|wMay 30, 2007|
Mostly useless thoughts on Cultural Appropriation Revisited, parts 1 and 2
Cultural Appropriation Revisited Part One
Politics, Race, Class, and Religion•Senate B• Saturday, 2:30-3:45 p.m.
As part of an ongoing discussion of the issue of cultural appropriation, this year's panel will address what is perhaps the most controversial, and certainly the most discussed, aspect of cultural appropriation in fiction: the use or exploitation of cultures across racial, ethnic, or national lines. Writers and activists who concern themselves in their work with issues of dominant and marginal cultures will discuss the use in narrative of markers and artifacts of cultures that are not the authors' own. Should this be done at all? Where do the limits fall? How is it well done and how poorly done? Sponsored by the Carl Brandon Society.
M: Candra Gill, M. J. Hardman, Yoon Ha Lee, Nnedi Nkemdili Okorafor-Mbahu, Victor Jason Raymond
First of all, I highly recommend you read up on what happened last year, at Wiscon 30. To my knowledge, rilina has compiled the most complete list of posts that have been referred to as a "blog war." Essentially, the same panel was present at Wiscon last year, but instead of focusing on the prescribed topic, it declined into a conversation about white people and their guilt. Her link roundup is here, and she was even kind enough to put everything in chronological order.
Before I write my notes on the panels, I will say that I am white and don't have a lot of experience talking about race with others. If I say something that pisses you off, please tell me. I promise that I won't accuse you of being racist (wtf), deny the fact that white culture exists, or tell you that you're imagining things. Seriously. Tell me.
I don't have anything to say about this panel that hasn't already been said.
There is also a fairly elaborate transcript here.
You should also read oyceter's writeup.
Mindscape, Andrea Harrison
Cultural Appropriation Revisited Part Two: Facilitated Discussion
Politics, Race, Class, and Religion•Senate B• Saturday, 4:00-5:15 p.m.
The panel on cultural appropriation at WisCon last year raised issues that were hotly discussed online, and the panel that this forum follows is likely to do the same. This open forum is meant to give you the chance to explore these issues and how they matter to you. Through passionate discussion we can improve our awareness and find the common understanding that lies beneath our disagreements. The open forum will be facilitated by Alan Bostick, who has been practicing Worldwork since 2003. Worldwork is a process-oriented approach to group facilitation and conflict developed by psychologist Arnold Mindell (author of Sitting in the Fire and The Deep Democracy of Open Forums) and collaborators. Attendees are strongly urged to also attend the immediately preceding panel discussion on cultural appropriation.
M: Alan Bostick
I was a little skeptical about the "process-oriented approach to group facilitation and conflict," but I thought that Bostick was a good moderator in terms of getting people to say what they meant, and clarifying issues for both the speaker and the group as a whole. I don't feel like he lead the conversation in any direction in particular, but rather helped people to not dissolve into screaming matches.
I was disappointed that so many people left after Part 1, and didn't stay for Part 2. I know it's a Con, people had places to be, and these things happen - but still.
And really, looking at my notes, I didn't take many. I'm sorry. It was just a weird, uncomfortable conversation. I am going to cop out and say that for details on the panel, read oyceter's excellent write up of Part Two.
I will, however, take the opportunity to write about the one situation that upset me the most. I think I got positioned to dislike the comments made by this particular audience member because they were constantly interrupting others and offering comments that weren't really helpful to the issue at hand. But the one that took the cake was the one that cropped up in the following situation:
A woman who was black said that she and her husband, who is Jewish, have a son. The woman (whose name was Rosalyn, I think; I later attended a reading at midnight, and her prose and plot ideas are amazing!) said that she has told her son that despite his "mixed" background, the world perceives him as a black man; she tells him this so that he will understand why others act toward him the way they do. The audience member told the woman that her son needs to know that he is an individual, should accept himself, and that nothing anyone else thinks of him is important, and that all he can do is be himself.
I guess that sounds great rhetorically (not eloquent, but you get what I mean), except that what you think of yourself is not all that matters. Another audience member instantly brought attention to this fact: that it's great to accept yourself except that it does matter what people identify "black man" with when those people are police officers, etc. Encouraging people of color to just "accept themselves" is extremely unhelpful, in my opinion. I don't think that most people of color have a problem with being a person a color. The problem is that society has a prejudice related to how people look. Racism is an institution, and it does affect daily life in many ways. It affects who gets hired for jobs; it affects who gets arrested and who gets let off on the exact same charges; it affects who people avoid when they're walking down the sidewalk. Racism is real, and closing your eyes and focusing on how much you love yourself, however much that is, doesn't make the racism go away.
I don't know. It was just that comment in particular that made me think "WTF" the most.
"Writing the Other" - Nisi Shawl
The Color of Water
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack - Peggy McIntosh
How Not to be Insane When Accused of Racism (A Guide for White People)10:28 PM
Forgive me for not reading the write-ups the other people gave, I just don't have the energy right now. I started to skim but...yeah.
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