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Haddayr Copley-Woods [userpic]

On cultural appropriation, apathy, and the whole mess

January 26th, 2009 (03:13 pm)

I haven't spoken up on this whole mess for a few reasons:

1. I thought enough white people were speaking up, many of whom had more intelligent things to say than I would.
2. I was heartsick.
3. So much of what I had to say was "me, too!" And there's already a TON to read out there.

But then I read Tempest's and other's posts and they sorta broke my heart and so I feel I must speak up. But I will be very brief.

Two things I wish white people would keep in mind during these discussions/ arguments/ knock-down-drag-outs:

  1. We are, especially in fandom, an overwhelming sea of whiteness. We are everywhere. We vastly outnumber POC. This is very, very important to keep in mind. Have you ever been in a situation where you were so outnumbered? Many white people haven't, at least not racially. In other ways, maybe? Do you remember what it felt like?
  2. You are white, and pretending otherwise is pretty horrible. It's incredibly dismissive of the experience of POC. I don't care if your great-great grandma was Cherokee (why is it always Cherokee?). I don't care if you were a horribly outcast nerd or raised by wolves or use a wheelchair or were really poor. You were, in all of these cases, a WHITE poverty-stricken outcast nerd in a wheelchair who was raised by wolves. Acknowledge who you are. Do not deny.

Sincerely,
The Whitest Honkey this side of Crackertown you bet your bippy

Comments

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Posted by: Jam (jamiam)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)

Thank you, H. What you said.

-a fat-ass nerdy and yet very middle class suburban white chick who can't even use slang properly.

Edited at 2009-01-26 09:38 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Samantha Henderson (samhenderson)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)

Yeah, I feel pretty much the same way.

I find it kind of embarassing that my great (or great-great) grandmother was, in fact, a Cherokee, because that's what everybody says, in't it? At least she wasn't an Indian Princess.

And that I'm mixed race on both sides means very little: I am white as white can be with a (middle class)white experience. I feel this is a time for me to listen.

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Samantha Henderson (samhenderson)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC)

Posted by: miep (miep)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC)

hear hear.
-- miep, who is so white, she didnt even notice until college *cringe*

Posted by: bug brains (ignusfaatus)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)

word, Cracker.

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)

:-)

Posted by: DebW (deborahw37)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
applause bendy1

*Applause*

Someone on my F list summed it up with her response to all of those "Oh I'm discriminated against too because I'm Gay/female/disabled/ poor/ such and such a religion/ whatever"

"It.Is.Not.The Same!"


Whitey Mc Whiteperson here with privilege out the wazoo.

Edited at 2009-01-26 09:40 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Jessie (orbitalmechanic)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)

Do you watch Stephen Colbert? On inauguration night, I think, he had a tearful monologue that went something like this: "I love that old man! [Rev. Lowery] He's so...authentic! Why can't I be black? Isn't there something I could do? Some kind of...makeup I could put on? [gesturbes toward face] What's that? I'm being told no? That would be a career-ending move? Even talking about this is a bad idea? Okay."

I nearly posted that as my total contribution but then realized it might come off too flippant. Still I feel like it might be a good model for, you know, how to shut up.

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC)

Just because a critique is humorous doesn't mean it isn't deadly serious or have anything to say.

Part of why my favorite Weird Al song is "Too White and Nerdy" is because it gets at the heart of a certain type of wistful white experience that drives a LOT of these sorts of comments, I think.

Posted by: Kathryn (kathrynt)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Michael Merriam (mmerriam)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)

I figured the smartest thing I could do was shut my white male mouth and really listen to what all the POC are saying.

Posted by: Calluna V. (callunav)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
Calluna4

Cherokee Nation accepts 1/8 heritage as viable for membership in the tribe. Many/most other tribes only accept 1/4 or even 1/2.

The Wampanoag, I believe, accept 1/32, which is the superficial reason behind a lot of really nasty bitchery among other tribes about them. However, you never hear "My great grandmother was Wampanoag" because by and large the interracial marriages of the Wampanoag have historically been with African Americans, not with McWhites.

Also, yes.

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)

Cherokee Nation accepts 1/8 heritage as viable for membership in the tribe.

Which is why I picked great-great; I THINK I did the math right.

Posted by: Jam (jamiam)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Calluna V. (callunav)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)

Posted by: Diatryma (diatryma)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)

Posted by: les cheveux trempés dans du miel et de caramel (delux_vivens)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Maerhys (maerhys)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Maerhys (maerhys)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)

Posted by: kellyhul (kellyhul)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)

Besides my daughter and husband, you really are the whitest person I know, come to think of it.

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC)

Can your daughter and husband demonstrate three DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT Irish folk dances and explain the history behind four? No?

I AM WHITER.

Posted by: kellyhul (kellyhul)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Persephone's Garden (sal_e_peters)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Persephone's Garden (sal_e_peters)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 05:16 pm (UTC)

Posted by: David Moles (scarypudding)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)

Posted by: David Moles (scarypudding)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Chris (silaren)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)

I'm not "white", I'm Irish-German. :-) (OK, admittedly that's about as white as one gets without being albino...)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)

You are being tongue-in-cheek, but this is a topic for another post I want to make sometime. White people created the category "white" out of a bunch of disparate ethnic groups and populations to show "we get all the stuff and the brown people don't."

There is tremendous economic, ethnic, cultural, and regional diversity amongst this group (I'm not even getting into gender, queerness, or disability) as it's an artificial designation made by haves to keep out have-nots. Even so, it is artificial yet very real: it has benefitted us enormously and continues to benefit us. Pretending otherwise is insulting to folks who actually experience racism every single day.

(Also, word: I'm partially Irish and partially German among other things and whatever you say about us we make EXCELLENT BEER.)

Posted by: susansugarspun (susansugarspun)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)

Posted by: susansugarspun (susansugarspun)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)

Posted by: David Moles (scarypudding)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)

Posted by: That Chick with the Evil Laugh (sparkymonster)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Chris (silaren)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Comfort me with Apples (tanaise)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Chris (silaren)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)

Posted by: That Chick with the Evil Laugh (sparkymonster)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)

Posted by: Chris (silaren)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 12:43 am (UTC)

Posted by: That Chick with the Evil Laugh (sparkymonster)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)

Posted by: Chris (silaren)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 12:50 am (UTC)

Posted by: Chris (silaren)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC)
At the risk of spamming haddayr's LJ ...

Posted by: That Chick with the Evil Laugh (sparkymonster)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC)
Re: At the risk of spamming haddayr's LJ ...

Posted by: Chris (silaren)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
Re: At the risk of spamming haddayr's LJ ...

Posted by: Chris (silaren)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 12:47 am (UTC)

Posted by: Electra (starlady38)
Posted at: January 30th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Ithiliana (ithiliana)
Posted at: January 30th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Julia (skogkatt)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)

Word. This is why I have been staying out of it. Reading, but not responding at all. Now is a good time to listen.

Posted by: diseased_inside (diseased_inside)
Posted at: January 26th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)

Yes. And yes again thank you.

Posted by: I'm nobody! Who are you? (capriuni)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)

Thank you for this.

And yes, #2 is something I am reminded of every time I meet up with a POC who is also a nerd, in a wheelchair, who's a woman, because as soon as I do, I'm reminded that our shared experiences go only so far.

May I share this post with spiralsheep? She is a nerdy fandom member who is part of the POC minority, and she's got a running campaign on her LJ of trying to teach white people basic manners, and in a recent post, there's a thread asking "Why is it always Cherokee?".

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)

Share with anyone!

Posted by: josocelcolin (josocelcolin)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 01:03 am (UTC)
That Cherokee thing

So, the reason so many white people claim Cherokee ancestry is two-fold. First, it's a relatively easy set of tribal nations (there are, I believe, three) to become a member of. If memory serves (and this is coming from a Lumbee prof, mind you, so it's not entirely objective information), the Eastern Band actually did away with blood quantum in favor of much looser membership requirements. Not sure if that's still the case. Second, the Cherokee were one of the most thoroughly "assimilated" tribes by the mid-1800's, meaning that claiming Cherokee ancestry got you a legal claim to land without most of the problems that came along with being, say, Dakota or Mohawk.

Yeah, you finally convinced me to register just to comment on your blog. Maith thu!:P

-the whitest hispanic you know

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
Re: That Cherokee thing

There you go, Colin, ruining a perfectly good snarky comment!! Grrrrr.

(You aren't the whitest Hispanic I know, though. Hmmm. Maybe. You're neck-and-neck.)

Posted by: josocelcolin (josocelcolin)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
Re: That Cherokee thing

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 02:32 am (UTC)
Re: That Cherokee thing

Posted by: josocelcolin (josocelcolin)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
Re: That Cherokee thing

Posted by: silk_noir (silk_noir)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
Re: That Cherokee thing

Posted by: dsmoen (dsmoen)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)

I'm so white no one makes make-up my color.

I could give Edward Cullen a run for whiteness.

I'm so white I actually stick out as being WHITE.

And, yes, there have been times I've been made very aware of being my particular hue, as I'm visibly Irish and the Irish are not universally loved. (While I'm not a set dancer, I do know WAY too much Turlough O'Carolan, so there.)

That said, I get your point, and I'm half relieved I'll never have the chance to use the 1/8 Cherokee excuse....

Edited at 2009-01-27 01:06 am (UTC)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
clanntartan

No one makes makeup in my color, either!

WE ARE OPPRESSED

Posted by: dsmoen (dsmoen)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)

Posted by: Comfort me with Apples (tanaise)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:24 am (UTC)

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:32 am (UTC)

Posted by: dsmoen (dsmoen)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC)

Posted by: dsmoen (dsmoen)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)

I spent one semester as a racial minority while studying abroad in South Asia. The weirdest thing: at some point, my subconscious switched over to consider Nepalis as the default. Brown skin, brown eyes, and black hair: this was how a human being looked, and variants from the norm were funny-looking. When I looked into a mirror, I looked utterly freakish to myself; on some level, I expected to see a Nepali.

The really important things, though:

1. When you've grown up white in the U.S., the experience of being a racial minority offers an interesting and valuable perspective.
2. That experience is NOTHING like being a person of color in the U.S.

Posted by: silk_noir (silk_noir)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)

Well, actually, isn't brown the default for human beings?

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:13 am (UTC)

Posted by: Liz Williams (lizw)
Posted at: January 30th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Bree (xray_spex)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
Thoughtful

I'm a white American, and where I live I AM the racial minority. Check the demographics of Phoenix/Mesa Arizona sometime. Though I have to admit that it doesn't make me less privileged.

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)

Though I have to admit that it doesn't make me less privileged.

That's what I'm talking about, here. Acknowledging who you are and what that means.

Posted by: Warrior of Worry (warriorofworry)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)

What you said. And what Naomi said.

When I moved to Hawaii, I definitely was in a racial minority. And in the circles I was lucky enough to hang in, a "ha'ole" ('without breath', i.e. one who worships without joy is one translation)was viewed with suspicion and sometimes contempt.

Posted by: Rose Fox (rosefox)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 07:15 am (UTC)

Fully agreed.

Posted by: Carina (carina_s)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 08:17 am (UTC)

I've experienced what it's like to be the only ____ (white person, hearing person, english speaking person, etc) in the room and it is intimidating, and eye opening, and wow, uncomfortable.

Posted by: Carina (carina_s)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 08:18 am (UTC)

Can you link to Tempest's post?

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)

Actually, there were a few, and Beth has linked to several of them all in one place here:

http://beth-bernobich.livejournal.com/256217.html

Posted by: Haddayr Copley-Woods (haddayr)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC)

Posted by: beth_bernobich (beth_bernobich)
Posted at: January 31st, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Humph (spiralsheep)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 11:13 am (UTC)
Here via capriuni
spiralsheep Raven Logo

Great post. I admire your conciseness.

Posted by: geniusofevil (geniusofevil)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)

frickin whitey

Posted by: les cheveux trempés dans du miel et de caramel (delux_vivens)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)

You were, in all of these cases, a WHITE poverty-stricken outcast nerd in a wheelchair who was raised by wolves.

lol! so well put.

Posted by: Persephone's Garden (sal_e_peters)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
Now for the serious response
pine

I am ever a person who sees more than two sides to a situation. I also tend to be handicapped by often being able to see the other person's point. I am also handicapped by not having read the post to which you refer.

Where I agree whole-heartedly, is that folks should not be trying to minimizing the experience of others' discrimination, but trying to compare our experience. We really have no idea. Taking on the role of victim, also does us no favors. Why would we want to identify as a victim? Wouldn't we want our basis to be much more than that? The universe is vast and endless, and why would we choose to allow our own limits to be set by others?

Even though I am old enough to have experienced being turned down for a job on the basis of my gender (during a time when employers didn't need hide the fact), I looked at it as an opportunity to do a greater search for my career/path. Why would I want to work for them? I don't feel particularly deprived in having missed out on inter-school sports. I do wonder that younger women don't seem to be aware how far we have come in such a short time. I'm only slightly younger than the female doctor who was taught in her anatomy class that a woman's brain is only slightly bigger than a goose's brain, just big enough for love.

Our energies should be applied to trying to understand the view of others who don't experience the *great experiment" as we white folk are able to, and to search ourselves for the seeds of bigotry. We would want that living inside of us! Perhaps some day we may all look forward for our destiny, rather than behind.


Posted by: badgerbag (badgerbag)
Posted at: January 27th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)

Wait... what is a bippy?!

Posted by: David Moles (scarypudding)
Posted at: January 28th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)

dictionary.com says: "an unspecified part of the anatomy".

106 Read Comments
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