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12 August 2011 @ 11:19 am
Darryl Ayo has a post up about racism in cartooning, the evolution of how racism has affected comics, and aesthetic issues that a history of racist caricatures has created for contemporary black cartoonists drawing black characters today. It assumes the reader knows a bit about comic history, but these are problems that aren't often discussed even though racism in comics is a big issue right now in re: the DC reboot and the introduction of the new Spider-Man.

"In later years, we would see a retreat from such imagery in mainstream comic books, but there was a cost. After some point in history, comic publishers began to feel it not wise or politically inopportune to allow such images in their products. What ended up happening, however, is that black characters largely vanished from many comic books."

That Old Black Magic
This is in response to some claims I've seen - that the white mainstream is appropriating from geek culture, that metrosexuals are appropriating the markers of gay culture. I'll comment/edit with specific examples as I find them.

How do you all feel about these claims?

I can see how it can be argued that calling "mainstreaming" of subcultural markers "appropriation" can actually trivialize the experience of appropriation when people of minority cultures attempt to discuss the matter, so I can see how it would be silencing. But I'm white, so I'm taking a wild stab in the dark.
23 July 2011 @ 09:23 am
This seems so basic and yet I had never seen this explained in this way before. Makes so much sense!

For me, what really helped me understand this issue was learning a little bit about semiotics. Semiotics is the "study of signs." In language/culture there is always a signifier (in this case "mohawk" cuts/dreadlocks) and a signified (indigenous cultures who used hairstyles similar to the "mohawk"/indigenous or resistance cultures that wore dreadlocks). The problem with appropriation is that it takes a signifier and removes the signified. All of a sudden, you have groups of people and their heritage that no longer have any way to signify themselves. They become a culture without any way to be seen, understood, or referenced, because all their signifiers now mean something completely different. It is cultural genocide (meme-cide?). In this case, the mohawk now signifies that you're part of an "alternative" subculture (punk, queer, whatever), and native peoples are very rarely even thought of.


Crossposted to my LJ.
02 June 2011 @ 02:02 pm
"I’m not racist but…" is a tumblr curated by a couple of college students who simply search public Facebook posts for this phrase and grab screenshots that reveal just how "not racist" our culture is these days.

Microaggressions is a blog that "seeks to provide a visual representation of the everyday of 'microaggressions.' Each event, observation and experience posted is not necessarily particularly striking in and of themselves. Often, they are never meant to hurt - acts done with little conscious awareness of their meanings and effects. Instead, their slow accumulation during a childhood and over a lifetime is in part what defines a marginalized experience, making explanation and communication with someone who does not share this identity particularly difficult. Social others are microaggressed hourly, daily, weekly, monthly.

This project is NOT about showing how ignorant people can be in order to simply dismiss their ignorance. Instead, it is about showing how these comments create and enforce uncomfortable, violent and unsafe realities onto peoples’ workplace, home, school, childhood/adolescence/adulthood, and public transportation/space environments."
Can anyone point me towards some resources on respecting people of color in romantic or sexual contexts? I have been googling and looking at the tags of various LJ communities, but so far I have not found any resources written from the anti-oppression stance. I would be elated to find something aimed at queer women, but I will appreciate all suggestions.
25 May 2011 @ 12:07 pm
As a black woman who can neither sing, play bass, nor deliver sassy streetwise comebacks, I found this incredibly cathartic and lolful:

Current Location: Vancouver, BC
23 May 2011 @ 10:53 pm
I'm going to try not to show my ass too much, but any and all critiques are welcome.

I have this idea for a post-apocalyptic scenario. I've actually written almost 75K words on it (thanks to NaNoWriMo), but it was the part of it that would happen in my neck of the words. (The demographic around here is decidedly white and our largest non-white group is Hispanics. The whole area is getting better, but progress is slow.) My own background is white as can be and largely non-religious as well, though I briefly took up neo-paganism in my junior high and high school years.

The post-apocalyptic idea is this: one day, roughly %99.99 of the human population of the planet disappears. Not straight across the board, but it works out to about that much. The point is that the world has been separated, and those who have magic in them are where the story takes place. The version of "magic" in this scenario is largely skill based, with people having unusual and/or instinctive skills in a certain area (so far I have hunting, gardening, healing, building, and animal husbandry, because those were useful to that particular setting). I'm debating having more flashy, Harry Potter style magic, but right now I'm sort of sticking with Circle of Magic-type magic.

My question for you nice folks is this: how do I write about groups that I am not part of without making them "Magic Negros" or "Wise Indians" or similarly insulting and marginalising stereotypes? Is it even really possible at our current levels of society, with all the appropriations and stuff that happens every day?

I would also deeply appreciate anything that anyone can tell me about ideas of "magic" or "mysticism" in the various peoples/religions/cultures that I am ignorant of. Or sources you can point me to that explores the idea of magic in different cultures. I'm particularly interested in Native American, Romani, and African-American, and I really want to avoid doing more harm to peoples who are hugely taken advantage of in fantasy literature anyway.

Thank you in advance!
23 May 2011 @ 12:36 pm
It's been that kind of month.

What should people do when they see this happening - other than nothing? What should people say when they see this happening - other than nothing?

Because nothing, even from people who mean well, says a lot that they probably don't want to say.
11 May 2011 @ 12:49 pm
Hello, white girl here. One of my old friends from college is Chinese. Occasionally, she would say things about Chinese people and Asians in general which struck me as...not right. As a white person, I didn't feel like I had the right to tell her she was wrong, but what she said made me feel uncomfortable. She said that all Chinese people had two basic personality types--they were either obedient nerds who did nothing except study, or they were rebelling against the obedient nerd type. This, she said, was because of how they were raised. She said that this was why she didn't really like Chinese people, and why she definitely won't date any.

I'm aware that there are culturally ingrained parenting techniques Chinese parents tend to follow, but I find it hard to believe that there are no exceptions. I also find it hard to believe that there are only two ways that these methods can be responded to. If I heard a white person saying these things it would be very easy for me to call them out on it, because it's stereotyping. But it's her culture. I went to high school with a lot of Chinese people and observed a variety of different personality types which contradicted her statement. Her personality contradicted it! But I will never, ever know more about what it is to be Chinese than she will. I didn't really know how to respond when she said this--I told her that she knew more about it than I did, so I'd take her word for it, and then the topic changed.

What I want to know is--was that the right response? Part of me feels like it was, but part of me feels like it wasn't. I feel guilty about agreeing with her that all Chinese people are basically the same--it feels like I'm dehumanizing a enormous and varied group of people. But I don't feel like I as a white person had the right to contradict her interpretation of her own culture. The conversation's long since past, but I'd like some feedback so that I know what to do if a similar situation ever comes up. Thank you so much in advance for taking the time to help me.
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