Canada and cultural appropriation? - Page 2


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Thread: Canada and cultural appropriation?

  1. #11
    What is "cultural appropriation"? Most of us in the world are from somewhere. Whether our ancestors migrated across the Aleutian land bridge, fled Dublin during the troubles or the potato blight, or our ancestors moved around throughout Europe, the Middle East, or were displaced by war or famine or seeking after a better life... We are all a melting pot; a mishmash conglomeration of cultural and ancestral soup. Holy crap, I get sick of the talking heads of the media coining these terms that we all carry around like a sack of concrete on our shoulders. If the focus is on pickaninny crap like this, what are we being purposely distracted from?
    Sometimes, I wrestle with my demons. Other times, we just snuggle.

  2. #12
    Okay, here is a clear case of cultural appropriation: In Canada, which has a population less than the state of California, artists rely on government grants to survive since the market is not large enough to support artists and Canada has recognized that supporting art is essential to maintaining and documenting national character.

    Right now, because of recent political revelations, Canada is heavily funding indigenous artists in an attempt to balance hundreds of years of cultural repression. You don't have to live on a reservation or speak Cree or wear moccasins to call yourself First Nations. A lot of white Canadians have found a drop of aboriginal DNA in their blood or somehow manage to find an elder to "adopt" them, and they claim to be aboriginal. But they have no real connection to indigenous culture or heritage. They're white. They grew up white. Their parents and grandparents are white. They get grant money for indigenous art. They produce art that they call indigenous art. They get jobs directing indigenous art programs.

    This is clearly fraud. It's criminal. They are pretending to be something they are not and they get away with it precisely because they are members of the dominant culture and know how to navigate within the dominant culture better than those who the incentive is actually intended for.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Amnesiac View Post
    What is "cultural appropriation"? Most of us in the world are from somewhere. Whether our ancestors migrated across the Aleutian land bridge, fled Dublin during the troubles or the potato blight, or our ancestors moved around throughout Europe, the Middle East, or were displaced by war or famine or seeking after a better life... We are all a melting pot; a mishmash conglomeration of cultural and ancestral soup. Holy crap, I get sick of the talking heads of the media coining these terms that we all carry around like a sack of concrete on our shoulders. If the focus is on pickaninny crap like this, what are we being purposely distracted from?
    Is "pickaninny" the word you meant to use? In terms of distraction, it seems like a humdinger. (ETA: I'm wondering if you meant picayune?)

    On the topic as a whole - I agree that there's no black and white, here. When writing about someone else's culture, especially when that culture has been attacked and minimized and shit on as much as the First Nations culture in Canada has been, I think it's important to take care. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it at all, but I think you have a responsibility to make sure you do it right.

    And, no, this isn't in order to avoid being unfairly criticized or because of "PC crap" or whatever else; it's because it's an asshole move to look at a group of people who've already been kicked around for generations and then kick them some more. IF you're going to write about them, make sure your writing isn't kicking them. That just seems like basic human decency to me.

  4. #14
    The problem is, people always want to make the argument about the legitimacy of the term itself. I think a lot of time people get so knotted up, so triggered, by the idea of 'Someone is telling ME what I should/should not wear/say/play/write' that the arguments as to the detail and the reasoning behind it gets obscured by the emotional reaction to the terminology and imagined affront to one's liberty rather than to what is actually talked about by the vast majority of grown-ups. People don't want to have the conversation, it seems. They don't want to listen, they just want to talk.

    I think the difference between 'cultural appropriation' (which is bad and unnecessary) and celebrating diversity and taking an interest in other cultures, religions, etc. (which is good and necessary) is 100% down to:

    (1) Authenticity & Accuracy: Is the use of [aspect] in keeping with how it is intended and, if not, is the way it is being used in keeping with the spirit of that idea? How much do you, as a writer, actually know about it? And, more importantly, how much are you willing to learn?

    (2) Situation & Context: So you're a white guy dressed in traditional Native American/First Nations costume: Are you dressed that way because you're attending, I don't know, a Native/First Nations wedding, or are you dressed that way because it's Spring Break and your buddies call you 'Fred Redskin' when you drink because your nose goes red and it's all MEGA LOLZ? There's a huge difference between those two, isn't there? And we know what kind of writing is the equivalent of each, do we not?

    (3) Motive: This one is tricky, because it requires a lot of self-awareness, but...do you think you're maybe being kind of trashy when you don't include things properly, or for thoughtful reasons? Do you think you might be acting like a douche when you, I don't know, wear a t-shirt featuring various Rastafarian religious symbols together with the slogan that says "SMOKE WEED AND CHILL" and not give a second thought that, to a sizeable percentage of people, that is a classless appropriation of their core beliefs in the name of $5 kitsch? Do you think it's maybe a bit of a dick move to affect a 'ghetto' accent and aesthetic in your narrative when you know full well it's not your voice? If you feel like an asshole, you are probably an asshole. If you don't, you're probably -- or hopefully -- not. At the end of the day, it's a conscience thing, right?

    I dunno man, I don't really find it an issue most days. My current WIP explores early 20th century Jewish and African-American identity, language and culture quite heavily and dabbles in various pieces of Jewish folklore and includes both African-American vernacular yiddish-isms. I'm not Jewish, and I'm definitely not African American...

    For me, getting past the issue is mostly a case of questioning constantly what I was writing and what I was trying to say (once the first draft is done -- I don't think first drafts should be over-thought) and evaluating it according to whether it worked (which all writers should do anyway with everything, right?). The only MAJOR hardship was I felt I had to research more carefully than usual... but so what? If I was writing a novel about aircraft carriers or bonsai plants or the geology of Kazakhstan, then I'd have to research those things, too. I'm not about to complain about something that actually makes me work harder to make my writing more realistic.

    So no, this doesn't have to be an area of misery. This doesn't have to be a crisis every time it comes up. All it should be is a reason to think more; to pay more attention to detail and how things come across; and yeah, be kind.
    Last edited by luckyscars; January 8th, 2020 at 09:11 AM.

  5. #15
    I don't really see what the problem with the so-called "cultural appropriation" is to begin with. It's been around since the dawn of mankind, and is one of the forms how cultural enrichment (supposedly a good thing according to the Liberal Left) takes place. Romans eagerly appropriated Greek culture, to the point that historians would have to coin the term "Graeco-Roman". The Church appropriated local heathen traditions and beliefs and remade them into Christianized form in order to facilitate conversion. Every self-respecting nobleman of the Early Modern Age appropriated French language and culture to be fashionable. Commoners appropriated the high culture of the nobility, giving rise to the modern understanding of chivalry and good manners. Nowadays, just about everyone in the world has appropriated American popular culture to some degree.

    Fact is, cultural appropriation is a natural and inevitable process of living in a world with other cultures. There's just no way of escaping it, short of complete self-imposed isolation in the manner of North Korea. Whether one likes it or not, outsiders frequently exposed to one's culture will inevitably see something appealing and appropriate it, often simply for it's aesthetic qualities, without understanding of its significance.

    ---

    With that said, I think the OP should not hold back with writing Native characters, especially if acquainted with actual Natives who can be consulted on cultural matters. Better yet, mention these "cultural consultants" in the credits, so that the professionally-offended SJW crowd has no excuse whatsoever to whine and bitch without making themselves look like idiots (not that they already do).

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by CyberWar View Post
    I don't really see what the problem with the so-called "cultural appropriation" is to begin with. It's been around since the dawn of mankind, and is one of the forms how cultural enrichment (supposedly a good thing according to the Liberal Left) takes place. Romans eagerly appropriated Greek culture, to the point that historians would have to coin the term "Graeco-Roman". The Church appropriated local heathen traditions and beliefs and remade them into Christianized form in order to facilitate conversion. Every self-respecting nobleman of the Early Modern Age appropriated French language and culture to be fashionable. Commoners appropriated the high culture of the nobility, giving rise to the modern understanding of chivalry and good manners. Nowadays, just about everyone in the world has appropriated American popular culture to some degree.

    Fact is, cultural appropriation is a natural and inevitable process of living in a world with other cultures. There's just no way of escaping it, short of complete self-imposed isolation in the manner of North Korea. Whether one likes it or not, outsiders frequently exposed to one's culture will inevitably see something appealing and appropriate it, often simply for it's aesthetic qualities, without understanding of its significance.
    Where broadly equivalent cultures mix, it's not so much of a problem (and probably has a different name). The problem occurs when a less dominant culture finds its artifacts being used by some more dominant culture, to whom they may not have the same significance. The less dominant culture then gets sort of pushed out of visibility. In a way, it's a subtle form of theft.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    The first cut don't hurt at all
    The second only makes you wonder
    The third will have you on your knee
    s
    - Propaganda, "Duel"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous








  7. #17
    Can I offer a proposal that we stop using the meaningless "SJW", "professionally offended", etc. terms? There are people ON THIS THREAD who are arguing that cultural appropriation can sometimes be a problem, so the people you're insulting with these terms aren't distant or random, they're your fellow WF posters. And so far they're (we're) doing a good job of not responding with equally knee-jerk, equally unfair terms like "racist" or "ignorant"... but that doesn't mean they're enjoying the insults.

    If you don't think cultural appropriation is an issue, you can certainly argue that point without the more sweeping generalizations, can't you?

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    doing a good job of not responding with equally knee-jerk, equally unfair terms like "racist" or "ignorant"... but that doesn't mean they're enjoying the insults.
    Fortunately my intellect's too towering, my self-regard too gargantuan, to be bothered by such stuff other than as sport or diversion. But it does lend a certain ugliness.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    The first cut don't hurt at all
    The second only makes you wonder
    The third will have you on your knee
    s
    - Propaganda, "Duel"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous








  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    Where broadly equivalent cultures mix, it's not so much of a problem (and probably has a different name). The problem occurs when a less dominant culture finds its artifacts being used by some more dominant culture, to whom they may not have the same significance. The less dominant culture then gets sort of pushed out of visibility. In a way, it's a subtle form of theft.
    Perhaps, but it happens all the time, and if anything is also an opportunity for the non-dominant culture to educate the broader world about itself and survive in doing so. If it weren't for cultural appropriation, most people even within North America wouldn't even know anything about Amerindian cultures other than that they exist. I get how natives might get upset about elements of their culture being treated as meaningless articles of fashion by outsiders, but there isn't much that can be done about it - people won't stop adopting things from foreign cultures for aesthetic purposes simply because some very vocal folks (most of whom aren't even members of the said culture) decry cultural appropriation. Rather, I think such appropriations are an opportunity to popularize one's culture and educate people about it.

    As for using terms of abuse, I agree, it does not facilitate intelligent, civil discussion, and is in fact characteristic to the hysterical mob of radicals that I so despise. Being better than them, I will strive to avoid the use of such terms from here on.

  10. #20
    Interesting that on a website devoted to the written word and what words mean, no one seems to be asking if 'cultural appropriation' is a term with a legitimate purpose or a real actual meaning.

    Meanings seem to broadly include (but are not limited to):

    • Unfairly portraying another culture (being insulting in doing so)
    • Being arrogant enough to research, appreciate, and portray another culture but you cannot be considered correct in doing so because you aren't of that culture.
    • 'Unfairly' taking on the aspects of another culture, as though by doing that for any reason it is always a mockery
    • Taking funds from government handouts under criminal pretenses


    There may be more but this seems like an expression that mainly exists to stifle, not help.

    Of course it's insulting to insult or mock another culture, we don't need a new term for that.

    Research is research, appreciation is appreciation, by researching, writing about, celebrating a culture you're bringing more attention TO it, you are not appropriating, or taking anything.

    Cheating to get government money is fraudulent, also a perfectly good word with a succinct meaning.

    The expression "Cultural appropriation" doesn't seem to have the guts to mean any of these things in a real way, not like the original words do. But it does seem to be a handy way to scare people and intimidate them from doing creative work, exploring other cultures, and perhaps bringing value across the board.

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