Identity, Jealousy And Denial: A Convo On White Appropriation
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.
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!:-*
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.
Filed under: activism | 29 Comments
Tags: kyriarchy, marginalization, privilege, race, racism, whiteness