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[Spin Off] Culture Appropriation in the US and how racism fuels the belief.

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May 13, 2008
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I figured that I would spin off from the box braid girl thread as people were overly focused on the tweets directed to the little girl and were angry about making sweeping generalizations and damning entire groups of people for the words of a few who are in no way representative of said group of people, while demanding that people not generalize and stereotype the group they belong to (basically...the usual state of America since it's inception, the irony always lost on people).

I'm not going to lie, I'm totally going to copy paste my post from the other thread because I feel most people don't want to read it and would rather be angry at a group of people because reasons.

The answer while obvious to me is apparently lost on many people in this thread, as they write about these fictious utopias in which all groups are treated equal and complaining about cultural appropriation is stupid. I agree in a perfect utopic society where everyone is viewed equally and treated as such the need to complain about culture appropriation is pointless and honestly wouldn't be a thing at all. There would be no fear that a group's already marginalized voice would be further diluted or that it would make it harder to give voice to issues that are of paramount importance to that group.

One of the main reasons any group complains about culture appropriation is because that group feels oppressed and that they're being treated unfairly by others. I know many people would like to think there is no oppression in the US but there is. We traded overt racism and hatred for covert racism that many can't see, and many more can choose to ignore. The simple and most straightforward solution to ending the complaints about such is to stop being complacent on how America as a whole treat these groups.

Touching on the hair thread and more to understand why black women would complain about something so insignificant as hair, one must understand how black women and their hair are perceived in the US by the various institutions. In America the metric standard of beauty has and still is straight luscious hair. It's the standard that all women are measured at, it's where light/fair skinned is the standard and everything else below it is considered "less". This image is in the complete opposite of the image of black women. Straight hair is not the natural state of black female hair, their hair grows out not down. It grows kinky not straight, their skin is bathed with melanin not lacking it. Yes you may see many black women with straight hair and think "what's the problem". The various methods to achieve straight hair for black women is both scarring and expensive. It leaves permanent scalp damage and can (and many times does) lead to premature hair loss. It is overly expensive (the black hair industry is a multibillion dollar industry), and it is time consuming. Many black women go to a beautician every other week to keep up the simple stuff like the actual process of simply keeping their hair straight, not even to style said straight hair which can find them in chairs with even more frequency. Many of you are reading and thinking "well they should just embrace their natural hair!" And many females do, but it's never that simple. Society reinforced to these women that these hair styles (twists, fros, curly fros, locks, braids) are "ugly," "unprofessional", "unkempt", "nappy", and many more hurtful phrases. Every day that idea is reinforced to black women by TV, Music, movies, photos and various other institution. That constant negative reinforncement is internalized and negatively shapes black females views of themselves. It just like any of societal pressure, the pressure to be a certain weight, the pressure to make a certain amount of money, etc.

Many black women started embracing hair styles more suitable to their hair, and again are greeted with the same negative attitudes towards it. And for just as long as these women have been ridiculed for their hairstyles; magazines and other avenues pour on accolades when the fairer skinned females started to don the same hairstyles (Bo Derek as an exampled was lauded for it and many found the style refreshing and new, despite the fact at the same time many establishments and news/media were flat out calling black women who had this hairstyle "ghetto" or "unattractive".) This again only tells black women that when they do it, it's seen as tacky or unprofessional and that they should strive to fit the eurocentric standard of beauty, but when other women who are like them in every way except skin color and hair that those women are beautiful and look great with those hair styles.

A great example of how these views hurt black women. Look at the NeoGAF thread on Lupita's being crowned as People's Magazine most beautiful woman. Just read through the comments and how hurtful many of them are, many suggesting she grow it out and straighten it to look good and be worthy of the title People Magazine gave her, and many more saying she looks like a boy and her hairstyle is ugly. Just as many who aren't black suddenly knowing how black hair works because they dated a black girl for a week. That is what black women face on a daily basis from so many different avenues. It's both covert and overt, that is what America says to black women and their natural hair. Or check the NeoGAF thread about the young African American girl who was expelled from her school for keeping her hair natural and the numerous people in the thread saying the girl needs to get it straightened or to stop complaining.

Or to make it relatable to anyone with a drop of empathy. Imagine have two sons/daughters; and they both do the same thing. You constantly praise one for it and insult/demean the other for doing the same thing...what is the expected outcome? How do you think it'll affect how they view not only his/herself and you but also the sibling who has done absolutely nothing wrong. Then you have the mother who doesn't care that this is happening. Obviously in my analogy the sibling in question would most likely realize that father is an asshole and would probably try to shine light on their sibling. This too is done in our society you see those people all the time throughout history, whites who rallied with MLK and did the million man march, those who take part in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. You also have the equivalents of mothers in our society, you know these as the "I don't see race" or "It's not happening to me so who cares" type people. And much like in society, mom and dad's voice and influence is so much more powerful than your siblings and will mark you much more deeply.

Or alternatively think about how society as a whole sees black people and white people when it comes to the topic of drugs. Despite decades of evidence and numerous reports on the subject matter stating that black and white people consume and sell drugs at the exact same rate, who is viewed and effected negatively? Which group is held to an impossible standard? Black people aren't demanding that white people can't do drugs, they are asking people however to understand despite both groups being the same and doing the same things, one is viewed and treated as a lesser because of it.

To bring it back to the point about cultural appropriation, there was a thread about how comic book fans felt threatened by the mass consumption of comic book by way of movies and entertainment by groups who once shunned them in highschool for liking such, but now liking comics/comic book movies is seen as fashionable. People were upset that for something they were once ridiculed for being seen as "cool". They feared that something they love would be whored out and commercialized and be left as a hollow version of what it use to be. Overwhelmingly people were empathetic to how comic book/geeks/nerds/bullied felt and understood. That is literally how minority groups feel. If you can empathize with the comic book fans then it should be easy to empathize with minority groups. And just like minority groups, vast majority of comic book fans aren't saying X group can't use/like it. Many of them are simply stating don't consume and commercial it then drop it when you're bored of it leaving it a shell of it's former self.

Some people make the suggestion that blacks are segregating themselves and that they should be trying to assimilate...these people (bless their hearts) clearly speak from a place of either a platform of privilege (trigger word!) or ignorance (double trigger!). Black people have been trying to "assimilate" since they were brought here. Blacks are simply responding to the segregation being afflicted upon them, in order for blacks to segregate themselves you have to put forward the argument that segregation has ended....it hasn't. I'm sure someone will bring up BET as an example of blacks trying to segregate themselves, but I ask you this. WHY was BET created? It was created to give blacks and avenue to express themselves when the country at large was not allowing them. As an example, there was a time in which black artists were recording amazing music in the 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond (and before). Unfortunately the many people did not want to buy their music purely on the reason that the artists were black, so many people would simply rerecord the songs with a white singer/group and sell it to great fanfare. While BET came much later in life, it was born due to reasons such as that. Black people aren't segregating themselves, black people have only wanted to be accepted and seen as equal. Unfortunately even now today they aren't given that, when they ask people point to atrocities happening in black communities and diverting the attention away from the problem, even worse some tell black people to "earn it". What exactly must black people do in order to "earn it" that they haven't already done? What did the majority group do to "earn it" or worse demand it from minority groups?

I know you're reading all of this and asking "what does this have to do with the cries of cultural appropriation" and it's simple, it has everything to do with it. Minorities cry out about it because they're not accepted and seen as equal. They're seen as lessers, they're seen as inferior. So they retreat inward to their own and create and express their joy/sadness/beauty/strength when the rest of the country tells them they lack in those things. So when they see the group that would damn them for those very things take on their creations, profit from it while still keeping them down. It hurts them and only makes them want to retreat inward even more. It's sombering to think that even after 300+ years–and the continual–disenfranchisement, oppression, lynching, killing, disproportionate arrest, willful negligence, dogwhistling politics, enactment of laws whose aim is to further destroy the community, black people still kneel with their hands open asking for acceptance and acknowledgement that they are a group of people worth more than how everyone views them.

If you want to get rid of the notion of cultural appropriation then we must get rid of the systematic racial problems in the US. As long as they exist you're going to get the inward retreat and clinging to even the smallest things they see as their own. This phenomenon has been seen many times through out human history, this isn't a new concept that minority groups in the US just started taking on last year.

Black people don't care about what individuals do with their hair, nor is there a ruling coilition that is voting on what white people can or cannot do/say/wear. What minorities as individuals and as a group are asking for is that the various institutions that acknowledge and praise these individuals for their bold looks, or awesome sounds, or amazing fashion, or new slang, or new dance moves, or new styles of cuisine, etc to give that same praise and to acknowledge that they too are look great, that they took are donning new fashion trends, that they too are doing something different. Not that they're not pretty or their unkempt, or they're "ghetto" or "thugs" for doing the same thing as everyone else.

In short they simply want...equality in all it's forms, they want the double and impossible standards to stop.

There is more than others can fill in and touch on other areas, such as the "you're the whitest black person I know", the "you don't act black", or the "why can't I say nigger?" or the "I don't see race", or the "get over it", or the "if you ignore it it'll go away" and various other things that keep everything race related in purview.

Before you respond, all I ask is for you to read this and try to digest it. The other thread was chalk full of "god you people make me sick with this" and "ugh this culture shit is dumb, fuck their culture" and other nonsense. I consider GAF to be one of the best forums for intellectual discussion on things outside of vidyagaymez! Try to be cordial. It's okay to disagree, but do the bare minimum and write something that expresses and articulates your disagreement and not a random driveby post that might have racist undertones.
 

soundahfekz

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I honestly think you killed every argument point before one could even start. Well done. Raging, drive-by "it only concerns me when it affects someone like me" gaffers should read this post in its entirety and learn something.
 

Oppo

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Thanks Angelus.

Reading your post, there's a couple of things I want to highlight.

One, I understand the argument you're making. I get it, in as much as I can as a white dude. Which is to say I can empathize, but probably not really understand. I am not reminded every damn day, as a POC might be.

Two, my view might be coloured somewhat by the fact that I am Canadian, and I live in Toronto, which is one of the most multicultural cities in North America (around 50% white). I do not see a lot of outright racism at all, although i do see a lot of 'soft' racism.

Reading your points, I am still of the opinion that the phrase "cultural appropriation" isn't particularly useful. I say this because I think (I mentioned this in the box braids thread) that this phase attempts to put a negative label on a phenomenon that is both a sympton of racism – it's "better" when white people do it – as well as something that I regard as a positive function of society, which is the intermingling of cultures from many parts of the world.

At the end, I arrive basically at the same place you do Angelus, albeit via a different route; you'd have to get rid of racism altogether for "cultural appropriation" to go away. Where I differ is in thinking that CA is something to get upset about. Now, I don't really get to make that call for other people, in a larger sense. I don't get to say whether or not someone ought to be upset. But I can question the validity of that outrage on simple terms. I think black people (to pick one example, a prominent example in N.A. but hardly exclusive-to) are justifiably upset for historical and modern reasons both. They are still treated as second class in many cases – we have all seen the studies about resumes, names, all that. It sucks. Racism sucks. We agree.

But in terms of body image problems: these are not unique to black people. White teenagers test higher than anyone for bulemia and anorexia. Blonde, thin women are the standard for essentially everyone in western culture. Body dysmorphic disorder is not unique to black people. Mainstream beauty "standards" affect almost everyone.

In terms of other cultural artifacts: I remember this discussion when the Beastie Boys first appeared. I remember this discussion when The Police appeared, a bunch of white british guys playing reggae. I remember when Led Zeppelin was accused of ripping off blues music. And of course, the Beatles with their myriad (and loudly credited) influences, and then probably the original CA "example" which was Elvis dancing like a black guy. Elvis might be the only true example of CA. I see all of these as positive moves. No one accused Hootie and the Blowfish of cultural appropriation. The intermingling and mutual respect for a culture can only be positive, long-run, in my mind. I think it helps race relations tremendously in fact.

Another example I can think of is American sports. I think baseball, basketball and particularly American football have moved the needle significantly on race relations. To be crass for a sec, you just know there were and are a bunch of racist chuckleheads in middle America who have had their insular views of black people rearranged because we turned several black athletes into gigantic heroes and superstars.

Which brings me to this:

I know you're reading all of this and asking "what does this have to do with the cries of cultural appropriation" and it's simple, it has everything to do with it. Minorities cry out about it because they're not accepted and seen as equal. They're seen as lessers, they're seen as inferior. So they retreat inward to their own and create and express their joy/sadness/beauty/strength when the rest of the country tells them they lack in those things. So when they see the group that would damn them for those very things take on their creations, profit from it while still keeping them down. It hurts them and only makes them want to retreat inward even more. It's sombering to think that even after 300+ years–and the continual–disenfranchisement, oppression, lynching, killing, disproportionate arrest, willful negligence, dogwhistling politics, enactment of laws whose aim is to further destroy the community, black people still kneel with their hands open asking for acceptance and acknowledgement that they are a group of people worth more than how everyone views them.

You are just talking about racism. Straight racism. There's nothing to do with the culture there. That is a misdirection, in my mind.

Your comic example, the geeks all bent out of shape because comics are 'mainstream' now? I think their anger is misplaced as well. They didn't lose anything. There are simply more forms available. And of course, of course, there are lots of black artists and musicians and fashion designers. Of course, there is money to be made there, of course everyone recognizes where it came from. But it shouldn't matter.

So you see, hopefully, how I arrive where you did – we must get rid of racism – via a different road. But this "cultural appropriation" phrase, which is typically used as a verbal bludgeon to say "you don't get it, you ignorant twit, check your privilege", is not particularly useful. You are yelling at an aspect, and it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Were I really into reggae/rasta culture – say I loved the music and everything about that scene – I would really have no idea how to "tastefully" engage in that culture, as a white person, without potentially pissing someone off. I would probably decide that as long as I wasn't hurting anyone directly, it doesn't matter.
 

wenis

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Op shouldn't be allowed to one and done a thread, but ya did it. /Applause
 

Somnid

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I don't think it even matters. Cultural appropriation is soft power for the group being appropriated. It's not something the group may feel they have very direct control of and the thing being appropriated can be superficial and ignorantly used but either way it represents a connection back to the appropriating culture. It's not unlike internet memes bridging a bunch of segmented internet communities. Just think, if a hairstyle is appropriated then it's more likely to be considered normal or better yet cool and this is good for you as a person with such a hairstyle even if you lose exclusivity because people now relate or don't think of you as weird.

Having these things is important to strengthen one's culture and cultures that have let themselves be absorbed or forced themselves on others are typically some of the strongest. Most groups that consider themselves culturally distinct spend a lot of time and effort to maintain their culture, but virtually none is interested in restricting access to it because they know culture dies when it's not exposed. So overall, it doesn't overly matter if people feel bad, just like Republicans feel bad when they talk about the ACA. It's going against their best interest. Maybe it makes sense to address those feeling but even if you can't or they won't things will probably improve.
 

Draft

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If you want to get rid of the notion of cultural appropriation then we must get rid of the systematic racial problems in the US.
Seems a little cart before the horse to me. I hope we can work through something trivial like white people "discovering" twerking before systemic racial problems are resolved forever.
 

wildfire

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I subscribed to this thread so I can look at this as a reminder for certain things I take for granted. I get why many people would be offended by cultural appropriation and rightfully so. You just need to get across your point more plainly instead of using sarcasm because sarcasm assumes your subject is conscious of the subtext. In the braided hair thread quite a few weren't or have forgotten if they participated in past threads about this subject.

Personally I still think cultural appropriation is great because it is a merger of cultures and enforces a greater sense of familiarity with people who have different traditions.



You are just talking about racism. Straight racism. There's nothing to do with the culture there. That is a misdirection, in my mind.

You need to clarify what you mean by this statement. Racism is very much rooted in culture wars.

Your comic example, the geeks all bent out of shape because comics are 'mainstream' now? I think their anger is misplaced as well. They didn't lose anything. There are simply more forms available. And of course, of course, there are lots of black artists and musicians and fashion designers. Of course, there is money to be made there, of course everyone recognizes where it came from. But it shouldn't matter.

This is a more neutral example of getting across how I feel cultural appropriation is positive. I don't think most people want to go back to where geek culture wasn't popular and mass marketable.
 

Oppo

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I subscribed to this thread so I can look at this as a reminder for certain things I take for granted. I get why many people would be offended by cultural appropriation and rightfully so. You just need to get across your point more plainly instead of using sarcasm because sarcasm assumes your subject is conscious of the subtext. In the braided hair thread quite a few weren't or have forgotten if they participated in past threads about this subject.

Personally I still think cultural appropriation is great because it is a merger of cultures and enforces a greater sense of familiarity with people who have different traditions.
So, this is why (along with what Somnid said) I would say the phrase isn't useful, unless I am simply wrong in the original meaning. It can be good or bad, it's potentially attached to different meanings.

You need to clarify what you mean by this statement. Racism is very much rooted in culture wars.
Both "cultural appropriation" and "culture wars" are frames, positioning devices. I don't think the cultures are at war any more than the drugs are. I agree with what you said above, but you can see how that is at odds with how it was being used on Twitter/box braids.

"appropriate" is a negative here, it means to take or seize, which is where I wince a bit.
 

Dirtyshubb

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First off you do make some very good points regarding the issue and I don’t have anything against your points since you are pretty much speaking the truth.

I do however feel that like most arguments when it comes to ‘accepted beauty’ from mainstream society, the problem lies with media. Every single person should be allowed to look, dress, feel and think anything that they want to without any form of judgement and criticism. Im not saying society is this way right now because it isn’t, but if we as a people are ever going to move past the point of judging every other person by how they look/act etc. then we need to make sure this is a universal approach.

Im not saying we need to forget or sweep the travesties BME people have been forced to suffer under a rug, that needs exposing as much as possible so people truly understand the problems they have been forced to suffer over the years. The thing is though; we need to do this while promoting equality amongst every human, which isn’t going to be possible if people start fencing off certain things from other cultures/races/genders etc.

I understand this wont be easy, and some might feel it is from a position of white privilege, but as long as we keep thinking like this we as a people will never truly accept each other.
 

timetokill

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Great post. Loved it.

One minor quibble: "Black people don't care about what individuals do with their hair"

Can you really speak for an entire "race" like that? I thought part of the problem was the idea that one black person's actions/thoughts represent the entire community.

Anyway, it would seem that some black people do care what others do with their hair, and care deeply.
 

wildfire

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So, this is why (along with what Somnid said) I would say the phrase isn't useful, unless I am simply wrong in the original meaning. It can be good or bad, it's potentially attached to different meanings.

....

I agree with what you said above, but you can see how that is at odds with how it was being used on Twitter/box braids.

"appropriate" is a negative here, it means to take or seize, which is where I wince a bit.

Cultural appropriation has a negative or positive value depending on the outlook of the person. It isn't worth it untangling the emotional appeal someone is attaching to a word/phrase moreso than trying to understand why they are having that emotion.

Both "cultural appropriation" and "culture wars" are frames, positioning devices. I don't think the cultures are at war any more than the drugs are.

That analogy doesn't make sense. When countries used to be big an expansion aside from the Incans and I guess Egyptians everybody pretty much tried reinforcing their right to conquer and subjugate based on their traditions and social values being superior and should be the ideal the barbarians need to be forced to adopt. We're past those days of expansionism but we certainly aren't past those attitudes seen time and again where people do everything in their power to subvert seemingly positive aspects of another people's societies and make them look negative.


When Sarah Palin was nominated I was curious about who she was and what exactly was she going to do for the Republican brand. Her performance at the National Convention solidified not only her positions but the cultural attitudes of the Republican base as she sneered about how Obama was a community organizer and the audience was increasing their clapping and cheers for her as she sarcastically inferred that type of job meant nothing.

There are some very disgusting people out there wearing social masks they only take off for those in their clique.
 

Boombox On

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Or alternatively think about how society as a whole sees black people and white people when it comes to the topic of drugs. Despite decades of evidence and numerous reports on the subject matter stating that black and white people consume and sell drugs at the exact same rate, who is viewed and effected negatively?

Obviously does not invalidate your point, but I always thought white people consumed/sold more?
 

Trey

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The invocation of cultural appropriation is not saying white people can't do certain things or participate in a particular culture. It's the acknowledgement that society marginalizes and exploits certain demographics while profiting off of ideas or customs cultivated by said group of people. It's the affirmation that their identity has been fought for, and will not be subverted by careless interests. It's also the expression of frustration when features exhibited by a minority demographic are chastised, while those same features are expressed by white people to greater fanfare.

Cultural appropriation, or claims there of, have been used in order to justify attacks on otherwise well meaning people. All sorts of valid ideas have been used less than graciously, and the fact that cultural appropriation is no different does not undermine the feelings it conveys.

All that being said, here are some fine posts from the other thread that will be just as relevant here:



I haven't read a whole lot about the culture and politics of black hair besides that, but it is a good place to start. Or this piece by Melissa Harris-Perry (who provides the foreword to that book!) about why black hair still matters. And this!

If you don't understand why there is sensitivity around issues of appropriation and hair after those, you're hopeless.

Here's why people get up in arms about it: white people, as the majority in power, have been taking black culture and selling it as their own for decades. Meanwhile, black people have seen a disproportionately small share of the profits from culture that they originated, and white use of black culture has diluted its meaning. So when a 14-year-old adopts a black hairstyle, she's adopting something whose cultural significance she doesn't understand from people she doesn't know. She just thinks it looks nice.

If you consider yourself colorblind, you are intentionally oblivious to the power imbalances that exist in our society with regard to race.



Also, Good Hair. I learned so much from that documentary.

as a proud white person, it is my culture to appropriate, exploit and unceremoniously dump the culture of others when i'm bored of it.

none of you can take that from me.

I think this stems from black women seeing hairstyles that they were being mocked and ridiculed for wearing become acceptable and trendy now that white people are doing it.

It would be like this:

You are a super cool guy. You do a lot of super cool things, and invent new cool things without even thinking about it. You are proud of the cool things you come up with. They define who you are.

But a lot of people you know take those cool things you do, and they get recognized for it, over and over again. Those cool things become super popular. But not you.

Meanwhile, all the people that like that cool thing don't like you.

This tweet is basically why:


And related media:
Head-turning hair fashions for fall: bangs, rows and tails. Not a single mention of any black fashion models, icons, etc. They even attribute some cornrow styles to Elizabethan "edginess".



Black Twitter Schools Marie Claire on Cornrows

Also, there are similar articles related to this phenomenon:
 

soundahfekz

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Jan 22, 2009
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Agreed on most points. Regarding black female hair, though, if the pressure wasn't there from black males for their hair to look a certain way, things would change quickly.

This is wholly inaccurate. The fact that caucasoid features are perceived hand in hand with beauty is not to be placed on the shoulders of black men.

Eurocentric and 'ethnically ambigious' (but leaning eurocentric) women are lauded as the gold standard in television, movies, print media, billboards, etc around the entire globe. You have an entire industry of beauty products built on emulating this stanadard, from hair straighteners for blacks, to bleaching creams that are prevalent throughout asia (with a strong emphasis on India).

We've all been conditioned to accept and seek to attain that standard. When I was younger I had an obssession with "light skin girls" because blacks were never celebrated or regarded as attractive, unless they were lighter than the color of a paper bag. These are the kinds of ideas you pick up from environmental input, not some inherent characteristic that cannot be explained.

If you're actually looking to learn about all of this, a good reference point is Kenneth and Mamie Clark's Doll Study conducted in the 1940's, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_and_Mamie_Clark#Doll_experiments)

This study was also reproduced with similar results in this documentary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Girl_Like_Me_(documentary))
 

NYCmetsfan

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Apr 24, 2010
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The invocation of cultural appropriation is not saying white people can't do certain things or participate in a particular culture. It's the acknowledgement that society marginalizes and exploits certain demographics while profiting off of ideas or customs cultivated by said group of people. It's the affirmation that their identity has been fought for, and will not be subverted by careless interests. It's also the expression of frustration when features exhibited by a minority demographic are chastised, while those same features are expressed by white people to greater fanfare.

Cultural appropriation, or claims there of, have been used in order to justify attacks on otherwise well meaning people. All sorts of valid ideas have been used less than graciously, and the fact that cultural appropriation is no different does not undermine the feelings it conveys.

All that being said, here are some fine posts from the other thread that will be just as relevant here:
I don't have much to add but I love the MHP videos. She was my professor back in college and taught me a lot about these issues that by virture of being a white straight dude I never would have thought about.

I even remember her talking about black hair in class one day.
This is wholly inaccurate. The fact that caucasoid features are perceived hand in hand with beauty is not to be placed on the shoulders of black men.

Eurocentric and 'ethnically ambigious' (but leaning eurocentric) women are lauded as the gold standard in television, movies, print media, billboards, etc around the entire globe. You have an entire industry of beauty products built on emulating this stanadard, from hair straighteners for blacks, to bleaching creams that are prevalent throughout asia (with a strong emphasis on India).

We've all been conditioned to accept and seek to attain that standard. When I was younger I had an obssession with "light skin girls" because blacks were never celebrated or regarded as attractive, unless they were lighter than the color of a paper bag. These are the kinds of ideas you pick up from environmental input, not some inherent characteristic that cannot be explained.

If you're actually looking to learn about all of this, a good reference point is Kenneth and Mamie Clark's Doll Study conducted in the 1940's, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_and_Mamie_Clark#Doll_experiments)

This study was also reproduced with similar results in this documentary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Girl_Like_Me_(documentary))
Think about Beyonce's place in white culture and how many white men say they "don't like black girls" but like beyonce.

I don't mean to attack Beyonce for being whoever she wants to be stylistically but she by and large emulates a lot of "white beauty". Finding her attactive but not other black girls is just saying you like her because " she's not too black"
 

voodoojohn

Banned
Jul 1, 2007
2,151
0
0
I wonder what the reaction would have been had the girl been Indian or Asian instead of white. I'd wager a bit more positive.
 

Orbis Tabula

Member
Aug 20, 2010
15,615
1
0
You make a damn good argument. I hadn't really thought about these issues that much before, but I'll definitely be watching this thread now. Thanks for this.
 

Foggy

Member
Dec 9, 2013
10,215
0
0
I wonder what the reaction would have been had the girl been Indian or Asian instead of white. I'd wager a bit more positive.

The first couple pages were pretty positive across the board and virtually everyone agreed the girl was fine to do that. The only reason it blew up and became combative was the argument over cultural appropriation as a thing. People kept going back to the topic of the girl in reference to it, but the kernel of the argument was about the existence/appropriateness/etc of cultural appropriation. Not sure how the non-black race of the child would've changed the development of that thread.
 
Jun 1, 2011
4,971
2
0
Not reading that OP, but you are one of the worst people on this site when it comes to discussing anything. Your posts are fueled by incredibly excessive petulant rage and usually involve power fantasies of killing people or launching them into the sun. Luckily you'll never be successful enough in life to be in any kind of position of power or authority. You are FAR too emotional in most of your posts and lash out at everyone in ridiculous ways.
 

Freaky Fred

Banned
Sep 1, 2012
4,465
0
455
Nowhere
Not reading that OP, but you are one of the worst people on this site when it comes to discussing anything. Your posts are fueled by incredibly excessive petulant rage and usually involve power fantasies of killing people or launching them into the sun. Luckily you'll never be successful enough in life to be in any kind of position of power or authority. You are FAR too emotional in most of your posts and lash out at everyone in ridiculous ways.

you're lucky he's not a mod or he'd ban you so fast dawg
 

soundahfekz

Member
Jan 22, 2009
6,623
0
0
Amazing how empty this topic is VS. the white child with braids thread. I wonder if it's because there's no white persecution complex to be had? No drive by rage and condemnation to let off some steam at 'black culture'?

And I'm not even implying that those people weren't wrong. I just think it speaks volumes about this community and further strengthens the OP when it comes to the deafening silence that occurs when it comes to discussing the plight of blacks in American society.

Not looking to derail, just disappointed.
 

Jado

Banned
Jun 24, 2005
4,815
0
1,245
The invocation of cultural appropriation is not saying white people can't do certain things or participate in a particular culture. It's the acknowledgement that society marginalizes and exploits certain demographics while profiting off of ideas or customs cultivated by said group of people. It's the affirmation that their identity has been fought for, and will not be subverted by careless interests. It's also the expression of frustration when features exhibited by a minority demographic are chastised, while those same features are expressed by white people to greater fanfare.

Cultural appropriation, or claims there of, have been used in order to justify attacks on otherwise well meaning people. All sorts of valid ideas have been used less than graciously, and the fact that cultural appropriation is no different does not undermine the feelings it conveys.

That's pretty much where I stand. I still don't condone how some people dogpiled on a clueless little kid, but it is right to go after celebrities who steal and take credit -- and the magazines like Vogue who praise them as the pioneers and trendsetters. This is the stuff that should get people riled up:

http://music.cbc.ca/#!/blogs/2014/8...bout-the-Bass-is-not-a-self-acceptance-anthem
On her Facebook page, Trainor writes, “My uncle is from Trinidad and I really enjoy going there — the culture is amazing — music everywhere. Soca music is awesome and people light up and can't help dancing when they hear it. I would love to be the first American girl to bring Soca to the mainstream.”
 

ISOM

Member
Feb 22, 2012
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480
Not reading that OP, but you are one of the worst people on this site when it comes to discussing anything. Your posts are fueled by incredibly excessive petulant rage and usually involve power fantasies of killing people or launching them into the sun. Luckily you'll never be successful enough in life to be in any kind of position of power or authority. You are FAR too emotional in most of your posts and lash out at everyone in ridiculous ways.

You seem very emotional here tbh. And if you're not caring to read the OP then why even enter the thread?
 

Mael

Member
Oct 23, 2009
23,428
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0
France
Great topic and really if it's rather....weird to see how there's really nothing to discuss at this point, everything is in the OP.
I would really like to comment on a more personal level but I'm not that brave.
 

Ran rp

Member
Sep 12, 2011
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750
On point, as usual.

Not reading that OP, but you are one of the worst people on this site when it comes to discussing anything. Your posts are fueled by incredibly excessive petulant rage and usually involve power fantasies of killing people or launching them into the sun. Luckily you'll never be successful enough in life to be in any kind of position of power or authority. You are FAR too emotional in most of your posts and lash out at everyone in ridiculous ways.

 

Freaky Fred

Banned
Sep 1, 2012
4,465
0
455
Nowhere
Amazing how empty this topic is VS. the white child with braids thread. I wonder if it's because there's no white persecution complex to be had? No drive by rage and condemnation to let off some steam at 'black culture'?

And I'm not even implying that those people weren't wrong. I just think it speaks volumes about this community and further strengthens the OP when it comes to the deafening silence that occurs when it comes to discussing the plight of blacks in American society.

Not looking to derail, just disappointed.

maybe people just got tired of going in circles in the other thread about the same topic, or already read and responded to Angelus' post in that thread

or maybe it's because Angelus went all Mumei on us with that tl;dr OP

or yeah, maybe we're all just racist
 

HK-47

Oh, bitch bitch bitch.
Oct 24, 2007
49,169
0
1,010
Not reading that OP, but you are one of the worst people on this site when it comes to discussing anything. Your posts are fueled by incredibly excessive petulant rage and usually involve power fantasies of killing people or launching them into the sun. Luckily you'll never be successful enough in life to be in any kind of position of power or authority. You are FAR too emotional in most of your posts and lash out at everyone in ridiculous ways.

Hahaha hope it was worth it, schmuck. Talks about lashing out with a post like that...
 

Schlep

Member
Mar 20, 2006
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0
1,265
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www.pressstart.tv
This is wholly inaccurate. The fact that caucasoid features are perceived hand in hand with beauty is not to be placed on the shoulders of black men.
I think you misunderstood what I'm saying. There are a lot of influences on black female hair, but one of the bigger points is always going to be how they feel it affects their potential to attract someone. If overnight, the vast majority of black guys decided that wigs and weave were unattractive and preferred a natural hairstyle instead, there'd be a sea change.

Again, I understand the effect of the media and perceived beauty, but at the same time, I think that particular change has to come from within the black community as white people, in general, haven't a single clue about the efforts black women go through for their hair.
 

rexor0717

Member
Dec 6, 2008
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0
Great post OP. As I've said in other threads about cultural appropriation, unless the "appropriator" is actively trying to diminish the contributions of the culture they are "appropriating", then the blame should really be placed on those who promote the "appropriator" and neglect to highlight the root culture. I understand the feelings that spur those who claim things have been appropriated, but I feel the blame is often directed in the wrong direction. Its all rooted in racism, and will continue to be a problem as long as our society carries out racist practices.
 

NumberTwo

Paper or plastic?
Feb 2, 2007
9,708
0
0
The invocation of cultural appropriation is not saying white people can't do certain things or participate in a particular culture. It's the acknowledgement that society marginalizes and exploits certain demographics while profiting off of ideas or customs cultivated by said group of people. It's the affirmation that their identity has been fought for, and will not be subverted by careless interests. It's also the expression of frustration when features exhibited by a minority demographic are chastised, while those same features are expressed by white people to greater fanfare.

Cultural appropriation, or claims there of, have been used in order to justify attacks on otherwise well meaning people. All sorts of valid ideas have been used less than graciously, and the fact that cultural appropriation is no different does not undermine the feelings it conveys.

All that being said, here are some fine posts from the other thread that will be just as relevant here:
This post (and the OP) do a great job of explaining the reasoning behind CA. Cheers to you both.
 

DY_nasty

NeoGAF's official "was this shooting justified" consultant
Feb 27, 2007
59,603
0
0
slaent
maybe people just got tired of going in circles in the other thread about the same topic, or already read and responded to Angelus' post in that thread

or maybe it's because Angelus went all Mumei on us with that tl;dr OP

or yeah, maybe we're all just racist
fucking hell
 

Sai-kun

Banned
Sep 16, 2007
22,465
9
0
Chicago, IL
maybe people just got tired of going in circles in the other thread about the same topic, or already read and responded to Angelus' post in that thread

or maybe it's because Angelus went all Mumei on us with that tl;dr OP

or yeah, maybe we're all just racist

It's probably the latter, since you brought it up! :)
 

Storm Chamber

Banned
Apr 5, 2013
6,095
0
0
Underground
Not reading that OP, but you are one of the worst people on this site when it comes to discussing anything. Your posts are fueled by incredibly excessive petulant rage and usually involve power fantasies of killing people or launching them into the sun. Luckily you'll never be successful enough in life to be in any kind of position of power or authority. You are FAR too emotional in most of your posts and lash out at everyone in ridiculous ways.

 

Fuchsdh

Member
Jan 14, 2012
19,572
1
710
USA
I think you misunderstood what I'm saying. There are a lot of influences on black female hair, but one of the bigger points is always going to be how they feel it affects their potential to attract someone. If overnight, the vast majority of black guys decided that wigs and weave were unattractive and preferred a natural hairstyle instead, there'd be a sea change.

Again, I understand the effect of the media and perceived beauty, but at the same time, I think that particular change has to come from within the black community as white people, in general, haven't a single clue about the efforts black women go through for their hair.

I see your point, but I frankly don't think desire to attract a mate is as big a factor as you guys are making. After all, it's the oft-repeated line (which has at least some scientific study behind it) that women dress for other women (or themselves). I dislike makeup in most situations and that doesn't stop my girlfriend from putting it on.

As for the issues of appropriation, to me it's akin to hipsters and their "sell-out" musicians and comic book fans upset that they liked Iron Man when he was a B-list superhero. Why should increasing popularity and visibility of the thing you like ruin that thing for you? You can't own culture; like it or not, it's going to mutate, and change, and spread, and sometimes it ends up representing things you don't agree with, or used in ways you didn't intend. C'est la vie.
 

Jackben

bitch I'm taking calls.
Feb 4, 2012
13,057
0
685
www.youtube.com
Great thread Angelus. I hate to cut out anything simply because all of it is important to read, but here is the part that really takes the cake for me in terms of how GAF should be looking at the issue:

One of the main reasons any group complains about culture appropriation is because that group feels oppressed and that they're being treated unfairly by others. I know many people would like to think there is no oppression in the US but there is. We traded overt racism and hatred for covert racism that many can't see, and many more can choose to ignore. The simple and most straightforward solution to ending the complaints about such is to stop being complacent on how America as a whole treat these groups.

Or to make it relatable to anyone with a drop of empathy. Imagine have two sons/daughters; and they both do the same thing. You constantly praise one for it and insult/demean the other for doing the same thing...what is the expected outcome? How do you think it'll affect how they view not only his/herself and you but also the sibling who has done absolutely nothing wrong. Then you have the mother who doesn't care that this is happening. Obviously in my analogy the sibling in question would most likely realize that father is an asshole and would probably try to shine light on their sibling. This too is done in our society you see those people all the time throughout history, whites who rallied with MLK and did the million man march, those who take part in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. You also have the equivalents of mothers in our society, you know these as the "I don't see race" or "It's not happening to me so who cares" type people. And much like in society, mom and dad's voice and influence is so much more powerful than your siblings and will mark you much more deeply.

To bring it back to the point about cultural appropriation, there was a thread about how comic book fans felt threatened by the mass consumption of comic book by way of movies and entertainment by groups who once shunned them in highschool for liking such, but now liking comics/comic book movies is seen as fashionable. People were upset that for something they were once ridiculed for being seen as "cool". They feared that something they love would be whored out and commercialized and be left as a hollow version of what it use to be. Overwhelmingly people were empathetic to how comic book/geeks/nerds/bullied felt and understood. That is literally how minority groups feel. If you can empathize with the comic book fans then it should be easy to empathize with minority groups. And just like minority groups, vast majority of comic book fans aren't saying X group can't use/like it. Many of them are simply stating don't consume and commercial it then drop it when you're bored of it leaving it a shell of it's former self.

Black people don't care about what individuals do with their hair, nor is there a ruling coilition that is voting on what white people can or cannot do/say/wear. What minorities as individuals and as a group are asking for is that the various institutions that acknowledge and praise these individuals for their bold looks, or awesome sounds, or amazing fashion, or new slang, or new dance moves, or new styles of cuisine, etc to give that same praise and to acknowledge that they too are look great, that they took are donning new fashion trends, that they too are doing something different. Not that they're not pretty or their unkempt, or they're "ghetto" or "thugs" for doing the same thing as everyone else.

In short they simply want...equality in all it's forms, they want the double and impossible standards to stop.
 

gerg

Member
Dec 6, 2008
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One thing I find intriguing about discussions about cultural appropriation is that they seem to mirror arguments for a distinction between "high art" and "low culture", which is another reason why I often find those arguments incoherent and unconvincing. I agree that the manner in which cultural appropriation is used by mainstream media can often be problematic (in only upholding hierarchical understandings of culture), but I disagree with a lot of arguments that frame cultural appropriation (in all it forms) as an inherently oppressive act, or else invoke some form of cultural essentialism in order to argue why some specific acts of appropriation are oppressive.

Nevertheless, Angelus, I think you present a very broad and overarching summary of many of the issues surrounding cultural appropriation, and why cultural acts and objects that might be considered as mundane or banal, like hairstyles, are incredibly important within discussions of culture and identity.

To respond specifically to the below example:

To bring it back to the point about cultural appropriation, there was a thread about how comic book fans felt threatened by the mass consumption of comic book by way of movies and entertainment by groups who once shunned them in highschool for liking such, but now liking comics/comic book movies is seen as fashionable. People were upset that for something they were once ridiculed for being seen as "cool". They feared that something they love would be whored out and commercialized and be left as a hollow version of what it use to be. Overwhelmingly people were empathetic to how comic book/geeks/nerds/bullied felt and understood. That is literally how minority groups feel. If you can empathize with the comic book fans then it should be easy to empathize with minority groups. And just like minority groups, vast majority of comic book fans aren't saying X group can't use/like it. Many of them are simply stating don't consume and commercial it then drop it when you're bored of it leaving it a shell of it's former self.

I might be empathetic to fans of comic book series and franchises (in the face of their current popularity within mainstream media), but for the same reasons in which I find (most) arguments against (or about) cultural appropriation incoherent and unconvincing I wouldn't agree that the adoration of comic book series by those who traditionally were not interested in them leaves those franchises "a shell" of their former selves.
 

soundahfekz

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Jan 22, 2009
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0
That's the conclusion you drew?

Okay.

I appreciate your thoughtful input on my assertion.

maybe people just got tired of going in circles in the other thread about the same topic, or already read and responded to Angelus' post in that thread

or maybe it's because Angelus went all Mumei on us with that tl;dr OP

or yeah, maybe we're all just racist

This is that bullshit right here.


I think you misunderstood what I'm saying. There are a lot of influences on black female hair, but one of the bigger points is always going to be how they feel it affects their potential to attract someone. If overnight, the vast majority of black guys decided that wigs and weave were unattractive and preferred a natural hairstyle instead, there'd be a sea change.

Again, I understand the effect of the media and perceived beauty, but at the same time, I think that particular change has to come from within the black community as white people, in general, haven't a single clue about the efforts black women go through for their hair.

Your logic is: address the symptom and not the cause? How do you think this attraction for straight hair and Eurocentric features came to be? Through magic? Just because?

"if overnight" hypothesizes some radical hive mind shift, completely ignores the variables that created the condition, and speculates upon what would happen if something impossible happened.

Reality is blacks have struggled with self image issues from being ostracized and marginalized throughout history. You can't just gloss over that with unrealistic scenarios.
 
May 13, 2008
40,275
1
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Markham, Toronto
Agreed on most points. Regarding black female hair, though, if the pressure wasn't there from black males for their hair to look a certain way, things would change quickly.

Nope because society at large would still force them to get their hair a certain way. When large corporations and military say that only certain styles are permitted it will keep everything as the status quo unfortunately. That and it's reinforced throughout all avenues of American society from the movies to the magazine covers to TV shows.

It's a constant feedback loop, society tells them to wear their hair a certain way, the people internalize it and tell each other that their hair should be a certain way, they believe their hair should be a certain way, society sees their hair is a certain way and hire more people whose hair is the same way to keep the cycle going.

Even back in the 20s, 30s when hair straightening wasn't anywhere near as prevalent, society was already at work. They saw the very few blacks who made it and how their hair was straight and how they did the corporate song and dance talking about how great it is and figured if they too got their hair the same way then they would "make it" and maybe life would be better for them and they would be accepted.
 

Amir0x

Banned
Oct 27, 2004
103,709
4
0
36
Nowhere, PA
What a wonderful, well articulated post that is filled with meaningful depth.

In particular, I appreciated how you analyzed the argument from multiple angles, including an appeal to empathy which I felt was particularly effective.

Or to make it relatable to anyone with a drop of empathy. Imagine have two sons/daughters; and they both do the same thing. You constantly praise one for it and insult/demean the other for doing the same thing...what is the expected outcome? How do you think it'll affect how they view not only his/herself and you but also the sibling who has done absolutely nothing wrong. Then you have the mother who doesn't care that this is happening. Obviously in my analogy the sibling in question would most likely realize that father is an asshole and would probably try to shine light on their sibling. This too is done in our society you see those people all the time throughout history, whites who rallied with MLK and did the million man march, those who take part in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. You also have the equivalents of mothers in our society, you know these as the "I don't see race" or "It's not happening to me so who cares" type people. And much like in society, mom and dad's voice and influence is so much more powerful than your siblings and will mark you much more deeply.

Or alternatively think about how society as a whole sees black people and white people when it comes to the topic of drugs. Despite decades of evidence and numerous reports on the subject matter stating that black and white people consume and sell drugs at the exact same rate, who is viewed and effected negatively? Which group is held to an impossible standard? Black people aren't demanding that white people can't do drugs, they are asking people however to understand despite both groups being the same and doing the same things, one is viewed and treated as a lesser because of it.

These are wonderful examples, but the drug one especially insidious. Because on top of what you mention here, not only are blacks viewed more negatively for doing drugs in a remarkably similar amount as whites, but they also face the burden of being six times more likely to go to prison for it and face 20% longer sentences than white folk with similar criminal backgrounds.

Consider the sheer implication of that. The drug war is literally destroying generations of minorities, people don't get the help they need when they are on drugs due to the stigma and on top of that they have to deal with the accumulated unfair social pressure that comes from it. Worse still, because so many of these offenses get serious time, they are frequently removed from voter rolls.

So it's a self-perpetuating cycle where it needs to change but the people who are most invested in seeing it change are not motivated to vote because they can't.

All this sort of stuff increases the likelihood of severe sensitivity to things like cultural appropriation.

Some people make the suggestion that blacks are segregating themselves and that they should be trying to assimilate...these people (bless their hearts) clearly speak from a place of either a platform of privilege (trigger word!) or ignorance (double trigger!). Black people have been trying to "assimilate" since they were brought here. Blacks are simply responding to the segregation being afflicted upon them, in order for blacks to segregate themselves you have to put forward the argument that segregation has ended....it hasn't. I'm sure someone will bring up BET as an example of blacks trying to segregate themselves, but I ask you this. WHY was BET created? It was created to give blacks and avenue to express themselves when the country at large was not allowing them. As an example, there was a time in which black artists were recording amazing music in the 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond (and before). Unfortunately the many people did not want to buy their music purely on the reason that the artists were black, so many people would simply rerecord the songs with a white singer/group and sell it to great fanfare. While BET came much later in life, it was born due to reasons such as that. Black people aren't segregating themselves, black people have only wanted to be accepted and seen as equal. Unfortunately even now today they aren't given that, when they ask people point to atrocities happening in black communities and diverting the attention away from the problem, even worse some tell black people to "earn it". What exactly must black people do in order to "earn it" that they haven't already done? What did the majority group do to "earn it" or worse demand it from minority groups?

Preach, Angelus. :bow:
 
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