A few days ago Elizabeth Bear put up a post about cultural appropriation and writing the other. Post gets many comments, some by the usual cultfans and some by folks thoughtfully engaging in the topic. One particular exchange lead to this Open Letter. That open letter led to another post by Bear. That post led to some number of comments in which the words “overreaction” and “over sensitivity” were uttered, with predictable results. (It’s not on the bingo card for nothing, folks.) Further discussion here. More as I find them. Because this will unfold, and rapidly, and it is guaranteed to piss me off.
Looks like the time for discussing Cultural Appropriation is uh…. now. Check the ABW this evening.
7 thoughts on “We Don’t Need Bears But We Got ‘Em Anyway”
If you “can’t know what it’s like to be black,” don’t make statements like “if I were black instead of (insert mental illness/possible autism) I would be treated BETTER than I am now.” You acknowledge that it’s impossible for you to be oppressed in the way Black people are, and yet you dismiss racism because you believe that your experience with mental illness and autism affects you more. (Did you know that there are Black people with autism and depression too? Shocker.) You are NOT affected by racism in the way that Black people are. Period. That doesn’t make your oppression for autism and depression any less. But it does mean that there are many DIFFERENT experiences of oppression. Learn the difference.
Second, it’s highly pretentious to go around telling people how to deal with their oppression. “Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not a person.” A+ Commentary! Seriously tho, all that means is that if racists say something shitty, it’s Black peoples’ requirement to MAKE them see that they’re people too. There’s no reason to expect that of any person of color–they don’t exist just to stand up for themselves. What you said is a silencing tactic–it makes sure that YOU aren’t the racist (because if you were someone would tell you!!!!1! so obviously you’re not)–and it puts the weight of racism on POC’s shoulders. And if some are gracious enough to school us, we can ignore their experience easily. “Don’t let anyone oppress you” says that THEY are responsible for solving their own problems and educating everyone. But white people? Nah, we don’t know we’re hurting people! So obviously it’s ok for us to keep doing so. If no one teaches us, racism is obviously just a pesky power play. A race card. We’re not responsible for acknowledging our own racism and hurt of other people. Nah.
And all African-Americans were raised in the ghetto, have natural rhythm, and speak Ebonics with a Brooklynese accent.
Pull the other leg, I’m tired of walking with a tilt.
I know oppression. I know oppression because I’ve been oppressed. And oppressed because of what I am. Here’s some news for you, I can’t pass. The fact I am not normal comes through, and sooner than you think. I have clinical depression, and I may be autistic. I can fake normality, but all too soon my other comes through. More than you can appreciate I know what it means to be treated poorly because of what I am, and there are more of us out there than you know.
The problem here really is that you’re not special. You get dumped on because of what you are, which sucks big time. But guess what slappy, your people are part of a huge fraternity. Welcome to the club.
Write about people. Write about people as individuals. Write about the world, the culture they live in from their point of view. The way they see things won’t necessarily be how others see the same things. Other people see things you don’t. Other people miss things you don’t. A Cheyenne may see insult where a Kiowa does not. In the long run how the reader sees the world in your story depends on what he knows, and you’re not going to change it.
Most important thing of all? Never assume that the other is trying to control you, or shape you as they wish you to be. I can think of an ursine who makes that mistake, and it reflects badly upon her.
White, black, red, yellow, brown, raven with blue highlights (Trobiand Islanders, they are -dark-, oy!), in the end you’re talking about people.
Alan I don’t even have the energy to dissect everything that’s wrong with your comment. instead, I’m going to bed.
Don’t let anybody tell you you’re not a person. That was my point. Don’t let anybody tell you that no one who isn’t of your gender, race, or nationality cannot empathize or even sympathize with your situation. That is a part of my point. Insofar as you have been treated poorly or well because of your gender, race, or nationality, you are not unique.
That said, don’t tell me my mental illness does not present me with difficulties much like those you face because you are black, and a woman. I. Can’t. Pass. I can’t pass for normal, sooner or later people will notice my oddities, my malfunctions. Online is one thing, face to face tells you so much more. That is a fact I have to live with. Because I am mentally ill I am discounted, judged a waste of breath. My opinions are discounted, my desires denied. People either can not, or will not, understand that I am profoundly disabled.
Tempest, if I were black instead of clinically depressed and possibly autistic I would be treated better than I am now. And, yes, I have talked with blacks about being discriminated against.
For that is the biggest thing you need to know about me, I listen and I understand. I can’t know what it’s like to be black, but you can’t know what it’s like to be insane.
::gah:: *Now* you tell me you’re working on something for ABW. Well, the post I put up earlier isn’t anything much anyway. (Not related to this whole shindig at all; it’s irked me too much already.)
I want a cookie for not going off about this, because… seriously? AGAIN?
Two more posts (if you’re compiling them):
Deepad’s post (http://deepad.livejournal.com/29656.html) is linked from two of the ones you’ve already mentioned (and is also a response to Bear’s first post)
And Gnomicutterance’s post (http://gnomicutterance.livejournal.com/31654.html) addresses some of the related issues she encounters as a reviewer.
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