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Don't Dip Your Pen In Someone Else's Blood

Discussion in 'Research' started by A. E. Lowan, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

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    This article reeks like the stillbirth sophist abomination that it is.

    First if we look at the basic premise of the article we see its racism and flawed logic for what it is. The article starts with the distinct subject of white people writing from the perspective of the "other" (I assume a minority person/group). It gives examples of such, noting in particular the book "The Help" and along with Halloween costumes to show how white people appropriate the cultures of the "others." It babbles on in two nice short paragraphs to hit the buzz words, of privilege and stereotype. Then it goes on to show a sob tale about a child in foster care loosing their meager/insignificant belonging after years in the system. The article then contrasts that with an illegal immigrant loosing their identity through such cultural appropriation the way the foster child lost their identity after spending years in the foster system complete with a jab at trump. The underlying implication, the premise, being that white people have a moral duty to save the "other" by not appropriating culture, having the correct motivations, and my favorite "Are we the best person to say it."

    This article at its heart was born dead.
    This article infantilizes every minority group to nothing more than a stereotype that is so weak and fragile that they need special care and attention, racism anyone. It's against racism by being racist, against stereotypes by stereotyping, its illogical, and based on flawed world veiw and distorted historical extrapolations. Funny how that same white savior mentality is what got "The Help" condemned and yet is what this very article espouses. No matter what the author looses.

    It is nothing more than the racism of our modern age. It is a sad day when a book is judged not on its content but by the color of the author.

    "judge them not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Let’s all remember to keep the discussion on the civil footing that has prevailed thus far. Insulting language isn’t necessary and does not serve the discussion.

    Thank you!
     
    Devor and A. E. Lowan like this.
  3. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Got to it before I did. Thank you. :)
     
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  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    ascaniusascanius, as Steerpike mentioned, please let's not be hostile.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not on board with everything in the article. But I do think the article is espousing the exact opposite of "white savior" mentality. It's more like the article is saying, "stop portraying our cultures for us and let us do it for ourselves." And I think it's a strong point.

    But of course we write fantasy, so it's a lot more murky than, say, historical fiction. I want to mention Avatar, the Last Airbender, as a good example here. It's a masterpiece, but it's also written by white guys portraying cultures based on Asian nationalities, and the characters are distinctly western, and modern, in their personalities and behaviors. It builds wonderful characters and doesn't fall into any stereotypes, but it's not really a genuine portrayal of any Asian culture and of course, doesn't pretend to be. To me it calls into question some of these stricter arguments.

    As a writer - not a gatekeeper making decisions that change the industry - I can only focus on my own attitude, and trying to do right by my story and by a hopefully diverse readership, without being held responsible for trying to fix the trends of the industry.

    I wish more articles would address writers from that perspective - I'm a white male writer, what are some simple things I can do without telling me what to write or not write - instead of the usual criticism.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  5. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

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    Hold on, I didn't insult anyone, nor did I swear, heck I didn't even reply to a post. Nor was I hostile to anyone, if it came off that way it was not my intention, except the article yes I was hostile towards the article, I really didn't like it, if its that ok, I can tone it down.

    Oh yes, it does say, "stop portraying our cultures....." But I have a question. Why? Why write this? Why should white people stop? if we look at the article paragraph 4 there are mentions of cultural appropriation, and dominant cultures, minority, power imbalance etc. Now in all these cases and examples it portrays minorities as a single unified group that lack the power that whites are portrayed as having. Those are the reasons given why whites should stop. That's the problem. If we follow the logic we have to agree with the arguments given are that minorities don't have power, whites must "stop"..Why? so minorities can also have power. It makes it entirely dependent of whites doing something "stopping" for minorities to gain power. This is where you get the white savior, it's an unintentional outcome of the articles logic, otherwise why ask "stop." What prevents minorities from already doing this? Why is it necessary to stop? And why only whites? I can understand crappy writing, inaccurate facts, etc...And I think we all agree. however the underlying logic and arguments of this article I find very disturbing. And I have a huge problem with the stereotype that the individuals in a minority group are dependent of white people, because in the end that's the basic assumption made about minority groups.

    Basically if we ask the question 'why should white people stop?' the only answer that makes sense in the context of the article is about power, it's the only way for minorities to get ahead. Even the argument, its appropriating another culture is dependent on power, where whites have power and minorities don't all the while making assumptions about people based solely on skin color, again in the context of this article.

    This is all without even getting into the correlation equals causation foundations of the arguments for cultural appropriation, power dynamics and all the rest,

    See that's part of the problem with the article, the example given of "The Help" was condemned and criticized for the simple fact that the author was white, white savior, and the other reasons given in the article. From my understanding the book was celebrated as a great book until attention was brought to the authors race. You could just as easily make the same accusations about the Last Airbender and according the the ideas of cultural appropriation, power imbalance, etc... the Last Airbender is guilty of cultural appropriation white savior and the rest. Now because it is fantasy it does have a lot more leeway but I fear this will not last, and we are already seeing that in fiction, movies, tv and other pop culture.

    That I get and no argument.

    I disagree, race should have no bearing on anything, were taking a physical trait that has no meaning and giving it a power over what people do, its not good. How can we achieve equality if we don't start treating all people as equals.

    Look, I know I come of very strong on this but it's kinda personal for me.
     
  6. joshua mcdermott

    joshua mcdermott Troubadour

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    this is not an easy topic- and it may not be fit for this forum really.. I also may have offended some in my posts but its not a bad thing to have very diverse dialogue...I also disagree very strongly with many other posts but I but I fully support all views being expressed even if they are not ones I support. That's really the whole point.

    I would say its a good idea, if you can, to speak from your own experience. Connect why you feel a certain way to how you have experienced the world. This really helps everyone understand your viewpoint - and also grounds it in a place that is not offensive as its wholly yours. Many posts have done so and I respect that- and hope others respect my - perhaps strong- personal beliefs on the matter even if they disagree with the content.

    My belief is pretty simple: There is no cosmic equality equation: we need to, if we believe in it, make it ourselves. Getting there is hard, and has many aspects which most of us will be wrong about parts for. But most of us will also be right for parts- so listen to everyone and try to figure it out!
     
  7. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I have to admit, I'm curious as to why, now.
     
  8. Lancasrer

    Lancasrer Closed Account

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    if you read older writings such as early lovecraft you see some racist overtones
     
  9. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Minstrel

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    Having finally managed to read the whole thread (I hate being dyslexic!) I'll add my view...

    Kit de Waal is arguing against what she sees as cultural appropriation, and she's doing it on the basis that the publishing industry she knows (the western one) is dominated by whites. So the article comes across as a critique of the white majority. But when you read the definition of cultural appropriation that she quotes you realise that the issue is rather bigger than just publishing in the west. What happens in those countries where other cultures are dominant? For example, China, Turkey, Japan? Are they also guilty of cultural appropriation when they write about other groups or take elements from other cultures in their writings?

    The other question that Kit de Wall skirts over is when taking something from another country or culture stops being cultural appropriation and becomes part of your own culture. Food is an interesting one. Take the Swedish dish "kåldolmar". It was adopted about three hundred years ago from similar dishes from what is now Turkey, as were other similar dishes in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. In the Turkic countries the dish is made from beef (sometimes lamb), wrapped in vine leaves, served with rice and usually some form of yoghurt. But kåldolmar are made from a mixture of beef and pork (often mostly pork), wrapped in cabbage leaves, served with potatoes or bread and a brown cream based sauce. Is it still a Turkic dish? Hardly, the pork alone disqualifies it. Does that make it Swedish? Similar arguments can be applied to music and to literature.

    Kit de Waal writes "If we want to have black characters in our work, we need to ensure that they are fully rounded, viable, flawed, sometimes unlikable but believable and authentic people, not representative of a whole culture but representative of themselves.". Well, pardon me, but isn't that the basis of all good writing? That we have rounded characters, representative of themselves. As writers we should be doing the research and character development needed for that, as she writes in the article.

    Her argument really boils down to a plea that groups who are underrepresented in western literature should be encouraged. I have no problem with that.

    But, what I find a little disturbing is that many others take Kit de Waals arguments much further and argue that only certain groups should be able to write or comment about those groups. In some cases it goes as far as saying that those who don't agree should be "de-platformed". And when we get to that point it's only a small step to burning books we don't like and then imprisoning those who don't agree with us. As Martin Niemöller wrote:

    "First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak out because I was a Protestant.
    Then they came for Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
    Then they came for me - and there was no-one left to speak out for me."
     
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