered Others narrative, in large measure because Japan was itself a colonial power. To point that out isn’t to excuse the horrific historical crimes that have been committed against Japan, the greatest of which is the unforgivable bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The point is that the dialogue of cultural appropriation presumes impossible weakness on the part of other countries. It claims to speak from a place of ultimate respect towards the nonwhite people of the world, but it treats them as permanently neutered children, incapable of making change in the world or having their own ideas about the proper spread of their own cultural artifacts.

There’s a profound sense in which appropriation presumes the desires of white supremacists: it assumes out of existence the power of non-white people.

I thought about that when I read this post about the pickup line Jason Sudeikis used on his fiance, Olivia Wilde. The post concerns whether or not Sudeikis’s line is “skeevy or sweet.” It seems to be of little interest to the writer, Christina Cauterucci, that Olivia Wilde clearly found it the latter. Cauterucci acknowledges that, clearly, Sudeikis’s line worked, but then goes on to ruminate on its appropriateness herself and brings in the opinion of Slate’s personnel and the “Bro internet.” Well, Cauterucci is free to decide if that line would have been creepy if used on her. But the important point is that it wasn’t used on her. Slate’s personnel has no more right to decide for Wilde if Sudekis was inappropriate than it has the right to vote on his marriage proposal. Wilde’s opinion isn’t just an important criterion of whether it was creepy; it’s the only criterion. The things that we say to each other aren’t objectively good or bad but depend on the subjective interpretation of the people we’re saying them to.

In other words, Olivia Wilde has agency, and made her own adult decisions about the nature of Sudeikis’s pickup line, and she is the sole and inviolate authority on her own life. Like, for example, her decision to marry him. Ultimately, so much of contemporary progressive politics involves trampling on this authority, on sticking our own subjective ideas into the lives of others. Like so many other elements of contemporary culture, the economy of offense is revealed to be just another expression of our own ego. We need to remember that we are not the cosmos, that the world is full of other people making their own adult decisions. To forget that isn’t progressive. It’s, well, a kind of imperialism.
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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby madd0ct0r » 2017-01-22 01:54am

And its an entirely valid argument, if the donor culture is in a equal enough position to actually have their 'no' heard if it matters to them.

The example that comes to mind is the Polynesian legends copied for Lego bionicle. The Polynesian islanders formed a group as a legal entity, and took the Lego corporation to court over intellectual property AND WON. Now this can be used as a test of appropriation, that the approriator values the thing enough to pay for it (When forced). It also measures the value of the good to the appropriated - taking a huge corporation to court requires siginifacnt investment of time money and energy by the individuals.
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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby ArmorPierce » 2017-01-25 10:50pm

TheFeniX wrote:
"The Chapelle Show" made millions (if not billions) over the years creating nothing but "obscene" content, obscene if it were created by a group of white guys. One of it's most popular skits was the "Black White Supremacist." It portrayed African-Americans poorly all the time (and everyone else), but would anyone come along and tell a bunch of black actors to stop doing what they're doing? At the end of the day, good or bad, Comedy Central was offering Seinfeld money to otherwise little-known actors for a comedy show.



Funny that you mention the Chapelle show. Dave Chapelle explicitly state that part of why he left the show was because he felt that it was doing a disservice to the black community.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Chappelles-Story


During his third season, Dave began questioning his work on the show. From the very first episode, Dave's sketches sparked controversy. But, over time, he says some of his sketches started to make him feel "socially irresponsible."

One particular sketch still disturbs Dave today. The skit was about a pixie (played by Dave) who appeared in black face, which Dave describes as the "visual personification of the n-word."

"There was a good-spirited intention behind it," Dave says. "So then when I'm on the set, and we're finally taping the sketch, somebody on the set [who] was white laughed in such a way—I know the difference of people laughing with me and people laughing at me—and it was the first time I had ever gotten a laugh that I was uncomfortable with. Not just uncomfortable, but like, should I fire this person?"

After this incident, Dave began thinking about the message he was sending to millions of viewers. Dave says some people understood exactly what he was trying to say with his racially charged comedy...while others got the wrong idea.

"That concerned me," he says. "I don't want black people to be disappointed in me for putting that [message] out there. ... It's a complete moral dilemma."

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/chappell ... z4WpuC3dIL
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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby TheFeniX » 2017-01-25 11:28pm

ArmorPierce wrote:Funny that you mention the Chapelle show. Dave Chapelle explicitly state that part of why he left the show was because he felt that it was doing a disservice to the black community.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Chappelles-Story
I actually was going to segue into a rant about how the creator could decide to call him/herself out, but I was so terrible at Google that night, I actually couldn't find the article.

I read about that years back when I tried to find out "where the Hell did Dave Chapelle go?" Everything "recent" I could find talked about how he was never really comfortable being that popular and he had a freak out as he realized more and more how little he'd be able to blend into the public.

I can't say I disagree with him. For every person who's laughing with Chapelle, who knows how many are laughing at black people due to their own ingrained stereotyping? For me, it's hard to say which way it swings because, being from Texas, I've seen plenty of both kinds.

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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby Raw Shark » 2017-01-26 12:08am

Dave has a point. It could be taken both ways.

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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby ArmorPierce » 2017-01-26 12:50am

TheFeniX wrote:
ArmorPierce wrote:Funny that you mention the Chapelle show. Dave Chapelle explicitly state that part of why he left the show was because he felt that it was doing a disservice to the black community.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Chappelles-Story
I actually was going to segue into a rant about how the creator could decide to call him/herself out, but I was so terrible at Google that night, I actually couldn't find the article.

I read about that years back when I tried to find out "where the Hell did Dave Chapelle go?" Everything "recent" I could find talked about how he was never really comfortable being that popular and he had a freak out as he realized more and more how little he'd be able to blend into the public.

I can't say I disagree with him. For every person who's laughing with Chapelle, who knows how many are laughing at black people due to their own ingrained stereotyping? For me, it's hard to say which way it swings because, being from Texas, I've seen plenty of both kinds.


Yeah I noticed that the more 'recent' stuff kind of gives a different spin of the story. I had to look for key words that I remembered as the original reason to find that link.

I suspect that he is trying to downplay his original reasons for leaving for whatever reasons... maybe because he just doesn't wish to talk about it.
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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby Raw Shark » 2017-01-26 12:57am

Eh, Chapelle is Chapelle. Guy is unique.

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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-01-26 01:16am

This is great food for thought IMO:

Farrah Shah wrote:
Cultural appropriation is a toxic concept.

If the title of my article alone makes you wanna write me off right off the bat, and makes you decide not to read my article then that is your right, but you lose any right to argue or attack me unless you have listened to what I am gonna say here and considered all my points.

Yes, cultural appropriation is a very toxic concept, with definitions so ambiguous and so different, depending on the person they come from, that it might make sense to do away with it altogether. When you google the word, here is what Wikipedia has to say about it: “ Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture.[1] Cultural appropriation is seen by some[2] as controversial, notably when elements of a minority culture are used by members of the cultural majority; this is seen as wrongfully oppressing the minority culture or stripping it of its group identity and intellectual property rights.”

With a definition as broad as the one given above, it’s no wonder the conversation about cultural appropriation has devolved into dog-fights over whose ancestors “own” what. You look at the definition above and you wonder where to really draw the line? And then mostly, you see no lines being drawn. There is a streak of nationalism and cultural superiority here that is often hard to ignore. I mean to say, we are always borrowing elements from other cultures, and that kind of thing has been more beneficial than harmful. Cultural organicity is not a thing that truly exists. No culture exists without borrowing things from the other.

Maybe you assume that my position on cultural appropriation is coming from some place of privilege, of never having dealt with racism for what I wore, what I ate, what I did. for the colour of my skin. But what you don’t know is that I was rather big on this issue of cultural appropriation — I still think there are facets of this discussion that hold some real validity. Wearing headdresses as costumes is wrong, wearing shalwar kameez as costume to a Halloween party is wrong, there is something really fucked up about the way that often times all the books all people of colour end up finding on their culture happen to be written by white people.

However, this discussion of cultural appropriation often does not focus on very tangible concrete issues of injustices and racism — the discussion of cultural appropriation, by default, lends itself to become a war about what truly belonged to whose ancestors, who owns this part of history and who owns another. It lends itself to becoming a completely pointless conversation about whether the use of “spirit animal” (if you’re not NDN) or the use of the phrase “on-point” (if you’re not black) or if the use of the word “daddy” (if you’re not queer) are “right” or “wrong” to use. And the word *wrong* here sounds a lot more like moral judgment rather than an actually well-crafted argument.

By default, the discussion of cultural appropriation lends itself to ridiculous discussions where Indian and Pakistani women claim that henna is only theirs to wear and Egyptian women come in to say that because henna was invented by Egyptians, it is only theirs to wear. It lends itself to conversation about banning yoga in schools (that did happen by the way — yoga did get banned in University of Ottawa for a semester — and it was a class for disabled people). It lends itself to talks about who can learn what language, and who is allowed to profit off their language learning skills. Oh and, it also lends itself to conversations about whether or not doing Kama Sutra is appropriation (lolz). Just google: “Is kama sutra cultural appropriation tumblr” and you will find these discussions. Do that on your own risk though.

Because no lines are drawn, because cultural appropriation is never clearly defined and seems to have entirely different definitions for different people — — the discussion of it is almost always guaranteed to turn into something that seems like children fighting over who which food belongs to whom. And of course it does lend itself to white anti-racist men telling me to stay in my goddamn lane because I don’t get to have an opinion about whether or not I find it ridiculous that people are making a big deal of others using the word ‘spirit animal’ (Yup, that happened). Such stances kind of do remind me of when I would have grades taken off my exams because I forgot to use the capital G for god. It reminds of of debates where people bled each other to death about whether writing ‘God’ was more acceptable or the word ‘Allah’.

And don’t tell me that this is a stance I have due to coming from a place of privilege — the reality is that because I was once rather big on this whole cultural appropriation thing, I know exactly where the other side is coming from. I was on that side. Did I tell you how years ago in High School these white girls made fun of this long-shirt type of dress (called kurti) I wore with my tights often. It’s traditional and modern at the same time. So anyway, these white girls made fun of that. And then I saw years later that some white actress had made it a fashion and now it was cool and awesome. And I found it fucked up.

I hated these white fashion models for wearing it but now I realize I was feeling this way because of racism I had faced, because it made me feel so powerless and helpless to see what I was mocked for was considered cool for someone else, I wanted that thing back for myself. I was mocked for it, so it should be all mine, right? But then I realized I did not want this thing back so much as I wanted to just have NOT faced racism. That, in some ways, I was being at least a little petty by making it about a thing, a piece of clothing, when it was about racism. I was thinking owning said thing would give me some semblance of control back, but it wouldn’t, it never does.

Racism is at the core of it all — and some random white woman I saw on the street wearing that piece of clothing was not among the ones who made fun of me, even if she decided never to wear said piece of clothing, that racism is gonna be there to stay. The scars from racism I still have would continue to be there. A racism that takes various forms — things about one’s culture being mocked is one of them. Racism is the issue here, not someone wearing said piece of clothing. In fact, in some ways, to use the word cultural appropriation complicates the discussion of racism. I might as well just call it straight up racism rather than cultural appropriation.

The anger I felt then for seeing white women in that outfit was not really an anger at the action of wearing something — that is completely harmless to be very honest. Anger was poisoning in this instance because, when I think about it, I would rather speak against the white women that were racist to me than hurl accusations of being a racist at any white woman who might enjoy wearing said thing. It seemed borderline fascistic to do so. But you see what I mean? I feel cultural appropriation issue markets itself as fighting social injustice that is racism — but it entirely detracts from the issue of racism.


It’s no longer about the racism you faced. It’s about someone wearing a thing/saying a thing/eating a thing/blissfully enjoying a thing. It’s about this whole fight about whose ancestors owned what. (By the way, still entirely failing here to see the connection between saying spirit animal and oppression that indigenous people face). Besides, nationalism is often at the core of all this — just search up on the movement to ban yoga, and you will have proof of that. And yoga, that is an interesting one.

Many of the people taking offense because yoga has become so mainstream give you this idea that yoga somehow belongs to everyone in India — it does not, it only belongs to the privileged rich ones, it belongs to the upper castes. It does not belong to Dalits — and I feel making it more accessible to them is a far more worthy cause than trying to ban it in the West. But hey that’s just me. I urge everyone to just really question the notion of any said thing belonging to an entire culture — question whether or not it really belongs to everyone in that culture — question whether or not the person telling you this speaks for everyone in their culture. Also, like India exports yoga willfully, consensually. Are you gonna tell me they suffer from internalized racism?

Brown people accusing black people of appropriating their culture is my favourite. To quote S. Varatharajah:
“When South Asians accuse East Africans of cultural appropriation, it is less about cultural relations or power dynamics at play. It’s about brownness and blackness. It boils down to a question of race-relations and border demarcations. Such accusations stem from both widespread ignorance, but also plain old racism. A few months ago, I started my own tweet conversation on the topic, and here’s an elaboration.

The sight of a Somali woman wearing a multi-coloured dirac wrapped around her body, or that of an Ethiopian woman with henna painted on her hands irritates many South Asians because it challenges centuries-old myths about their place in this world and racial hierarchy. It’s a sharp reminder that there are understudied connections between these two parts of the world and many of its diverse communities. But, many South Asians would rather want to sweep those under the rug and pretend they didn’t exist.”

You can read the rest of his awesome article here:
https://medium.com/@varathas/connecting ... .s1pl62kvj

What’s telling to me is that a lot of my fellow South Asians made a bigger fuss about Beyonce “appropriating” South Asian culture in one of her videos than they did about her being an actual sweat-shop owner. I mean, are people’s priorities so messed that symbols and microaggressions matter to them much more than serious issues?

Here is another thing you probably do not realize: What you often see as cultural appropriation and “problematic” is something a lot of PoC’s livelihoods depend on. There are people whose livelihoods depend on selling cultural clothing, cultural crafts, etc in festivals for instance. And they seem nothing but happy about the fact that their work gets the recognition and appreciation it deserved. I know a single brown mom whose livelihood (at least, some part of it) depends on applying henna on people’s hands. Her work is very much appreciated, she is incredibly proud of it. You are told you make a big goddamn difference by not being a consumer of henna tattoos, but you are making just about as much of a fucking difference as you do when you consume “fair-trade” coffee which isn’t actually fair-trade (yup, read up on that too).

I do care about social justice. I do care about racism and when I do see that racism, I refuse to let it go. I have faced racism — it is a fact of my life as a woman of colour. But I refuse to be on the cultural appropriation bandwagon — I find it nearly insulting that while I deal with people’s harsh judgment for the colour of my skin, that while I have faced actual physical violence for it — there are people who care so goddamn much about who gets to wear henna on their hands and who doesn’t. How about making this world a safer place for me? How about not deciding on my behalf what could offend me?

The conversation about cultural appropriation has become increasingly hard for me to take seriously. I feel that a lot of what drives it is the feeling of utter powerlessness to control anything other than mere symbols. I get that, I do. But I refuse to be part of this conversation.

Cultural appropriation is largely no longer about racism, but about taking ownership of every simple mundane thing in order to feel a sense of control in a world that constantly deprives people of colour of it.


P.S. There is a second piece I just wrote on this topic which is in response to some of the very valid criticism I received, and the very valid concerns some people brought to the table. I have considered your points, and here is my response to you: https://medium.com/@FarahKarenina/cultu ... .9tpn7w4ak
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TheFeniX
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Re: Thoughts on: blackface, cultural appropriation, etc.

Postby TheFeniX » 2017-01-26 01:14pm

ArmorPierce wrote:Yeah I noticed that the more 'recent' stuff kind of gives a different spin of the story. I had to look for key words that I remembered as the original reason to find that link.

I suspect that he is trying to downplay his original reasons for leaving for whatever reasons... maybe because he just doesn't wish to talk about it.
I figured it was some form of damage control. And, oh yea, thanks for the link. I forgot to do that in my reply because I was busy writing another post.

The conversation about cultural appropriation has become increasingly hard for me to take seriously. I feel that a lot of what drives it is the feeling of utter powerlessness to control anything other than mere symbols. I get that, I do. But I refuse to be part of this conversation.
Oddly enough, my first run-in with culture appropriation was in the official AD&D chat room on AOL when I was possibly not even in my teens. Another user accused me of being racist due to my discussion about using a Katana for one of my characters and also that I was bragging about owning one. It was an... odd conversation that devolved into a PM discussion about Ninjas and how American fiction had hijacked them with Ninja Turtles.

But, as the conversation dragged on, he was angry that more and more anime was going to be being targeted at Western audiences because it was new and shiny and was all the rave (note: he wasn't totally off base here, the UK was so worried about kids karate kicking people so much, they had to censor Hero Turtles). So, what he was seeing was a watered down version of something his country created being marketed to "morons."

Man, that guy and I should have a talk about video games sometime. right? RIGHT?

Anyways, Blackface is a rather extreme case though because it IS saying "You're black and we're taking that for our own use." At least the commercial aspects. That said, it's unfortunate that someone can't dress up as a favorite minority character and not face social repercussions, but I can fully understand why that would happen. In that instance, even though you could find multiple minorities who would say "who cares?" it's still heavily tied in both oldschool and newschool racism, much like the Confederate Battle Flag. Maybe if it WASN'T used constantly by actual racists, it could be re-appropriated. But that's not going to happen.

But knocking someone for owning a Katana? Practicing Kung-Fu? Krav Maga? Sambo? Ju-jitsu? Brazillian Ju-Jitsu? Boxing?

And I think this is why things get filtered into a lot of white noise. I've actually heard the phrase: "Eating Tex-Mex is racist. You're stealing Mexican heritage." So, when some white liberal from Austin is telling me not to support Hispanic businesses by eating the food they created, even I have a hard time with "the little things" when it comes to appropriation.


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