postscript: some clarifications and addenda to my recent post on cultural appropriation

Many people have been discussing my recent post about cultural appropriation on Facebook. I'm not surprised that many people disagree (that's why I wrote it, to put my countering opinion out there), but I have been surprised by how many progressive people do agree.

From the negative comments, I can see that I wasn't clear on a few important points.

1. The entire post refers to white, first-world people calling out other first-worlders with accusations of cultural appropriation -- not aboriginal people. I would not pass judgment or venture an opinion about a native person's judgment of appropriation of their own culture. I have no right to do so -- and I would not do so. I was referring what I see as a quite a large bandwagon, pointing self-righteous fingers at others -- by white people, and at white people.

2. The above might explain why I feel the words shaming and bullying are fair game. I wasn't suggesting that aboriginal people are bullying white people about appropriation. That would be absurd.

3. I do believe that on a personal, one-to-one level, we are all equals and must treat each other with mutual respect. I do not believe that membership in a historically marginalized group is a license to act disrespectfully. That's my belief, but it's not what the post is about.

4. My post was not in response to the Hal Niedzviecki controversy. I had been writing the post for a while. I have very little time to write, and I edit every post at least twice, so it can take quite a while for me to finish something and get it online.

5. The post was also not in response to me personally being taken to task for appropriation. The whole #fragilewhiteperson thing is not at issue here. Again, I was referring to white people criticizing other white people for what they have -- mistakenly, in my opinion -- labeled cultural appropriation.

6. Apparently some readers thought my post was in response to one comment I saw online. Believe me, I don't write 3,000 words about one random comment. I see this as a clear trend.

This postscript is meant for clarity only. It's not important to me whether readers agree with me or not. I just want to express myself clearly and stimulate discussion.


Gyor said...



Some intelligent comments Roaming Millennial on this issue (an Asian Woman for the record).

It's scares me that you actually think wearing an Indian Costume is on the same continuum as genocide or even street flirting (I refuse to refer to attempts at flirting as street harassment) on the same continuum as rape. These things are even in the same catogory never mind a continuum.

And the really sad part is you are the moderate one, because at least you acknowledge there isa difference.

This nonsense, the consant PC policing is why I'm increasingly embarrassed to be a leftwinger, why more and more reasonable leftwingers are being driven to the Libertarians, its the constant Statists, controlling, bullying behavior and why more and more people of races, religions, genders, sexes, sexual orinations, left & right are lashing back out at SJWs, they are tired of always having freedom of expression policed by a legion of nitwits.

Learn the difference between real racism, sexism, homophobia, and a kid in a freaking costume who wears not because he hates Indians, but because he admires and loves them so much he wishes he was one.

This is why increasing amounts of people are turning on the left, why the left can't get major economic change done anymore, people have had enough.

laura k said...

Thank you for your comments.

Learn the difference between real racism, sexism, homophobia, and a kid in a freaking costume who wears not because he hates Indians, but because he admires and loves them so much he wishes he was one.

I'm not sure who this is directed at, if it's a general rant directed at "the left", or if it's directed at me. Either way, please be civil. It's a rule of posting here. There is occasional leeway for longtime readers and commenters, but none for posts out of nowhere.

Continuums can be very long. Having spent a good deal of my life studying sexual assault, both before and after being raped myself, I do think that all forms of unwanted sexual attention exist on a continuum. The harassment I'm thinking of in no way resembles flirting. The harasser isn't trying to flirt. Flirting isn't on this continuum.

As for genocide, I was making the same point as you. Turning cultural symbols into constumes are not genocidal. However, it is racist. Obviously you disagree, but please do so in a civil manner, or not at all. Thank you.

laura k said...

Excellent piece on accusations of cultural appropriation and food

impudent strumpet said...

I'm still very much in the listening and learning stage of my education about cultural appropriation, but I wonder if part of the complexity here might be that in life in general, there are situations where it's far more effective for the person in the position of privilege to do the calling-out, even when they aren't in the group wronged - and sometimes because they aren't in the group wronged. (Example: dudes calling out their buddies for street harassment)

laura k said...

That's possible. It doesn't seem like that's what's happening. It seems more like a game of gotcha, plus self-righteousness. But I'll keep that in mind the next times I observe this. Perhaps it will give me a new perspective.

DavidHeap said...

hi Laura, interesting topic.
The link to "Excellent piece on accusations of cultural appropriation and food" doesn't appear to work, at least for me:
"Sorry, this content isn't available at the moment
The link you followed may have expired, or the Page may only be visible to an audience that you aren't in."
I scrolled through Arun Gupta's posts (many of which are visible to me) but couldn't find one on food appropriation (lots on food!). Do you have the date?

laura k said...

Hey David, I've searched everywhere for it and can't find it. I'll tweet Gupta, maybe he'll mkae it available. (I no longer use Twitter, but I keep my account for things like this.)

Your comment also led me to this amazing blog written by Will Shetterly.