Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

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Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby nicklikesfire » Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:33 pm UTC

So I've noticed that its becoming trendy to get outraged about cultural appropriation lately. Especially Native American/Indigenous American culture. I think Buzzfeed just did some kind of a write up about it at Coachella or something, that I saw posted on a few friends Facebook pages.

I really just don't understand what is wrong about this? I'm hoping someone can enlighten me.

I have a lot of respect for native cultures, and I love reading about them and learning more about them. I also happen to like their style of dress and costume.

Also, to be clear, I do understand that there are situations where cultural appropriation is inappropriate (Washington Redskins, Cleavland Indians, etc) and I understand why this is a problem. I just think that there is a big difference between naming a baseball team after an ethnic slur with a more than vaguely racist cartoon mascot, and a 20 something hipster wearing some feathers in their hair because he or she likes the way it looks.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:47 pm UTC

*shrug* All cultures appropriate. I'm pretty sure that Taco Bell isn't authentic mexican food, but totally appropriates elements of that. It's universal.

I can't imagine a good justification for "you can't act like x unless you ARE race x".

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Azrael » Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:33 pm UTC

When the appropriation is disrespectful, people are going to get upset. Especially when the disrespectful appropriation is done by a majority that has been historically repressive to the appropriated minority's culture.

To start with a fairly innocuous example: I'm sure plenty of Catholics (officials and/or laypeople) aren't terribly happy about the sexy school girl outfits, pedophile priest costumes or possessed nuns that show up every Halloween. It's hard to argue that it isn't disrespectful, but it comes about once a year and on a 'get out of jail free' sort of day. Plus, Catholicism is the largest single denomination in the US so there's not much credence to a claim of mocking towards a repressed status. Thus, the uproar isn't particularly harsh. Not to say that those caveats are rationally sound, but if a cultural appropriation happens without any of them? People are going to get rightfully upset.

Another bit to keep in mind is the actual cultural meaning behind some appropriated symbols. If I started walking around on a day-to-day basis wearing a fake Medal of Honor or campaign ribbons, people would be entirely correct to call me out -- I didn't earn those cultural-specific tokens or recognition of achievement, and it would be pretty douchey to walk around implicitly claiming that I did.

Also, the $LocalSportsTeam naming issue isn't about cultural appropriation. It's about using old, racist names. We wouldn't dream of calling our teams similar slurs directed at other races.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby nicklikesfire » Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:51 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:When the appropriation is disrespectful, people are going to get upset. Especially when the disrespectful appropriation is done by a majority that has been historically repressive to a minority.


Who decides what is or isn't disrespectful?

Azrael wrote:To start with a fairly innocuous example: I'm sure plenty of Catholics (officials and/or laypeople) aren't terribly happy about sexy school girl outfits, pedophile priest costumes or possessed nuns that show up every Halloween. It's hard to argue that it isn't disrespectful, but it comes about once a year and on a 'get out of jail free' sort of day. Plus, Catholicism is the largest single denomination in the US, so there's not much credence to a claim of mocking towards a repressed status. So the uproar isn't particularly harsh. Not to say that those caveats are rationally sound, but if a cultural appropriation happens without any of them?


I can definitely see why dressing in a Native costume (in traditional costuming, regardless of how accurate) for Halloween is offensive to some people. I wouldn't personally do it, but I'm not sure if I would look down on someone else who did (given that it wasn't being done to mock the suffering of those people).

As for the appropriation of Christianity, what about just wearing a stylized cross because you like the way it looks? Or getting a sacred heart tattoo fro reasons that have nothing to do with Christianity?

Edit to keep up with the edit:

Azrael wrote:Another bit to keep in mind is the actual cultural meaning behind some appropriated symbols. If I started walking around on a day-to-day basis wearing a fake Medal of Honor or campaign ribbons, people would be entirely correct to call me out -- I didn't earn those cultural-specific tokens or recognition of achievement, and it would be pretty douchey to walk around implicitly claiming that I did.


I think this is a valid point. But since it should be obvious that the white girl walking around in the war bonnet at Coachella isn't a Native at all, this isn't really valid for much of the criticism I see. It would be a different story if that same person attended a Native gathering in that same war bonnet; that would be obviously disrespectful.

Azrael wrote:Also, the $LocalSportsTeam naming issue isn't about cultural appropriation. It's about using old, racist names. We wouldn't dream of calling our teams similar slurs directed at other races.


Agreed, I just wanted to avoid confusion. There is some cross over though. FSU for example.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:29 pm UTC

nicklikesfire wrote:Who decides what is or isn't disrespectful?
Perhaps the culture being appropriated?

Your responses are a bit... indicative of feeling like you're (white people!) the victim here, not the culture being appropriated. The common thread I've seen in people not understanding WHY this sort of appropriation can be offensive of disrespectful or whatever is that they feel victimized for it, which is... hilarious.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:43 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
nicklikesfire wrote:Who decides what is or isn't disrespectful?
Perhaps the culture being appropriated?

Your responses are a bit... indicative of feeling like you're (white people!) the victim here, not the culture being appropriated. The common thread I've seen in people not understanding WHY this sort of appropriation can be offensive of disrespectful or whatever is that they feel victimized for it, which is... hilarious.


That's reaching pretty far to play the victimization card.

Obviously it is wrong to impersonate a police officer or a military vet. Meh. That's straight fraud, and pretending to be something you are not.

Such cases do not encompass all of cultural appropriation. That's...pretty blatantly obvious. You would have non-fradulent practices be entirely controlled by one culture because of what, outrage? WHICH culture? It's not as if native american culture is a single monolithic entity, after all.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby nicklikesfire » Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:05 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:
nicklikesfire wrote:Who decides what is or isn't disrespectful?
Perhaps the culture being appropriated?

Your responses are a bit... indicative of feeling like you're (white people!) the victim here, not the culture being appropriated. The common thread I've seen in people not understanding WHY this sort of appropriation can be offensive of disrespectful or whatever is that they feel victimized for it, which is... hilarious.


That's reaching pretty far to play the victimization card.

Obviously it is wrong to impersonate a police officer or a military vet. Meh. That's straight fraud, and pretending to be something you are not.

Such cases do not encompass all of cultural appropriation. That's...pretty blatantly obvious. You would have non-fradulent practices be entirely controlled by one culture because of what, outrage? WHICH culture? It's not as if native american culture is a single monolithic entity, after all.


Thanks, thats more of my point. I definitely don't mean to imply that I'm a victim in any of this, sorry if I'm coming off that way.

One of the common objections I've seen to the cultural appropriation of Native people is that it treats the hundreds of tribes as if there were just one tribe, and that in itself is another form of oppression.

Also when I asked who, I meant more of "Who speaks for the Native people?" As certainly some people within those cultures think its fine, and others are offended. From the (one) Native person I've asked about this issues, he seemed to indicate that it would most likely be divided out by age, with younger people not really caring, and elder members of any tribe being more offended. (This really simplifies the conversation quite a lot, but I figured it was worth mentioning).

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Azrael » Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:00 pm UTC

nicklikesfire wrote:I think this is a valid point. But since it should be obvious that the white girl walking around in the war bonnet at Coachella isn't a Native at all, this isn't really valid for much of the criticism I see. It would be a different story if that same person attended a Native gathering in that same war bonnet; that would be obviously disrespectful.

That specific example is exactly what I'm talking about. I don't walk around wearing a fake medal of honor. It'd be bullshit if I do. People would be entirely justified to tell me to knock it off.

And Tyndmyr demonstrates a really telling example when somehow doing that to a decorated veteran from your culture is 'fraud ' but doing it to another culture isn't an issue? Care to guess what war bonnets were?

nicklikesfire wrote:Who decides what is or isn't disrespectful?

First off, not you. No really. The only relevant answer here is that it isn't your call. Which brings us to:

nicklikesfire wrote:Also when I asked who, I meant more of "Who speaks for the Native people?" As certainly some people within those cultures think its fine, and others are offended. From the (one) Native person I've asked about this issues, he seemed to indicate that it would most likely be divided out by age, with younger people not really caring, and elder members of any tribe being more offended. (This really simplifies the conversation quite a lot, but I figured it was worth mentioning).

... who speaks for white people?

No one. Or Everyone? Which ever, the point is that there isn't a unified representative. There will never be a monolithic, easy answer. If you care that you're offending people with some bit of appropriation, listen to the complaints coming from that culture and then decide what you want to do. We all have to decided how offensive or accommodating we care to be on any given issue. Just understand that you don't get to tell them that they can't or shouldn't be angry.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby doogly » Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:22 pm UTC

I think a good plan is to just assume that whoever is saying the thing you wanted to hear is who should be allowed to speak for the culture. A+ listening skill.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:54 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:
nicklikesfire wrote:Who decides what is or isn't disrespectful?
Perhaps the culture being appropriated?

Your responses are a bit... indicative of feeling like you're (white people!) the victim here, not the culture being appropriated. The common thread I've seen in people not understanding WHY this sort of appropriation can be offensive of disrespectful or whatever is that they feel victimized for it, which is... hilarious.


That's reaching pretty far to play the victimization card.

Obviously it is wrong to impersonate a police officer or a military vet. Meh. That's straight fraud, and pretending to be something you are not.
It's fraud if I impersonate someone else to get something from a third party, such as impersonating a police officer to get you to move your car. Wearing a police costume to a costume party is not fraud, but wearing a police costume and a pig mask sure is disrespectful, wouldn't you agree?

And dressing up like a soldier is not generally fraud in any legal sense, but it certainly can be disrespectful for exactly the same reasons as appropriating the meaningful garb of any other culture.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:07 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
nicklikesfire wrote:I think this is a valid point. But since it should be obvious that the white girl walking around in the war bonnet at Coachella isn't a Native at all, this isn't really valid for much of the criticism I see. It would be a different story if that same person attended a Native gathering in that same war bonnet; that would be obviously disrespectful.

That specific example is exactly what I'm talking about. I don't walk around wearing a fake medal of honor. It'd be bullshit if I do. People would be entirely justified to tell me to knock it off.

And Tyndmyr demonstrates a really telling example when somehow doing that to a decorated veteran from your culture is 'fraud ' but doing it to another culture isn't an issue? Care to guess what war bonnets were?


Someone dressing up as a sexy sailor or whatever for halloween is not fraud. It isn't offensive. Someone faking actually being this thing for benefits or whatever totally is. The two are wildly different.

You are really striving to miss the point to get to this "telling" difference.

I urge you to look up the "it's a culture, not a costume" thing. This is pretty explicitly taking offense at the former. And no, I have no problem with someone wearing a hybrid pig/cop costume for halloween. At worst, it's an unfunny joke.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby nicklikesfire » Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:12 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:That specific example is exactly what I'm talking about. I don't walk around wearing a fake medal of honor. It'd be bullshit if I do. People would be entirely justified to tell me to knock it off.

And Tyndmyr demonstrates a really telling example when somehow doing that to a decorated veteran from your culture is 'fraud ' but doing it to another culture isn't an issue? Care to guess what war bonnets were?


The difference is that generally when people are wearing a fake medal of honor they are usually attempting to claim that they are actually medal of honor recipients. No one wearing a war bonnet is attempting to claim they are actually taking part in a tribal ceremony or at war for the Plains Indians.

What about dressing as a soldier for Halloween? Or just incorporating camouflage patterned fabric into urban street wear?

Hm.

Even so, I can definitely see how a MOH recipient (or his family) would be quite angry if he saw a young foreign kid wearing one as an accessory at a rock show, especially if he had been wounded or POW in that country.

Azrael wrote:
nicklikesfire wrote:Who decides what is or isn't disrespectful?

First off, not you. No really. The only relevant answer here is that it isn't your call. Which brings us to:

nicklikesfire wrote:Also when I asked who, I meant more of "Who speaks for the Native people?" As certainly some people within those cultures think its fine, and others are offended. From the (one) Native person I've asked about this issues, he seemed to indicate that it would most likely be divided out by age, with younger people not really caring, and elder members of any tribe being more offended. (This really simplifies the conversation quite a lot, but I figured it was worth mentioning).

... who speaks for white people?

No one. Or Everyone? Which ever, the point is that there isn't a unified representative.

There will never be a monolithic, easy answer. If you care that you're offending people with some bit of appropriation, listen to the complaints and then decide what you want to do. Just understand that you don't get to tell them that they can't/shouldn't be angry. We all have to decided how offensive or accommodating we care to be on any given issue.


Seems about right.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:25 pm UTC

nicklikesfire wrote:Even so, I can definitely see how a MOH recipient (or his family) would be quite angry if he saw a young foreign kid wearing one as an accessory at a rock show, especially if he had been wounded or POW in that country.


I think this is more equivalent to a vet getting offended over a plastic toy medal.

And yeah, plenty of people wear military styled or inspired things casually. Listing all the ways in which fashion has been influenced by military dress would be...probably impossible.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Azrael » Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:40 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Azrael wrote:And Tyndmyr demonstrates a really telling example when somehow doing that to a decorated veteran from your culture is 'fraud ' but doing it to another culture isn't an issue? Care to guess what war bonnets were?
Someone dressing up as a sexy sailor or whatever for halloween is not fraud. It isn't offensive. Someone faking actually being this thing for benefits or whatever totally is. The two are wildly different.

You are really striving to miss the point to get to this "telling" difference.

No, I'm not striving at any such thing. I'm attempting to illustrate a subtle difference to you. Surprise, surprise, there's a middle ground between those two examples.

Sexy sailors, costumes, camo and military styled clothing aren't a problem. Faking being a soldier for benefits is actual fraud. Somewhere in between the two is walking around day to day wearing a medal of honor that I didn't earn. Doing that is disrespectful to the individual, the honor and the culture. People who are part of that culture have every right to get upset about it. If they tell me it's disrespectful and I keep doing it? Then I'm purposefully being offensive.

Tyndmyr wrote:I think this is more equivalent to a vet getting offended over a plastic toy medal.

Not your call. You, as a non-member of the culture do not get to tell the people of the culture the value of their cultural symbols.

You can only choose to ignore their complaints.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:00 pm UTC

alwayslabellavita (on tumblr) wrote:What isn’t cultural appropration:

• Trying/eating/making a culture’s food
• Listening to that culture’s music
• Watching that culture’s movies
• Reading that culture’s books
• Appreciating that culture’s art
• Wearing that culture’s clothing IF in a setting where that culture is prevalent and IF people are okay with it and/or it is necessary to fit in and not stand out weirdly (i.e. If you visit Pakistan, you can wear a shalwar kameez so you don’t stand out as an American tourist. Or if you visit a specific temple or religious setting, you may need to/want to adhere to specific dress forms. Or if you’re invited to a wedding and they allow/invite you to wear their cultural dress to participate in the festivities).
• Using that culture’s dance/physical traditions in specific settings (i.e. taking belly-dancing classes, or going to an Indian wedding and trying to dance with them).

What is cultural appropriation:

• Wearing specific items of clothing that may (and probably do) have deeper meaning as a costume. Like on Halloween.
• Wearing specific items of clothing to be trendy or fashionable.
• Trying to imitate their natural beauty standards and possible makeup/markings (i.e dreadlocks and bindis and mehndi/henna).
• Taking their rituals, old-as-hell traditions, and dances and turning them into cheap, tacky everyday garbage for you to have “fun” with (i.e. smoking sheesha. Y’all turned it into this janky nonsense that looks so trashy and stupid).
• Taking spiritual/religious ideas and traditions and subscribing to them to be trendy or unique
• Trying to act like you’re an expert in their food, music, or art, and that you can do it BETTER than them
• Basically trying to WEAR that culture’s skin, clothing, & beauty traditions as a costume/trend and turn old traditions into cheap garbage

And WHY is this wrong? Because, in our society, white people or non-POC can get away with wearing another culture’s clothes and identities and it will be “cute”, “indie”, “bohemian”, “trendy”, and “exotic.” BUT when a POC who actually belongs to that culture wears their own culture’s clothing, styles of beauty, or does things that are specific to their culture, they’re looked down upon, made fun of, sneered at, told to “Go home, get out of this country, we don’t do that here,” and laughed at. The few times I wore a shalwar kameez in public—and I’m Pakistani—people gave me weird looks, like I had a disease. And yet if a white person (or, heck, even a different POC, because POC don’t have the right to appropriate other cultures either) wears a shalwar kameez, people will call her exotic and cute. Seriously? Do you see a problem? I do. Want some proof? When Selena Gomez and Katy Perry use other cultures as costumes in their music videos and stuff, they were thought to be creative and fun. But when an Indian American woman with brown skin won Miss America, there was a huge racist backlash and people said, “We don’t look like that here, we don’t need a curry muncher here, get out of this country.” So I guess Indian culture is only okay if Selena Gomez is stealing it, right? But not if an actual Indian woman is displaying it? Another example: white people with dreadlocks are seen as “soft grunge” and “hippie”, but black people with dreadlocks are looked down upon and seen as dirty and lazy for having them, even though they know how to take care of their dreadlocks way better.

Respect the fact that we are different. You don’t need to be culturally BLIND because that is just as ignorant. Trying to ignore cultures means you’re trying to erase peoples’ identities. You can appreciate/like/admire other cultures without trying to steal them, use them, cheapen them, and wear them as costumes. You weren’t born into it, so know your limits. And YES. There will ALWAYS be those people who say, “But my Chinese friends don’t care if ____!” and “I’m Mexican and I don’t care if people ____,” but they do not speak for all people of that culture and just because THEY don’t mind doesn’t mean other people don’t. Plenty of POC get harassed/taunted/degraded/fetishized over their own cultures WHILE people not of that culture are called “free-spirited”, “bohemian”, “quirky” and “trendy” for imitating the SAME culture—so yes, the people who oppose cultural appropriation do it based on actual microaggressions and bigotry they may have faced and it is NOT your job to try and convince then that they don’t have a right to their own culture or that the oppression against them should mean nothing.

Think about this. There are some women okay with sexism. Some POC okay with racist jokes. Some Jewish people don’t care about anti-Semitic jokes. And your friend might be one of these people. But suddenly that makes it okay for you to behave foolishly, immaturely, and ignorantly?

Wise up. It’s 2014. There is no excuse to be ignorant.

And if you ever need to explain to someone what cultural appropriation is, show them this post (credit me if you post it elsewhere). It’s a good starter and I think it encompasses the basics of what cultural appropriation is and isn’t.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby nicklikesfire » Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:25 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I think this is more equivalent to a vet getting offended over a plastic toy medal.


I see your point for sure.

To me, the plastic medal or replica war bonnet has no legitimate tie to the original, and thus, no reason to be offensive. And I'd like to think that this kind of thing (if it were appropriated from my culture) wouldn't offend me, but also, I'm not really a member of any oppressed culture (as far as I can tell, I might be a member of one of the least oppressed cultures of all time). So its impossible for me to put myself in the situation of saying that I wouldn't be offended.

That being said, I think at this point I might be of the mind that I respect Native peoples enough not to risk offending those of them who would be offended by some kind of cultural appropriation. If I was going to wear some kind of Native clothing or costuming I think I would make damn sure I had a good reason, and that I knew some pretty comprehensive history behind it before I started wearing it around.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby leady » Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:29 pm UTC

I think some people clearly have too much outrage time on their hands to be honest - they need to do something more constructive with their life

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:48 pm UTC

Says the guy whose culture is probably not being appropriated at every turn by people who know nothing about it and haven't faced any of the struggles that came with it.

It sure is easy to tell people they care too much about something that doesn't affect you in the least, isn't it?

(Or alternatively, if you are from a culture that gets appropriated by white college kids, you need to keep in mind that you do not speak for everyone in that culture any more than I do.)
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Azrael » Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:49 pm UTC

leady wrote:I think some people clearly have too much outrage time on their hands to be honest - they need to do something more constructive with their life

Kettle, meet pot. We spend time here. "They" spend time talking about their culture.

What a weak and overused dismissal. There's always something more constructive that you could be doing. Why aren't you doing one right now?

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:51 pm UTC

He's* showing us the error of our ways. That's IMPORTANT.

* gender assumption acknowledged for simplicity of sentence construction.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:36 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I think this is more equivalent to a vet getting offended over a plastic toy medal.

Not your call. You, as a non-member of the culture do not get to tell the people of the culture the value of their cultural symbols.

You can only choose to ignore their complaints.


Why not?

Why are some complaints above reproach, and some things, I am apparently not allowed to judge for myself? Are they special?

Does cultural identity impart some kind of super-logic upon only it's members?

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:50 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:What isn’t cultural appropration:

• Using that culture’s dance/physical traditions in specific settings (i.e. taking belly-dancing classes, or going to an Indian wedding and trying to dance with them).



Belly dancing might have been a bad example.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Azrael » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:52 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Why not?

Why are some complaints above reproach, and some things, I am apparently not allowed to judge for myself? Are they special?

Does cultural identity impart some kind of super-logic upon only it's members?

You get to judge for yourself whether you care about how your actions make other people feel. But you don't get to tell them how they are feeling. And telling them how you think they should feel is pretty goddamn patronizing.

You can think they're being silly, and ignore them. It's your right to control your actions. But not their reactions. You don't get to make the call that they shouldn't be upset about $Example.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:53 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Belly dancing might have been a bad example.

Turns out different people sometimes have different opinions about what's appropriative and what isn't.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby setzer777 » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:06 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Why not?

Why are some complaints above reproach, and some things, I am apparently not allowed to judge for myself? Are they special?

Does cultural identity impart some kind of super-logic upon only it's members?

You get to judge for yourself whether you care about how your actions make other people feel. But you don't get to tell them how they are feeling. And telling them how you think they should feel is pretty goddamn patronizing.

You can think they're being silly, and ignore them. It's your right to control your actions. But not their reactions. You don't get to make the call that they shouldn't be upset about $Example.


Of course in the broader sense this applies to absolutely everything, including telling people their feelings are stupid. You just have to decide whether their negative reaction (or the negative reaction of other people) is enough of a disincentive towards doing so.

Everyone has the "right" (aka "ability") to complain about absolutely anything, including each other's complaints.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Ormurinn » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:45 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Says the guy whose culture is probably not being appropriated at every turn by people who know nothing about it and haven't faced any of the struggles that came with it.

It sure is easy to tell people they care too much about something that doesn't affect you in the least, isn't it?

(Or alternatively, if you are from a culture that gets appropriated by white college kids, you need to keep in mind that you do not speak for everyone in that culture any more than I do.)


Really?

Traditional European (specifically UK) court fashion is now the worlds business uniform. Military redcoats are a common fashion accessory.

English language words are the commonest loanwords, and are used just because they "sound cool" in countless cases - I've particularly noticed it in Japanese. Yet background chanting in African languages is given as an example of cultural appropriation.

Knight costumes and robin hood outfits are at least as common as native american outfits.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby leady » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:47 pm UTC

don't get me wrong its fine to waste time discussing different cultures, thats constructive and informative. Its just when groups to suddenly decide that something extremely trivial is offensive and go on crusades that makes me dismissive.

But if anyone wants to appropriate morris dancing & fish and chips they are welcome to them

*edit - I'm going to leave the opening oxymoronic sentence, it made me laugh reading it back :)

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:53 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Traditional European (specifically UK) court fashion is now the worlds business uniform. Military redcoats are a common fashion accessory.

English language words are the commonest loanwords, and are used just because they "sound cool" in countless cases - I've particularly noticed it in Japanese. Yet background chanting in African languages is given as an example of cultural appropriation.

The natural, incremental and gradual evolution and adoption of style is a little different from "Check out my sweet feathered head-dress! I am SO stylish!" Ditto for the propagation of languages into other languages. If I suddenly started referring to my wife as "the little squaw" or "Dances With Mop", I would be an appropriating dick.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:03 pm UTC

English as loanwords is also largely due to European dominance and being the common language many areas will share. In science for example, you need to speak English. That isn't because the rest of the world is mimicking America or England.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Azrael » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:32 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Really?

Traditional European (specifically UK)...

Dude, it's not appropriation if you're the dominant group setting your way as the standard due to the reach of your vast, historical empire and subsequent economic success of your various common-culture offshoots.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:42 pm UTC

leady wrote:Its just when groups to suddenly decide that something extremely trivial is offensive and go on crusades that makes me dismissive.
Things that don't affect you are disjoint from things you get to decide are "extremely trivial".

Things that are crusades are disjoint from anything remotely like what's being discussed here.

Things you are allowed to do include being dismissive, and things we are allowed to do in response include calling you out on being a racist asshole.

turmoilsofthesea (another tumblr...er) wrote:Hindu people literally get beaten and killed in America for wearing bindis and saris
White girls get Instagram likes for the same thing.
That’s why you can’t wear it, because you can’t wear it without wearing your privilege with it.
Granted I believe her response in this particular case was misplaced, because the context was of a white woman who grew up in a Hindu household herself, so it isn't actually someone else's culture but her own. The part I quoted here remains a valid response to everyone not raised in the culture whose styles they're wearing.

Basic takeaway point is: If you're part of a group whose members previously outlawed a particular practice of another culture, or whose members still belittle, assault, and even murder people who do that as part of their own cultural experience, then you can damn well expect to receive a bit of criticism when you now engage in that practice yourself as though it's in any sense "yours".
Last edited by gmalivuk on Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:43 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby bigglesworth » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:43 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:You don't get to make the call that they shouldn't be upset about $Example.
Either something's validly unethical, or it isn't. And if something isn't unethical, you shouldn't be angry about it.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:44 pm UTC

So we're only allowed to be upset about "validly unethical" things, whatever that means?
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Azrael » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:48 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:Either something's validly unethical, or it isn't.

If we were all using the same axioms and derived set of ethics, sure.

But we aren't.

If it's ethics your after, I'll call 'telling someone of another culture how they should feel about your reuse of some part their culture is dumb' an axiom. It should be pretty self-evident, but feel free to substitute 'patronizing', 'belittling', 'self-serving', 'dismissive', 'pointless' or 'maybe sorta racist if you're really bad about it' in place of 'dumb'.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby setzer777 » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:05 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:Either something's validly unethical, or it isn't.

If we were all using the same axioms and derived set of ethics, sure.

But we aren't.

If it's ethics your after, I'll call 'telling someone of another culture how they should feel about your reuse of some part their culture is dumb' an axiom. It should be pretty self-evident, but feel free to substitute 'patronizing', 'belittling', 'self-serving', 'dismissive', 'pointless' or 'maybe sorta racist if you're really bad about it' in place of 'dumb'.


I assume he meant "validly and soundly", working under the (false, imo) assumption that there are objectively true moral axioms.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby bigglesworth » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:29 pm UTC

I just realised I derailed this discussion into the age-old topic of ethics. My bad. Though without discussing the axioms that lead to cultural appropriation being classed as bad, is it possible to say why it's bad other than "because it's bad"? I don't know, I'm out of my depth.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:40 pm UTC

We don't need to agree on ethical axioms to understand that people from the cultures being appropriated tend to find appropriation problematic, and that the decision of others to go on wearing those things despite the objections amounts to a decision to disregard those people's feelings.

And when an Indian tells you it's shitty of your white ass to wear a bindi and sari to get likes on Instagram while she faces daily harassment or worse for doing so, that is not equivalent to you telling her it's shitty for her to complain about what you're wearing.

On one side of the equation there are actual hate crimes, and on the other there are some bruised egos because people no longer let you treat other cultures as your fashion statement without calling you out on your shit.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby Lazar » Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:00 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Basic takeaway point is: If you're part of a group whose members previously outlawed a particular practice of another culture, or whose members still belittle, assault, and even murder people who do that as part of their own cultural experience, then you can damn well expect to receive a bit of criticism when you now engage in that practice yourself as though it's in any sense "yours".

I think there are some problematic ideas here of group generalization and ownership. First of all, "being part of a group whose members do X" sounds pretty nebulous - who defines the breadth of the group that I belong to, and how pervasive must instances of X be for us to make a generalization about it? Are all groups going to be held to the standards of their worst outliers? And is it less of a problem if we appropriate from a group so distant and unfamiliar that we haven't had a chance to repress, belittle, assault and/or murder them? And secondly, you're presupposing that my engaging in a cultural activity means that I'm trying to make it mine, and that I'm not entitled to do so because I'm not a rightful owner of it - I don't think it follows that utilizing a cultural item, or engaging in a cultural practice, means to claim ownership of it, or that the traditional use of an item or practice by a certain group means that they have exclusive ownership of it. (Few people seem to think that learning another language, even for fun, constitutes appropriation, yet language is a foundational aspect of cultural identity and a very common pretext for mistreating and even killing people. Why is clothing so sacrosanct in comparison?) I think these ideas lead to a worrying and artifical notion of cultural purity which ignores the fact that almost all of today's cultures are the products of rampant appropriation. To pick one example out of many, why should we respect the ownership of Christian or Buddhist doctrines or practices when so many of those things were appropriated, without anyone's consent, from Judaism and Hinduism? What do we make of a fusional culture like Mexico, where some groups have intermingled with others after violently subjugating them? If an appropriating culture appropriates something for a long enough time, doesn't it become a part of their culture? To my mind, vigorous cultural borrowing is one of the good things about human civilization, and I'm very skeptical of any way of thinking which aims to paint this, by default, as a bad or suspect thing.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation / Assimilation

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:21 am UTC

Lazar wrote:What do we make of a fusional culture like Mexico, where some groups have intermingled with others after violently subjugating them?
So...what? Does the existence of a modern fusional culture magically absolve the Conquistadores of their atrocities? The fact that appropriation now might lead to cultural mixing later doesn't make the appropriation okay, and it doesn't make appropriation the only or best way to bring about cultural mixing if that's your goal.

The most important reason that's different from learning a language is that the people whose language you're learning aren't telling you it's appropriative and you should stop. At least most of the time, people learning a language actually have some interest in understanding the people and culture whose language it is, which is different from doing so merely because it's "cool" or "quirky" or whatever.
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