Identity, Jealousy And Denial: A Convo On White Appropriation

29Dec09

This is a conversation on white privilege, white jealousy, appropriation and ethnic identity between CruelSecretary and myself on twitter. Each name mark will have the link to the twitter status in question. This was a lot of work to transcribe when you toss the links in there. But it was a good enough convo that it needed to be put up thoroughly.

The convo was mostly with her and partially to my feed. As soon as my responses to her were more conclusive, I started marking my responses with a period at the beginning so the @ replies were visible, that way people following me could see what we were coming up with if they weren’t following her already.

As a warning, some of these tweets may be slightly out of order in terms of time that responses were given, since I was concurrently talking to her and firing the radio over my feed. However, the line of the convo should still be fairly easy to follow and shouldn’t be disrupted.

Notes are in italics. Each tweet is in a bullet list in between notes. Please let me know if there’s accessibility issues for reading it in that format. I can go in and space them out if you need me to.

Further thoughts at the bottom after the convo transcript is done.

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The convo started with CruelSecretary tweeting a link to a really good LATimes article called The Dark Side of White, basically likening seeking absorption into the dominant white zone (and those who did in the past, like the Irish, the French and etc) as a Faustian deal. The bit.ly link should still pipe you through to the article. I’d suggest reading it at least as a primer.

  • CruelSecretary: Today’s Position: On the Faustian deal of claiming whiteness. http://bit.ly/6a51j2
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: Trading culture & id for protection & privilege. I wonder if that’s part of why a lot of white people appropriate culture?
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: Am reading the latimes article you linked
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch Luvie, I=/=white, so whatever I’d say wld be conjecture. That’s something whites need to answer.
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: True. Hm. I know that I gravitated towards geek/nerd culture cuz of that lack. I think it would play a role.
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: And I know that many of the traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Germany & Italy aren’t observed by my family at all.
  • genderbitch: From that, I’m edging towards a conclusion that the trade of culture & id for racial privilege is a big motivation for white appropriation
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch From my position, it seems US whites *do* have culture…of white privilege. Media, arts, work, porn idealizes whiteness.
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: So more a loss of identity?
  • genderbitch: But I’m iffy on it right now and I feel like I need to do more research. So gimme some time.
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: Hmm, appropriation could just come from entitlement too. I mean, we all know that’s a huge problem in this.
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch But the question begs: why give up one’s ethnic cultures only to appropriate someone else’s?
  • genderbitch: Good question. RT @CruelSecretary @genderbitch But the question begs: why give up one’s ethnic cultures only to appropriate someone else’s?
  • genderbitch: Time to delve into uncharted waters & try to figure out if whiteness is the devil’s deal w/ costs that only motivate worse damage to be done
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch For folks whose cultural artifacts are getting appropriated, it comes off like huge sense of entitlement.
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: Yeah. Entitlement would really be required to do it in the first place. Sort of like a catalyst for the stealing.
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch ….& when whites say, “whites have no culture” it seems like a huge cop-out. That=part of annoyance w/ white appropriation.
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: That’s true. I mean, the dominant culture of the US is essentially a whiteness factory.
  • genderbitch: Addendum 1: White people do have culture: It’s the culture of whiteness. United States culture is a systemic enforcer of that.
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch Oh shit! I like that, luvie. May I quote that?
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: Heh, sure. XD Quote as much as you like.
  • genderbitch: So what I’m edging towards is loss of cultural id being the motivator (enabled by entitlement from privilege) for a lot of appropriation.
  • genderbitch: Sort of the devil’s deal of disappearing into the white fog that protects but then missing that existence, that visibility that having id is
  • genderbitch: I lot of this is musing. Subject to rapid correction as new info comes in from my own researching and others corrections.
  • genderbitch: So then, with the id mashed into the whiteness, “whited out” so to speak, you’ve got this motivation w/ entitlement to steal any id you can
  • genderbitch: Because let’s face it, no matter what, there is entitlement aplenty mixed into the privilege of whiteness. So that’s always a factor.

Some other folks voiced in around this point:

  • xiomberg: @genderbitch There has also been appropriation of ethnic cultural elements into ‘white’ culture, Taco Bell is a horrible example
  • genderbitch: @xiomberg: So attempts to absorb elements, not necessarily the whole thing.
  • genderbitch: It seems to play out similarly to religious appropriation (which actually is largely done by white ppl), what is called fluffy bunnyism
  • genderbitch: I.e. white USian teens who want belonging & id, but have intense entitlement, so they take chunks from closed paths & cultures, & steal name

I’m leaving out one or two individuals who voiced up to ask questions or make statements that were more 101 material related to this. And back into the primary convo

  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch Aight, feeling your analysis so far. My question=really starting to beg now. XD
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch Is answer to white appropriation=”‘cuz we can?” Is that part of Faustian deal of whiteness, too?
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: I know, it’s a hard question. Maybe a devil’s deal made without reading the fine print?
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch Okay, I think I can get to that. Keep going….
  • genderbitch: Or an inherited deal. A deal made by one’s ancestors to enter the White Fog & now the youngins deal w/ the loss of id +entitlement mongering
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch Is answer to white appropriation=”‘cuz we can?” Is that part of Faustian deal of whiteness, too?
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: Prolly. Often times control gained by force is used simply because the ability is there. To exercise it.
  • genderbitch: Or maybe it’s a “we want cake & to eat it too”. Dropping id to gain privilege & power (Faustian deal) + appropriation to fill the id void
  • genderbitch: You know, I really think it’s the “we want the cake & to eat it too”. It’s the entitlement of not wanting to pay the devil’s deal costs.
  • genderbitch: And quite possibly denial that it’s a devil’s deal in the first place, that whiteness is harmful, dangerous & deadly.
  • genderbitch: So it’s gotta be part of the denial of the devil’s deal, even mitigating the cost is hid in white denial.
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch What I also get from appropriation=way for whites to signal they’re “down” with appropriated cultures w/out entering struggle.
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: Perhaps also an attempt to steal what is perceived as an inaccessible strength while pointedly ignoring white supremacy.
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch But what=perceived strength whites tryna steal? IOW, what do appropriated cultures have that whites don’t think they have?
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: When one is entitlement mongering, seeking power w/ no regard for others, it seems like that would happen.
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: Cuz admitting the power in whiteness would mean breaking the denial Yet the hunger for power remains, so we seek elsewhere
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: Does that make any sense? I’m doing this early in the morning, so I’m highly incoherent.
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch We’re both tryna get deep early in the morning!XD But I’m digging our convo, which is making perfect sense.
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: I imagine it would be the solidarity built from fighting us. From resisting white control. White denial strips the context
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: So then, we, steeped in denial & privilege, see this battle power & fail to realize we wield heavier but evil power too.
  • genderbitch: So basically, whiteness creates a void of id, denial, privilege, entitlement & forces others to fight, showing power, which we seek to steal
  • genderbitch: It’s a really fucked up vicious cycle. Truly whiteness is a devil’s deal.
  • genderbitch: Of course, everyone else can see the power that we deny while we steal, so they fight even harder & we get even more jealous
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch Whooooa…so white appropriation is abt jealousy? But why wld whites be jealous of folks needing to fight to survive?
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: It’s gotta be denial. Privilege obfuscates already. But whiteness is a terrible destructive thing, that we fear owning
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: Cuz then it means we have to fight to dismantle the devil’s deal that we forged. So we steep in denial, not just privilege
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: So by completely ignoring our own power, our perception wld be that those fighting to survive have more than us.
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch Aha! So that’s what’s happening….I think I’m getting it now.
  • genderbitch: .@CruelSecretary: It’s like a built in self delusion factory, that whiteness only encourages, cuz rly, who wants to be that horrible?
  • genderbitch: I mean really, would anyone on my feed /want/ to be a devourer of culture & lives to gain power? Would you want to admit to that? It’s awful
  • genderbitch: That’s pretty much vampirism. Denial, entitlement mongering vampirism. We’re (white people) vampires of power & culture.
  • genderbitch: I’ll avoid making a joke about paleness and vampirism there cuz I think it would be in poor taste. XD
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch Gurl, you need to get out of my head right now! I’ve been saying/feeling that abt vampires=myth abt whiteness for longest time.
  • genderbitch: No wonder privilege is a stained glass window. Would anyone make a deal so horrible if they lacked the power to deny it & forget?
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: Well yanno, according to that shit movie twilight, vampires are psychic. XD *mindreads*
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch I just give side-eye to “Twilight” ‘cuz it=continuation of idealized whiteness canon.
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: Yeah. Also epic sexism, also wtf sparkles. All around a fucked thing.
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch And, again, thanks so much for the early morning convo. May I post our convo on my tumblr blog?
  • genderbitch: @CruelSecretary: Sure. I’ll prolly post it on my own blog too. Maybe do some summarization at the top
  • CruelSecretary: @genderbitch Cool! Thanks, luvie!:-*

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The conversation was good. There’s not much I can really add on to the end of it. I can’t say how much of this is extensible to other axes of kyriarchy, some elements of it, especially the part about a loss of identity, seem very specific to whiteness.

In that respect I can’t really speak for male privilege all that well because my situation was adjusted by my dissonance and by being trans, so while I had access to some elements of male privilege, it wasn’t really enough of it to establish the full zone (like I have with whiteness). Male privilege does seem to have a denial of power situation, but I never really saw much in the way of jealousy of perceived power of women (in fact, most of the time guys underestimated girls).

I’ve always dealt with chronic pain from pretty much Middle School on (which is about as far back as I can remember, the chronic pain being from my less severe IBS back then), always had ADD and I’ve never been cis, so I don’t have any way of speaking for able privileged folk or cis privileged folk here either on the concept of appropriation, jealousy of power and denial of power (although no doubt abled and cis folk deny their power to harm us, I’d speculate that exists anywhere in an axis of marginalization and privilege). I have watched cisgay folk appropriate and express some serious jealousy and fear of our supposed power as well as cis women expressing the same thing, all while denying their own power over us (trans women) but as I’m not cis, I can only speculate on where these actions are coming from (much like CruelSecretary could only speculate on where the motivations for white appropriation come from.)

A lot of this is extensible to USian and imperialist privilege, in that there’s a denial or power and privilege, and a jealousy of perceived power elsewhere but USian identity isn’t very weak (patriot id is fairly strong here) so I can’t say how that would influence appropriation. And it gets kind of tough to separate the damage that the US does from the damage that whiteness does, because the United States has been a fairly powerful tool of white imperialism for a long ass time now. Very much interweaved together.

Of course, this is no surprise (if this analysis is not applicable in its exact form to all other axes of privilege) because the system of hegemonic dominance that is kyriarchy is actually several thousand (maybe more) systems all interlacing together. So some of them will be enforced by, regulated by, powered by and hidden by differing psychological and sociological factors. So white appropriation will likely have different nuances to its causes than say, cis appropriation. Both obviously are still damaging as fuck and very very persistent. But these differences will change the ways to deal with them in ways that are lasting. Dismantling the system, basically.

Anyways, if you’ve got anything to add, please comment. All of this is subject to change with research, correction and whatnot. Especially since I’m speaking from a position of privilege, so I’m aware that my capacity to handle this topic effectively is vastly reduced.



29 Responses to “Identity, Jealousy And Denial: A Convo On White Appropriation”

  1. 1 Alissia

    Curious. I read it and understand it, but the conversation feels like talking an animal that is 10 miles away. You have some idea, but as the distance increases the details fall away.

    Male privilege. If I had it I gave it up. But what did it gain me when I did have it? Is it so part and parcel that those who have it can never see it? Do I have white privilege? And how does that work? Again is it so a part of the being that it can’t be separated to be seen? I’ve never felt better than anyone except due to things I have accomplished on my own. And I have respect for those who best me no matter who they are. Their gender or skin color or religion have no effect on that feeling. I twinge when I hear someone say “He’s a credit to his race”. No, he’s a credit to himself…and maybe his family and school.

    As to the mass media? Yes, it is aimed at white straight males. Any clues why? Who has the money? Who spends the money? And who do the advertisers who want to sell products market to? Those with the most money to spend.

    Why do Apple computers have fewer viruses than MS based PCs? Are they more secure? No has been the answer over and over again. But the aim of the modern hacker/virus writer isn’t intellectual, but rather fame and profit driven. So do you write for the 6% share of the market? Or the 85% of the market? An advertiser worth their salt can answer that question.

    Go to China and see who the shows are aimed at, Do the same for India, Saudi Arabia, etc. Do they have American shows as well? Yes, often because they are financially backed and it pays to show american products in those shows.

    It often has nothing to do with racial privilege, but rather financial privilege. Yes, due to how this country was formed the Anglos do have the largest chunk of change. And due to culture the males have the largest control of finances. But is that their fault? Any more than it is the fault of the Chinese that they have most of the resources in their country? Or Indians in India?

    I don’t have the answers but thought I’d throw some other thoughts into the mix. Do I think I am correct? No, but I have some ideas. Some thoughts. And when we talk and exchage i8deas we all become better people, and… sometimes more powerful people by understanding more.

    -A

  2. 2 Christina

    Good points. There’s also the issue of where legitimate intercultural influence ends and where appropriation begins. I’ve thought about it a lot, too. Although, like you, with my own white privilege in the way.

    I think one of the important issues is how the borrowing occurs. When culture A acquires something from culture B, is it members of culture A looking at culture B from a position of power, taking what they like and leaving what they don’t (cultural appropriation by A), or is it members of both cultures interacting, members of culture A learning from members of culture B, and vice versa (cultural interaction)? Or, for that matter, is it members of culture A having things imposed on them by culture B (cultural imperialism by B).

    A lot of times the difference between those two situations is ignored or minimalized so that appropriation is justified by comparing it to other forms of borrowing (“Cultures borrow from each other all the time!”). I know I’ve done that myself in the past, which I now look back at with guilt at such a naked display of white privilege.

    Appropriators also often believe that they’re honoring the culture they’re taking from. The Noble Savage stereotype being a good example of that. On the surface it seems respectful (“they have so much to teach us”), but in truth it still objectifies, it turns the so-called noble savages into one-dimensional stereotypes, ignoring aspects of their culture that don’t fit into the stereotype, and making them into nothing more than models of behavior for the dominant culture, an empty vessel to pour ideals into. Instead of respectful interactions between members of the two cultures, it’s members of the dominant culture believing they understand better than the marginalized culture better than its own members. This, of course, doesn’t occur only in the realm of different cultures, but on many other axes of privilege. Cisgendered psychiatrists believing they understand transgender issues better than trans people themselves and ignoring trans narratives that don’t fit their views. Neurotypical researchers ignoring what actual autistic people have to say about their situation. To name just a couple of situations.

  3. 3 Sas

    Don’t underestimate the power of boredom. The US culture is definitely white culture, but a lot of white people are so familiar with it that it seems baseline and boring, and other cultures become exotic and mysterious to them. (Speaking as an insider; I’m white as chalk)

    I think some of the power that you were alluding to, that some white people try to take from other cultures, is also that they use familiarity with other cultures as a status symbol. I noticed this particularly with new-agey types, where knowing about this guru or that culture’s spirituality gave them “wisdom” status in the eyes of their friends. :P

  4. Yeah, the methodology of enforcing structural inequality and marginalization is usually similar across the board. But I have noticed people confusing legitimate cultural diffusion with cultural appropriation (purposefully or accidentally) and I think that largely plays into the very same denial issues discussed in the convo.

  5. Yeah that one comes down to the Liberal Reputation Points Game™ like having token friends of a given marginalized group or using ally/helper status like an identity (when it is given by the marginalized group not determined by privileged folk). Only this time it’s chunks of culture being stolen or used for that boost in hipster/new age/liberal reputation among other white, cis, abled, straight (sometimes gay too) hipsters/new agers/liberals.

  6. I would argue that in most cases trans women (I’m assuming by your “giving it up” statement that you’re a woman of trans history) didn’t have male privilege to begin with because of the presence of the identity and need to transition. For those who were unaware or only had bodily dissonance (not the identity aspect of it) like myself, we had a small component of male privilege, part of which was damaged by the dissonance.

    You’re struggling with the invisibility of privilege. That’s normal. Privilege is invisible. You don’t see it till its gone. For many things (like race) it’ll never be gone unless the system is dismantled. However, none of this means that you lack white privilege or that your white privilege has no impact. For instance, the majority of trans women (once again, assuming you’re of trans history, please correct if I’m wrong) who are murdered are women of color. The percentage of white trans women who are murdered is significantly lower, a minority of the actual losses to hate crimes. Your white privilege provides a large margin of protection from being killed for being transsexual (not perfect protection, trans hate is still very prolific and powerful) because you don’t have both the intersection of racial marginalization on top of the marginalization of being trans.

    As for the financial privilege bs you said, that almost entirely depends on racial marginalization, theft of resources and dominance of racial peoples by white people not redistributing wealth to only go to white people. Yet the studies of racism have shown that (not just with black POC and the effects of slavery, but for most POC groups) that racism does redistribute wealth into the hands of white people. It also creates cycles of social inequity that deny POC education, access to job opportunities and the resources necessary to break the financial cycle. So yes, you do have white privilege and yes white privilege does influence wealth and survival in the United States.

    As for fault, well, people are only at fault for their own complicity in the system, not for the system overall. For instance, it isn’t my fault that society overall is racist and elevates whiteness over everything else. However the actions I have taken in the past (or may still take as the case may be) that either ignores this (and doesn’t work towards dismantling it) or worsens this system by aiding it are my responsibility and my fault. So no, a given white person isn’t at fault for the whole system. But that given white person is entirely at fault for any participation in the system, any complicity with the system, any lack of work or apathy towards dismantling the system.

    Right now, you are attempting to make excuses, to explain away racism. That is complicity to the system. You are aiding the system of racial inequality, right now, by attempting to claim (poorly, I might add) that this is a natural state of financial organization or even financial at all. On top of expressing disbelief in the effects of privilege. So while no one can blame you that the United States itself is racist, you most definitely can be taken to task for that comment.

  7. Can you help me by providing markers that distinguish appropriation from diffusion? How can you tell which is which?

  8. I may be off, depending on the situation, but it’s like Christina said in her comment: Are you coming from a position of power? Are you taking or is there an actual mutually beneficial trade? Is the other culture teaching you of their own volition or are they being intimidated or doing it so you don’t harm them with your power as a white person? Coercion can be done accidentally when we live in a world where our power is systemic, prolific and murderous. Just by being ignorant of whether or not a trade is being made for their safety from us we can engage in appropriation.

  9. Thanks. I was looking for something more objective, because in many cases we CAN’T know the motives of the person appropriating/sharing culture. And 3rd parties will make claims about their motives that may or may not be accurate.

    I’ll propose one – if the majority becomes the arbiter of how a culture works or is defined, then appropriation is at work. Some musical genres have experienced this.

    But if it’s more a case of sharing or appreciation, it’s not appropriation.

    Vanilla Ice on the one hand and the Blues Brothers on the other.

  10. To add to RP’s comment, another consideration is whether the culture that the material is coming from is closed. Many cultures have information or practices that you aren’t qualified to know or perform without having family ties, being raised in the culture, or being adopted into the culture, depending. If the culture is closed, or the material that is being adopted makes no sense without the context of the whole culture, it’s appropriation.

  11. 11 Alissia

    Amused now. You make many assumptions. Yes I am trans. No I am not making excuses. Marginalizing of any group or subgroup is wrong no matter who does it. I will make no excuses for those that enjoy benefits without knowing their source…regardless of their grouping.
    Notes:
    You say “it isn’t my fault that society overall is racist and elevates whiteness over everything else. ” – Not white society, but society over all. Why is that? I see all different races in the US trying to buy what other cultures have. I see blacks trying to be whitey. I see Asians trying to be white or black, whites trying to be black or Asian. Is it all blurring? I know industry moguls who happen to be african americans, and poor in the shelters who are white. And that begs the question. I live in LA. Why are most of the people I see on skid row, in the soup lines, in the shelters mostly Caucasian?

    Quoting again “As for the financial privilege bs you said”. Really? You bring a smile to my face. Perception is an interesting thing. I have lived on the top and the bottom. I have slept in silk beds and cardboard boxes. I have sat in board rooms and rooms in places most would like to pretend don’t exist. I have saved lives….. and I have..nm.

    You stand on a pulpit and make pronouncements. You state opinions as facts, You act as poorly as those you thrash. Am I pissed? No. I have done the same. And probably will do so again. I try to ask more questions these days and try to understand where someone is seeing from. What perspective their views are created by. I’d ask the same of you, but it’s not my place. You need to find your own path.

    I truly enjoy listening to you and chatting with you, discussing issues. I make no guesses as to who or what you are. I can only try to assume that what you state about yourself is true. As others have often said you can be anything on the net. We make allowances and assumption, not always correctly.

    I may not agree with you always, but I do respect you and your thoughts. Keep it up. Hugs.

  12. Yeah, that’s a good point too. I think, also, there’s the need for a sense of identity. And the dominant culture comes to be seen as what’s “natural” rather than a culture that one can belong to. It seems that the sense of belonging to a group tends to be associated with a sense of difference from others, which is hard to achieve when you’re the majority. Perhaps that’s why, for example, some conservative Christians adopt the bizarre notion of (“true”) Christians being a minority in a “secular” society. It gives them the sense of being a tight-knit group surrounded by the Other.

    I don’t know how one would go about fixing that sort of “identity-hunger”, though, without slipping into the “white pride” fallacy, which, most of the times, is just a euphemism for white supremacy. But, perhaps recognizing the existence of diversity within the white majority would be a start. Much as that article noted in regards to the loss of specific identities. Perhaps if whites were more likely to identify as Irish-Americans, German-Americans, Italian-Americans, etc. than as just “white”, they’d have a source of pride and belonging in their own heritage without feeling the need for appropriation?

    I’m not sure. But I do know that, for myself, once I realized my own identity as, first, an aspie and later as a trans woman, and other identities, that I felt more of a sense of knowing who I was than when I saw myself as just a “generic (white) American”

  13. Keep in mind that you are speaking to another white person. My capacity to address this topic is affected by my white privilege. It might be wise to look into some POC blogs or resources dealing with this topic specifically instead of just asking me. Better to pull in a large amount of info.

  14. I know I attached myself to geek culture and to the geek identity long before I discovered my dissonance and realized I was trans. I still appropriated some things, but as I more and more solidly attached to the culture of geekry and incorporated it into my self identity, I lost a lot of the urge to take from other cultures.

  15. Of course I make assumptions. It would be difficult to converse without making some.

    Society overall (within the country I live in at the least) elevates whiteness as the expected default. Different races trying to buy what other cultures have isn’t being done from a position of racial power. Also what you’re seeing in your own personal experiences (and what you use to try to dismiss the concept of there being a major effect from white privilege) are born from other intersections. Race is not the only thing upon which marginalization lies. Classism does affect along many lines, and while racism influences it, still it will extend beyond race. None of this means that white privilege does not exist. None of this means that the effects of white privilege are in doubt. In fact, your personal experiences really don’t yield much, colored by your perceptions and your white privilege as well as being small scale and not indicative of an entire society.

    Like I said before, you’re making excuses.

    I’m glad you smiled. I’m not glad how soundly you missed the point. It is bs. Financial privilege (it’s called classism and class privilege for future reference) does not negate racism and white privilege. It may cancel some of the benefits but it doesn’t change how the system works. White privilege doesn’t magically disappear because you were poor. And what you’ve experienced doesn’t change that. How irrelevant of a litany to go through.

    I’ve stated facts in regard to the function of privilege. This has been studied, it’s established in basic sociology. 101 level. But obviously, that won’t aid your denial, so you’ll stick with calling it opinions and trying to claim that I’m acting as badly as bigoted people. Tone arguments are sad, you should avoid such boring and overused derails. Use something newer and interesting.

    Now it’s my turn to be amused. Implications that I lie about who I am or some such? You’re making a lot of silly irrelevant statements here. I’d say you were trying to derail or at the very least complaining about assumptions made (even though all of my assumptions, i.e. one, that you were trans, were true) but I really can’t be sure with how out of the blue and out of pattern it was.

    I’m going to pass on the hugs. Passive aggressiveness has never really played well with me and today is no exception.

  16. 16 Alissia

    You read more into what I say than is there.

    I didn’t say you lied, and I don’t believe you did lie.

    I am not in denial. I actually believe in most of what you say, but I also like a good discussion and debate. Making and assumption here…you do not based on your seeming attack on me. Doesn’t bother me.

    I am not passive aggressive. I find that annoying in others and myself. If I thought you were an asshat, believe me I’d say so. I don’t. I do think you are so focused on lashing out sometimes that you don’t see that others support you, only that to some extent they might disagree with you.

    You’re bright and have some good research and good arguments. I wish yu could discus them without taking it personal or feeling like you have to throw down.

    I hope we can discuss other things in the future, and do so without the rhetoric. I do thank you for reading and responding.

    Pass on the hugs if you wish. I meant no disrespect. I am far from perfect, nor am I infallible. I am human, which seems to surprise many.

  17. Oh so you were playing Devil’s Advocate. How quaint of you.

    Trolling is fun and all but it isn’t good discussion and debate. Especially since you provided some truly abhorrent discussion and very little actual content to debate (which is often how trolling works).

    Just a bunch of non sequitor and begging the question fallacies with a side dish of delicious strawman. Ah well, I guess you’re just not very good at DAing. As a note, since you seem to think not believing the privileged and asinine shit you spouted gives you a free pass, it doesn’t give you a free pass. It’s a lot like hipster “irony”. You know, where a hipster makes an ironic bigoted comment, not really believing it, but making it because hey! It’s so shocking and hip and edgy and they’re saying it to show the absurdity!

    Except, it’s not absurd. It’s omnipresent. People really believe those “ironic” comments. On the same token, you think that your words don’t cause problems because you don’t believe them. This is untrue. Count yourself goddamn lucky you didn’t spout this trolling crap on a POC’s blog, because there you would be piling further racist shit on them that they’d have to deal with, irregardless of what you believe deep down in your pretty little heart.

    On PA:

    The blending in the asinine comments while still attempting to keep a friendly air is plenty passive aggressive.

    On your inconsistency:

    You might want to make up your mind on whether you agree or disagree with me about this topic. Because you keep on contradicting yourself. Which makes you not seem very credible. Of course, admitting that you DA trolled probably doesn’t help your credibility either, just saying.

    On rhetoric:

    AHA HA HA HA HA HA… oh wow, you’re serious. Did you not read your own little DA trolling comments? That was all rhetoric and fallacies. Whereas I’m building from theories that are already established in sociology and activism. Are you trolling again? Pretending not to know what Rhetoric means? I dunno whether I should take you seriously now.

    On your rampant tone arguments:

    Yep, still bored with your tone argument derails. I haven’t “thrown down”, “made things personal”, “lashed out” or any such things with you. Nor would any of those things be relevant to the wrongness, fallacies and privileged trolling you spouted or to the validity of my rebuttals.

    So, anything new in the next comment? Or should I not bother letting it show up? Please do let me know.

  18. 18 Allie

    De-lurking just to say I love this post, and I admire you for taking on the clueless person above.

  19. 19 Sas

    I’m afraid I don’t have any good ideas about solutions either. What you mention about whites identifying with their ancestral cultures, that’s a good idea, but I think unless they’re in a community of with others of the same ancestry they’re not going to get the same feeling of belonging. I think it’s definitely a good thing for people that have the resources for it.

    Like GB, geek culture helped me a lot. Fandoms all have their individual customs, costume, mythology … and if you feel like you want something more, you can just become a fan of something else in addition!

    Unfortunately a few have built-in appropriation problems; I struggled with that as an anime/manga fan, learning to appreciate in a healthy manner. I understand the budding Twilight fandom has some problems with white fans appropriating Native American culture, too.

    But usually people seem pretty good about discouraging that sort of thing, and I think overall, fandoms and geek cultures are pretty positive in promoting a person’s individuality while still giving them as much community as they need.

  20. For me, it was mostly Dungeons and Dragons. I actually found anime and manga fairly obnoxious because it was constantly shoved in my face by the people in the area I went to school in. I’m okay with some stuff from those zones, but I never really identified with the anime watchers.

    No, I definitely was a dnd geek.

  21. 21 Sas

    Well, that’s understandable because anime and manga actually IS pretty obnoxious, except for a few choice exceptions.

    I wanted to be a dnd geek, but none of my friends actually wanted to run the games, they just wanted to make characters (and make me draw them) and read the books.

    But now I’ve got video games, horror movies, and furry/fantasy art, so my geek urge is satisfied. |3

  22. The issue of appropriation with anime/manga is interesting, as the Japanese tend to take elements of Western, especially American, culture and language. Is there a sort of mutual appropriation going on? Is the Japanese use of random Englishbwords and phrases a form of appropriation? There’s not an issue of power, but there’s a similar “just taking what’s cool” idea …

    Anyways, what you were saying about appreciating respectfully resonated with me. I’ve studied a lot aboutJapanese culture and history, where possible finding Japanese sources. But a lot of anime fans know little beyond anime itself, and a few facts directly related to what they’re watching. They wouldn’t know anything about, say, the Heian era or the Era of Warring States, or even about Japan’s part in WWII beyond Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima and maybe Iwo Jima

  23. As a note regarding exchange of culture with Japan, keep in mind that an exchange wouldn’t really change whether there was a power differential being taken advantage of to absorb Japanese culture. In fact, power differentials can often influence the dominated culture to begin borrowing from the dominant one because the dominant one will start to push its culture on the dominated one.

    If I have my history right, the United States certainly did that during the rebuilding period of post WWII. We may still be doing that. Being that I’m not Japanese I couldn’t tell you without more research whether or not you’re engaged in appropriation right now. But I do know that a large number of anime fans, manga fans and so called white “Otaku” are very deeply appropriative and I have seen Japanese individuals show a great deal of disdain for these folks and discomfort with how their culture is being plundered by these people.

    I would say your best bet is to do a good burst of research. Try to find blogs and resources related to anime fandom and appropriation of culture, from Japanese and Japanese American folk, and figure out if what you’re doing is problematic. If it is? Change. If it isn’t? Work to make sure that other white folk do it the right way, like you are.

    Makes sense?

  24. 24 Sas

    You’re right on with that. When I was more into the anime fandom, the question I would always check myself with was, “Would I be embarrassed to present like this to a Japanese person? If so, stop it.”

    Of course, I know that wouldn’t help some of the more shameless fans. I had to spend a lot of time basically telling people, “It’s not cool just because it’s Japanese. You have to judge it on its own merits.”

  25. 25 Sas

    I think learning a lot about Japanese culture and history helps inoculate against some of the bad behavior. It helps dispel the mystique that a lot of fans build around Japan. I think even just learning about the history of anime and manga itself, and its place in Japanese culture, would put a lot of things in perspective for the more hardcore fans.

    As for the random English, well, I guess since Japanese kids have to take English in high school anyway, that changes the dynamic. If American kids had to learn Japanese in school, I guess I’d be less irritated by the random kanji tattoos.

  26. Of course, something that goes unstated that I thought I might point out is that throughout this entire conversation, the perspectives and attitudes of white people are still (likely unintentionally) being centered. Instead of a conversation about the effects of cultural appropriation on people whose cultures are being appropriated, it’s a conversation about its effects on those perpetrating the issue.

  27. That’s true. I didn’t even think of that.

  28. Yeah, that’s a good point. Heck, look at how many words English took from French when French was the prestige language. I imagine there must’ve been a time when the French considered English people’s use (and often misuse) of their language rather strange.

    Of course, now that relationship has been flipped and it’s the French borrowing English words. Some of which had been adopted from French in the first place (sort of like English’s borrowing of “anime” which is an abbreviation of the Japanese adaptation of “animation”)

  29. As for random kanji, I’ve often thought that a great shirt would have a horse and a deer with the respective kanji written.

    The joke there being that the kanji spelling of “baka” (idiot) is literally “horse-deer”. :D

    I once saw a shirt that parodied that “random Japanese is cool” idea by writing something like “Random Japanese characters” in Japanese.


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