Month: November 2013
Well, no doubt many of you are scratching your heads or shaking them with disbelief over Perry’s AMA performance. Most likely, however, you’re confused as to why so many people are getting their panties into a knot over it. What’s wrong with it? Wasn’t she just dressing up? Why are people so sensitive about race? It’s just a costume.
She’s dressing up- using someone else’s culture as the costume and a bunch of random Asian props as her background.
For those of you who don’t seem to understand, the East has long been plagued by exotification and appropriation of it’s many diverse cultures. Many Asian women-especially Asian American women- are turned into sex objects, as stereotypes of the sexy, submissive, stereotypical Asian girlfriend/lover plagues the mind of many men.
Also is the tendency to ignore the fact that Asia is not limited to just China and Korea and Japan- it is also made up India, Vietnam, and Thailand, just to name a few. These are all different countries, each with their own individual cultures, food, and ways of life.
So the very fact that one privileged white pop singer feels as if she has the right to get up on stage and ignore the cultural diversity of an entire continent is extremely disrespectful. Picking a bunch of “Asian Inspired” clothing and props is disrespectful to those people who you are stealing from especially since homogenization of Asian cultures is extremely prevalent in the United States.
Taking a “kimono” and sexing it up for your viewers also plays into the “sexy Geisha” stereotype that America can’t seem to get enough of. Geisha led very complicated lives, and yet people still believe that Geisha’s were prostitutes or some type of sex workers (not that there is anything wrong with being a sex worker). By dressing up and pretending to be one, what you are doing is playing into harmful assumptions and stereotypes that many people still believe, reinforcing the image of sexy, exotic Asian women.
Also important to note is that when members of a particular race practice cultural activities, they are met with scorn, distrust, disgust, and racism. Because of white privilege, it is always okay for a white person to practice a cultural activity belonging to a certain culture, but when a person of said race does it, it is no longer okay.
For those of you wailing, here is a list of examples:
- Black women who wear braids are seen as ghetto, white women who do it are seen as edgy or stylish.
- Indian women who wear Indian clothing are seen as “too ethnic” and unwilling to except white American culture, white women who do it are seen as fashionable or exotic.
- Black women who twerk are seen as ghetto and un-classy,white women who twerk are seen as just dancing or even as sexy.
- Native Americans who dress in their respective traditional clothing are seen as being old fashioned, unwilling to “give it up” and just accept white American culture- white people who dress up as stereotypical, homogenized versions of Native Americans, complete with random ass paint markings and feathers are seen as (by a lot of people) edgy, boho, unique, alternative
The list goes on and on.
Not to mention the overt racism that also happened when Psy, an actual Asian- get’s up on stage, que the racist ass chanting.
So basically the lesson is that it’s okay for white people to take the pretty parts of other people’s culture, but it’s not okay for people of that culture to do them. Because everyone knows that white people just do everything better.
If you ever wondered why African Americans are portrayed so negatively in almost all media sources, please look no further than this.
By F. Jones
Many African Americans now holds the opinion that in the face of greater gained opportunities that many within their race became their own worst enemies. It is not uncommon to hear these negative sentiments about their own race now echoed by many African Americans themselvesthey that consider themselves as being exceptions to this norm. This perception often engenders profound feelings of immense humiliation, racial self contempt, and disunity among many African Americans in the 21st-century. But are these self contemptuous views among so many African Americans correct?
And if so how have African Americans, the racial group that demonstrated an unprecedented degree of Black racial pride and unity during the 1960’s civil rights movement now become living contradictions of their former selves? The common response, when presented with this daunting question is to take the position that the core problem lies with something to do with Black…
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Hello again my dears- here I will begin the stock piling of sources for those of you interested in sources that cater to the experiences of PoC.
On another note, let me define what I mean by PoC. In some cases, I use it for shorthand to mean Pagans of Color, to which I usually will put in brackets for understanding.
People of Color does not mean just Black people- it also extends to Asians- Laotian, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean- Latin Americans, people of Middle Eastern decent-
You get the picture.
The idea is to have multiple resources for those who come from different cultural backgrounds, so I have compiled all of these links together for your enjoyment! This page will continue to be updated as time does on.
This website details the intersection between race and popular culture, and is very inclusive. There is a focus on not just African American PoC, but also Asian Americans, Native Americans, and other PoC.
Angry Asian Man: http://blog.angryasianman.com/
A blog that caters to a wide variety of issues facing Asians and Asian Americans, including not only racial issues, but media, music, and other blogs. Read it.
Gradient Lair: http://www.gradientlair.com/
Here you will find articles written by and for African American women. Beautiful and inspiring artwork, essays, and thoughtful disscusions provide a safe place for African American WoC (Women of Color) to express themselves and discuss race.
Often, especially in old books and websites, I find definitions of paganism that go a bit as follows:
“Paganism is an umbrella term for any pre-Christian European religion”
When people define paganism as such, what they are effectivly doing is setting up a system in which European (white) is the default, and any PoC or-non-European traditions- are considered an outlier. When you ask pagans why there isn’t more PoC representation in the Pagan community, often the excuse is that paganism is defined as European religions, and that most pagans choose to follow those paths that their ancestors walked. Instead, the case is that PoC (pagans of color) and non-European traditions are often overlooked in favor of Euro-centric ones.
Not to mention that that excuse doesn’t make sense. How do you get the idea that if you are following a European religion that that is the path that your ancestors walked, so long as it’s European?
I do not know where my ancestors came from, and just picking and choosing a traditional African religion does not mean that I’m following the “path of my ancestors”, much in the same way that a white person picking any European spirituality- regardless of their ancestry- isn’t necessarily following the path of their ancestors.
This system is problematic, as it also upholds the idea of privilege where any pagan who is not following the defaults of Paganism (read: is white, follows a European spirituality or a spirituality filled with cultural appropriation) is seen as different.
Also seen in the Pagan community is the idea of mutual exclusivity, or the idea that, if you are pagan, you cannot be something else, because pagan and xyz are not possible because they are mutually exclusive.
Also not true.
You can still be a pagan and be a racist.
You can still be pagan and be prejudice.
You can still be pagan and have white privilege.
You can still be pagan and have male privilege.
You can still be pagan and have heterosexual privilege.
YOU CAN STILL BE PAGAN AND HAVE PRIVILEGE- just because you are oppressed in one way- spiritually-doesn’t mean you aren’t benefitting in other ways-being white.
Those are the simple facts, and by pointing out the fact that many pagans feel as if they bear the worst oppression because of their spirituality is laughable-especially because many uphold ideas that racism and prejudice no longer exist, while also choosing to remain “colorblind” (which is a form of racism)- they feel as if you are being antagonistic or simply “bringing race into it” or being a ‘race-baiter”
I am choosing to point out these issues in the community because it remains a constant problem, and in order to truly progress and understand each other, we must be able to create a space in which we can accept others without silencing them in favor for a more homogenized, blind view.
Many PoC feel as if they cannot be pagan because they aren’t white. Others avoid talking about race/cultural based subjects in fear of being seen as a negative race-baiter.
This all goes hand in hand with the fact that people with privilege often feel uncomfortable speaking about it, and will often a) avoid the conversation completely, b) adamantly refuse the idea that they have privilege,thus effectively silencing the voices and experiences of PoC, or, c), become belligerent, rude, and embarrassed.
All terrible responses to have.
As pagans we need to understand-yes, understand, because despite all the feel good books speaking about how paganism is open to all people from all walks of life- many still choose to discount those who come from different situations and experiences than them, because often times they bring with them experiences which point out blatant differences between them and other pagans.
I did not come from a wonderful home with loving Christian parents who were outraged at my involvement with paganism.
I came from a broken, abusive home where my mother accepted my maturity in studying a spiritual path and my father applauds my philosophic skills.
I did not come from a home where milk was a given, or that dinner was a given- I came from a home where good food (read: not ramen) was considered luxury and should be respected.
I am not the standard white middle class pagan, and I will not have my experiences as well as the experiences of others droned out in favor for a more homogenized view of pagans and paganism.
So many books portray paganism in this particular way that it becomes seen as the norm. We tend to see those that practice differently or don’t believe in the Three Fold Law or don’t follow the Wheel of the Year as “those other people” or just “others” instead of validating them as pagans with different experiences and practices.
I am pagan just like everyone else, and just because I am not the “typical pagan” doesn’t mean that I am not pagan. We need to stop drowning out ideas and voices because we don’t like what they have to say.