A Handy Guide to Appreciation of a Marginalised Culture

Tired of being boring ol’ white? Want to add a bit of spice to your life & get hippie street cred in the same bargain? Look no farther! Thursday’s written this simple & unadulterated guide to appreciating a marginalised culture. We guarantee we’ll make an imperialist douchefuck out of you before you can say ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’, or your money back!

So, here we go.

1. Choose your target.
First of all, all white people have the right to another person’s culture, especially you! Fashion, art, & fiction have always borrowed from other sources, but don’t worry, there’s plenty to go around! Poke around in the storage closet & remember to pick one that truly speaks to you. Or you don’t even need to pick only one, you may change every other week or so to keep your friends interested.

2. Dive in.
Got your new culture? Excellent, you can start promoting cultural exchange right away! Start a blog to show everyone how much you love your new culture. Complain that not enough literature is being translated from their language to yours. Make a new exotic friend! Wear their clothes. Use their greetings. Eat their food. Jabber in their language — oh you don’t need our help to butcher those phonemes, surely! Change your name to a nice native-sounding one, & if it’s the name of a god in their pantheon, it’s perfect for you!

& if you feel extra-kind, pop over to their country and get a fresh ~perspective~. Take pictures of random stuff without asking permission. Mention (loudly, & several times) how it’s such a shame they’ve remained as they are when their history & culture was so glorious. Remember to look shocked when they speak English, or better yet, point & laugh. (Bonus points if you’re in China, you get to use ‘ching chong’.) And if you feel very ambitious, why not get a tattoo of a phrase in their language? Or several? Don’t worry if it’s complete gibberish. No one cares.

3. Mix & Match!
If you get bored, you could always mix & match! Bellydancing to bhangra music! Sioux headdresses with hanboks! Dhotis with Maasai weapons! Why stop there? Be creative!

4. Dodging the PC PoliceTM.
By now your enthusiasm would have attracted unwanted attention. Their attention. How do you know who these people are? Well, they’re always looking for something to be offended about, & that makes them as subtle as a monkey on crack. They’ll use the keywords: ‘inaccurate’, ‘racism’, ‘cultural appropriation’, & ‘white privilege’. & if you’re really lucky, you’ll also get: ‘povertyporn’. & if that’s not a clue, there’ll probably be hordes of them, too, sending you angry messages.
So, here’s what you do: say they have no right to tell everybody what to think! Hmph! Nobody would know about ~diversity if they had their way. Then, call in your friend from step 2! They know your reasons: you’re promoting cultural exchange ~respectfully~, & white culture totally doesn’t speak to you. Disassociation happens to everyone!
Next: you‘re not offended by your actions, so it doesn’t matter.
& lastly: don’t they have better things to do, like, solve poverty & stuff?

5. Haters Gonna Hate.
You’ve still got people left from step 4? That’s all right; keep on doing what you were & they will eventually give up & go away. If you see any of your haters refusing to engage with you and/or saying they’re out of spoons, CONGRATULATIONS! YOU WIN!

& if you have any questions or concerns on how much of an impact you’ll make using our Handy Guide, you may contact us at 555-GO-FUCK-YOURSELF.

at least we can blame Kipling

Dear reader, we here at Weekday Blues always intimate to you that words mean things & it’s important to question their context.

If you ever need a perfect example of how cultural appropriation is the epitome of racism, this tumblog is relevant: http://colonelhathi.tumblr.com (trigger warning for horrifically offensive content)

Formerly known as ‘Fuck Yeah Exoticism’, I first engaged with this person when ze reblogged the Malayalam alphabet on tumblr. I pointed out that exoticism was a racist word. . Ze changed ze’s profile to say, ‘Don’t call me a racist unless you know what that means.’ & then this happened. & at the moment, it is ‘Exoticism is a wonderful word’. Alas.

Remember folks, Actual People(TM) think & write these things. & here is your brain bleach, the exit is on your left.

eta: I left this open letter:

There is no such thing as ‘just words’. When looking at language & saying it is ‘just words’, is like saying the economy is ‘just trade’. So much of the contextualisation & recontextualisation of space comes from the connotations of words, and it is context that gives words the potency that they possess & words are never without context. Nothing is ever ‘just words’. They have baggage, context, & lasting power. When we fail to examine them, their monstrous power swallows & shapes us, for we internalise these messages. Oh, I understand words. I am the one who bears their weight.

As for the rest of it, I have said this before, & I shall say it again. & repeat it. Your terra incognita? Is my home.

It is one thing to like a culture. It is another to respect it.

This goes much deeper than just simple appropriation, though. This is the concept that chromatic cultures are to be shared, delighted in, & marketed for everyone as a little bit of spice. This is why you can dip your feet into the waters that nourish me. There is no promotion of equality between us, because we were never equals & are not equals at this present moment: you will never emphasise my humanity, you will only continue to strip me and mine of our personhood & say it is in the glorious name of ‘exchange’, or better yet, ‘diversity’. This is racism. This is Otherising. This is flattening of a vast spectrum of experiences.

It is not your place to say you don’t find yourself offensive when you deliberately exercise white privilege by engaging in such actions. It is like focusing sunlight through a magnifying glass and frying ants as they march past, and saying the ant feels no pain.

It is one thing to appreciate a culture. It is a different matter entirely to fetishize, misunderstand, and reduce a rich, living heritage to tired caricatures for your personal consumption. We do not exist to please you. We do not exist so you can discover your inner dusty peep. & we certainly do not exist to increase your hippie street cred. If you truly had an interest in us, you would not be paying lip service to stereotypes. You would not even be writing a blog dedicated to — once more — showing us to be polite, hospitable, deeply spiritual, and vegetarian. Perhaps you think even our tigers have internalised this message, hm?

In another time & place, your actions would have gone unnoticed, even lauded.

Perhaps in another time & place, the rest would have been silence.

Today, it is not. Today, I have a voice. You do not respect my culture & for this I pity you. You will never engage me; you will never understand: to you my heritage is a poor imitation, a hilarious distorted image in a funhouse mirror. & You will never be able to claim it as ‘yours’, because you will never perceive me and mine beyond our inscrutable smiles, our strange letters, our too-tight clothes, our dusty skin, our forked tongues.

Academic Whiteknighting Students FTW

Something that annoys me very, very much is how the subject of queerness is treated. I’ll be talking mainly about the pre-university and undergraduate landscape of this country, because that is what I am familiar with, though I suspect that my experiences and observations will be applicable elsewhere as well.

You will notice that quite often, students like to talk about queer issues when discussing ‘a controversy or noteworthy social topic in your country’, or something like. Sometimes the conversation will be about assimilation, sometimes about equality. Rarely does the lecturer or teacher set it as queer rights and queer culture directly. Most of the time the group decides on their presentation subject themselves.

Already we perceive a problem. I have noticed that these groups tend to typically be either majority or exclusively hetero/sexual people (a word which I parse as straight and sexual). The fact that they choose such a topic is a form of anthropological curiosity. It becomes a way of demonstrating their edgy, pseudo-progressive viewpoints, while doing nothing for the queer community, and while doing nothing for their own blinkered ignorance.

Wednesday is very annoyed.

sticks & stones & words & bombs

I would first encourage the dear reader to take a quick peek at the Ableist Word Profile at FWD/Forward: it is relevant.

This post will be discussing harmful language & trigger warnings apply accordingly.

under the jump

Dear Anon.

Dear Anonymous,

I see you stand with Egypt and Algeria.

I don’t think.

Okay, this is what I want to say, Anonymous: you people suck. A lot.

Social justice? You wouldn’t know what social justice was if it popped out of the ground in front of you, mewled adorably, and then sprang tooth and claw towards you and nipped you viciously.

It’s not social justice, darlings, when you decide how fun it’d be to trigger people with photosensitive seizure disorders. That’s ableist, that is, my dearests. That’s the privilege of your able-bodied selves deciding that disability is a fucking laugh, that people don’t work to manage their own lives already, that your actions have no repercussions. The ability to ignore the consequences of what you do — that’s the privilege of those who don’t have to suffer from it. I’m disabled, I don’t appreciate this shit.

It’s not social justice, darlings, when you decide you have to pick a side when an influential man is charged with rape, and so decide to pick the winning side, the powerful side. You’re reinforcing a structure of power, of privilege, of oppression. You’re continuing to trample over the bodies of women — that’s not edgy, that’s pathetically and sadly mainstream. You’re pushing the same toxic myths about rape — survivors lie, survivors must behave in a certain way, survivors can’t be feminists or liberals or what the fuck standard you decided to move the bar to today — that we’ve been told a million times. I’m a woman and a rape survivor, I don’t appreciate this shit.

So. Privilege? Anonymous, you have it in spades.

So. Counter-cultural? Oh, please, Anonymous, what’s so counter-cultural about privileged, straight, abled middle-class men taking pleasure in mocking marginalised groups? That’s not counter-cultural, my dearests. That’s the goddamn culture I live in, everyfuckingday. Depressingly, painfully the norm.

Well, then, Anonymous, don’t talk to me about social justice now — we’ve watched as you committed the same injustices that the kyriarchy as a whole does to us all the time. And don’t talk to me about net neutrality. Where were you when people exactly. like. you harassed Kathy Sierra? Where were you when Sady Doyle was threatened? Oh, right, you were on the other side of that fight. Justice and Internet accountability — not things for wimminz.

No thanks, Anonymous, I’ll stick to this side of the fence where I and many others try to make them things for everyone (that’s why they’re universal human rights).

Now, when you talk about standing with those poor oppressed folks down south and east, Anonymous, when you repeat your twaddle like ‘People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people’ — well, Anonymous, this is a very polite request to STFU, please make a note of that.

We’ve discussed privilege earlier in this post, haven’t we, Anonymous? We’ve explained why you have it in spades. D’you think your head could get round a new word now, Anonymous? Specifically: orientalism.

The non-white/Western world is not a stage for you to gawk, gentlepeople. It’s not a stage for you to hijack with your rhetoric, either. It’s not a stage for you to project your beliefs. It’s the majority of this globe demonstrating on behalf of their beliefs, not yours; it’s the majority of the globe which colonialism squashed and which you continue to oppress with your hegemonies and your power systems of today. It’s a people standing up for themselves and by themselves, who couldn’t possibly give less of a fuck about your posturing. Because it is posturing. It’s like poverty-porn except feel-good for you white/Western audiences; it’s revolution-porn.

You didn’t change anything, Anonymous; you only solidify the walls that keep us out.

We’re changing our world, Anonymous, one teaspoon at a time against your ocean of bullshit, so please to take a step backwards and sit yourselves back down.

remind me why my existence is valid.

So, Lee Wei Ling writes an article for the Straits Times. She does that every Sunday, nbd.

So, she writes about couples who cannot have children biologically. She talks about medical intervention, and also about adoption.

Her article is titled ‘When bundle of joy turns to sorrow’.

It is about how disabled children ruin your life.

Also, it is perfectly alright to speculate about how disabled children may be born of incest, especially if they are adopted.

Also, there is something wrong with birthmothers who have more than one of their biological children adopted out.

Also, since Chinese parents are more likely to give away girls than boys, adopted sons are likely to be defective disabled, caveat emptor.

What is this, I don’t even.

I’m so tired of this.