June 6th, 2006

red panda eating bamboo

not much of a contribution to the racism and cultural appropriation discussion

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.