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Cultural Appropriation


Prometheus
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I don't understand it. Apparently it's a bad thing.

 

Some examples that i've come across are:

 

A kid who wanted to dress up like his favourite sport star. The sport start is black and the kid is white so he 'blacked up'.

 

A white guy with dreadlocks. A black women took gross offence to this and challenged him.

 

Got accused of it myself while performing a lion dance on Chinese New Years (she peaked under the lion).

 

 

Could people explain why any of these are offensive (preferably someone offended by these, or other examples).

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Because people take political correctness way too far, are way too sensitive and hold a lot of anger in them that they need to let out somewhere or another?

 

I don't see a problem with any of the examples you listed. But then I am not black or Chinese. Hey - I always thought that imitation was the highest form of flattery.

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It is idiocy. It has come together with this wave of liberalism and apparent progressiveness.

 

People are just looking for reasons to be offended. You can ignore it as I don't think anyone can come up with a reasonable explanation for why this happens.

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My cousin is now black. She used to be white. She doesn't actually claim to be black, but if you listen to her talk, see her pictures, watch who she socializes with, you will assume she is black.

She catches a lot of heat from many who are black. I've never heard them articulate exactly why they are offended by her actions; they mostly just loudly point out that she is not black.

 

In my cousin's case I guess part of the issue may be that she seems to be misleading people.

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My cousin is now black. She used to be white. She doesn't actually claim to be black, but if you listen to her talk, see her pictures, watch who she socializes with, you will assume she is black.

She catches a lot of heat from many who are black. I've never heard them articulate exactly why they are offended by her actions; they mostly just loudly point out that she is not black.

 

In my cousin's case I guess part of the issue may be that she seems to be misleading people.

What?

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Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it can also be used to mock and vilify. Perhaps the objection is a kneejerk reaction until they can figure out if you're sincere (emulating a favorite black athlete) or mocking (black-faced while singing Camptown Races).

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Yea - the kids from our golf club started talking funny ("nah wot I mean blud?) - they ham it up with a Jamaican accent too... cracks me up as they are middle class white boys. They are deadly serious though and we are supposed to just accept that that is how they talk now. lol.

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Don't know exactly but low 50s.


Here is a before and after pic of Rachel Dolezal who people might remember was the head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP until people found out her birth certificate listed her as Caucasian. My cousin has gone through a similar transformation.

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/06/15/opinions/rich-rachel-dolezal/

post-27780-0-25179600-1491929208_thumb.png

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As usual, it is a matter of context, as Phi pointed out. Sometimes it can be used in malevolent way, sometimes just out of cultural insensitivity. Blackface has a bad history in the US due to the minstrel shows in which white actors would use blackface and portray black people in an... well, unflattering way. As its background was specifically to mock black people and foster certain stereotypes its use is frowned upon, even if the background may be lost to people doing nowadays.

Similarly, you could expect wearing swastikas and talking with a fake German accent not going too well with Germans, outside of select situations. Now, obviously perceptions and cultural meanings change over time. However, often they do not just vanish. The biggest issue is probably when a dominating population utilizes cultural aspects of minority populations to propagate stereotypes. On the other hand, it can be difficult to distinguish these issues with innocuous use without understanding the background.

 

Making another example, I would say there is a difference if non-Chinese people learn the lion dance and try to make an effort in authenticity, in which case criticism would be silly, vs someone just getting a costume and jumping around in it (just as a silly thought).Using the African American vernacular without being exposed to in in the actual environment (such as solely among white kids) is also a bit odd, like faking a dialect which also has its connotations.

 

I should probably also emphasize that in case of uneven dynamics the aspect of dominant culture cannot be underestimated. If the dominant culture appropriates traits of minority culture the issue is that they may start to define the meaning of said traits. This can, effectively, diminish identity properties of the minority population. For example, the public portrayal of Native Armericans is dominated by Hollywood or similar portrayals and as an identity much has become a caricature (the various mascots with war bonnets and all in sports teams for example) or defined exclusively in the context of the dominant culture (either enemies or victims of settlers). As such, these portrayals have often superseded their actual identity and have diminished many cultural aspects (such as the importance of the certain headdresses).

Edited by CharonY
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My cousin is now black. She used to be white. She doesn't actually claim to be black, but if you listen to her talk, see her pictures, watch who she socializes with, you will assume she is black.

She catches a lot of heat from many who are black. I've never heard them articulate exactly why they are offended by her actions; they mostly just loudly point out that she is not black.

 

In my cousin's case I guess part of the issue may be that she seems to be misleading people.

 

 

Can you be more specific?

 

I don't understand the scenario. Why are they loudly pointing out that she is not black if she doesn't claim to be black? What is the purpose of stating the obvious? The only reasonable assumption I can make is that she talks in a black dialect and dresses like her black friends and they are somehow annoyed at this. OK. But you say two things that confuse me:

 

1)

 

My cousin is now black.

 

Is this a figure of speech meaning that she acts black or what?

 

2)

 

she seems to be misleading people.

 

What do you mean by misleading people? How can they be mislead if she is visibly white? Did she actually dye her skin or something? Surely, people cannot be mislead that she is black just because she has dreadlocks.

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I don't understand it. Apparently it's a bad thing.

 

Some examples that i've come across are:

 

A kid who wanted to dress up like his favourite sport star. The sport start is black and the kid is white so he 'blacked up'.

 

A white guy with dreadlocks. A black women took gross offence to this and challenged him.

 

Got accused of it myself while performing a lion dance on Chinese New Years (she peaked under the lion).

 

 

Could people explain why any of these are offensive (preferably someone offended by these, or other examples).

 

 

The "blacked up" cuacasion kid, unbeknownst to him, probably, hearkened memory back to the old-timey minstrel shows, where white performers comedically and condescendingly parodied blacks by wearing garish blackface. Much of the performers' behavior during their show was very racist and really just caricaturized blacks (then: "negros") in very unflattering ways. Also, there was no real reason for the kid to wear black face. Why? Say, he had on a Kobe Bryant Lakers #8 jersey. Well, everybody knows Kobe is black. So the blackface is unecessary and besides certainly looked so foolish on the kid that it could be easily construed as "making fun" of the black sports star and his ilk. I guess.

 

The black woman complaining about the white guy with dreadlocks is an ass. There is nothing at all insulting to her race about this, and it's actually a case of reverse-racism on her part. Who says that black have the market on this sort of hairstyle? It's like a caucasion person getting ticked off because a black woman has her hair straightened.

 

So...I'm assuming you're caucasion as well? Or, shall I say, non-Asian? As far as the Dragon deal? This one I don't really get eaither, except to think maybe she felt you were infringing on their cultural practices and customs. Perhaps even a ritual that had quasi-religious or otherwise deeply symbolic aspects to it. I know the Dragon is a big deal in Chinese Mythology, and sort of the "king" of the Zodiacal animals. (I am a proud Fire Monkey, byw!). And...was this parade in a type of China Town area? All I can think, again, is you were seen by her as an unwelcome, "foreign" participant in a deeply meaningful ceremony for them.

 

I guess it is a thin line between being seen as an obnoxious and insulting imitator, or as making a joke parody of some race or ethnic group. And if emulating them or one of their ilk out of admiration. Since countless American white kids everyday wear sports jersies of black athletes with no recriminations at all from their black peers. The sports jersey thing is an overtly obvious sign of admitation and fandom. So why would a black kid get upset over white Tommy sporting a Cam Newton jersey? I have never ever ever heard of a problem in this area, and am a huge sports fan and have been involved in it and the attendant fandom and memorabilia area for many years.

 

Overall, you OP consists mostly ov cases of over-reaction from the, well, the reactors. It is, I think, the exception and not the norm. So long as a person is emulating somebody of a different culture, or even participating on one of their rituals, with respect, I just cannot see the problem here. One need be cautious about engaging in stereotyping or caricaturizing, however, as that sort of thing can easily be seen as disrespectful and insulting.

Should white people be offended when black people bleach their skin?

 

 

This is an incredibly rare practice nowadays. I for one have never seen it. Have you?

 

But the answer of course is "no."

 

VB

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This is an incredibly rare practice nowadays. I for one have never seen it. Have you?

 

But the answer of course is "no."

 

VB

Unfortunately, it's a huge industry and practice.

 

 

There is abundant historical precedent for using chemical products to achieve a lighter skin tone, but the practice has in recent years seeded a booming—and controversial—industry. In 2012, India alone used 258 tons of skin-lightening cream (such creams have recently caught on with men there). In Lagos, Nigeria, one survey found that up to 77% of all residents use skin-lightening creams. Demand for such products is currently being driven by the Asia-Pacific market—led, interestingly, by Japan—but they are also popular in parts of Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Latin America. A 2009 report from Global Industry Analysts declared skin-lightening a $10 billion industry; as of last year, GIA was projecting that number would hit $23 billion by 2020.

 

https://qz.com/718103/skin-lightening-is-a-10-billion-industry-and-ghana-wants-nothing-to-do-with-it/

I think it's great to see white people sincerely emulating practices and visual looks that were the preserve of other cultures that were originally or historically seen as lower in the social order. That's a sure sign of emerging equality for those previously oppressed groups

Edited by StringJunky
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I don't understand the scenario. Why are they loudly pointing out that she is not black if she doesn't claim to be black? What is the purpose of stating the obvious? The only reasonable assumption I can make is that she talks in a black dialect and dresses like her black friends and they are somehow annoyed at this. OK. But you say two things that confuse me:

"...if you listen to her talk, see her pictures, watch who she socializes with, you will assume she is black."

 

The above sentence means she now talks like a black person, looks like a black person, and socializes almost exclusively with black people.

 

Is this a figure of speech meaning that she acts black or what?

I don't know if she is 'black' or not. Since race is basically a cultural designation, whether or not she is black can be up for debate.

 

What do you mean by misleading people? How can they be mislead if she is visibly white? Did she actually dye her skin or something? Surely, people cannot be mislead that she is black just because she has dreadlocks.

She is NOT visibly white. She looks like she could be black (or perhaps mixed race), and given that she sounds black and hangs out with black people she could be mistaken for black.

 

By 'misleading' I mean that she is trying to appear to be something she is not.

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"...if you listen to her talk, see her pictures, watch who she socializes with, you will assume she is black."

 

The above sentence means she now talks like a black person, looks like a black person, and socializes almost exclusively with black people.

 

I don't know if she is 'black' or not. Since race is basically a cultural designation, whether or not she is black can be up for debate.

 

 

She is NOT visibly white. She looks like she could be black (or perhaps mixed race), and given that she sounds black and hangs out with black people she could be mistaken for black.

 

By 'misleading' I mean that she is trying to appear to be something she is not.

But it's ok for people from other countries to attempt to emulate a stereotypical English person, for example. Are they misleading too? In the case of that woman it's a new phenomenon, so it seems 'wrong'. I think it's a sign that that we Westerners are becoming more fluid culturally.

Edited by StringJunky
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But it's ok for people from other countries to attempt to emulate a stereotypical English person, for example. Are they misleading too? In the case of that woman it's a new phenomenon, so it seems 'wrong'. I think it's a sign that that we Westerners are becoming more fluid culturally.

 

I think if anyone knowingly takes actions that will cause you to draw false conclusions, and they do nothing to correct that misconception, then they are misleading you.

 

I don't feel my cousin is generally doing anything wrong by playing the part of a black person, but if she allows a false impression to persist amongst those close to her, then that would be wrong (IMO).

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I think if anyone knowingly takes actions that will cause you to draw false conclusions, and they do nothing to correct that misconception, then they are misleading you.

 

I don't feel my cousin is generally doing anything wrong by playing the part of a black person, but if she allows a false impression to persist amongst those close to her, then that would be wrong (IMO).

But the point I'm trying make is, you wouldn't bat an eyelid if a Jamaican-born Rastafarian cut his dreads to a No. 2 and started learning to speak with a cut-glass English accent.I know what you mean though, a brother and sister of mine have removed their accent and act in a manner that belie their more modest upbringing; social chameleons. Your cousin has just gone that extra mile and done a full cultural transplant. :)

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But the point I'm trying make is, you wouldn't bat an eyelid if a Jamaican-born Rastafarian cut his dreads to a No. 2 and started learning to speak with a cut-glass English accent.I know what you mean though, a brother and sister of mine have removed their accent and act in a manner that belie their more modest upbringing; social chameleons. Your cousin has just gone that extra mile and done a full cultural transplant. :)

 

Actually, this is the part where the asymmetry comes in. Assuming the English are a dominant culture, emulating them is more seen as trying to fit in or integrate. The reverse would only make sense in certain sub-populations where e.g. other accents or dialects are more prominent.

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Actually, this is the part where the asymmetry comes in. Assuming the English are a dominant culture, emulating them is more seen as trying to fit in or integrate. The reverse would only make sense in certain sub-populations where e.g. other accents or dialects are more prominent.

 

I think part of the problem comes in when you are claiming some benefit from the culture you are appropriating without putting in the work of the culture. For example, if you are pretending to be 'cool' black at the bars on weekends but have not lived through being pulled over for your skin color or being followed around in every store you enter, I can see that being annoying to blacks.

Similarly, Vietnam vets typically don't think highly of those who claim to be vets but did not live through that nightmare. I also doubt Baseball World Series winners appreciate people who pretend they were on the club but didn't live through the grueling season that earned them that title.

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Making another example, I would say there is a difference if non-Chinese people learn the lion dance and try to make an effort in authenticity, in which case criticism would be silly, vs someone just getting a costume and jumping around in it (just as a silly thought)...

 

I was later told the 'traditional' way of dealing with such a situation would have been to punch her in the face: apparently lion dance could get quite violent back in the day, especially when lions from rival schools met - knives were carried inside the lion head. Fortunately for her my etiquette was not up to scratch.

 

 

So...I'm assuming you're caucasion as well? Or, shall I say, non-Asian? As far as the Dragon deal? This one I don't really get eaither, except to think maybe she felt you were infringing on their cultural practices and customs. Perhaps even a ritual that had quasi-religious or otherwise deeply symbolic aspects to it. I know the Dragon is a big deal in Chinese Mythology, and sort of the "king" of the Zodiacal animals. (I am a proud Fire Monkey, byw!). And...was this parade in a type of China Town area? All I can think, again, is you were seen by her as an unwelcome, "foreign" participant in a deeply meaningful ceremony for them.

 

Yes, the dance is essentially ceremonial and laden with meaning and etiquette which we are taught as an integral part of the training. Sometimes store owners will set out deliberately difficult situations that even the senior (and mostly Chinese) members are unsure about. I've come across store owners pissed off about some breach of etiquette (essentially bringing ill fortune onto them) - but it happens to everyone, Chinese, white or whatever: sometimes you know what to do, but you just fluff it.

 

 

The "blacked up" cuacasion kid, unbeknownst to him, probably, hearkened memory back to the old-timey minstrel shows, where white performers comedically and condescendingly parodied blacks by wearing garish blackface. Much of the performers' behavior during their show was very racist and really just caricaturized blacks (then: "negros") in very unflattering ways. Also, there was no real reason for the kid to wear black face. Why? Say, he had on a Kobe Bryant Lakers #8 jersey. Well, everybody knows Kobe is black. So the blackface is unecessary and besides certainly looked so foolish on the kid that it could be easily construed as "making fun" of the black sports star and his ilk. I guess.

 

This particular story was from Australia. I know they have their share of race relation problems but i'm not sure what emotional baggage 'blacking up' has for them. However, it wasn't a part of this kids emotional baggage - his hero was a black sports star, so it didn't seem racism was much f a problem for him - until someone laid it on his shoulders.

 

 

 

 

Actually, this is the part where the asymmetry comes in. Assuming the English are a dominant culture, emulating them is more seen as trying to fit in or integrate. The reverse would only make sense in certain sub-populations where e.g. other accents or dialects are more prominent.

 

Reminds me of a recent production of Shakespeare's Richard III by the BBC (excellent btw if anyone has a chance to watch it). Lady Anne, a French noble, was played by a black actor and the Earl of Warwick (i think) by a Middle Eastern actor.

 

I thought this was quite good casting - essentially it makes the statement that the story being told is not so much historical but rather a universal story on the human condition: it is a story for everyone.

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Just read a story today that the author of a magazine article was offended by the naming of 'Tomahawk' cruise missiles in the strike on the Syrian airfield. Just imagine how she'll feel when they go in with Chinook, Kiowa, Iroquois and Apache helicopters.

 

Sometimes you just gotta laugh.

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