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I spent hours reading threads in this discussion over the past few days. The more I read, the less I feel like I have to say, so I guess I'll point at things other people said.

I like porcinea's post because I generally find that people really listening to each other is healing. Being advised to "shut the fuck up and listen" doesn't bother me in this context, because I've learned a hell of a lot by shutting up and listening to people discuss how they are treated in their societies.

I also like rivka's post for the same reason (a focus on active listening) and also for this insight: "There's a third option, a third role that one can identify with: The Person The Story Is Not About."

I'm also appreciating the comments of several people who feel like they're being inappropriately dragged into the story based on superficial physical appearance traits and/or generally trampled by the intensely polarized / US-centric nature of the discussion, the part where you are assigned white or POC at the door and there's no room for people whose experience has elements of both. (I've also seen some people claim one of those sides for reasons I don't agree with, but those are people I don't know personally.) At the same time I don't think every discussion about the interactions between white people and people of color (however those are defined) is required to accommodate all the nuances (see above about "Person The Story Is Not About").

My opinions about cultural appropriation in writing or other art are as ill-informed as ever. I'm in general against exploitation and for increased understanding and acceptance of diversity. I've always been hesitant to explore other cultures in my own writing but I think of it as coming from weakness and lack of confidence rather than respect - I'm excessively attached to accuracy and also have critical anxiety-driven messages in my head that I'm too sheltered and privileged to know anything about anyone else's experience and that I dare not show my ignorance. Those messages weren't put there by people who disapprove of cross-cultural writing.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
lorres
Jun. 6th, 2006 01:04 pm (UTC)
I must admit to having a very angry reaction to being told that I must shut up and listen, even though I'm not even part of the conversation!

But... all that aside, you're using my most favorite user pic ever for this post.

wow
firecat
Jun. 6th, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you!
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Jun. 6th, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC)
Yes, US race issues tend to eat everything in their path if they are awakened.
rmjwell
Jun. 6th, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC)
The thing I find odd about the original question of cultural appropriation in art is that to me all art is about appropriation. Artists take thing A and thing B and put them together in a way that expresses something meaningful to them.

This isn't to say that the spinoff discussions haven't been interesting as all fuck. I just find the seed crystal to be highly ironic.
firecat
Jun. 6th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
Using a value neutral definition of appropriation, yes, although I think good artists do more than just bung things together. I guess the original panel was intended to discuss whether some kinds of appropriation are problematic.

I also think there are parallels between some kinds of "borrowing someone's culture to make art that sells" and some kinds of "borrowing someone's culture to claim leadership of that culture and use that to make money," which is something you appear generally to despise.
rmjwell
Jun. 6th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
I was starting from the neutral definition, in part because one of the best definitions of personal growth I've ever run across uses "appropriation": Growth results from the creative appropriation of limitations.

Using more loaded terms for a moment I do see a difference between "borrowing with recognition", "taking without persmission" and "filing off the serial numbers as you steal something outright" (to name just a few flavors of differentiation). I also respect that thre are some culture bits that may never be in the "Borrowing with recognition" bin for me as white, male, etc.
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Jun. 6th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)
Asking respectful questions at appropriate points is a reasonable way to engage in charged emotional discussions, IMO.
aquaeri
Jun. 7th, 2006 11:03 am (UTC)
I've also waded through the debate, and felt less and less able to say anything. I like the way you've linked to several of my favourite posts. The US-centricism of the debate has been ... interesting. I realise the early posters (oyceter at least I think, but I don't remember exactly) explicitly wanted to constrain the debate to the US, but the fact that so much has spun off and remained so US-centric, with no comment, is fascinating.

I'm wondering if this is a particularly US sore point. I mean, Australia hardly has anything to be proud of, with attitudes towards aboriginals and (more recent) immigrants, but there's something different. Possibly the fact that, for example, our TV is never going to overwhelm yours :-).
firecat
Jun. 7th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)
It is very much a particular US sore point, for many reasons having to do with our history and our culture.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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