Cultural Appropriation

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by SacredWarrior, Nov 1, 2015.

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  1. Do you sexy people think it's a thing? What are your thoughts on it?

    I don't think it's really a thing. Culture changes all the time for God's sakes. I actually had some idiot on Tumblr say that I'm "culturally appropriating" just because I watch anime. WTF?
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  2. Cultural appropriation is very much a real thing. Not in the way you are describing yourself, but it is a real thing. It's not necessarily a bad thing in all cases, but you can see examples of it throughout history. Like you said, many cultures develop and change, but many have done so through taking from another culture to inform their own.
  3. But if you're learning about said culture (like speaking a foreign language for example) and wearing clothing from that country, is THAT appropriating because some people actually think it is?
  4. ... That person on Tumblr doesn't understand the term. >___>

    You appropriate something by taking something from another culture and stating that it's your own. This is why a lot of white/Caucasian rappers explain that they know the origins of rap and hip hop as homage to the African American community that created this genre of music. Yes, white rappers exist, but they should also know and respect the genre's history. This is why a lot of Native Americans resent the fashion industry that takes pieces of their history and culture, and make it their own. Native Americans experienced genocide and then to find out that Americans -- the people responsible for wiping out their own people and culture -- are wearing tribal clothing like it's the new hip thing? Yeeeeeaah, people are going to be mad.
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  5. It depends on how you take it. I feel that as the world is coming together, it's incredibly important to learn languages and experience other cultures. I find that there is a line that you can navigate which allows you to enjoy, respect and explore other cultures without necessarily having to adopt various facets into your own. Again, it's not a bad thing if you do, but if you do, then you are appropriating culture. One example which I figure is most commonly discussed or remarked about disparagingly on the web is in regards to Japanese culture. I figure that the line most prominently drawn is when people go beyond taking an interest in the culture and try to present or represent themselves as Japanese. So maybe that's a good point of reference?
  6. Good point but that could also lean towards cosplaying being offensive (innocent cosplaying). Also Japan is one of the most xenophobic countries in the world remember? A person can be African-American but is still Japanese because he or she was born in Japan. So that line isn't very clear either. A lot of people like to accuse others of appropriation when they're actually being ignorant to that person's background and how they're treating said culture in the first place. How can we become a diverse world if those people don't want us learning about their cultures? As far as adopting some traditions go, that can be a result of how the person was raised/taught. Not just learning about another culture.
  7. I think cosplaying is harmless. It's just dressing up as a character from a show or movie or what have you. The question of Japan's national identity and xenophobia is a conversation and discussion that's not about to be easily tackled in a few posts on a forum. There is a whole lot which goes into what is commonly thought of as "Japanese" and even that can be examined and questioned to one degree or another.

    Again, I think as the world becomes more connected, the more we are sharing various aspects of our cultures. It's all a matter of perspective and degree I suppose.
  8. Do whatever the hell you want to do. Some people will like it and some people won't. It doesn't matter if those behaviours are from your own culture or from a foreign culture, for everything you do, someone will like it, and someone won't. There's no law that says you can't adopt foreign customs and foreign ideas and foreign items and foreign clothing. If someone gets upset over that, well, then they want you to remain culturally homogenized based on your race, which both encourages you to be intolerant and shows that they're racist. Meaning that they're the very thing that they claim to hate the most. Meaning that in order to defeat the thing they hate the most, be the biggest cultural appropriator you can be and go adopt whatever fuckin' cultural shit most interests you so you can broaden your world view and understand more cultures than the one you were born with. If they get upset over that...


    As for everything else... Shikata Ga Nai, my friends.
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  9. Then they dox you.
    Make tumblrs specifically to spread your personal info.
    Then make sure to constantly harass you by calling your family, friends, workplace, etc with rumors of anything from rape to pedophilia.
    When all is said and done, they'll either get bored and forget about you, or keep it up until you disappear or kill yourself.

    You can't win against them, Brovo. It's simply not an option. Mental gymnastics and cognitive dissonance prevent them from understanding the truth.

    You just pray they don't look at you.
  10. But isn't the argument by the non-zelots being that people aren't trying to understand the cultures or broaden their world view, but just take whatever is shiny and 'new' and make it 'white'?
  11. I have been told that wearing henna tattoos if you're not Indian is "cultural appropriation".

    I have been told that having a Japanese-sounding nickname if you're not Japanese is "cultural appropriation".

    I have been essentially told that no one is allowed to touch anything that is not outside their own culture -- ignoring the fact that culture is a much more complicated topic than simply nationality or race, and therefore, who's to say what someone else's culture does and doesn't entail??

    I have also been told that my opinion on cultural appropriation is wrong simply because I am white.

    Yeah, this whole cultural appropriation shtick be dumb.

    Cultures change over time. Cultures intermingle and adopt things from other cultures. This is bound to happen even faster in this day and age thanks to the Internet and all.

    And claiming that it's "wrong" or "offensive" to use or wear anything from another culture is... yeah.

    I don't understand how people can claim to be fighting for acceptance and tolerance and yet they want every culture to remain inside its own respective bubble and never touch anything else.

    Guess what: That's not going to breed tolerance.

    Also, by this logic, I should be telling minority groups that they're not allowed to use or wear or even think about anything European -- because hey, then they're appropriating my culture, right??

    And again, that is reducing "culture" to simply "race", which is just... not what culture is.

    And telling people that their interests or hobbies or fashion sense have to be determined purely by their ancestry? Hopefully it's clear just how ridiculous that sounds.
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  12. Why do you think I'm not on social media? I don't have a facebook, I don't have a tumblr, I don't have a twitter, and it's going to stay that way. If they come after me, they'll be stupid enough to come after a man who is versed well enough in law to know how to sue them for libel (just calling anyone I know leaves me their numbers to trace back, morons), and who is smart enough to never reveal enough of himself on the Internet to be found in the real world. Besides, if they destroy me, they make me into a martyr, and the amount of resistance to them will only grown. Destroying me only quickens their own death, and I can always come back under a new guise, because anonymity protects those who wield it properly.

    Besides. My job employs ex-convicts. They wouldn't care. You can't destroy me by spamming my job about how terrible a person I am. :ferret:
    Yes, and it's a faulty argument. Culture constantly grows and changes. Interaction causes mingling, causes change. America is referred to as a boiling pot because cultures inter-mix by mere existence within each other's vicinity. Where do you think the Romans got their idea for their Gods? The Greeks had a playbook. Where do you think the Japanese got their language from? The scrolls had "made in China" printed on the back. Indian culture is a story of successive empires molding and adding to it, each in their own turn.

    To allow people to interact with other culture's ideas and adopt to them to their own lives promulgates those ideas. The idea that it "makes them white" is absurd: It makes whites less "white." Why do you think we can still trace dozens of Western ideas and architectural designs to the Roman empire?

    All one gets by preventing these cultural interactions is xenophobia. When you intentionally isolate cultures from each other and prevent them from interacting, they'll fail to intermix, fail to understand each other, fail to accomplish anything more than grow angry at each other for taking ownership over ideas, thoughts, and emotions. You have nothing to gain in intentional isolationism. Japan had to learn that lesson once. Hell, they might have to learn it again. Look at Sweden, just ask @Hellis what it looks like when people start to think that pushing out all that is different to prevent "loss of culture" is a good idea. Do we have to learn it now because it would be cultural appropriation to learn from each other's mistakes?

    We're stronger as individuals and as collectives when we can interact with each other. When we can learn freely, and interact freely. Anything that puts barriers between groups of people based on race is a poisonous idea, no matter how good the intentions are. Should we prevent blacks from playing baseball because that was white culture? Prevent whites from singing jazz because that was black culture?

    See what I mean about it being a bad idea?
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  13. What Ocha was trying to get at, I think, is not that taking from other cultures is bad. It's when it's done in a way that is insensitive or offensive that it ends up bad.

    And that's cultural appropriation.

    Basic rule of thumb number one: Don't be an asshole. It applies to a lot of things in life, and this is no exception. I'mma quote a good friend of mine on this topic:

    Other ballpark examples: Wanting to eat in a Mexican restaurant, but only as long as there aren't actual Mexicans in the dining room. Putting white actors in blackface or other makeup- or changing a character's ethnicity to be white- instead of hiring actual minority actors because "you need established names to sell". Painting religious symbols on yourself that have no special meaning to you because they're "cute" or "cool" when they DO have special significance to people of the religion in question.

    Basic rule of thumb number two: If it affects your opinion of a minority doing it, but has a different effect (or no effect at all) when it's a white person... there's something wrong with this picture.

    Por ejemplo, it's trendy and fashionable for white celebs to have cornrows or dreadlocks or afros. But a black person having their NATURAL curly hairstyle is considered unprofessional in the workplace or seen as "trashy" or "ethnic" or "stereotypical". Or how about a white, non-Muslim girl wearing a headdress that looks a loooot like a hijab and being seen as "cultured" or "fashion-savvy". Meanwhile the Arab girl on the other side of town is being harassed on the street for being a "terrorist" or told she's wrong to wear her hijab (by her own choice) because it's oppressive.

    Much like with the term "feminist", people are quick to throw around "cultural appropriation" without understanding what the fuck they're talking about. And that spreads misconceptions, misinformation, uncertainty, and REALLY skewed ideas about the people who are sincerely trying to advocate for social change.

    EDIT: Goddammit, why won't it let me leave space between quotes and text
    #13 Astaroth, Nov 2, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
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  14. That's... Racist as shit though, and the antithesis to the whole idea of cultural exchange. An entirely different problem. :ferret:
    I think this is less a case of cultural appropriation and more a case of racial profiling. I think this is wrong, by the way. If a role is written to be black, star a black person in it. Turning it white is dumb. But, Hollywood likes making money and hates taking risks, even if not taking risks means perpetuating racist hiring practices.
    Freedom of expression, yo. Same reason I can draw Mohammad, if I want to. One person's symbolism is another person's "neato" thing. Heck, if they decide to paint religious symbols on themselves, they might actually end up learning about them in the process, or as a result of encountering someone who holds value in those symbols. Resulting in greater cultural exchange, so long as the person who holds an invested meaning in said symbols is not an asshole about it and tears into someone who is simply benignly ignorant of their culture. Punishing someone for ignorance is like burning a child with a cattle prod for failing to understand something: It's counter-productive.

    I think, as adults, as individuals, we can teach each other things about one another through incidental interactions, rather than forcing one another to comply to hundreds (if not thousands) of restrictions on what we can and cannot wear, paint, or otherwise express.
    That's a case of plain old racism and should be pointed out if it's not considered trashy on both sides of the race spectrum. Here in Canada though I've never seen a black person punished for holding their hair in a natural style. Might be a US thing, or I've simply never seen it, and now I'm learning about something to look for in the future.

    Also, I'd argue that punishing someone based on physical characteristics they cannot change or control because of birth is plain old evil, irrelevant of what you think of its "cultural meaning", but hey. What do I know of two-spirit peoples and the like? :ferret:
    I've never seen an example of this that didn't first fall under the racism umbrella. I wouldn't punish the white girl for wearing the hijab: I'd take my outrage out on the people trying to punish the Arab girl for wearing hers. Racism is wrong, period.
    Because the post box is an evil devil child. To summarize though: I do see your point of view. I'd argue though that these cases are examples of why we need more cultural exchanges. More encouragement to normalize things that are seen as foreign and strange and unacceptable. The harder we fight to divide each other, the more resentment we'll breed as a result, and the more racism that will be generated as a consequence. The more racism is generated, the more differences we'll find in each other, and the more "cultural appropriation" will suddenly appear.

    Then again, we could simply be seeing this from differing perspectives. I value an individual's rights far more than a collective's rights. Both for those who are oppressed, and those who aren't... And I don't think punishing the unoppressed for using cultural motifs of the oppressed does anything other than cause unnecessary suffering and anger. Telling that white girl that she can't wear a hijab because it represents Arabic culture for instance, might cause her to instead become hateful towards Arabic peoples for taking something away from her individually. Maybe if time was spent telling her what it meant to the Arabic peoples and then letting her go her way instead, will let her learn something new about a group of people the mass media normally demonizes. She could walk away enriched, or walk away feeling tormented and angry.

    And, granted, she might not care after it's explained to her. God knows I'm pretty callous about religions myself, my avatar is Christopher Hitchen's for goodness sake. But I would rather not punish someone for a fashion choice because of the actions of a bunch of racists hounding the Arab girl. I'd rather punish those racists directly, every chance I get.


    I guess at the end of the day, in this case, I preach patience and kindness and understanding. You can't force every person you meet to conform to everything you value: That's the definition of totalitarianism. That's what the likes of Hitler and Stalin and Mao tried to do, and as a result, they killed millions of people. What I seek instead is equal understanding. I may not believe in the Christian God, but I don't go into chapels and smear shit on the walls and harass Christians over it. Heck, I'm an atheist, I'm not exactly new to the whole "and everyone hate this particular fucker in the room" mentality. However, if I were to take any page from the Bible, any lesson from it at all, it would be to turn the other cheek.

    You can't make the entire world conform to what you think is right, but you can do the right thing on a personal level and make it 1/7 billionth better as a result. And hey, if you act like a kind, reasonable, responsible, merciful, tolerant person, than maybe a few other people who know nothing about what you believe, might stop and listen to you for a few minutes, and learn to be a little bit better themselves as a result. I don't think the concept of "cultural appropriation" is inherently evil, but I think it's a classic case of "good intentions gone wrong." It means well, the core desire is to get people to tolerant and respect each other, but it does it in a very harsh, very criticizing, and almost cruel way. There are better ways to live than to stick a thousand needles in someone for every piece of appropriation they take from another culture. Save the needles for the blatant racists who treat people like shit. Innocent, naive, even ignorant people, don't need that.

    tl;dr: Lovey mushy shit. I don't do lovey mushy shit often either.
    #14 Brovo, Nov 2, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
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  15. Yeah, it's a thing, but like pretty much everything else the crazy extremist side of social justice slacktivists has gotten their hands on it has been blown way out of proportion.

    The rational version of cultural appropriation is ripping something from another culture in a crude and ignorant way that does not respect that culture. Having dreadlocks while saying black people with similar hairstyles look ghetto or barbaric is cultural appropriation, for instance. Having dreadlocks without that kind of bullshit though? Not appropriation, just someone using something from another culture that they like. Also, cultural appropriation is not in and of itself harmful to the culture the thing was taken from, it's just rude and probably obnoxious. Japanese culture is not harmed by some person wearing a geisha costume for Halloween and making racist jokes about Japanese people while doing so, for instance. It might make people upset, but that's not the world shaking awfulness that people who cry about the supposed evils of cultural appropriation seem to think it is.
  16. Dude, you're kinda missing the point, which is that cultural appropriation IS racist whether it's overt or just plain unfortunate ignorance. Genuine interest in another culture is not cultural appropriation. That was what my post was all about.

    For the record, all of the examples I gave are things that I have either witnessed firsthand or have read about. Sad to say.

    Genuine interest in other cultures IS good and should be encouraged.

    As for the religious painting thing, I'm not saying you can't paint something on yourself that's religious if it's not your religion. I'm talking about things more in line with the Lakota headdresses: When it means something specific and significant and you're turning it into something hip.

    Also, I'm not calling for people to be banned from doing any of these things. The whole point of addressing cultural appropriation is to make people AWARE that they might offend people and to get them to actually learn about whatever culture they might be inadvertently exploiting. Or to be AWARE that white people and people of color doing the same things should not merit different treatments. Ya know?

    Just because you might do something offensive does not make you irredeemable devil spawn. EVERYONE has privilege over someone else. EVERYONE does something tactless at least once in their life. EVERYONE is a product of their upbringing until their horizons are broadened. People need to stop having knee jerk reactions to this stuff and just go "oh, maybe I should think for ten seconds about what I'm doing and how it might affect other people".
  17. ... Except, I'm forced to disagree, because I can't agree with something that punishes people based on their race, then pretend it's in the name of racial equality. That makes... No sense, from an individualist perspective. Should black people stop playing baseball because it's part of white culture and that's a form of cultural appropriation? Or does it only work one way, because only white people can be racist?

    Do you, hopefully, see my confusion? I'm trying to understand, sincerely, but, look at it from this perspective. Just because someone holds something of great value to themselves, doesn't mean it has any value to me, and forcing me as an individual to grant value to something against my will, is horribly wrong. I have no value for Christian or Muslim iconography. None whatsoever. Telling me that I'm a racist (or whatever you would call it for religions... Islamaphobia maybe? Is there a Christian version of that?) because I refuse to adhere to, or worship, or ingratiate myself to, or even really respect, scriptures written by crazy backwards bronze age white people from Rome and a pedophile each respectively is completely insane to me. You can't ask me to violate some of my own, core beliefs, to suddenly adhere to the beliefs of someone else, because not doing so would be racist. I'm allowed to criticize it, I'm allowed to mock it, and that doesn't make me a racist. I'm not mocking arabic peoples: I'm mocking their beliefs. And that's also making the broad, and racist assumption, that all arabic peoples are muslim.

    There is a clear distinction and difference there. Between what someone believes, and what someone is. Attacking someone for the pigment of their skin is racist. That's where the word comes from: Race-ist. Racist. What someone believes is not their skin tone. A headdress is not the embodiment of all native american peoples. I guarantee you, on the individual level, there are aboriginal peoples, who don't give a flying fuck about that thing and may mock it themselves.

    You can call something distasteful, without having to demean the word "racist" with it. Because to accuse someone of racism is a rather severe accusation, and you will need a really good argument if you want to convince me that beliefs are now a pigment of skin.
  18. Uh, dude. You're doing exactly that thing I said people shouldn't do? The thing where you assume I'm calling you terrible when I never said that? You seem really determined to think I'm calling you a jerk.

    I am not even calling you racist or Islamophobic. Unless you are doing something racist or Islamophobic, which I have no reason to believe you have done from anything you've posted in this thread! I'm also not telling you to believe anything that means nothing to you or to treat everything with reverence, just to not rub it in people's faces or to be understanding if they get upset. The only thing I am telling you to respect is other people. Which is a pretty common idea across all cultures.

    Lol. Seriously? I am sitting here preaching acceptance and education rather than attacking people. What exactly am I doing wrong?

    Also there are absolutely people who aren't white who are guilty of both cultural appropriation and more overt forms of racism (or nationalism, etc., but I was simplifying for brevity's sake. MOST of it is rooted in racial tension rather than simple cultural divides.) And white people have absolutely been victims of cultural appropriation.

    But your OWN examples of "black people doing white things" are sort of null because, for example, baseball is not religiously significant to (normal) white people, nor does a black person playing baseball have any connotations of genocide or oppression of white people, and nor does a black person playing baseball get treated positively whereas a white person playing it gets treated negatively for the same behavior. Therein being the difference.
  19. I can see how my wording appears that way, not my intention. Apologies. Just more confused and somewhat frustrated, because I cannot tie someone's beliefs to someone's skin tone. That's racist to me.
    From what I've seen, you're not really doing anything wrong, but I'm confused about the clashing definitions of what cultural appropriation is on the rest of the Internet, and what you're saying here. We seem to hold the same view, which is thus:
    Versus, say, this.
    Which explicitly states that if one black person took a musical style of blacks from another black person, that's okay. However, if a white person takes a musical style from a black person, that's racist. Even if they might enjoy the beat of the music and just want to share it with the world, put their own spin on it, that's racist. Completely, and entirely racist. Every time a white person sings Jazz, that's racist according to cultural appropriation. That is the definition of treating people differently based solely on race. Which differs from what you seem to think of it as. Which is why I'm so confused.
    I also still have to disagree here. Not with baseball not being religiously significant--that I agree with, nobody in their right mind thinks baseball is religiously significant. I disagree because religion is an ideology one chooses to have (unless they were brainwashed or threatened into it against their will, but that's a discussion for another time). To say that it's racist to question an ideology--a religion--is either absurd, or racist, because it's making the assumption that all people of a certain skin tone believe the same thing, completely irrelevant of what they individually may think or believe.

    At which point, my being atheist pretty much makes me a permanent racist if I ever mock Islam. Which is highly worrying, obviously, I don't really want to be a racist. :ferret:


    Also, in the interests of peace and what not, I'll let you have the last word here to try and educate me on this topic without it turning into a nonstop back and forth thing. Whatever you may think of my words, I do still respect you Ozzy. Keep that in mind.
  20. Remember my first post where I was saying that people misrepresent and misquote and make misguided accusations of cultural appropriation? Kind of like they do with feminism? Just because people say feminism is about hating men or getting more privilege than men doesn't make it true.

    I'm also not trying to equate religion to skin color, but I can see where you took that away from what I said. I was using your example group- "white people"- and then applying most of the common cases in which something qualifies as cultural appropriation to the example. (Although, of course, certain religions are more commonly associated with certain ethnic groups and so racism does in fact often come into play when people are being assholes to people of that religion.)

    I don't think mocking religion makes you a racist or an Islamophobe/Christianophobe/whatever. I think there are ways to poke fun at religion without being a dick. What I am saying is, don't be a dick.

    TL;DR every message I've posted in this thread: DON'T BE A DICK.

    And once again, I will clarify that I am not directing these statements at ANYONE in particular, and certainly not @Brovo.

    On the subject of the jazz musicians, maybe I can help clarify. The issue with the white musicians playing jazz wasn't so much that they were white and jazz is only for black people. You can see today that this is not an issue; jazz and soul and many other genres pioneered by black artists are wildly popular and fairly even across racial demographics, and (almost) no one really bats an eye.

    The problem was that at the time, black musicians were often struggling because of racial discrimination in the first place... and then you had white artists come along and cover their songs and get more popular. Maybe the most famous example would be the song "Hound Dog". Everyone attributes it to Elvis. I mean, it's the ICONIC Elvis song, right? But it was actually by Big Mama Thornton. And it was more popular coming from a white man than from a black woman. And race and culture absolutely played into that. Even a white woman was better received, because Janis Joplin upstaged Big Mama again just a couple years later by covering another of her songs. You could argue about maybe these artists were more talented, but not when a pattern emerges of this happening repeatedly with many artists and many songs from the time. And jazz was something that black Americans pioneered, and often was rooted in elements of life as a black American, and then white people came along and profited off of their work. Which for some reason is a touchy subject for black people.

    Does that make a little more sense?
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