Counterpoint, for what it’s worth.
Now I’m really signing off.
What makes this person the ambassador of the entirety of shamanism culture? The number of people who agree on letting you use the term doesn’t excuse the fact that you, as a non-practicing person of any shamanistic religion, run into problems when you use a specific term that is culturally theirs. Especially considering that they may be an oppressed culture.
Also, the term “oppressor” is given when a member of a privileged class is… exerting their opinion on something that isn’t theirs to give, let’s say. It’s not your place to really explain yourself, because the situation still stands that it’s not your term to use.
Okay, I can’t speak for the specific shamanism portion of this argument, but I am speaking on this in general as an Asian person and one who has observed the same kind of dialog for things about Asian culture.
I understand what you’re getting at with saying that Wil shouldn’t be using a word that isn’t related to him, but personally I think that’s a horrible fallacy that is more divisive than it actually helps promote tolerance, social change, etc. and it’s also based on assumption that it is in fact not related to him at all.
Just because someone isn’t part of a culture doesn’t mean they can’t like and appreciate something. I’m Chinese. If a White person grew up and decided they wanted to learn Chinese, cool. If they found that they really loved Chinese culture and started incorporating more of that culture into their life to show their pride over their love of the culture, I would not be offended. I would be appreciative of their interest and would see them as an ally and someone who probably actually sees me as a person and human being, but there are other people who would look at his incorporation of his field of study into their life as appropriation and would cry bloody murder. This behavior is unacceptable and discourages cultural acceptance, diversity, and just general knowledge of different people because it will make people afraid to look into ANY OTHER CULTURE which will make it harder for us as a people to find peace and learn to understand each other. How is anyone going to be encouraged to understand their fellow man if all of their attempts are met by an angry person telling them they can’t use a word that isn’t part of standard American English or something?
Personally, I’m more angry at the supposed champions of social justice that get angry over “appropriation” than I am at the person who supposedly committed the crime. They don’t get to go around telling people how I feel or how other people’s behavior hurts me. I get to do that if *I* myself am offended and most of the time, those so called champions miss the point and are stirring the pot over something that I, who has the right to be offended, DO NOT EVEN GIVE A SHIT ABOUT. More than any actual appropriation, I’m more pissed about people putting words in my mouth and acting on my behalf because it goes against the progress and change that I am trying to make for myself and for my people. People who do that drive the social discourse away from actual progress and create a hostile environment where we can’t learn from each other and I want it to stop.
In all seriousness, I do realize there are times where actually hurtful appropriation exists, but you have to take things on a case by case basis because you don’t know the person’s background and the only time I’m offended is when the cultural item in question is overused and overly abused in an incredibly ignorant fashion. It has to be an REALLY extreme case though with actual intent to ignore any kind of appropriate context like people who have really bad on and off Japanese or completely ignore the cultural and social context of words.
For example, there was one girl who was a friend of a friend of mine that I met who was studying Japanese, but for some reason she opted for herself to use extremely derogatory and inappropriate vocabulary (kisama, omae, ore for themselves, and more) that only came from anime and would never actually be used in an actual social context in Japan and would make even the most polite Japanese person cringe and side-eye them for being a bit off in the head. For some reason, she thought it was totally appropriate to scream at people with speech like a TV Japanese gangster in public. THAT is appropriation and I spent most of my time around her pretending that I didn’t know who she was because she was freakin’ embarrassing.
This is either the mentality of a privileged suppressor, or you are led to believe that, as a minority, it’s okay to be suppressed. It’s not a shock though. China has an extensive history of (and still are) oppressing minorities.
You do not get to tell anyone to stay silent “for the good of everyone” when they are being oppressed and (mis)appropriated. You do not get to demonize or dehumanize those that point out to you what you have done to oppress or (mis)appropriate them. I will not lose my culture and heritage because someone told me that it would be better for everyone. What I want is for you to know who I am, appreciate MY culture, MY heritage, be OK with it, and THAT will lead to peace.
And your examples have absolutely nothing to do with what’s being discussed.
Did you actually read what I wrote?
I’m talking about extreme cases where people are too quick to jump to conclusions about what is (mis)appropriated. I’m specifically talking about my experiences with decrying appropriation in contexts with Asian culture because I am an Asian person, so those were the examples I’m used.
As for getting upset at people who point out (mis)appropriation, what I am talking about are the people who throw that card out too quickly. It’s not “staying silent for the good of everyone”. It’s knowing whether or not your accusations are actually true or warranted. Actions like that don’t show appreciation to who I am, what my culture represents, and my heritage. You don’t know the context that the person who is allegedly being accused of (mis)appropriation is speaking from and you don’t know for certain what their background is. My problem is not whether or not appropriation or misappropriation exists it’s that the terminology is getting overused and abused and is redirecting the work toward actual social justice toward a direction that doesn’t help anyone.
There are a lot of people out there who decry (mis)appropriation to even the appreciation or use of cultural elements by people who actually took the effort to study those cultural elements and quite honestly, without Wil’s later posts, how the hell did any of us even know that Wil didn’t thoroughly study “spirit animals”? *THAT’S* the thing that bothers me. It’s an assumption that the usage wasn’t out of sincere appreciation. If you want someone to know who you are, appreciate your culture, your heritage, and be okay with that and they end up learning from you and sincerely, and truly loving and appreciating your culture to the point that they want to incorporate some of the ideals into their life, are you honestly saying that they can’t just because they don’t literally share your cultural heritage? How is that not divisive? How does that encourage someone to learn about any other culture? When you learn something, it becomes part of your being and if someone genuinely learned about something and loves it, why can’t they express that love?
There is a huge difference between someone appropriating something because they just think it “looks cool” to incorporating something from another culture because they really, truly, genuinely like and appreciate it and its significance and meaning means a lot to them.
Also, you make the false assumption that just because I said I’m Chinese that I’m from China. Chinese people live in more places than China and I recognize that I’m a suppressed person and have tons of issues with people who don’t actually see me as a person, but I also have issue with people jumping down the throats of others who are actually taking an interest in my culture. I want people to like my culture, learn about it, spread their love of it, etc. because the more people that are educated about my culture, the more appreciated I become and the more appreciated my culture and heritage become. If people get yelled at every time they take an interest in something, they’re not going to want to learn anything and then we’re stuck right where we are with no progress because no one can understand each other. It doesn’t encourage anything.
If you disagree, please by all means, enlighten me and explain to me, how we can get our oppressors to understand who we are by being antagonistic and discouraging their attempts to appreciate our respective cultures? In what way(s) do you want to see them express their appreciation?
Firstly, I hate how this screen is so tiny.
Secondly, I don’t watch Wil Wheaton. I have no idea what this misappropriation argument is in relation to.
Third, I did mention that the examples you used were bad, and here’s why. The guy you used an example, he went to China and learned about a privileged race of people, not an oppressed race. But if he went to China, learned about the culture of a suppressed group of people for a couple weeks, then went home and cashed in on this oppressed culture, then you’d have been more accurate. Because that is the argument. And that is why people are angry, so they actually didn’t miss the point.
I’m more pissed about people putting words in my mouth and acting on my behalf
I didn’t see them put anything in anyone’s mouth. They only pointed out the faults in Wheatons argument.
But this whole argument isn’t even about his appropriation isn’t even of native American culture because it seems as though Wheaton never used or even alluded to a totem? But I can’t say that for sure because I don’t watch his shows.
I’m more angry at the supposed champions of social justice…
So the only people who are able to talk about misappropriation are the people who are the victims of it? Is that what you’re trying to say? Then are only the people who can talk about racism are black and brown people? That only woman can talk about women’s rights? Are the only people who get to fight for gay rights are gay people? See how this mentality doesn’t work? And that it would never lead to any progress at all?
1) Yeah, this tiny screen thing is making it really hard to write about this and keep in mind the context I’m writing about.
2) You don’t really need to because I’m kind of talking more generally about appropriation because people tend to use the appropriation or misappropriation card too soon without knowing how much the person they’re targeting knows.
3) O_o That totally was not the example I used. First off, there are different ways to study about China and you just put a whole discourse scenario into my mouth that I never said.
The person I was thinking of was someone who maybe was White, took a genuine interest in Chinese culture, studied Chinese, and maybe went to China on exchange and ended up being a professor of language, literature, culture, history, etc. and taught other people or maybe they went into International business and work at a branch in China or maybe they became a social worker or someone trying to work with Tibet or the Hmong. Really general example that somehow you got super specific with. This doesn’t necessarily mean that s/he is there studying the current political atmosphere of China or their current oppression of different people in Tibet, etc. There are also a million different ways someone can specialize in and study a different culture that isn’t necessarily related to modern day politics. Someone could take an interest in China and Chinese culture and study there, but with a predominant focus on Chinese medicine and how it evolved through time. Some of their study might also go over some of the modern health issues, cover ups, black market dealings, etc. or it might not. They could even be more of a scholar of music and have an interest in the er hu and the Chinese music industry, development, copyright, etc., or they could be someone that studies archaeology and is at a site of an ancient indigenous civilization but that’s neither here nor there because I’m not just talking about a person who has any kind of a specific focus.
There’s also nothing about them in what I said about studying what people, they just study Chinese culture and love it and in case you haven’t studied a language and culture before, studying it doesn’t make you an expert in EVERY LAST FACET OF IT. Maybe they have an affinity to one of the many dialects and interesting cultural specifics for the city that they stayed in too, but either way this is just a general person who is not Chinese who just loves Chinese culture. I totally recognize that China is not a huge homogeneous society either, but again, that’s totally not the point of trying to say. It’s just that I find that people who make accusations of appropriation act like that someone who’s White or just not Chinese can’t possibly be able to appreciate Chinese culture, which I think is entirely untrue. Like what if they went on exchange and the host family they stayed with gave them some kind of Chinese cultural item and they brought it home and hung it in their house. Then someone came over who barely knew them and looked at it and went, “Wow. That’s so culturally appropriative.”
3) >I didn’t see them put anything in anyone’s mouth. They only pointed out >the faults in Wheatons argument.
I was talking about the problem of overuse of cultural appropriation accusations. I couldn’t speak for the Native American example at hand because I’m not Native American and have no connection with it, but I wanted to highlight the problem with the overuse of the term and people jumping on the accusations in general, but since I *am* Asian the examples I have to use for context should rightfully be times where I saw someone being accused of being culturally appropriative with something Asian where I just went, “Why are you upset about that? They just like Asian culture.” or went on to ask for change that is the opposite of the change I’d want to see as an Asian person.
The best example I can think of would be the accusations of cultural appropriation being thrown at Ben Kingsley for his rendition of The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, but like…he was supposed to be the fake Mandarin and was actually blatantly pointing at the stereotypes we have about Chinese people and Chinese culture. Some people’s answer to how to have made it better and not culturally appropriative would be to cast an actual Chinese person as caricature The Mandarin from the comics, which is NOT BETTER and as an Asian person, not how I want to be represented. I think the only improvement I saw was that someone suggested that The Mandarin take on his modern business person persona and be an Asian person, which yeah I think has merit, but I still liked the plot twist at the end where Ben Kingsley was not really the Mandarin because I think as far as film history goes, it is a reference to the farce of early Asian portrayals in film by Whites and is more of a meta commentary. So given that, the better solution might have been to cast Aldrich Killian as an Asian person.
There’s also arguments I’ve seen about the casting of Benedict Cumerbatch as Khan who should have been Asian. Yeah, I’m following that ideology too, but while I don’t mind the script as much with Benedict as Khan, I would have some problems with the portrayal of Khan without a script edit if they just swapped an Asian person into the role. There are certain situations where you can replace a White person with any person of color and there are times where if you replace them blindly, you end up reinforcing stereotypical rhetoric about that race/ethnic group. The script would have needed to be rewritten for an Asian person if they even considered casting an Asian person for the part, which I doubt was even an initial consideration by the writers, producers, or studio which is the REAL travesty and not as much that Benedict was in the part. It’s just trying to cure the symptom and not the illness and I’m trying to get to the actual problem.
4) >But this whole argument isn’t even about his appropriation isn’t even of >native American culture because it seems as though Wheaton never >used or even alluded to a totem? But I can’t say that for sure because I >don’t watch his shows.
It wasn’t on his shows. It was just something he said on his Tumblr in an attempt to talk about how much he admires Kelly Sue. He just called Kelly Sue his “spirit animal” as his way to say that he wants to be like her and people messaged him saying that they were offended that he used the phrase “spirit animal” when he’s not even Native American and then I guess someone else sent him the picture above explaining that “spirit animals” are used by other cultures around the world too and aren’t even necessarily Native American. He didn’t say anything about a totem and I don’t have any perspective about “spirit animals” or anything either, so I didn’t want to comment on that, but rather wanted to kind of point out a growing problem we’re starting to have with people getting upset over things like this when the thing they’re offended at could have broader definitions that may actually be acceptable in other versions of it from another part of the world or could be acceptable because of the person’s personal interest, understanding, education, etc. It doesn’t help when people automatically assume that someone is using a term wrong without context and in my own experiences with cases concerning Asian culture, I’ve seen non-Asians pick fights over things that are actually a non-issue or pick the fight for the wrong reason and miss the point of what the actual problem is. I can appreciate the sympathy/empathy for the cause, but I also want the message that is sent to be right. It doesn’t help me or other Asian people, when the message that goes viral is the wrong one. Solving misinformation with more misinformation doesn’t make progress.
5) >So the only people who are able to talk about misappropriation are >the people who are the victims of it? Is that what you’re trying to say? >Then are only the people who can talk about racism are black and >brown people? That only woman can talk about women’s rights? Are >the only people who get to fight for gay rights are gay people? See how >this mentality doesn’t work? And that it would never lead to any >progress at all?
I can see your point too, but please recognize it also doesn’t help with progress when the people who talk about misappropriation that isn’t addressed at them highlight the point that isn’t the actual problem or offer a solution that is worse because they don’t get it either. It’s not even just the appropriation problem but like any problem regarding race, ethnicity, etc. because we’re navigating through a tricky territory while trying to get us to understand each other.
Like let’s go back to the Star Trek example. In that film, Khan is labeled as a “terrorist” and the script and film neglects to go into elaborate detail about the character’s past even though his name/title is one of Asian origin (Indian technically from the previous writings of the character). Many have argued that Khan should have been cast with an Asian actor and yeah, I agree, but with the script and film not fleshing out the character’s backstory, the film “as is” would be viewed as rather inflammatory toward Asians considering and would be echoing the idea and stereotype that Asians are ne’er do wells and terrorists. As an Asian person, I find it problematic that people only focus on Benedict in the part and neglect to discuss the idea that showing another Asian villainous super genius could actually be more racist. Other people were complaining about the casting and I basically wanted a different movie because you have to have scripts, storyboards, etc. as a plan before you even have a cast. There are larger problems here, but most people only argue over the symptoms which doesn’t help anything.
The examples you provided is not what people are having an issue with. And that’s why it’s a bad example. You’re making an argument out of a non-issue.
someone who’s White or just not Chinese can’t possibly be able to appreciate Chinese culture
The issue is and has been the understanding that Wheaton took the culture of an oppressed group of people and benefited from it. He did not help the oppressed culture in any way. He did not educate anyone, he did not fight against their oppressors, he benefited himself from it.
Really general example that somehow you got super specific with.
You talked about not wanting people to generalize the situation of appropriation, but you’re the one’s who’s doing the generalizing.
studying it doesn’t make you an expert in EVERY LAST FACET OF IT
I never alluded to that conclusion, and I’m not even sure why you bring it up. Stop derailing your own argument.
they were offended that he used the phrase “spirit animal” when he’s not even Native American
Taken from the context of what’s being talked about, do you think that he meant anything else other than native Americans/First Nations though? He lives in America, and he spent an enormous time in Canada. Even if he stayed in Nova Scotia, he can’t even use that as a defense because most people of Scottish descent there are Christians.
growing problem we’re starting to have with people getting upset over things like this
So we can only be upset about it when you say it’s okay to be upset about it?
A lot of people have said that the discussion of divorcing the use of native American symbols as mascots from sports are being too sensitive, that native Americans don’t even care. From what I can see native Americans DO care. There are literally 5 petitions out at this very moment to have native American symbols taken out of sports (there could be more because I don’t know every native American out there). They were started by native Americans. So you see, just because you’re not upset, disagree with, or don’t see people upset about certain appropriation discussions and incidents doesn’t mean these people are wrong. It only means you need to know more people.
Also, have you ever thought about the growing occurrences of culture appropriation dialogue as a indicator that appropriation is a growing problem, and that it is finally being recognized? So seeing it this way makes it something actually beneficial to the oppressed.
people who talk about misappropriation that isn’t addressed at them highlight the point that isn’t the actual problem or offer a solution that is worse because they don’t get it either
Like I said, anyone who witnesses an injustice should speak up. Not only the victims.
That’s not what happened here. The discussion was appropriate. And the person who made the comments was appropriate. Wheaton’s reaction, not so much.
we’re navigating through a tricky territory while trying to get us to understand each other
It really isn’t though. Not once have I been lost in this dialogue, despite your dizzying intellect. If you know the territory, you won’t have a problem navigating it.
let’s go back to the Star Trek example
I don’t watch Star Trek, so I can’t discuss the details of it with you. Sorry.
>The examples you provided is not what people are having an issue with. >And that’s why it’s a bad example. You’re making an argument out of a >non-issue.
The whole point of my argument was that example IS A NON-ISSUE. I’m not the one making an argument out of a non-issue. I’m saying that situations like that ARE non-issues, but they exist and there are people in the “appropriation” discourse that are inappropriately making examples like that INTO issues and I’m trying to caution against that because it doesn’t help. Circumstances like that are totally legitimate reasons for someone to use a word or phrase of a culture other than their own.
The examples I’ve provided are what I’ve seen people make an issue out of in other cases because there are quite a few people I’ve encountered who don’t use the “appropriation” argument in the correct context or make assumptions about a person they don’t know anything about. They don’t know whether or not in fact the subject or words actually legitimately means anything to them.
I acknowledge that Wil’s specific case is probably different, but I don’t personally know him either, so I made no assumptions as to how much he knew or didn’t know or what he means. So for this part:
>Taken from the context of what’s being talked about, do you think that >he meant anything else other than native Americans/First Nations >though? He lives in America, and he spent an enormous time in >Canada. Even if he stayed in Nova Scotia, he can’t even use that as a >defense because most people of Scottish descent there are Christians.
I had no idea if he meant anything else other than Native Americans or First Nations because I made no assumptions as to what he knows, does not know, or what he experienced in the span of his entire lifetime. I don’t know what people he met or where he spent time. As the image points out, many cultures around the world have a background in animals that are an important part of their culture, so it’s a fallacy to just assume that because he’s spent most of his time in America and Canada that he can’t possibly know about them. I didn’t know beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not his case was in fact an actual case of appropriation or a non-issue circumstance because I don’t know him or his background and I didn’t want to make an assumption about someone I don’t know. If the “spirit animal” idea also exists in France, Germany, Nordic, Anglo-Saxon, and many other traditions how would I or anyone else know whether or not he actually looked into his own background and that’s the context from which he derives his word usage?
There are times like the sporting topics that you mention where the mascots are really obvious examples of appropriation, and definitely should be a concern because a mascot reflects an entire community and should be decided on as a community and representing everyone in it. But the discussion at hand is about “word choice” for a single person about a personal topic which is something really different from say a press release and whether or not it’s appropriate is based on the person’s background, which I’m just saying that if we don’t know at all, maybe ask for clarification first on what they meant before automatically assuming that the person is invoking something that they know nothing about. Would it have been so hard to say/ask, “Hey, what did you mean by the ‘spirit animal’ comment?” Then if you actually wanted to start the discourse about the specific Native American appropriation, “If it was meant as a reference to Native American culture, that’s messed up.”
>I never alluded to that conclusion, and I’m not even sure why you bring it >up. Stop derailing your own argument.
Yes, you did. I’m not derailing it, but am trying to address this part in yours.
>The guy you used an example, he went to China and learned about a >privileged race of people, not an oppressed race. But if he went to >China, learned about the culture of a suppressed group of people for a >couple weeks, then went home and cashed in on this oppressed culture, >then you’d have been more accurate.
Here you are making the assumption that the fictitious person I used in my example who went to China and I only stated had an interest in Chinese culture went there and studied a privileged group. I said absolutely nothing about what aspect of Chinese culture they studied. It is definitely entirely possible they learned about current modern China as represented by the current modern Chinese government which is doing some *really* messed up stuff, and I’ll accept is a privileged group of people, but someone who just has an interest in Chinese culture could have gone to China and learned about any one of the many ethnic groups in the country under different levels of oppression or duress or even went there for historical study. In order for those two sentences to work, the person who went to China would have to have full knowing knowledge and intensive study of the modern Chinese government’s activities and politics, which wasn’t implied in my original post at all because for all we know the person could have studied ancient Tang China which historical artifacts indicate was super metropolitan and in some ways wasn’t like the modern Chinese government we see now.
NOW though, I think you understand and know what I was originally talking about, but those two sentences there were completely out of nowhere. Like where the hell did you even get that he went there to specifically study a privileged race and not an oppressed one? Where in my original post did I even talk about privilege or non-privilege in China? This is why I’m questioning what you even read. I’m trying to make an effort to meet you and understand what you’re saying, but it seems like you’re only skimming what I wrote and adding in words that I never said.
>So we can only be upset about it when you say it’s okay to be upset >about it?
Again, the point I was making was that people who don’t actually know the discourse of appropriation are getting angry over things that ARE in fact non-issues and are confusing cultural exchange with cultural appropriation. You already agreed that the example I made was a non-issue which was the ENTIRE POINT of why I brought it up because there are people who incorrectly make it an issue. When non-issues are incorrectly targeted, it derails the discourse and doesn’t help anyone. Instead, when instances like that come up, they actually make it more difficult to both sides to come to an understanding because a person who is trying to get involved with cultural exchange is being discouraged by people accusing them of appropriation.
>Also, have you ever thought about the growing occurrences of culture >appropriation dialogue as a indicator that appropriation is a growing >problem, and that it is finally being recognized? So seeing it this way >makes it something actually beneficial to the oppressed.
Again, I’m not disagreeing that it is a growing problem and I’m not saying that it’s not a good thing that it’s being recognized. I’m saying that some people have a lack of understanding about the appropriation dialog and misapply it. I think it’s great that we’re talking about it, but it’s also equally important that we make an effort to direct our anger at things that are actually the problem.
>Like I said, anyone who witnesses an injustice should speak up. Not >only the victims.
>That’s not what happened here. The discussion was appropriate. And >the person who made the comments was appropriate. Wheaton’s >reaction, not so much.
Yes, anyone who sees it should speak up, but there are people who mistake cultural exchange for actual injustice.
And yes, we know now after the fact that the discussion and the comment was appropriate and Wil’s reaction was not. But before his reaction, we made an assumption about his life, his experiences, and what he knows. Assumptions on both sides are dangerous and can be detrimental to real beneficial cultural exchange especially for those who are just new to their journey of learning about a new culture. It’s important to speak up, but it’s also important to not create a climate where people are afraid to learn about people that are different from themselves and making assumptions does just that.
>It really isn’t though. Not once have I been lost in this dialogue, despite >your dizzying intellect. If you know the territory, you won’t have a >problem navigating it.
"If you know the territory" is the key phrase here. What I’m pointing out is that "appropriation" isn’t a well-known territory by everyone. A lot of people have only recently heard of it from recent news articles even though it’s an idea that isn’t new in academia and people who are familiar with the discourse already. It’s become a new "it" word for the average person trying to fight for social change, which is wonderful, but it is also being used at times in the incorrect context and there’s a rise of cases of false accusations because people make judgments based on assumptions. There are also plenty of cases where it is in fact being used justly and that’s great, but if people who don’t "know the territory" use it too much, what does that do? It’s important to talk about the discourse, but part of that discussion should be about making sure everyone knows what that discourse is.
My “dizzying intellect” has more to do with the time of when I wrote it and what I perceive as you not actually taking the time to read my words as I write them. I’m trying to take the time to address each one of your points and actually talk to you about this so that we can come to an understanding.
We’re actually on the same side, but it’s taken us this long to get to a point where we both agree that there are certain situations that ARE NON-ISSUES because for whatever reason, you started your discussion with me making assumptions about who I am, where I’m from, and that I’m a suppressed person that has taken up the mentality of an oppressor or a privileged suppressor, which I don’t even understand how you arrived at that conclusion except to think that you purposely read my first post looking for something to be wrong. You made an assumption from the beginning that my example I used was about studying privileged China and somehow assumed that when all I mentioned was a person who took an interest in Chinese culture and went on to assume things about their field of study that I never even addressed or a reasonable person could assume that someone who just “studies Chinese” could know in depth about. Our back and forth is a prime example of why assumptions are divisive and why I am actually concerned about the use of “appropriation” based on assumptions.