Get excited for Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself, available from Tin House in May:
Actually, ‘fall’ has its origins as an Anglo-Saxon word, and was popularized for use to denote the season around the 16th century from the poetic term ‘the fall of leaf.’ In the language that would develop after 1066, words that were coded as being common or lowly generally had Anglo-Saxon roots while the ‘educated’ words of the elite had French and Latin roots. This is why, even in modern English, we use ‘cow,’ which has an Anglo-Saxon origin, for the animal out in the field and ‘beef,’ which has a French origin, for the food to be consumed. The poor handle the animal while the rich eat the meat, and that is reflected in the language. The language of the conquerors was elevated while the language of the conquered was made base and common. If ‘autumn’ sounds smarter than ‘fall,’ that is only the linguistic snobbery of history talking.
This had me in fucking tears hahahaha
That’s it. That’s Bethesda.
Today’s xkcd. I feel like this is important for Tumblr to see. Actually the entire the internet, really. (Source.)
Nordstroms made the mistake of sending us their lingerie catalog
"No you can’t name your weapon shop ‘Bloodbath and Beyond’."
Feminist Orphan Black: The Countdown
7. Cultural Appropriation
(This contains season 1 spoilers.)
Everyone’s favorite Orphan Black clone Cosima, who is charismatic, cheeky, and West Coast liberal, also falls into the trap that so many highly educated, well-meaning white girls do: engaging in cultural appropriation under the impression that it’s “cultural appreciation.” Because Cosima just has really diverse, eclectic tastes, right? From her dreadlocks to her “ethnic”-print skirts, Cosima could do with some education around microagressions and the ways in which she is complicit in the ongoing legacy of racism in the US and Canada.
I’ve actually found very little thoughtful analysis of Orphan Black in terms of race representation and anti-racist issues, and as a white person I’m not really qualified to do much more than point out things I think might be kinda racist — I’d prefer to defer to the knowledge and experience of people of color who likely have more personal insight into this stuff than I do. That said, Cosima’s unexamined cultural appropriation is not the only area where I think the show could do better, but it’s as good a place to start as any. Then we can talk about the history and implications of eugenics, Alison’s “colorblind” racism (and Sarah sort of calling her out on it), racial profiling within the police force (and specifically in the Maggie Chen shooting), and the relatively small number of well-developed characters of color in general (more Art! More Janis! More Raj!).
Want to see the other parts of this Feminist Orphan Black Countdown series? Here’s the first one. (It includes a little more info about the project, too.)
You’re going to have to explain to me how Cosima wearing her hair in matted knots is inappropriate because she’s white
I’m white, I have dreadlocks, why am I not allowed?
Cosima also sits in seiza sometimes, is that not ok, either?
I’m sorry, I don’t want to be rude, but I just don’t understand
Dreadlocks are a hairstyle. There is noting cultural about them.
My best friend Nyamh dreadlocks, five of them in front are blue.
Nyam is a Basque girl. She is 1/8 Norwegian(hence her name).
I would agree that “ethnic”(whatever that means) print shirts would be cultural appropriation if you don’t know what it means. However, Cosima is a very smart girl. She probably studied these cultures is wearing the symbols for their original meaning, not just as a l*me-brained, offensive decoration.
Just because you believe that dreadlocks are just a hairstyle doesn’t mean everyone feels that way about it. To some people, they may feel it’s culturally appropriative due to the spiritual meaning behind them, the history that comes with them or various other reasons.
As far as cultural appropriation goes, you can know all about the culture but that doesn’t mean it gives you the right to take part. If you’re invited by someone from that culture to take part in a certain tradition then by all means join in but that doesn’t give you an all-access pass to the culture. Knowledge also doesn’t just give you the right.
And to touch on your comment about how “She probably studied these cultures is wearing the symbols for their original meaning, not just as a l*me-brained, offensive decoration”, one let’s not use the word l*me-brained since it is ableist. And two, intentions don’t mean anything. You could intend the best of things but still end up doing something that’s really shitty. Cosima may think she’s paying homage to the culture, but in the end it is just her using her privilege as a white person since she can take off what she’s culturally appropriating and just count it as a moment in her life with no real side effects to her while people from those cultures can’t take off something that affects their everyday lives. It effects how they are treated as people and I really doubt people appreciate having what they are discriminated against used as something for someone to feel “different” in and also don’t get the same kind of treatment they would if they were doing the same thing.
If you want me to clarify anything I’ve said, hit me up in my inbox. I’ll try my best to make it clearer. And if I said anything problematic also feel free to hit me up in my inbox. I will admit I don’t know everything about cultural appropriation and I do want to know if I made an error somewhere so I can fix my mistakes.
dreadlocks are the hairstyle of the ancestral human, don’t you test me. No singular culture has a right to claim them. If you are descended from archaic H. sapiens, than you have a cultural claim to dreadlocks.
You really don’t know anything about cultural appropriation, iam a trained anthropologist(if you’d bothered to check before assuming you knew more than me.
And also, to my knowledge “lame-brained” is not referring to any disability. I’m from southern california and where I’m from, it refers to your brain being “lame” as in “uncool,” “square,” “embarrassing.” I don’t think “lame” has ever referred to people. It is a term meaning livestock who walk with a limp.
May I please use my own heritage as an analogy?
I am a gypsy. I was told by a white girl that gypsy was an ethnic slur.
I am a GYSPY. Nobody asks the people who actually have these cultures if they care. The term cultural appropriation was coined by a white cultural anthropologist.
Say gypsy. Sing it from the rafters. As long as you respect my culture, use it, wear it. Respectfully wear my symbols.
But bottom line is dreadlocks belong to all of our ancestry and there is no arguing that point.
I’m actually really glad that this post is sparking so many discussions. That’s why I worded it the way I did: “Cosima, ma cherie, I love you but we need to talk about cultural appropriation.” (Of course, this line would have been a lot better delivered from a person of color, particularly a Black person or Native person, but since Orphan Black fridged the only Black woman character on the show, and the other five adult characters of color with any dialogue at all have never, you know, interacted with Cosima, Delphine was pretty much my only choice. But all this speaks to the show’s racial representation. I mean, I get that when 75% of your characters are played by the same (white) actor, it’s a little harder to ensure racial diversity. But still, of all of the main supporting characters, Art and Vic are basically the only people of color. Look at the promo poster for season 2. Vic didn’t even make the cut. But I digress.)
As I’ve said before, I’m white. I don’t get to decide what’s culturally appropriative. What I can do in an effort to be a better anti-racist ally is recognize my privilege and use it to support and amplify voices of people of color speaking about racism, microaggressions, and appropriation. That’s why there are so many clicky links in my original post and subsequent posts. (If you need a place to start, this article does a pretty good job exploring the nuances of cultural appropriation/cultural appreciation.)
To respond directly to WhoffleSoufflegirl's points:
1. Dreadlocks have a very specific cultural history related to Black Africans and the slave trade. While it’s true that matted hair appears in virtually all cultures’ histories, that doesn’t make it exactly the same thing as dreadlocks.
2. While I certainly believe people of color’s opinions on cultural appropriation should take precedence over white people’s, I also believe that specific potential instances of cultural appropriation should be determined by people of color from that specific culture. Basically: Black people’s opinions on dreadlocks matter more than, say, a Latin@’s opinion on dreadlocks.
3. Thanks for including your “trained anthropologist” credentials. I checked and you’re an anthropology student. I would be curious to hear about how far into your studies you are and whether you’ve done any reading about anthropology’s history of contributing to colonialist exploitation. I am also curious about if you’ve done any learning around privilege, intersectionality, and reclaiming slurs (also known as reappropriation).
4. Of course you get to make the call on how to describe your own culture, race, and heritage. I think a white girl telling you “gypsy is an ethnic slur” is annoying. However, she was probably repeating what she has heard from other Romani about how they feel about the word gypsy and how it relates to their long history of persecution and genocide. So when white people say that they understand something is a racial slur, or is culturally appropriative, or is racist, they are probably making an effort to be actively anti-racist and are probably repeating what they have heard by listening to people of color talk about these topics. OF COURSE not everyone from a particular race or cultural group is going to agree on what’s culturally appropriative/racist/offensive and what’s not. But as a white person, I’m going to err on the side of caution, and not “wear gypsy symbols” or put dreadlocks in my hair, because some people from these cultures have spoken out about how it’s problematic and hurtful and contributes to stereotyping, exotification, and commodofication of their cultures. (I’ve run out of time to track down and include links for these last couple items, but seriously, do some googling.)
i understood that reference