Iroquois warrior scalping a white prisoner.
Fuck does this ever piss me off.
There were very few instances of scalping before the Europeans arrived. But then Europeans offered a bounty for the scalps of men, women and children. Most of the victims of scalping were native people, at the hands of Europeans who made money from doing this.
The idea that indigenous peoples engaged in this practice in any widespread manner pre-Contact is propaganda. This picture should show a white man scalping a native woman and her children for profit.
What I mean when I say settler.
When I first encountered the term ‘settler’, I didn’t like it. I felt it was provocative, and I’d been hearing a lot about how we need to stop “creating divisions” by calling people white, or non-native, or Europeans or whatever.
But the truth is, no matter what terms you use, it is going to be provocative, because as an indigenous person, you don’t get to define anything.
That’s not your job.
You get to be defined.
Blood quantum. Ancestry. Looks. Community. Laws. Policy. Politics.
None of it for you, by you. It’s top down, hon, and we all know it.
When I write to reach a wider audience, I don’t use the term “white” first and foremost because invariably it allows settlers to complain that “white” is an inaccurate term. It allows them to once again, make everything about themselves. It allows them to convince themselves that when I don’t speak about the Irish or the German or the Polish or the Ukrainians or the Italians, that I am ignorant of the history of these ethnic groups in Canada and the US. That I shouldn’t talk, because my skin is pale and doesn’t that make me white? In short, it allows them to derail the conversation.
I agree it’s not particularly accurate, but I didn’t create this term. White people did. They are the ones who decides who gets to join that club. A club I get to be in as long as I don’t open my mouth too often.
But fine. I got sick of the fights over the term. “Settler” was a bit jarring at first, new, fresh…but I got it immediately.
To me, settler is synonymous with coloniser. It is not a historical term, it is also a contemporary one. Settlers, and their descendents, continue through socio-political means to colonise us. That process has never stopped, not once. Studying the law finally allowed me to verify that concretely, to be able to point to how similar today’s policies are to those of the past, how very little has actually changed.
Settlers are those who are descended from the original colonisers, but they are also the descendents of those who remained in Europe and benefited from colonisation.
The African slaves and their descendants who were forced here are not settlers.
And what of the non-Europeans? The Chinese who came and worked and died and were denied reunification with their families because of racist immigration policies…they settled here, are they settlers? “And what about the Irish”, you’ll be asked. The acid test. “They were oppressed at home and came as unwanted refugees!”
Ah, but were they used to settle our lands? Used to stake claims over our territories?
Not the Chinese. They were reviled and tolerated as a necessary evil. Denied the ability to expand their population for many years.
Ukrainians, Germans, Italians, Irish, Scottish…all hated by other Europeans at one time or another, but they became white here. Familiar. Less frightening than the “Orientals”. And they were absolutely used to stake territorial claims on behalf of the Empire. A job they did smashingly.
And later on, many nations are represented here. Newer immigrants…but not the architects of the colonial system. Should they understand that they are on native land, in great part unceded native land? Absolutely. But settler, for me, is about colonialism, and these people may benefit from it and they absolutely have a duty to understand it, but they are not responsible for it.
The space of a few generations is not the determining factor. These new people, these non-settler immigrants, still have an obligation to resist the ongoing colonialisation of our peoples. But the real power is not theirs. That power continues to belong to the settlers, and their descendents, because ultimately it is they who claim the benefit of our lands and who wield the political power which continues to guide that colonial process.
There is no escaping that. There is only a choice.
You’re either for colonisation…or you’re not.
You don’t get to be neutral, settlers.
Wow. Okay. This answers a question I’ve had since forever.
Hrm, I was going to make a point about how the Chinese were also used to create the tools and systems that enabled the settling, i.e., the railroads and such, and how we don’t have the power of the settler group, but we remain intimately linked to the processes of colonization, and we “get permission” from settlers to remain. But that also means Black folk would be part of this process, and these groups don’t have much power over the processes of settling.
Either way, even non-settlers don’t get to be neutral about colonialism. I don’t see many Asians getting all “but my ancestors didn’t do that” but I’ll wait for a couple of generations of light-skinned assimilators.
(I’m putting this down here for those who might not be aware of this, I’m not assuming you do not know this)
Chinese immigration to Canada began with the gold rush and wasn’t much controlled at the time because Dominion control was not a reality yet. British Colombia was pretty much running its own affairs. Many Chinese ended up owning large amounts of land in the Fraser valley after this. In this sense, I suppose that these first Chinese were settlers, though at that point they were not a deliberate choice made by Britain or colonial governments to advance settlement. I would not argue with indigenous peoples in British Colombia if they felt that those Chinese families also constitute ‘settlers’.
After that, however Chinese migrants were deliberately chosen to build infrastructure as “guest workers” and to provide support services, but the immigration policy was also deliberately designed to ensure the population would not increase anymore than strictly necessary. I think that makes a fundamental difference during the initial settlement process. It wasn’t precisely slave labour, but it was about as close as you can possibly get as they were paid less than any other worker. The Canadian state did not see these migrants as citizens, or as desired settlers, merely fleshy tools. Years of repressive policies and laws aimed specifically at Chinese living in Canada restricted Chinese populations in a way that can actually be analogous to the reserve system in some ways. The benefits that Chinese migrants may have received for being the ones to help build the infrastructure that cemented Canada’s colonial claim were unintentional, in direct contrast to the benefits reaped by settler families who were desired because they were European. Not to even delve into what Europe was getting up to in Asia and elsewhere that no doubt directly led to a lot of the migration that occurred.
Once immigration was opened up to ‘non-whites’, the foundation of the colonization process had already been firmly set. I absolutely agree that non-settler populations in Canada have an obligation to not attempt a neutral stance, whether they’ve been here for generations or arrived three days ago.
There was an excellent “open letter” put out recently to new Canadians by a new Canadian, talking about resisting the racist narrative of Canada in regards to indigenous peoples, and what responsibility new Canadians have to resist the ongoing colonisation here. Wish I could find it.
Ah, gotcha. Thanks. I don’t know much about this history, so it’s nice to get perspective.
man so I just got back from my grandparents’ place
(it was pretty awesome to just talk in mandarin for like three hours ‘cause I never do that)
my grandma made these pork chops that my brother likes, and she was packing up a couple for me to take home for him
and I was thinking about the whole ~*environmentalism*~ thing
because yes—of course we should conserve resources—of course it’s vital for us to be doing all we can to save our environment
but then I was thinking about how on all those DIY websites and on etsy and in like Real Simple and those other magazines, like—I’ve seen DIY patterns for how to make plastic bag holders and stuff, ‘cause apparently you can reuse plastic bags! what a novel idea!
and then I realized
if you’re white and you take your old t-shirts and make a plastic bag holder to hang in your kitchen, then omfg you’re so environmentally friendly how cool A+ 4u!!! u so hip & trendy omg I wish I could be like you!!!
but if you’re an 82-year-old chinese woman
who pulls a couple of scratched but clean styrofoam plates from the cabinet
and your 82-year-old chinese husband hands you a clean plastic grocery bag from your last shopping trip
and your 21-year-old chinese-american granddaughter slips the pork chops covered in those plates into the plastic bag and ties it off to take home
being cheap-ass asians.
no one’s gonna write up a piece for a magazine about how environmentally friendly you’re being.%www.tumblr.come’s gonna look at the meticulously washed containers (jars from condiments—plastic tubs that used to hold various other foods) and the drawers stuffed full of plastic bags and think, “damn these are some role models for small things you can do around the house to cut down on waste.”
no one’s gonna look at the dinner table and see plates piled high with chicken feet and pig ear and tripe and think, “wow look at that, no part of the animal goes to waste; what role models—if we’re gonna eat meat, we might as well make sure that animal is fully consumed instead of just eating choice cuts and throwing away the rest.”
no one’s gonna see the tiny garden of tomatoes in our backyard, the little apple trees and peach trees that once a year bear fruit that’s not that sweet ‘cause we don’t bother to hardcore garden—no one’s gonna look at that and think, “wow look at that, farming in your own backyard!”
they’re gonna see my aunt and uncle, who have trouble speaking english, who dress in old t-shirts and cheap patterned pants, who take care of the house while my parents are out, and they’re gonna think—
“wow look at these immigrants and their backwater ways”
you know what, we’ve been ~*environmentally friendly*~ our whole lives, and it’s only when we get more and more americanized that we start wasting more. my dad’s recently been developing this giant hard-on for costco, and costco is like—you buy ginormo quantities of everything, ‘cause it’s cheaper, only do you actually ever use that much?
we buy more and we go through electronics faster and all of that because that’s what america’s consumerism has taught us to do.
so you know what—while I may adhere to many principles that environmentally friendly people do (reduce, reuse, recycle, all that good stuff)—I will never identify as environmentalist.
it’s a very white movement. it also like—it gives off imperialist/colonialist vibes to me too, what with people going overseas to ~*preserve the environment*~ elsewhere.
and it’s like—dude if y’all white ppl didn’t have such a boner for environment-destroying industrialization, if y’all white ppl never set that as the standard for ~*progress*~
half these places
wouldn’t even be struggling with their environment in the first place.
and then white ppl are all like ~*oh we have to have renewable energy*~, oh what about biofuel!!
iirc indonesia’s been struggling with its forests and such because people decide to replace the forests with crops that they can grow for ~*environmentally friendly renewable fuel sources*~
“environmentalism” just so often feels like a way for white ppl with extra money to circlejerk themselves into feeling better about the destruction they’ve wreaked.
until you look at my family and see environmentalism instead of cheap-ass asianness
until you look at PoC who ride their bikes to work as environmentalism instead of ~*oh well it’s probably because they have to*~
until you stop being gross about being ~*environmentally friendly*~
I will not identify as environmentalist.
I’m going to attempt to reply without overshadowing anything you’ve said (because I found it 100% right on point esp. with what I’ve seen in the diy/crafts reuse movement); I want to share two photos, and maybe a small story.
[Images: two photos of a collection of shopping bags.]
This is my mom’s bag collection. She has more in my dad’s workroom and in her car. I used to be embarrassed by it when my friends came over, laughing about things like, “omg, your mom is such a bag lady ololo” and I’d just sort of awkwardly stand there… “yeah, sure she is! crazy bag lady, haha”
she’s never bought a plastic bag for any of the garbage cans in the house, nor for the recycling. Her crazy old lady bag collection is precisely for that- to be used later as garbage bags. Sometimes, if she has an exceptionally pretty bag, she’ll use it to hand a gift over to someone, instead of going to Hallmark and shelling over 5 bucks for a decorated paper bag.
My favorite thing is, the shifty looks I’ve gotten from friends and co-workers when I bring lunch in the same styrofoam container, in the same plastic CVS bag that I keep in my desk drawer, drinking tea/coffee from the same plastic cup, and eat with the same disposable utensils for weeks on end (sometimes, I use the same napkin for weeks). Oh, and when I talk about buying things using coupons? OH MAN, THE LOOKS I GET THEN. Hilarious.
I don’t get why all that stuff can’t be considered environmentally friendly either. It’s seen as cheap, or it’s seen as disgusting. In a roundabout way, here’s the story I wanted to tell- several years ago, when I was interviewing my mom about her time living in civil-war-infested Lebanon, she told me the most important thing I think I could have ever learned- “when you have nothing, you learn how to save everything”. You learn how to save oil from cooking and how to clean paper plates. On one hand, the above statement explains why my mom hoards all the free swag she can get (pens, toilet paper, toiletries, napkins, notepads, cups, tea bags, straws), and why she’s reluctant to throw things away. On the other hand, it also explains why she’s been accused of being cheap and tacky. I mean, how dare she reuse shit that you can just throw out, amiright?!?!
When you have nothing, you save everything.
When you have everything, you save nothing.
I grew up using old margarine containers as Tupperware for sending food home with people. No one called that environmentally friendly until white people started doing it too.
The thing that’s gotten me in the solar plexis; is ‘shopping bags’. Everyone these days wants their ‘cloth shopping bags’. Everyone’s so proud to bring their shopping bags to the grocery store. The grocery store will give you a little change back on your bill if you bring your own bags.
I have relatives who’d show up with those peppermint striped shopping bags; and see no point in repacking things in separate plastic bags. And I grew up hearing all this noise about ‘immigrants’ and ‘black people’ and even had those relatives not want me to shop with them, because ‘you’re young, no one needs to see you doing this’. As their way of protecting me from people talking.
From scarification to cloth sanitary napkins to herbal supplements and toothpaste to bags, to sewing your own clothes - NOTHING is ‘good’, until white people do it and focus it through themselves like an effing prism to ‘remove color’.
Dr. Frances Cress-Welsing, author of The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Color and founder of the Cress-Welsing Institute of Psychiatry and Social Research
OMG YOU GAIZ
Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a story of white appropriation.
Just think about it.
Like, she comes in and tries on everyone’s lifestyle, eats their food, takes over their space. When she gets scared off by them she leaves, but after she has had everything she wants.
"A colonized mind is capable of seeing ONLY the options laid out by the coloniser […] a colonised mind is trained to be held within the limits set by the coloniser […] solutions have to come from decolonized minds that can see beyond the confines established and enforced by the coloniser […] often colonised minds will side with the coloniser against decolonized thinking and action, that is what the colonized are trained to do, that is part of the colonisation process"
Debra White Plume dropping some truth bombs (via selchieproductions)
Much like the Sámedikkit.(via dolgematki)
The other day I was working at my coffeeshop and this white hippie woman comes in. She had two short braids and a number of necklaces adorning her neck and chest. She orders a double espresso over ice and as I take her money she says, “You are very beautiful.” I smile and thank her for the compliment but she wasn’t done. “Yeah,” she says, “You are so exotic looking. You have a very exotic beauty. Where are you from?”
It was like a record needle screeching to a halt. I blinked twice. How did this “compliment” start off so lovely and end so disastrously? I give her what she is asking for, if only to get rid of her, “My mother is from Colombia,” I say.
She replies, “Oh yeah. Your people are so magical. They really had it figured out. I went to South America to study with some shamans…”
At this point, it’s all I can do from throwing scalding hot coffee in her face and tell her to go fuck herself.
This is just one example of the objectification and commodification of PoC and non-Western cultures for the easy consumption of white folk. By labeling me “exotic” and calling my people “magical” she was otherizing me and my people. I’m a fucking first generation American, not some noble Native princess. In trying to give me a “compliment” she only succeeded in stripping me of my humanity and reduced me to a caricature. She completely erased all of my struggles, fears, triumphs, hopes and dreams and placed me in this tiny little box so that she could feel comfortable with my brownness. My otherness challenges her whiteness and so she erases my personhood to feel comfortable with me.
The reason for this is because being “exotic” means that you are not natural. My brown skin, full lips and wild hair are all aberrations from the norm. I am not white, so I must be from some mystical, far-flung land. I am not strange or unique. And most importantly, my brownness makes me an object to be consumed by my white counterparts.
And she did this to not only me but also to South America and all of its inhabitiants. Because, you know, we are all magical and different countries/nationalities don’t exist when you are magical!
And she can do this because she has the societal power of whiteness.
I am so tired of being a stranger in a land that, in all honesty, I have more of a right to than these white folk whose ancestors colonized mine. And the worst part is that if I called her out on her racist bullshit, she either would have started crying or get defensive or turn and call me racist! And that is one of the most egregious aspects of white supremacy today; if you call bullshit, the white folk deny that they are complicit in it, and they call you a racist for accusing them of racism! It’s so hard to engage with white folk on their racism because they have been taught to not see it. And so when it’s pointed out to them, all they can do is point it back at the victim. Its a fucking catch-22. You grind your teeth and bear it with silence or you call it out and get your experience erased.
Either way, headaches and heartaches will ensue.
I just read your blog post on this and left some comments…
What the fuck are the comments on this? Like… are they forreal?
Latin American indigenous groups join forces to fight dams
© BBC Brasil
When Brazilian indigenous leader Tashka Yawanawa saw the news on television that communities from Peru were campaigning to prevent the construction of dams close to their land, he had no doubt about how he could help.
He turned on his computer, and using Skype, he contacted indigenous movements involved in the protest to offer both his support and to publicise the cause in Brazil.
“Today, indigenous groups can no longer escape the white man’s technology,” says Mr Yawanawa.
“We have to update ourselves, and prepare to face this new world.”
He belongs to the Yawanawa people, who live in the Brazilian Amazon, an area where indigenous communities have also fought many battles against hydroelectric dams.
He leads an organisation that seeks to build links with similar movements in other Latin American countries so they can learn from each other’s campaigns.
His initiative reflects an unprecedented effort among the region’s indigenous groups, as they join forces to resist major projects which they see as damaging to their territories.
It is part of a growing conflict as governments, seeking what they say is badly needed economic growth, build roads and hydro-electric dams, and exploit natural resources such as oil, copper and gold.
At the same time, indigenous groups say they are fighting to ensure that their traditional way of life is preserved.
Skype is one tool they are using to co-ordinate campaigns, alongside more traditional tactics such as adopting a unified position in international organisations including the UN and the Organisation of American States (OAS).
“We are mapping all the achievements of our fellow indigenous peoples in the continent in order to use their experiences here in Brazil,” says Marcos Apurina from the Co-ordination of Indigenous Organisations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coiab).
“Our problems are almost identical to the native peoples of other countries.”
This approach has been led by large national indigenous organisations and regional movements such as the Co-ordination of Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon Basin (Coica).
Coica operates across national boundaries, helping groups in Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.
Coica’s work also involves organising meetings and workshops to help indigenous communities learn about international conventions, and also tips on lobbying and dealing with people in positions of power.
These gatherings allow indigenous leaders to discuss ways of putting pressure on governments to demarcate their territories.
They also discuss how international bodies can help guarantee indigenous rights or prevent major economic projects from having a detrimental impact.
“We are concerned about the new form of development known as the ‘green economy’. We understand this as an effort to exploit natural resources in indigenous territories,” says Rodrigo de la Cruz from Coica.
Several projects in the Brazil-Peru border region aim to expand the economic and transport integration between the two countries in the coming years.
The Inter-Oceanic Highway, connecting the north-west of Brazil to Peruvian ports on the Pacific coast, was inaugurated in 2011.
According to indigenous movements, this has brought several problems to the region, such as deforestation and illegal mining.
Jaime Corisepa, president of the Native Federation of Madre de Dios River and Tributaries (Fenamad), says that conditions may worsen if other projects go ahead.
One is the planned construction of six hydro-electric dams in Peru to supply the Brazilian market.
Protests forced the Peruvian government to suspend this project and to start a process of local consultation.
Using new technology and holding regional summits are ways to co-ordinate protests, but indigenous campaigners are also building on relationships that existed long before national boundaries and laws were established.
Marcela Vecchione, from the Pro-Indian Commission (CPI) in the Brazilian state of Acre, in Brazil, says that in many areas, indigenous communities are divided by artificial boundaries.
That is the case of the Manchineri people, divided by a border in 1904 when Brazil annexed the state of Acre.
“I often visit my family on the other side of the border. For me, travelling from Peru to Brazil means only crossing a river,” says Geraldo Manchineri.
But thanks to technology, communication across much longer distances has become easier.
Indigenous leaders hope to take advantage of this new way of co-ordinating and gather 1,200 people in Rio de Janeiro this June when world leaders will come together for the Rio+20 meeting.
question to white people: do you really think indigenous people and poc are being “mollycoddled”?
Do you really think we get free money and extra benefits and special rights?
Do you really think we get any breaks that you don’t?
Can you point to ANY instance of this preferential treatment taking place, with sources?
Can you also explain to me HOW and WHY was it preferential and unfair, taking into account all applicable historical and socioeconomical factors?
I’m really, truly, genuinely curious.
Reblogging for relevance.
I’ve been a practicing Pagan for sixteen, almost seventeen years now, and when I say I don’t deal with white Pagans, please add an asterisk that means, “outside of the tiny handful that I personally know and trust who aren’t completely fucking ridiculous”. White Pagan foolishness is 99% of why I’m solitary.
Going into a white Pagan space, even an online one, means dealing with microaggressions just as a baseline assumption. Even moreso than in other white spaces. It means I get stares and furtive glances. It means I undergo constant interrogation. Do you practice vodun? (No.) Santeria then? (No.) What about that one with a Y? (traditional Yoruba ways? No.) Why not? (Because while I give much love and respect to the gods of my ancestors, and have learned about them where I can, I am not called to work with them in this life.) Why do you work with the gods you do work with? (translation: why do you work with white people gods, why don’t you work with those voodoo n***** gods? answer: because these are the gods who called me.) Without fail, this interrogation happens in one form or another every single time I meet a bunch of white Pagans. Even when I tell them off the bat (to head this shit off) I practice a form of eclectic Greco-Egyptian syncretism.
It means I can’t just be there to enjoy the ritual/event/discussion group like everyone else, I have to justify my presence and my credentials on a level white Pagans don’t have to. I’m always assumed to be a newbie/seeker—while some of that is certainly due to the fact that I look very young, I know wtf is up.
Being in a white Pagan space means dealing with people with no fucking concept of white privilege whatsoever. If it’s a warren of fluffbunnies, it means dealing with White Tears if you even mildly call them on bullshit in the nicest tone possible. If it’s a ~srs Paganz~ space, like say, a certain Pagan snark community on LJ, it means basic bitches being basic about fucking everything: privilege, cultural appropriation, etc.
Oh yes, the big C word. Don’t think I wasn’t going to bring that up when discussing white Pagan fuckery. Hipsters in war bonnets have absolutely nothing on these motherfuckers. Hipsters in war bonnets might be racist assholes all the same, but there is nothing quite like religiously-based self-righteousness. White Pagans treat brown people’s religions and traditions like the goddamn value menu at Wendy’s. And not only do they not even give a fuck, most of them don’t even pretend to give a fuck. They’re white, so they have the right to take it and fuck it up (and make money/gain prestige by selling it to other white Pagans), period.
There are more ‘splainers (mansplainers and whitesplainers and generally some gross combo of the two) per capita in white Pagan spaces than I have seen anywhere else in my life, even in other white spaces. If you think I’m exaggerating, go on the Wild Hunt’s comment section some time. And they have no qualms whatsoever about dominating a discussion to the point of driving everyone else away, because goddammit they are White (and usually Male) And They Know Everything. This particular Whiteness pathology is found in spades with Reconstructionists, which is why I avoid their asses even more than regular white Pagans.
White Pagans think that because they belong to a minority religious community, their shit does not stink. In the majority side, it’s like White Liberal Racism x 1000. On the flipside, you get to play Racist Roulette with people like the Norse Pagans—and even when talking to the “non racist” kind, they will generally vomit all kinds of racist dogwhistles to justify themselves. And all of them will cry persecution at the drop of a hat.
Basically, if you want to see every kind of pathological Whiteness on display—everything we talk about and deconstruct as POCs on a daily basis on Tumblr, go observe a group of white Pagans, particularly on the internet. It’s pretty much a petri dish for it.
It is fucking toxic and I refuse to put myself through that voluntarily anymore.
See bolded for the essence white consumer culture, paid for by the ongoing genocide of non-white peoples all over the world. Physical, economical, cultural, spiritual: it is still genocide. For the right to shop.
Kermit the Frog and Philippines President Aquino: What’s the difference?
One is a puppet from the U.S. - The other is a puppet of the U.S.
- white people *arriving in exotical brown people place*: oh dear, look how raw. they arent fucking with everything yet. what a pity. we will teach you, brown savages!
- brown people: no, actually, if it aint broke, dont fix it. we like it this way, thanks, also, we're not fucking savages. gtfoh. asap.
- white people: i like it here. its mine now. you will learn our advanced ways of tinkering w nature and being a selfish, individualist fuck, also, you will have to die en masse, hope you dont mind!
- brown people: dsjf;fko;iyuiouihgjkdfhgjfghjhdgfhjgsdfg
- white people: look how marvelous things are now that we've been here for a few years. oh wait, everything around you and about you is fucked now? it was for the greater good.
- brown people: dkjfkdhfgjkhdkghffadshgfsgdgfhfgfjgfjgjhg
- white people: oh fuck. everythings fucked. we need a more "green" approach. how fucking genius are we for figuring this shit out?
- brown people: :|
- white people: see, arent you glad we colonized you so we could create all this technology that scientifically proves, if it aint broke, dont fix it?
- brown people: :|
This monument in Georgetown, Guyana commemorates the Berbice Slave Uprising of 1763-1764, and features Cuffy, the movement’s leader. The area was a colony of the Netherlands at the time.
ON SPIRITUAL SYNCRETISM AND CULTURAL APPROPRIATION
My my, what gems we find! TW for pro-appropriation attitude, white privilege, white ethnocentricism and colossal amounts of Not Getting It.
I’ve received a lot of anonymous flames lately about the cultural appropriation visible on this blog. It was even suggested that I read this badly argued post and “educate myself”.
Poor you! So mean of them!
Right. Some people seem to feel that my appropriation of different spiritualities and cultures into my own brand of syncretism is inherently inappropriate, insensitive, and oppressive. I, of course, disagree.
‘Cause it’s all about you.
Appropriation is essential to my spirituality, which I like to call syncretic witchcraft. I think that appropriation is a healthy spiritual activity, and like to encourage people to think for themselves rather than to consume any religious dogma simply because it was written down as such. To have an ideological problem with appropriation is to have an ideological problem with syncretism, and so I found the topic relevant enough to make one (ONE only) post about.
Okay, I’m not educated enough about syncretism but you honestly have NO flippin’ idea about what cultural appropriation is, and what it isn’t. But you know, it’s your prerogative to stay ignorant, white as you are.
This blog is not about identity politics, it is about witchcraft and spirituality. I don’t want this blog to be a place of argumentation and propagation of hatred, I would like it to be a place of respectful discussion and acceptance .
“I’m not racist, but…”
To me, that is what syncretic spiritualities embody. I find it interesting that a lot of blogs that deal in identity politics and appropriation of culture ignore the spiritual aspect of cultural appropriation, and how spirituality was and is often a syncretic creation. I refuse to use spiritual oppression and massacres of the past as any part of my argument.
Yet later on you drag up how you’re a witch and how you’re totes not privileged because of that. You make no sense.
Around 100,000 individuals (mostly women) suspected of being witches were killed in the Burning Times. Being a witch today does carry a stigma, and at the same time many fashion blogs espouse the witchy aesthetic as trendy. I do find this a tad ironic, but I refuse to hold hatred within my heart. Live and let live. The past is the past - let us acknowledge it, learn from it, and move forward.
“Tragic! I’m so happy that’s all in the past, and people aren’t being denied their spiritualities any more… Except for when they are, but I don’t care.”
The problem is not cultural appropriation. The problem is when dominant cultures demonize and dehumanize the people that are being subjected to oppression, and do everything they can to illustrate why these cultures are inferior and wrong.
Like you do! With your context-free appropriation of an indigenous scholar’s words to police indigenous people. You’re so open-minded!
It’s also problematic when cultural appropriation is done in a way that is wildly insensitive to the cultural concerns of an approrpiated culture. Cultural appropriation is not inherently an insensitive or harmful thing, and believing so is not a reasonable and nuanced view. Our lived reality is fluid and porous.
Using terms without knowing what they actually mean seems to be a bit of a pattern with you.
We live in a highly networked, highly industrialized world, and not everything is necessarily going to be just and perfect and when things are appropriated not everyone is going to respect it, but people can respect things and use them.
And who gets to define “respect”? The appropriators, of course!
It’s impossible not to appropriate anything from any other cultures - we drink tea, we smoke ciagrettes, we use rubber products and plastic products. our entire society is full of appropriation and cultural conversation.
The world you’re looking for is colonization. I can see how you’d confuse it with “conversation”, though. They both begin with “co”.
It’s impossible to say, “I will avoid all forms of cultural appropriation, ever, amen” and to actually succeed in doing so. Furthermore, why would anyone desire such an existence? The richness in our world lies in experiencing its beautiful diversity.
…Which cultural appropriation neatly destroys. Thanks for the sentiment, tho.
The idea that we can’t cross cultures or change cultures (culture is, of course, a social construction, not an inarguable biological truth) reeks of essentialization, which reduces all of us to a core essence. Third wave feminism in particular is very much against this - we are just as much products of our own sensitivities as we are a product of our own biologies.
So when white feminists say something, it must be true and applicable everywhere in every way! Cool! I can even use it to back up a totally unrelated argument ‘cause it sounds sooo cool and universal!
Suggesting that the only appropriate way to engage with spirituality is to look to our own ethnic heritages and cultures falls back on the same conventions that underpin racism, sexism, segregation, and other forms of oppression and essentialism.
Again, those words may not mean what you think they mean.
Viewing all cultural appropriation as being harmful is an essentialization of what we consider to be ‘other cultures,’ as well as other cultures’ essentialization of themselves.
What are you smoking?
Regardless of how it needlessly polarizes people from one another, this essentialization is at most a capitalist critique which argues that putting culture through a machine and decontextualizing it causes it to lose its essential meaning.
Through systems of production and reproduction, cultural objects become meaningless (this harkens back to the work of Adorno, Horkheimer, and Benjamin). Our cut-and-paste society is all about decontextualization. We bring new meanings to things every day. Yes, privledged people can use things and aspects of culture, but people without privledge do so as well.
Your atrocious spelling aside, someone else doing offensive shit already doesn’t excuse anybody or anything.
Non-privledged people are always taking different things and using them, and finding new ways to use them and make them their own - as we all should. Saying that you can’t incorporate anything from another culture into your life and suggesting that you can only appreciate it from a distance is presenting a false choice. It’s false to say that you can never come close to something because if you do you’re somehow in the territory of completely disrespecting culture. That idea in itself is very flawed, because many people are very happy to share their culture and stories with others.
It’s okay when people actually share their stuff. It’s called consent. Taking something without permission? Nope.
All of this doesn’t mean that people can’t have opinions about your appropriation or use of their culture. We should all listen to critiques and ask people why they’re upset.
Except for you, because it’s awful to be asked to educate oneself and so you’re not going to.
Do they think you don’t truly understand it, or are they of the opinion that engaging with other cultures in a meaningful way in general is wrong? There is an assumption that people enjoy other cultures because it is “aesthetically cool,” and an assumption that all consumers of other cultures are ignorant of context. We all pick and choose from different cultures to make our own, because our world is so globalized.
This is where we get down to the most basic problem. Who do you think this twit means by “we”? Context, baby. Context. It means, among other things, that you open your eyes and understand not everyone else is a white middle-class European/American.
The idea that somehow cultures aren’t going to bleed into each other and mix, or that they shouldn’t, is ridiculous. There are so many things in our world that came from traditional ways of life. Our present society is a result of the mixing processes of hundreds of thousands of years.
No, it’s constructed within the last few hundred years on top of colonialism, genocide, white supremacy, misogyny, heterosexism and cissexism. Among others.
Cultures come and go; they mix and create new cultures. Culture is constantly changing. If we essentialize an essential “indianness” or an essential “blackness” or an essential “whiteness” we only reinforce those boundaries that separate us rather than realizing that we’re all human and that we can respect each others’ cultures, and learn from them, and come together.
“I don’t see race! I’m SOOO not racist!”
It’s totally anti-colonialist to want to understand and interact with and be a part of native groups and cultures. With that comes the responsibility of understanding their current struggles and their history - why are they where they are today? Where are they going and how do you fit into that?
OH THE LOLS
The key thing in all of this is wanting to engage in dialogue, and not reacting defensively. We should all always be willing to learn more about different cultures, and being sensitive to people when they voice their concerns.
Except for when they tell you to piss off and educate yourself and maybe keep your hands off stuff that doesn’t belong to you. That’s when you can just stop listening and hum Kumbayah.
Culture is important, and that’s why it’s meaningful.
Rain is water, and that’s why it’s wet.
It’s important to understand that you do have privledge, but at the end of the day it’s about coming together, and not trying to separate people from each other. If you want to build a broad movement for social justice and change, you don’t build it on hatred and anger - you do it through dialogue, discussion, and empathy.
Help! Quick! Hide your “fucks”, here comes the tone police!
People have the right to be upset, but it’s not constructive because being upset only drives people to be more and more defensive.
Why r u meen u maek me cryyyy
If you want people to get more angry and reified in their beliefs, just keep attacking them, and they’ll get more defensive and angry and act hurt - because they are being hurt.
Kinda like the natives when you don a war bonnet. Except not at all, because you’re defending the perpetuation of GENOCIDE.
I’m always willing to accept history, but I’m not going to blame myself for the sins of my fathers. It’s important to acknowledge history and try to fix it, and create movements and discourse that moves us away from old colonialisms and the new ones that we perpetuate.
Great! Now stop being an appropriative colourblind racist and we can all get along!
There are certain cultural sensitivities to take into consideration, and it’s important to be sensitive to other people, but culture is not that simple. You can’t reduce everything to appropriation by white colonialists, because that’s not the case.
“Not when it’s me doing it. Because I’m speshul and have respect.”
There are all sorts of struggles - for women’s rights, struggles against racism, sexism, and homophobia. They’re all connected, which is what Donna Haraway argues. Her idea of the cyborg suggests that we can’t all be the same, we can’t all hope to agree on everything. We can’t ever hope to have one direct goal, but we can at least come together in our differences and fight for equality in our disparate ways, because the hope for a unified broad movement that agrees on everything 100% is just not going to happen. If people don’t want to engage in subtlety and nuance, you aren’t going to find your way of convincing anyone that what you’re talking about is meaningful. It’s just communication. Change and awareness is created through dialogue and discussion.
Thing is, though, we tried subtlety and nuance. Didn’t help. Never does. You seem to have missed the memo.
It’s too bad that I and others have to mention the ways in which we are marginalized and/or educted to garner any feeling of respect or equal treatment from many proponents of identity politics. For instance, in this post I recently replied to about veganism being only for people of privilege, I got an apology from someone I was engaging in dialogue with - only after I mentioned the many ways I am not as privleged as she assumed I was.
How touching! Except, how is this even relevant?
I’m white, sure, but I’m also female, bisexual, a witch, health compromised, vegan, and certainly not the richest chick on the planet.
Are we doing Oppression Olympics now or what?
In order to avoid being bitch-slapped by anons about the cultural and spiritual appropriation on my blog and in my life, I shouldn’t have to explain that I have read hundreds of books on alternative spiritualities and done extensive research on different cultures.
You don’t need to explain that stuff. All you gotta do is stop being a racist appropriative asshole.
I shouldn’t have to explain that I’ve read 20+ books on shamanism and that the only native-influenced products I own were handmade by various native peoples themselves. My ideologies and arguments should be enough, because this isn’t about me and it’s not about you. It’s about ideas and engaging in a respectful dialogue, regardless of who’s on the other side - and stepping forward to create a better world, together.
“I’m gonna keep being an entitled asshole. So there!”
Protip: If you have to tag your posts with “I am sick of people assuming that I am a fucking idiot”, check your signal: chances are good the fault’s in the transmitter, not the receiver.
Motherfucker must be tripping. Seriously.