Cultural Appropriation Vs. Cultural Appreciation

usatsi_7351186_153192880_lowres-e1419218738748I’ve often wondered about the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. I have a deep love and appreciation for things from other cultures, especially historical artifacts and designs (my inner archaeologist does a happy dance lol). I love being surrounded by textiles and art from around the world, it moves me deeply and makes me very happy. I love supporting native artists and having a home that visually reflects the diversity of my heart. But not all ethnic items are appropriate to wear or decorate with.

So which are ok for outsiders to use and which aren’t? What counts as cultural exchange and what is adopting another culture’s icons without their ok? It’s a grey area, but here’s what I personally think:

If the people from that ethnic culture aren’t happy about how those items or styles are being used, then we shouldn’t use them.

Listen to the people who created the styles or symbols. Are they ok with us using them? Were they exploited so we could have them in our homes, do they represent us conquering them? Do they have the power to say no to us using them? What’s the context of use, respect and honoring their heritage and culture, or belittling it as a Halloween costume or “edgy trend”? Did we buy that plastic Native headdress to honor them, or to look cool? Probably the latter. And it’s just not worth it.

photos for poster

photos for poster

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It sounds complicated, and we’re all going to mess up at times, but the important thing is that we’re actively thinking about it and are open to changing if someone points out that we’re appropriating their culture.

I recently discovered that the term gypsy is incredibly offensive to the Romani people, it’s a derogatory term others gave to them. I no longer use that term and I don’t purchase artwork or items that say gypsy on it anymore. Native Americans have often spoken out about their Chieftain headdresses being used as costumes, and black people are upset when their ethnic hairstyles are copied by white people who don’t have to deal with the stigma that normally comes with those hairstyles. Ethnic styles are often used as a sexual fetish instead of being simply appreciated.

I tend to gravitate towards fair trade items, since the native people are gaining revenue from the sales and they’re ok with selling us these goods. I try to avoid replicas of things that have current religious significance to people, such as statues of gods or Native spiritual symbols that I don’t understand or have respect for. Not everything that is beautiful should be taken for ourselves… sometimes it’s best to admire it from a respectful distance.

This article had some great things to say about cultural appropriation and how grey of an area it can be.

https://unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/cultural-appreciation-or-cultural-appropriation/

Are you taking the side of the oppressor without realizing it?

Many anti-gay Christians think they’re being kind and loving to LGBTQ people because they’re not physically beating them up or calling them fags like Westboro does. But social oppression is about much more than just physically oppressing us or calling us a few specific names- and you’re probably contributing to our oppression even while praising yourself for being so “tolerant”. Here are a few things to consider.

When you stand by while others are oppressed and demeaned and bullied, you’re taking the side of the oppressors. They think that no one will stand up to them, that other people in their faith accept their treatment of us, and it tells us that we’re not worth defending. Multiple times I’ve been bullied by believers, and my “friends” would defend the bully instead of me just because the bully shares their beliefs and I don’t. But hurtful behavior is hurtful regardless of the beliefs behind it.

When you tell the oppressed that their struggles “aren’t that bad”, that they “shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it”, you’re taking the side of the oppressors. You’re also telling the oppressed that our stories and pain aren’t believable or important to you. Instead of listening to us, you are telling us how bad our pain is even though you have no first hand knowledge of it- and when we tell you that you’re incorrect, you get defensive. Bottom line: We’re telling you about our pain and you won’t believe us. That’s what an oppressive society does: It pretends that the pain they cause minority groups doesn’t exist so the oppressors never have to change. 

When we point out that you’re one of the people causing us pain through your actions or attitudes or words you use to describe us, and you get defensive and call us “bullies” or “too sensitive”, you’re taking the side of the oppressors. We all make mistakes- are you compassionate and humble enough to admit when you’ve made mistakes? Can you learn from them and refrain from causing us more pain in the future? Just because you’re not calling us “fags” doesn’t mean you’re not using words and phrases that demean and belittle us. Not sure what those are? Ask us! Or look it up! Many of us write blogs about this issue all the time.

When you tell us that our oppression is acceptable or even necessary because you believe we are “sinning”, you are taking one of the most oppressive stands of all. You’re telling us that it’s ok for us to suffer because of your religion, even if we did not consent to live by the rules of your religion. Our freedom of choice does not matter to you. Our right to live in peace and without persecution does not matter to you. Our right to follow our OWN beliefs does not matter to you.

Yes-I-am-a-Christian-I-believe-the-bible

Memes like the one to the left are supposed to sound loving and non-oppressive because they say they love us and won’t let anyone bully us. But it’s all very shallow.

“Name calling” and “stereotyping” is what we’re usually accused of when we point out that you’re still causing us immense pain and social oppression- we’re essentially called bullies for calling you out on how you’re treating a marginalized, mistreated minority. We can’t say anything about the negative way you treat us without being accused of having bad attitudes or being mean- even though your camp has been putting us down and restricting our rights for generations.

You say you’re not judging us, and yet in this meme you are:

Demeaning and belittling our loving unions by calling it “homosexual marriage”. Why the quotes? It’s clear that you don’t even accept this as a real thing, even though it’s very real and important to us and it’s now 100% legal. Your disgust and refusal to accept our relationships is crystal clear, and it’s not remotely loving. How would your black friends feel if you posted this meme with the words “interracial marriage” instead of “homosexual marriage”? Would they feel loved and accepted by you? Probably not.

Also, our sexual orientations are not up for debate in whether or not you support it- it’s a core part of who we are, just as yours is. Do I support your sexual orientation? I don’t demean it, I respect your right to live it even if I’m not straight myself, I don’t support laws that would restrict your right to live out your sexual orientation, so yes I do support it. So why won’t you do the same for me? You can support my basic human rights even if you think it’s sinful, just as you do with divorce and many other things that the Bible condemns but we allow in society. Supporting me as a non-heterosexual person doesn’t mean you’re condoning sin, it just means you acknowledge that not everyone is the same as you and that’s ok. 

You still won’t support our right to choose for ourselves or to be ourselves. You don’t have to agree with someone to support them and their choices. I don’t agree with your religion, but I support you as a person and I’ll always support your right to go to church even if I hate what they’re preaching. And I certainly wouldn’t imply that your religion isn’t real or valid just because I strongly disagree with it. You won’t support me as a non-hetereosexual person at ALL, even when my basic human rights are being denied and it’s causing me pain- but I’d better support you, or I’ll get accused of stereotyping and name calling and attacking your religious right to persecute me.

Do not diminish our struggles. Don’t patronize us and tell us that this is just about us “having different opinions” because it’s not. You are treating us like second class citizens, and then getting upset when we tell you that it isn’t enough- that being second class people is not ok with us. We’re ALL equal, we ALL deserve legal and social equality. And when you treat us like second class citizens and then call yourself our friends or say you love us- well, don’t be surprised if we don’t believe you, or when we get upset at the hypocrisy. With friends like these, who needs enemies, right? If our friends and loved ones won’t even support our right to be treated equally and fairly, socially and legally, what do you think we deal with from our enemies? Let that sink in for a moment.

And this is what we deal with. Every. Single. Day. And you wonder why some of us have short fuses. We have these very unloving friends that we must either put up with and try to coexist with even as they contribute to our social and legal oppression, or we remove them from our lives and get accused of being intolerant of someone else’s beliefs because we can’t stand seeing them claim to love us even as they hurt us over and over again. We can’t win!

‘Great Precaution Not To Offend A Minister’: Couple Denied Marriage Explains Why They Chose A Judge (link)

“We took great precaution not to offend a minister — that’s why we went to a judge to get married, never dreaming that he couldn’t follow the law,” Wilson told WTOL. “That he wouldn’t follow the law.”

“To go through that experience when it’s not pleasant and singles you out at a time in your life when you’re celebrating the fact that you have the same right as everyone else, it’s just not good. I don’t want anyone else to go through it,” she added.

But of course, the religious right will never be satisfied. Most same-sex couples who want to marry aren’t asking clergy members they don’t know to marry them, to avoid awkward situations and out of respect for their religious beliefs.

But taxpayer employees of the state have, as written above, a legal duty and sworn oath to do their jobs, “faithfully and impartially.”

How much more are same-sex couples supposed to do to appease anti-gay activists and “Christians”?

What more does the religious right want?

http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbadash/_great_precaution_not_to_offend_a_minister_couple_denied_marriage_explains_why_they_chose_a_judge

So what more can we do? This couple specifically didn’t go to a church in order to not offend any clergy, and they were STILL faced with a religious person who refused to marry them, even though it was literally his job to do so.

This is the next stage of the LGBTQ movement for equality- making sure that state officials actually obey the law. State officials are NOT entitled to refuse service to anyone because of their personal beliefs- they are obligated to represent the law, not themselves, even when they personally disagree with the law. Any government official that cannot represent the law consistently should find a new profession, since they’re unable to fulfill their most basic duties which they swear to uphold.

Government Officials Already Fighting to Discriminate Against Same Sex Couples

Church-and-State

https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/memo-to-state-officials-you-have-no-right-to-discriminate

This action is necessary for two reasons: One, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley have deliberately confused the issue by asserting county clerks may have a “religious freedom” right to refuse to service to some couples and two, some clerks have in fact turned away same-sex couples.

Many of us had hoped that, in the wake of the high court’s ruling, recalcitrant state and local officials would do the mature thing, accept reality and move on. After some initial defiance, that appeared to be the case. In Alabama, probate judges who didn’t want to issue licenses to same-sex couples gave up after Americans United and its allies threatened further legal action.

It’s now obvious that some government officials will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into compliance with the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality.

County clerks are already trying to get out of issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, despite the law now allowing it. It’s caused humiliation, unfair delays, and it’s just plain wrong. They’ve even called the police on peaceful gay/lesbian couples just asking for a marriage license, which the law says they’re completely entitled to now. It’s like they see us as criminals for daring to ask a government employee to actually do their job.

It’s not the place of a government official to judge a marriage application that is legal under the law. Their job is to carry out the law, not carry out their personal opinions. Their personal views of the marriages they service are utterly irrelevant in this context; they could inwardly disapprove of every single one and still do their job. Racist clerks still have to do their job or they get fired. It’s no different denying an interracial couple than a same sex couple- they’re both legal and the clerk is not entitled to refuse either of them government service due to personal belief or prejudice.

Discrimination is not a religious freedom in public places of business or government service. These are our shared public spaces that must be accessible equally by all citizens. People can, however, discriminate all day in their homes, churches, private property, etc if they wish.

Please Stop Using Our Rainbows to Bash Obama.

http://www.ijreview.com/2015/06/354769-social-media-explodes-obama-gives-white-house-makeover-honor-gay-marriage-ruling/

hqdefaultIt’s really frustrating to see people using our rainbow displays as an excuse to bash Obama. Can’t you just let us enjoy the fact that we’re finally being treated like human beings in the U.S. without making this all about you?

For us, the rainbow display on the White House means that FINALLY the U.S. is actually showing Liberty and Justice for All- not just for anti-gay Americans. Finally we have an Independence Day that we can actually feel like celebrating because it doesn’t feel like a giant lie. That Rainbow White House is the most patriotic thing Obama could have done this year- he’s given people like me a huge step towards freedom from tyranny and oppression, and that’s the heart of American patriotism isn’t it? Unless, of course, you’re on the side that views our personal freedom of choice as an attack on your religious views. I suppose those people would have a lot in common with the white people who hated Lincoln for freeing the slaves… black people being free certainly did infringe on their religious belief that they were justified in owning other human beings and treating them differently because of their skin color.

Please find another way to express your disgust of our nation’s president besides taking advantage of our symbols of hope and self acceptance to promote your hate of our nation’s leader, which is pretty damn unpatriotic in itself. (And as a bonus, if you are a Christian, the Bible says that God puts everyone in authority and you’re supposed to obey them. I’m not sure how demonizing and ridiculing our president lines up with Romans 13.)

5 Things Cis People Can Actually Do For Trans People (Now That You Care About Us)

lillyblack82888:

Good stuff. We have a long ways to go for transgender equality- here are some ways we can help along the way.

Originally posted on The (Trans)cendental Tourist:

It’s been a weird year for trans people.

Allow me to be more specific: It’s been a heated, daring, tumultuous, graphic, specularizing, aggressive, pointed,contentious, highlyfatal, and really, really complicated year for trans people.

Here are a few examples: Kristina Gomez Reinwald, Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard, and many othertranswomen of color have been brutally murdered at the hands of lovers, family members, and strangers.Meanwhile,Laverne Cox and Janet Mock have come to fame and exhibited incrediblefeats of grace, articulation, and poignancy under the gaze ofan eager media. Blake Brockington, Leelah Alcorn, Taylor Alesana, and many other transgender youth have committed suicide afterenduring endless bullying and systematic brutality. Meanwhile, Jazz Jennings became the new face of Clean & Clear and published a children’s picture book about her life, and teen trans couple Arin Andrews and KatieHill (best known for “Can You Even Believe They’re Trans?!” types of headlines) wrote and published individual books…

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When the Hateful Accuse Us of Hatefulness (link)

I almost cried reading this article. We’re allowed to be angry. We’re allowed to share our anger and our stories about the hurt we’ve endured and still endure. We’re allowed to point out oppressive attitudes and actions when we see it. We’re allowed to express our anger and hurt even if it makes our oppressors uncomfortable. After all, their momentary discomfort at our expressions of joy and pain is nothing compared to the generations of oppression they have inflicted and still inflict upon us.

Just because we won this single battle doesn’t mean the fight for equality is over, nor does it erase the unimaginable harm they’ve done to us in the name of “love”. We’re allowed to make sure that our immense struggles are not forgotten or toned down to make our oppressors feel better about themselves. It is not hateful for us to show them how they’ve hurt us, to make them aware of the damage they’ve caused and are still causing. It is not hateful for us to be angry at the terrible way we’ve been treated, or to celebrate a victory over their oppression of us. It is not hateful to recover from oppression and live our lives in ways that our oppressors dislike. 

Although I personally don’t agree with the term “fundagelical” to describe anti-gay Christians (I find it unnecessarily abrasive and would personally use another term), after how I’ve been treated and my LGBTQ friends have been treated and countless generations of LGBTQ people have been treated, I think a strongly worded article in reply is more than justified.

But I’m not going to play nice here: the Christians opposing LGBTQ rights have rivers of blood flowing down their hands.

Every single demand that we shut up, give them “respect” (again, meaning: silence and an allowance to keep acting as if they won rather than lost), and stop being “hateful” is being made while they peek at us through bloody fingers. Their hands are so close to their faces that they can’t even see the blood streaming down their wrists.

They have turned their gazes away from the lives they have destroyed, the children they have murdered and abandoned, the bullying they have done, or the constant stream of filthy smears they have made against a marginalized group–marginalized, remember, because of their hateful pseudo-love–that never actually posed a threat to anything of theirs. They can’t see any of that. When this information gets shared with them, they try to silence the messenger–because the message runs so contrary to their crafted and curated self-image. Their emotional paychecks depend on seeing themselves as the “good guys”: the embattled paladins of truth and justice fighting against a monstrous and agelessly-evil enemy. The truth would destroy that image of themselves they hold so dear–and would put into question all the other false ideas they hold. But all of this is their problem and not ours.

Until they wash their hands and get cleaned up, they have no right at all to try to shut anyone up for pointing out their error. We however have every right to talk about that error, and we will continue to do so.

We are not being hateful, and we will not be shamed into silence by those culture-warrior Christians feeling stung over their loss.***

We are not being hateful, any more than they were ever being loving.

Read the whole article here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/excommunications/2015/07/when-the-hateful-accuse-us-of-hatefulness/#sthash.C3pGWfEH.dpuf