Author Topic: some thoughts on cultural appropriation  (Read 91776 times)

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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #645 on: April 17, 2017, 11:56:01 PM »
Neither of our two short fictional dialogues are an example of how to do that, because both of us wanted to, and intended to, portray the other side as an asshole. My reason for doing so was rhetorical. Yours was ideological.

Only one of us thinks it is okay to demand that people change their mode of self-expression based on their skin color. That is quite clearly ideological.
Please don't assume that I think "it is okay to demand" a damn thing. I have never said that, and you can't read my mind.

Edit: Your fictional Latino still sounds like an asshole, and an uninformed one to boot.
That you think this speaks volumes.
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #646 on: April 18, 2017, 12:10:58 AM »
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Are you saying that people who aren't members of the culture involved in a given example of CA can't (or shouldn't) try to think or talk about it?

Amongst themselves, with no inclusion of anyone from those cultures? Yes, I am. I'm saying that the best people to discuss cultural appropriation with aren't white heterosexual males. Discuss it with people from the cultures being referenced. Otherwise you're just talking over the top of them.

I see why you and I aren't going to be productive, we're starting so vastly far apart. I think everybody should feel free to think about and discuss everything, and that it is good for everybody to do so.

I believe that trying to segregate who should discuss what based on their demographics reinforces bigotry, even if it's with the best intentions.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 12:15:55 AM by Drunken Idaho »
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Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #647 on: April 18, 2017, 12:13:30 AM »
That you think this speaks volumes.


If you walked up to a stranger and asked them to reconsider their fashion choices, because you assumed they didn't come from a culture wherein they saw those choices organically on display, then yes, that is an asshole move. Only your ideology makes it difficult to see this.

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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #648 on: April 18, 2017, 01:23:12 AM »
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Are you saying that people who aren't members of the culture involved in a given example of CA can't (or shouldn't) try to think or talk about it?

Amongst themselves, with no inclusion of anyone from those cultures? Yes, I am. I'm saying that the best people to discuss cultural appropriation with aren't white heterosexual males. Discuss it with people from the cultures being referenced. Otherwise you're just talking over the top of them.

I see why you and I aren't going to be productive, we're starting so vastly far apart. I think everybody should feel free to think about and discuss everything, and that it is good for everybody to do so.

I believe that trying to segregate who should discuss what based on their demographics reinforces bigotry, even if it's with the best intentions.

This is how you end up with a bunch of wealthy white celibate men talking about what problems poor women of color face. If your source of information is entirely made up of people who largely don't experience the problem and people actively trying to dismiss or represent the problem, you're not going to have a productive discussion about it.

See also: why evangelical Christians can't have a productive discussion about what atheists believe.
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Offline Caffiene

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #649 on: April 18, 2017, 02:50:22 AM »
Now you're getting it. All you have are anecdotes. You cannot and should not treat any particular culture as monolithic, with one clear and enumerable view on the subject. And we all know that anecdotes are insufficient to establish any kind of clear scientific conclusion.

So stop looking for clear, specific, enumerable conclusions. You won't find any. All you will find are anecdotes and opinions.

Honestly, this argument to me seems to undermine the very concept of cultural appropriation. Ownership of a cultural concept is itself a view of that type, so if a culture is not monolithic enough to have a measurable view on a subject, neither can it be said to be monolithic enough to have a recognisable ownership of a cultural expression. You would be left with simply an individual person saying "I feel an ownership of this concept and dont want you to use it".

If we accept that a culture is not monolithic enough to hold judgements beyond an individual level then we get into the realm of individual expression where, as we've seen in the Fearless Girl thread, most people do not believe the creator holds any significant right to control after the act of creation.

I disagree with the premise, and think that it is possible to make meaningful observations through survey and similar testing in order to at least estimate prevailing attitudes within a single community. That prevailing attitude is inherently necessary for a community to see or claim something as an expression of that culture.

Even the existence of a culture or community is in itself a recognition at a level beyond the individual. This is a skeptical community because the majority of people identify as skeptics and there is mutual recognition of the fact that it is a majority. We can conduct a survey to see how many people do or do not identify as skeptics, and the less rigorous "feeling" of having a majority of skeptics is what creates the feeling of community. Conversely, if we did a survey and found that only 1 in 4 people identify as a skeptic, we would no longer call it a skeptical community. It may not be well defined and hard science, but it all occurs well above the level of an individual or an anecdote.

My statement was that we white heterosexual males are appropriating the discussion, not the example. We should not be having the discussion exclusively amongst ourselves, with no parties to the other point of view present. For example, there is no-one present in this conversation from the Latino community who genuinely feels that white people wearing hoops is offensive to their culture.

It's like a panel of old rich white men discussing womens' reproductive rights. We're talking over the heads of the people who are actually affected by it. What valid conclusions can we reasonably come to?

The idea of appropriation would indicate that if the discussion is able to be appropriated, it is something that is occurring specifically within the community. If the discussion on reproductive rights is something that can be appropriated from the female community, then it is by inference a discussion that was happening within that female community. Removing it from that context - eg, moving the conversation to a discussion among women and men together - would then be appropriation. Applying the idea of appropriation to discussion inherently prevents anyone outside the original context from ever participating in the discussion without being guilty of appropriation.

(To pre-empt the response that its ok so long as women choose to initiate the discussion with men, if we are considering appropriation to be relevant this would again be the "my black friend says its ok" defense. Participating in something outside its original context is still appropriation even if somebody within the original context gives you "permission". Which is one reason why I dont consider appropriation to be valid in this manner.)
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Offline 6EQUJ5

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #650 on: April 18, 2017, 10:09:02 AM »
(click to show/hide)
Are you saying that people who aren't members of the culture involved in a given example of CA can't (or shouldn't) try to think or talk about it?

Amongst themselves, with no inclusion of anyone from those cultures? Yes, I am. I'm saying that the best people to discuss cultural appropriation with aren't white heterosexual males. Discuss it with people from the cultures being referenced. Otherwise you're just talking over the top of them.

I see why you and I aren't going to be productive, we're starting so vastly far apart. I think everybody should feel free to think about and discuss everything, and that it is good for everybody to do so.

I believe that trying to segregate who should discuss what based on their demographics reinforces bigotry, even if it's with the best intentions.

This is how you end up with a bunch of wealthy white celibate men talking about what problems poor women of color face. If your source of information is entirely made up of people who largely don't experience the problem and people actively trying to dismiss or represent the problem, you're not going to have a productive discussion about it.

See also: why evangelical Christians can't have a productive discussion about what atheists believe.

It's not necessarily productive for members of a privileged class to discuss the issues of a particular intersection amongst themselves because that can reinforce internal bias instead of helping to get rid of it. As skeptics especially, it's really important on these issues to not just examine them as they manifest externally, but to also look inward and realize that there is much you don't even know to consider as a result of privilege and therefore it is critical to listen to the experiences of marginalized people.
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Offline D4M10N

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some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #651 on: April 18, 2017, 10:36:16 AM »

Should we listen to the marginalized people who say that some given cultural practice (e.g. dreadlocks) should be  freely shared across cultural and racial lines?



Should we listen instead to those who advocate cultural walls of separation?

Why presume that one of those groups speaks for the other?

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« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 10:41:05 AM by D4M10N »

Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #652 on: April 18, 2017, 10:43:47 AM »
We certainly shouldn't listen to anyone who contributed nurse to insist that one of the 'sides' is calling for walls of separation.
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Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #653 on: April 18, 2017, 10:48:50 AM »
If your goal is to shame white folk from straying too far from the social construct of whiteness, then yes, you are putting up cultural barriers. Call it what you will.


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Offline Redamare

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #654 on: April 18, 2017, 11:16:25 AM »
I feel like I just need to reassert that I think "Cultural Appropriation" describes a real thing, but that creating a single term for it will probably turn out to have caused more harm than good.

I think without the term, people could discuss individual instances without feeling threatened by the implications and without the sense that we need a blanket policy for addressing all instances.

But now that there's a "word" (I know, two words) for it, suddenly a person might feel like they're being accused of something, where before it would only have felt like being asked to consider another perspective. It's too easy to say "That's Cultural Appropriation!", instead of articulating why something makes you uncomfortable in a way other human beings can easily understand and relate to.

There's an element of the Abilene Paradox, in which someone may not intrinsically care about something (hell, maybe nobody actually cares about it) but they feel the need to call people out for it because there's a "rule" now.

Lastly, it creates this new "category" in the "oppression Olympics", which motivates people to sit around trying to think up new examples so they can impress people with how clever and "woke" they are.

All this does is ratchet up the stakes and conflict, widening the gulf between Left and Right at the very time when we most desperately need reconciliation.
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #655 on: April 18, 2017, 11:20:33 AM »
This is how you end up with a bunch of wealthy white celibate men talking about what problems poor women of color face. If your source of information is entirely made up of people who largely don't experience the problem and people actively trying to dismiss or represent the problem, you're not going to have a productive discussion about it.

See also: why evangelical Christians can't have a productive discussion about what atheists believe.

Your examples deal with one group making decisions about another group's actions: I'm advocating for the opposite--that even as a privileged white guy, I should still discuss and can form coherent opinions about my own actions, even when they confront issues like privilege and CA.

It's not necessarily productive for members of a privileged class to discuss the issues of a particular intersection amongst themselves because that can reinforce internal bias instead of helping to get rid of it. As skeptics especially, it's really important on these issues to not just examine them as they manifest externally, but to also look inward and realize that there is much you don't even know to consider as a result of privilege and therefore it is critical to listen to the experiences of marginalized people.

Absolutely agreed! We should be listening and open to all of these external ideas, and be aware that our own privilege may create blind spots. And this same skeptical mindset should be applied to somebody who says, "don't do that because it's CA." Is it really CA? Are there negative effects? Are there positive effects that balance or outweigh the negatives?

A rational, skeptical mind neither assumes that they have the ability to create informed opinions without listening to others, nor should only listen to others without applying a critical mind to the external ideas.
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Online Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #656 on: April 18, 2017, 11:25:50 AM »
Redamare,
The fact that you percieve some sort of oppression olympics is confusing to me.
The people who discuss it here do so only in response to posts about it.
Any time I see reference to it outside of here, its just in relation to very specific instances and articles focusing on particular things.
Where are you seeing this other behaviour?

Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #657 on: April 18, 2017, 11:29:44 AM »


This is how you end up with a bunch of wealthy white celibate men talking about what problems poor women of color face. If your source of information is entirely made up of people who largely don't experience the problem and people actively trying to dismiss or represent the problem, you're not going to have a productive discussion about it.

See also: why evangelical Christians can't have a productive discussion about what atheists believe.

Your examples deal with one group making decisions about another group's actions: I'm advocating for the opposite--that even as a privileged white guy, I should still discuss and can form coherent opinions about my own actions, even when they confront issues like privilege and CA.

My examples specifically referenced people trying to understand the problems of another group without talking to that other group.
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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #658 on: April 18, 2017, 11:37:46 AM »
If your goal is to shame white folk from straying too far from the social construct of whiteness, then yes, you are putting up cultural barriers. Call it what you will.


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That is not the goal. That has been explained in excruciating detail not to be the goal. Specific goals have been given that were not that.
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Offline Redamare

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #659 on: April 18, 2017, 11:38:47 AM »
Redamare,
The fact that you percieve some sort of oppression olympics is confusing to me.
The people who discuss it here do so only in response to posts about it.
Any time I see reference to it outside of here, its just in relation to very specific instances and articles focusing on particular things.
Where are you seeing this other behaviour?

YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, mostly. Honestly, where I live, political discussion is not sophisticated enough to even get near these topics. If you support marriage equality, you're as Liberal as a person can be, as far as most Dakotans care to categorize such things. Anything beyond that is just not on people's radar. When you bring it up, eyes start to roll.

But even if it's just on the Internet, that's bad enough, don't you think? Trump's movement was born on the Internet, and largely in response to these "Liberalism 2.0" style memes. If we hadn't given them the ammo, maybe we would be seeing populism break to the Left instead of to the Right.
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