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In defence of cultural appropriation

Dave the Gnome 13 Oct 15 - 10:56 AM
Will Fly 13 Oct 15 - 11:08 AM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 15 - 11:31 AM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 15 - 11:32 AM
Jack Campin 13 Oct 15 - 12:48 PM
Manitas_at_home 13 Oct 15 - 01:13 PM
Dave the Gnome 13 Oct 15 - 01:15 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 15 - 01:45 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 15 - 01:47 PM
Dave the Gnome 13 Oct 15 - 01:58 PM
Dave the Gnome 13 Oct 15 - 02:01 PM
Steve Gardham 13 Oct 15 - 02:37 PM
wysiwyg 13 Oct 15 - 02:53 PM
Dave the Gnome 13 Oct 15 - 04:10 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 15 - 04:56 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 15 - 04:59 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 15 - 05:01 PM
Steve Gardham 13 Oct 15 - 05:01 PM
Dave the Gnome 13 Oct 15 - 05:03 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 15 - 05:04 PM
Mo the caller 14 Oct 15 - 04:27 AM
GUEST 14 Oct 15 - 04:49 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 Oct 15 - 06:19 AM
Jack Campin 14 Oct 15 - 09:15 AM
wysiwyg 14 Oct 15 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,HiLo 14 Oct 15 - 09:30 AM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Oct 15 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,# 14 Oct 15 - 10:31 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 Oct 15 - 03:37 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Oct 15 - 04:22 PM
wysiwyg 14 Oct 15 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Hi lo 14 Oct 15 - 07:59 PM
Richard Bridge 14 Oct 15 - 10:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Oct 15 - 10:37 PM
wysiwyg 15 Oct 15 - 07:08 AM
wysiwyg 15 Oct 15 - 07:22 AM
GUEST 15 Oct 15 - 01:47 PM
Jack Campin 15 Oct 15 - 02:06 PM
GUEST,# 15 Oct 15 - 02:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Oct 15 - 09:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Oct 15 - 09:10 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Oct 15 - 09:59 PM
GUEST 16 Oct 15 - 02:14 AM
theleveller 16 Oct 15 - 04:19 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 16 Oct 15 - 07:48 AM
wysiwyg 16 Oct 15 - 07:49 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Oct 15 - 08:25 AM
wysiwyg 18 Oct 15 - 08:18 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Oct 15 - 08:32 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Oct 15 - 08:34 PM
Jeri 18 Oct 15 - 08:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Oct 15 - 09:03 PM
GUEST,# 18 Oct 15 - 09:12 PM
Richard Bridge 19 Oct 15 - 12:34 AM
theleveller 19 Oct 15 - 03:54 AM
Richard Bridge 19 Oct 15 - 08:36 AM
Mo the caller 19 Oct 15 - 01:49 PM
Jack Campin 19 Oct 15 - 04:06 PM
Richard Bridge 19 Oct 15 - 06:35 PM
wysiwyg 19 Oct 15 - 07:37 PM
Richard Bridge 19 Oct 15 - 09:01 PM
CupOfTea 19 Oct 15 - 10:15 PM
GUEST,Peakers 19 Oct 15 - 11:28 PM
Richard Bridge 20 Oct 15 - 12:21 AM
GUEST,Peakers 20 Oct 15 - 12:30 AM
theleveller 20 Oct 15 - 05:07 AM
Richard Bridge 20 Oct 15 - 06:38 AM
wysiwyg 20 Oct 15 - 06:08 PM
Jack Campin 20 Oct 15 - 07:45 PM
Richard Bridge 20 Oct 15 - 10:10 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Oct 15 - 07:22 AM
GUEST 21 Oct 15 - 08:11 AM
Richard Bridge 21 Oct 15 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,21 Oct 15 - 08:11 AM 21 Oct 15 - 11:56 AM
wysiwyg 21 Oct 15 - 03:06 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Oct 15 - 04:49 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Oct 15 - 04:59 PM
GUEST,cultural mutt 21 Oct 15 - 06:08 PM
GUEST,21 Oct 15 - 08:11 AM 21 Oct 15 - 06:10 PM
Jack Campin 21 Oct 15 - 06:55 PM
Richard Bridge 22 Oct 15 - 10:47 AM
Richard Bridge 22 Oct 15 - 10:49 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Oct 15 - 10:59 AM
Jeri 22 Oct 15 - 11:22 AM
wysiwyg 22 Oct 15 - 04:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Oct 15 - 09:58 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 16 - 10:39 AM
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Subject: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 10:56 AM

Interesting article in The New Statesman

Only flicked through myself but, from what I read, I generally agree with the authors leanings. I will read it in more depth later but I thought I would post it here in advance.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 11:08 AM

Interesting stuff, Dave, with some relevance to how we all choose and make our music.

I wonder what the black New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian guys think about it all! Cultural appropriation on an exuberant and wondrous scale!


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 11:31 AM

It seems partly to be about musical appropriation - so probably does belong above the line. But a lot of it is about matters of appearance and matters of cultural significance, the misuse (usually merely through ignorance) of culturally significant symbols.

I have started to canvass the issues with my G/F (who is Yoruba).

To my mind it is odd that there are a bunch of twerps like the racist historian who object to the fact, as he put it, that the English are becoming black. What he really meant was that England was seeing some increase in behaviour similar to that of certain sections of Jamaican urban ghettoes.

Then of course there are people like me who object to the Americanisation of English culture, seeing it as a form of colonialism - while I always liked the Rolling Stones.

The current objections, I think, are in part merely as petty as the childish accusation of "copycat". But in part they are more serious. Not only does much cultural appropriation undermine the cultural identities of those systematically exploited in the past (and now and so exploited again) but it risks corrupting the meaning of aspects of historically rooted cultural behaviour. Tribal tattoos that represent important rites of passage in societies are stolen for mere decoration - and their meanings may be lost. Mind you I don't suppose that the cultural ivory anklets worn by some African women to indicate that they have successfully borne ten children will become as popular.

But on the other hand traditional-minded Afrikans have much for which to thank the African diaspora. For example a considerable amount of the learning of traditional Afrikan belief systems has returned to Africa from the diaspora - albeit in some cases modified and given a syncretic form.

To my mind more important is that African-Americans must surely be free to reflect the cultural symbols of their ancestors (even if I will never enthuse about animal sacrifice in African belief systems). With what cultural history should they associate if not that?

At the moment I am not clear whether I approve or disapprove in general - but I am clear that if one wishes to reference a set of cultural beliefs one should be careful not to distort them, and know what one is doing. This seems to me sometimes to get lost.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 11:32 AM

PS - if a mod is aware of Azizi's contact details it might be helpful to have her input.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 12:48 PM

Hack journalist with 2000 words to fill succeeds in stringing together enough platitudes. This needs to go viral, does it?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 01:13 PM

So me wearing a Nehru jacket or Fairisle sweater is cultural appropriation? or is the line drawn elsewhere?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 01:15 PM

Not quite, Jack. Yo Zushi is a folk(ish) singer songwriter who also happens to write for the New Statesman. Not everyone's cup of tea but I am a bit of a fan of fusion music and I was aware of him by name so I was interested in what he had to say. Hope you will look him up yourself and make your own mind up.

Back to the thread. I have now reread the article and accept the criticism levelled by Richard could be valid. As a musician I thought he could have said more about the music but the principle still stands for dress and other cultural items. I think he is quite right in saying this type of appropriation is not theft but it does have to be treated sensitively. It is far from the mimicking acts of black face minstrelsy but it can be seen as disrespectful of other cultures. Conversely, had it not been, for instance, Paul Simon, who would know Ladysmith?

Tough call. Interesting topic.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 01:45 PM

I think the writer of the New Statesman of the piece is not the originator of the discussion, whose name I cannot recall but who is I think Nigerian-British although I do not know his place of residence. The issue is quite a sensitive one for many Afrikans and many African-Americans. I don't know about issues here for Hispanics.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 01:47 PM

PS - surely everyone knows about the relief of Ladysmith? And Mafeking?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 01:58 PM

Not sure what you mean, Richard. The piece is ascribed to You Zushi. As in, right at the top, it says "By Yo Zushi". Am I missing something?

And sorry, but I can't tell if you are joking about Ladysmith or not but for the benefit of those who may not have got my shorthand I did mean Ladysmith Black Mambazo who featured on Paul Simon's 'Graceland' album. Maybe they would have become world famous without that but we will never know!


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 02:01 PM

Yo Zushi (Damn spilling chucker. I spotted Sushi but missed you!)


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 02:37 PM

Cultural appropriation...cultural appreciation... a fine line runs between.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 02:53 PM

Azizi is not the only person here who has informed thoughts on this subject, and it is not fair to treat her as "the Black voice." People are responsible for learning their own stuff about this and any other aspect of Systemic Racism.

Cultural approriation that is wrong is when a member of a privileged group, which benefits from society's denying an oppressed group's access to commercial opportunities, performs/displays an item from that oppressed group's culture without giving credit (ideally, royalties) to the peeson or people who created it.

An example of this is white women doing their hair in cornrows, which is a Black beauty choice with roots in African tribal identifiers. The white woman who does this is usually clueless about the actual lives of Black folks she lives nearby, or about how the system unfairly makes daily life nearly impossible and often fatal.

Typically, when someone calls out an inappropriate reference to another's culture, the result is angry defensiveness; the choice being shown there is to continue to remain unaware of the damage being done.

So a way to look at what is 'appropriate' is, does the person respond to an interruption of their behavior with, "Oh. I didn't know that. I'm sorry. Thank you for telling me."


So how does this article look, from that view?

~S~


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 04:10 PM

I think it covers that base, Susan. What do you think?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 04:56 PM

The article is a defence of cultural appropriation so plainly Yo Zushi is not the originator of the furore.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 04:59 PM

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_appropriation


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 05:01 PM

http://racerelations.about.com/od/diversitymatters/fl/What-Is-Cultural-Appropriation-and-Why-Is-It-Wrong.htm


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 05:01 PM

Another way to look at this is 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. Just another view.

The opposite side of the coin is those people who insist on sharing their culture, in fact often stating their culture is superior to others. Religion is often the culprit here.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 05:03 PM

Ah - Got it. Thanks, Richard.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 05:04 PM

The current row appears to have been kicked off by Zipporah Gene, according to the article here - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/is-it-cultural-appropriation-when-africans-wear-jordans_56099b3be4b0768126fea24d


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Mo the caller
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 04:27 AM

"Azizi is not the only person here who has informed thoughts on this subject, and it is not fair to treat her as "the Black voice." People are responsible for learning their own stuff about this and any other aspect of Systemic Racism"

Maybe not the only Black Voice. But she presents in a way that really sheds a light that someone like me, brought up in a very white environment (UK before the surge in immigration) can understand. She says what certain words feel like to her, not the same as they might be intended by the speaker.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 04:49 AM

The link given by Richard Bridge makes more sense to me than all the others given above. The examples are commercial rather than innocent adoption of something because it is admired.

Most off the other links, especially the one in the OP, seem more like the chattering classes jumping on a bandwaggon.

In the UK it is fairly common for traditional performers visiting from overseas to run workshops teaching folks who are interested something about their musical styles. What's the harm in that ? Are we bad people to go along ?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 06:19 AM

Not sure what you mean, Guest? How can a performer from a different ethnic background from the one he currently resides in be more like 'the chattering classes'. Surely Yo Zushi has a very real voice to add to this discussion. Or am I missing something (else!)


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 09:15 AM

Yo Zushi, from what I can see on the web, is simply part of the southern English indie/nu-folk/alt-country scene. The fact that he has Japanese parents isn't in any way relevant to his cultural milieu or his contributions to it.

In any case, that article was vapid. The one Richard linked to was more substantial, if not exactly news.

I don't see much difference between Black Americans adopting the symbolism of African culture without understanding it and North Americans with Scottish surnames (or childhood emigres with names like "Blair") presuming to speak for Scotland and telling us how our country ought to run itself. Zipporah Gene had a good point.

However: the illustrations in her articles seem a bit misleading. Those bright patterned African dress fabrics are not all of African origin - many of them were produced by the British textile industry for export, and if they were designed with African preferences in mind, the design process must have been collaborative between African and British artists. So it doesn't seem right that Africans not involved in their creation get sole intellectual rights to them and get to say how they're used. (Ditto most Scottish tartans - created by the Sobieskis for the pan-British wool textile industry. Fortunately the Scottish clan-heritage biz's claim to be the arbiters of rightness in all things tartan is now a barely remembered thing of the past).


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 09:25 AM

The whole point boils down to the nuances around these terms:

Cultural Diffusion
Cultural Appreciation
Cultural Appropriation

Privilege is where it gets sticky. Cultural appropriation is always wrong. If a situation is CALLED that but is actually one of the former terms, then no worries.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 09:30 AM

I think this whole cultural appropriation thing may be a red herring. The world really is a small place and cultures are constantly meeting and adapting, melding and re-emerging. I cannot imagine anything these days that belongs exclusively to one ethnic or cultural group, I may be way off the mark on this. However, I do believe that we are moving closer and closer to a multicultural world and that we are all the better for it. Or, have I missed something ?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 09:54 AM

Not much anyone can do about it anyway. It's always happened, it always will happen. Typically most of the culturally specific stuff involved turns out to have come from some other culture anyway, a few generations back. Masai herders wearing Scottish tartans. Irish songbooks full of songs assumed to be Irish, imported from England, and likely enough only there because they'd come from Ireland... Curry.

If we just had the stuff originating in our culture we'd have very little - and in fact the culture itself wouldn't exist.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,#
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 10:31 AM

Next thing ya know someone will copyright humming.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 03:37 PM

So, all in all, the opinion is that it is neither a good piece nor a good topic. Ah well, can't get everything right :-) I'll try again later!


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 04:22 PM

Nothing wrong with the topic. It's just not wise to generalise. Each piece of appropriation/appreciation/imitation, call it what you will, needs looking at carefully before labelling it, and condemning/praising it. And each case will usually have positives and negatives.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 04:35 PM

Hilo, what you are describing is cultural diffusion. Read my first post above to see where problems occur.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,Hi lo
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 07:59 PM

I read your first post. I disagree, respectfully, I don't see why you are splitting hairs.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 10:37 PM

I think it is a very worthwhile topic.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Oct 15 - 10:37 PM

I found the distinction between appropriation and diffusion made by WysiwyG a bit hard to grasp. Using a song or a style of performing without giving any credit or explanation, I understand is something to criticise. But copying hair styles, even when they may have symbolic meanings originally, strikes me as very much cultural diffusion.

And you can't stop it, even when it's insensitive. Catholics Rosary Beads, Muslim prayer mats, Jewish prayer shawls, Hindu forehead marking, all religious items which turn up being used by people who have no idea of what they might mean. Can't be stopped, short of bringing in the likes of the Taliban.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 15 Oct 15 - 07:08 AM

Cultural Diffusion is a term used in history and anthropology that is easily Googled.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 15 Oct 15 - 07:22 AM

Cultural Diffusion example (quotig a wiki artricle): Cultural diffusion was an important role for different Native American tribes. For example, the practice of agriculture is widely believed to have diffused from somewhere in the Middle East to all of Eurasia, less than 10,000 years ago, having been adopted by many pre-existing cultures. Other established examples of diffusion include the spread of the war chariot and iron smelting in ancient times, and the use of cars and Western business suits in the 20th century.

Cultural Appropriation, for an example by extension from the above, would be living as a privileged white person in an area historically genocided of Native civilization, and then dressing for Halloween as a cartoon Native. The white person would see no issue. A descendant of the surviving remnant of the genocided civilazation would see it differently! Their viewpoint and feelings would be just as valid and worthy of respect. The pattern of Cultural Appropriation is choosing not to respect the feelings of those descendants-- defending rather than respecting.

It's not about being PC. It's about understanding from the heart, and living together reasonably in a complicated world.

It's not splitting hairs, either; it's looking beyond the surface at the layers involved in what goes on every day, and unpacking the semantics when they get mixed up.

~S~


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 15 - 01:47 PM

So can I play a Native American flute if I like the sound of it ? Can I play a native American tune ? How do I find out ?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Oct 15 - 02:06 PM

Native American flutes, in their present-day form, are an invention of the 1960s. The tuning was standardized on a Western-derived pentatonic scale never used before by any Native American people. So the instrument was never intended to be any one tribe's property. You are unlikely to encounter one of the pre-standardization types unless you're a museum curator.

Different peoples had different ideas about the ownership of tunes and songs. Some considered them to belong to specific tribes, others to specific individuals. There was one tribe from Colombia who expected every man to invent one tune of his own; he would never play any other one, and nobody else would ever play his.

In other parts of the world (I know about this in a Melanesian context) you also got ownership of melodies or dances by specific families/lineages; I'd be surprised if some Native American people didn't adopt that ethic.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,#
Date: 15 Oct 15 - 02:24 PM

Neat site about flutes.

http://www.flutopedia.com/flute_timeline.htm


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Oct 15 - 09:10 PM

It's common enough in folk singing clubs and such for a particular song to be informally "owned" by a member. It'd be unheard of for anyone knowingly to sing it, when a vsitor unknowingly sings it people are a bit embarassed. When the singer has moved away or died they are likely to get mentioned when it's sung, a kind of memorial.

Humans have a way if reinventing traditional patterns of behaviour like that.
................
"It's not about being PC. It's about understanding from the heart, and living together reasonably in a complicated world. " That's the ethic that underlies the whole concept that often get's distorted and labelled PC, typically as a way of subverting and mocking it.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Oct 15 - 09:10 PM

It's common enough in folk singing clubs and such for a particular song to be informally "owned" by a member. It'd be unheard of for anyone knowingly to sing it, when a vsitor unknowingly sings it people are a bit embarassed. When the singer has moved away or died they are likely to get mentioned when it's sung, a kind of memorial.

Humans have a way if reinventing traditional patterns of behaviour like that.
................
"It's not about being PC. It's about understanding from the heart, and living together reasonably in a complicated world. " That's the ethic that underlies the whole concept that often get's distorted and labelled PC, typically as a way of subverting and mocking it.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Oct 15 - 09:59 PM

While I accept that the courtesy that McGrath mentions above used to be observed, it seems to me that it is not commonly seen in folk clubs these days.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 15 - 02:14 AM

How about tweed 'flat caps' worn indoors on stage by musicians playing Irish tunes?


Note: I wear a tweed flat cap for everyday outdoor use, as do many of my age where I live. It gets misintertpreted at Folk Festivals so is replaced by fleece beany. I shouldn't have to do that.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: theleveller
Date: 16 Oct 15 - 04:19 AM

An interesting debate. It seems to me that cultural appropriation is almost always cultural approbation rather than the reverse. To insist that fashion, music, or whatever should remain exclusive to the original people, group or race that created it is cultural fascism – or worse: cultural suicide. Suppose the same strictures were extended to language, literature, food, architecture, flora and fauna....even, gods forbid, religion....well, of course, it couldn't happen because almost every culture in the world is inextricably intertwined with others on a myriad of levels. Personally, I think life would be a sad place without being able to eat a Lamb Passanda, read Zorba the Greek, look at the beauty of an ancient Spanish Chestnut tree or admire the Duomo while sipping a glass of Chianti, let alone not being able to listen to The Stones whilst wearing a Panama hat.

[Written whilst listening to Edward ll.]


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 16 Oct 15 - 07:48 AM

Richard don't know about elsewhere but the type of thing McGrath describes definitely is still common here in the Borders. Here in Kelso we all tend to have several signature songs as such which are done fairly regularly and which other members tend to not touch - certainly if the person is present! If a visitor strikes up one of the said songs then it is of course gladly accepted but at the same time there are invariably a few jokes thrown in by other members.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 16 Oct 15 - 07:49 AM

I'm struck again by the obvious difference in perspective between US and UK. On this topic, it's very, very tense in the US.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Oct 15 - 08:25 AM

"On this topic it's very tense in the US." I get the impression that is true about an awful lot of things.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 Oct 15 - 08:18 PM

A very simple historical illustration of cultural appropriation (theft really) can be seen if you Google up Esther Jones + Betty Boop. Study it yourselves and then get back to me.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Oct 15 - 08:32 PM

I am not at all sure that that stands up as an argument, Susan. While Baby Esther was African-American, and performed frequently at the Cotton Club, I don't see how it could be argued that her singing style was a part of African (or African-American) culture. Rather, it was a personal affectation, not rooted in her ethnicity. Cultural appropriation, it seems to me, is the taking of things that are distinctive of, and/or culturally significant within, another cultural group.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Oct 15 - 08:34 PM

PS. A better example would be the evolution of the well known song recorded by Karl Denver and also the Tokens, known as "Wim-o-weh" and/or "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Oct 15 - 08:47 PM

It's not that tense here, in a widespread way.

Every time I read something along the lines of "you should do that because..." I wonder why anybody thinks voicing their opinion is going to get everybody else on the planet to do things their way.
Cultures steal stuff. It's inevitable, and has been going on since... forever, probably. People shouldn't do corn rows unless they're black. People shouldn't have blonde hair unless they're white, shouldn't make and eat whatever ethnic group's food unless they belong to that ethnic group, shouldn't play Irish music if they're not Irish, or play banjo if they're not Americans, or... you get it, right?
Hell, if we're serious about this, we USians will have to dump our national anthem, because we pinched the tune from England.

The most reasonable thing that people can be expected to do is learn about any tradition's origins. "I can do this because of my race, but you can't because of yours" is just another type of attempted segregation. But the simplest way to look at is that telling everybody how to behave simply doesn't ever work.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 15 - 09:03 PM

The crucial thing isn't copying, it failing to share the story of where it comes from.
Once we know where some copy comes from, we can go back and find out more about that, and the people who produced that original can benefit from being more widely known.

Though it can be upsetting when something you value gets messed around with and even mocked - a cultural equivalent of what Kipling wrote in a line in If -
"If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools"

But there's absolutely no way to stop it happening.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,#
Date: 18 Oct 15 - 09:12 PM

Well said, Jeri and Kevin.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 12:34 AM

Theft in the traditional sense of stealing concrete items has been going on since Cain and Abel but that doesn't make it right.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: theleveller
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 03:54 AM

Of course, one of the greatest cultural appropriations in history is that of an obscure Middle-Eastern religion called Christianity. Time to give it back?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 08:36 AM

That was not taken but thrust upon us. Like so many religions.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Mo the caller
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 01:49 PM

From a completely different angle - and not directly relevant to the OP but thoughts sparked by it.....

When I go to a dance club (in England) we dance various dances. Some are American Contra. Some from the 17th century 'English Dancing Master'. Some collected from the villages 100 yrs ago.
The style used for Playford is probably not as it was in C17, but it is distinct; dances from Northern England were danced with a rant step; modern Contra is full of added twirls.
Some like one style and use it for all the dances. Others would NEVER twirl in a Playford 'back to back' or California twirl in La Russe.
Evolution or blurring?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 04:06 PM

The crucial thing isn't copying, it failing to share the story of where it comes from.

On another forum, an American Christian fundie posted that he was going to use Scott Skinner's slow air "Hector the Hero" in his church. I asked him if he really thought a Scottish Nationalist lament for a paedophile suicide was entirely appropriate. He really, really didn't want to know that and went absolutely ballistic.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 06:35 PM

Most amusing, Jack.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 07:37 PM

Jeri, that was well meant I am sure... but most folks with a large number of Black friends are going to see it differently.

It DOES matter which race is copying which, and WHY, when there are so many inequities in place. And it's not about making anybody do anything. My posts here have been intended as information, not direction, for example. They come right out of what I teach in my field, and white resistance to the facts is typical AND well meant, if misinformed.

Cultural Appreciation is generally accepted for its intention, but Cultural APPROPRIATION actually IS a tense US issue-- wherever there is a sizeable Black (or other significantly-numbered oppressed) group rightly objecting to it-- and where the privileged white folks there care to think about it.

Halloween for example is another huge opportunity for colossal and hurtful cultural appropriation, well documented annually by people of color who (yearly) watch blonde celebrities go nappy in blackface-- while Black folks continue to die amid the national refusal to own up to its enslaving past in favor of continuing to profit unfairly from it.

The offensive message there would be: "I can play this part without fear for my safety if police show up, and I can have fun in your guise without paying the price every day that Black folks pay.And I don't care to help change Black un-safety. I can just play."

If you could do that in your neighborhood without reproach, then you live where the original economy of the area probably involved profiting off slavery; that's how we got mostly-white neighborhoods.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 09:01 PM

I feel that is too charitable. The denial of white privilege is not, in my view, typically well meant. But (and it is a big but) a major part of the current cultural appropriation row is about African-Americans adopting African referents without understanding or appreciation, merely for reasons (for example) of fashion - or "to be cool".


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: CupOfTea
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 10:15 PM

On US TV there is a commercial for a genealogy website of a guy talking about how he grew up wearing lederhosen and doing German folk dance, but after getting his DNA tested, his ancestors weren't German at all! So now he needs to get tricked out in a whole kilt & etc, cause the family was "Scottish"

Balderdash. He's American, and like most of us, probably has a melting pot background. While some groups are clannish and tend to associate and preferably marry those of their own ethnic origin, this is becoming a more difficult way to live. Europe seems to becoming more sensitive to changes in their nationality mix as immigrants and refugees pour in. As fewer and fewer "pure" this that or the other group exist, it is going to be much harder to complain of "cultural appropriation" when each person may have legitimate claims on a dozen different cultures.

It saddens me some, as this process isn't always kind to cultural tradition bearers, but it makes me hope that in the wholesale mixing of races, cultures, and nationalities, what is gained is a wider appreciation of the value of all. Yes, it angers me some when significant elements of a culture are degraded, commercialized or lampooned - the stupid or mean spirited deserve to be called out.

I just think that diffusion is the tide, and appropriation the tip of the wave that gets attention. We can't stem the tide.

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,Peakers
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 11:28 PM

Joanne in Cleveland, nice posting.

Recently my older brother revealed our G-Grandpa (a judge in Idaho) had hung his Chinese butler: which may explain my status as the black sheep (literally and figuratively) in a tow-headed family.

Were the implication true
it wouldn't matter one bit


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 12:21 AM

*hanged*


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,Peakers
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 12:30 AM

Wasn't sure. Thanks


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: theleveller
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 05:07 AM

Just to change the geographical focus for a moment, I think it's fascinating how we in the UK see ourselves in relation to our cultural heritage – especially in light of the row over immigration and foreigners coming in and supposedly taking over and changing our culture. This was brought home to me by a series of programmes on the Beeb about the Celts, the last of which I watched last night. Although the Celts were 'incomers' to Britain at some undefined point in history, they became more or less indigenous, with tribes spread across most of the British Isles until they were pushed by the Roman invaders into the peripheral areas we now think of as the Celtic nations. Although the Romans lived in Britain for four and a half centuries and, it could be argued, had far more of an impact on our civilisation than the Celts, today there is little blatant Roman influence in popular culture, whereas Celtic influence in the shape of designs, jewellery, tattoos – even their Pagan religion – is to be found everywhere. We like to see ourselves as descendants of the Celts but still think of the Romans as invaders, despite the possibility that many of us have as many Roman genes as Celtic. The same could probably be said of the Anglo Saxon/Norman perception.

So when I said before that cultural appropriation is usually a form of cultural approbation, this is what I meant – people only adopt the styles of cultures that they feel comfortable with or in some way admire.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 06:38 AM

I'm not sure of your point, leveller. When the (perceived) non-celts in the UK decide to pretend to be Irish for a day (usually St Patrick's day, but sometimes at Irish music sessions) some of us call them "plastic paddies" in a scornful manner - precisely because of the cultural appropriation involved. When a white Brit overdoes the dreadlocks and rapping about hoes and pool cues, some of us call them "wiggers" in a scornful manner - precisely because of the cultural appropriation involved. It's not all that different to the view that Azaelia Banks has of Iggy Azalea. It seems to me it's about a pretence for the purpose of exploitation.

The position of the African-American (and Caribbean) is I think different. What cultural referents can they adopt with pride other than African ones?

I don't quite get the position of white youth and youth of parentage from the Indian continent adopting, in the UK, the vocal tonalities and mannerisms of Caribbean yardies. It's clearly a form of cultural appropriation, but why? Is it rooted in the same place as the nastily entitled song from the Plastic Ono Band, "Woman is the nigger of the world"?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 06:08 PM

Richard, it's not up to us (us white folks) to judge how a people torn from their homeland and original cultures go about reclaiming their heritage the best way they can see how to do it. I (and many others) don't think it's so different from Jewish Holocaust survivors choosing to learn Hebrew to re-create their culture in the land of their forebears.

The Africans stolen from their villages to satisfy the greed of European-heritage people originally had as many languages as the surviving Jews had among them when they went "home." Their descendants find ANY way of rebuilding a sense of oneness with Mother Africa deeply meaningful, and that's about them-- not about how others view it from outside that experience. (White folks are so often so eager to say that our way of seeing them is better than their way of seeing themselves!) How often do you surrender your agency to someone else's view of what you should be or do?

The African term for the experience parallel to the Jewish genocide we now call the Holocaust is 'The Maafa.'

~Susan


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 07:45 PM

The position of the African-American (and Caribbean) is I think different. What cultural referents can they adopt with pride other than African ones?

How about African-American or Afro-Caribbean ones? It's not like they failed to create any culture of their own in the New World.

My name comes from Huguenot refugees who arrived in England in the 17th century. There are African-Americans with ancestors who were brought (equally unwillingly) to the Americas even before that. I don't feel any particular reason to ignore everything my folks did in Britian in the intervening centuries in search of some phantom "cultural referent" in French Calvinism.

Bruce Molsky has some intelligent comments about how this played out with musical traditions in the US. A lot of the "Celtic music" thing is thinly disguised racism - its advocates would like American traditional music to be seen as an ethnically pure offshoot of the traditions of some Celtic homeland that never was. As Molsky points out, a heck of a lot of the distinctive sound of American traditional music is of African origin. It was created out of both African traditions and those of the British Isles equally, and the place it was created was in North America itself. It's something both African- and European-Americans could be proud of, if they'd only let themselves.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 10:10 PM

It's quite hard to know where to start with that, Susan.

Even if I leave out your apparent implication that Israel is a rightful construct, a strongly contentious one in many threads on this forum and in the rest of the world, there seem to me to be many issues to consider.

The furore (this time round) about appropriation of Afrikan cultural heritage appears to have been started by a British-Nigerian commentator, so it's not an oyinbo perception. Some Afrikan commentators assert that before the maafa the practices of servitude in Afrika were not slavery as such, but I think that this overlooks many of the habits that came westward from Egypt and beyond, even before the invasion of Afrika by Xtianity and Islam. Be that as it may, the linguistic experience of trying to reunite the Jewish Diaspora is in the opposite direction to that of the slaves taken from Afrika to America.

It must be admitted that (in a a way somewhat reminiscent of the migrations of British folk song to, round, and back from the Appalachians) aspects certainly of IFA have been preserved by the Afrikan diaspora and now enure to the benefit of Afrikan culture, but along the way syncretic additions (one might say corruptions) have appeared. These, however are analysed by Yoruba (well, mainly Yoruba, I think) scholars who seek to reconstruct the long-standing rituals of the 16-base divination and belief system. But, and it seems to me to be a big but, much of the current appropriation by African-Americans from older Afrikan traditions is without proper context and so damaging to the traditions. If, as is argued above, there are other traditions to which African Americans can cleave, then the misuse of Afrikan traditions is even less justified. It seems to me that to assert the equal validity of more recent cultural barnacles is inapt. From the European (and Afrikan) perspective in time, the USA is a country so new that it has no traditions yet (as distinct from the First Americans), while the traditions of most of the Caribbean (apart from those learned from the slaveowners) are from Afrika. Further, most modern African-Americans reject the blues as being a reflection of slave status - or so I recall from previous discussions here when there actually were some African-Americans participating.

Regrettably, many US slaveowners systematically and deliberately sought to expunge knowledge among slaves of their origins, traditions, and earlier languages, precisely to undermine any sense of identity that might found resistance to slavery in the USA. But, this, I argue, makes it the more important for those in the USA now recovering cultural identity to place things in proper context - even if the very use of a Kiswahili word (the maafa) rather than a word in any other of the Afrikan languages underlines the loss during slavery of more specific regional identities.

I would see myself as an ally rather than an occupier of the modern Pan-Afrikan movement (while noting my resistance to the apparent devotion to claims of regal heritage), so I don't think of what I say as laying down rules to African-Americans. Rather I point out (as nobody else seems, here, to get it or to put) the Afrikan perspective, as far as I understand it, on misuse in America of African traditions.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 07:22 AM

PS - I checked. In West Africa, and in the UK, it is far more usual to refer to "the African Holocaust" (partly at least to get whites to understand) than to the maafa.

PPS - if you want an example of totally unmeritorious cultural appropriation from Miley Cyrus, who only two years ago was saying she would not take advice from "elderly Jewish men"(in the record industry), try this one - https://www.facebook.com/topic/Miley-Cyrus/104061006295771?source=whfrt&position=3&trqid=6208057928623969703


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 08:11 AM

Is this cultural appropriation ?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 10:50 AM

I think not. It is the formation of a new and largely syncretic religion. It does not it seems to me involve the adoption of form without understanding, nor the theft of cultural identity. I wonder if the idea of a power structure (or taking from the disempowered) has a place in defining cultural appropriation, in the same way that racism and sexism depend on asymmetry of power.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,21 Oct 15 - 08:11 AM
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 11:56 AM

Does racism depend on an asymetry of power? If so some of what I have thought was racism isn't racism. Is there another word for inter-ethnic prejudice with no asymetry of power.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 03:06 PM

Systemic Racism does. Unfortunately the word "racism" is a loaded and multi-definition term.

In the model I teach, Systemic Racism stands on 3 legs:
Prejudice
Power
"Tradition" about the system (propaganda and myth).

Wish you'd join Mudcat to facilitate continued discussion.

To say more I'd need my laptop instead of this fone. Right now I'm too in love with Richard Bridge's stunning thinking.

Richard, did you characterize a prev post of mine as too generous about assuming good intention?

That came from two places for me. One, if I know someone even a little I usually know and see their b4st side. Two, in the training model I use, EVERYONE is assumed to be intending good. Further, in that model's guidelines, we assume that people are only responsible for knowing a thing AFTER they have heard the correct information. For example I once committed a HUGE faux pas with my AfAm training leader... my supervisor and (that day) we were co-presenting. Huge. In front of and involving the group. We stepped outside while the group was watching a video. She perfectly modeled those training guidelines in how she asked what I had been thinking and then corrected me, thank goodness! And we just boogie on from there... the trainees got to see how this was possible. It works!

This is not to say that I think Mudcat is an AR training. I've been here 15 years and know better. But for me, the assumptions of that training model are so deep in me now that I do rely on them for MY end, or these little discussions would terrify me out of them! ;-)

~Susan.your.ally


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 04:49 PM

1. Agreed.
2. Agreed but is not (3) subsumed in the others?
3. You can contact me via PM for email addy and I will bring G/F (who is Yoruba) into the discussion if she accepts
4. Yes. Sorry, but too many oyinbo disguise hostility in dissembling manifestations.
5. I am getting older and grumpier and unfriending and blocking people on facebook at quite a rate. What's an AfAm training leader? What's the training module in question? What's AR training? I'm just going on bump of direction, but thanks for the compliment.

Currently having a row (all right, constructive discussion) on FB with several apparently learned Islamic scholars on Islamic dress standards for Muslim women. Do we object to the discriminatory nature or do we accept the agency of the submissives who wear that stuff (provocation intentional)? I think I've won the argument about whether it is discriminatory.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 04:59 PM

PPPS - I have spoken to my G/F and she is insistent that slavery in Africa predated European involvement as evidenced by the Yoruba word for it that differs from the debt-indenture term. I've forgotten the exact words since she told me this morning - I have in total about 3 words of Yoruba. Bear in mind that Yoruba culture and IFA can be traced back at least 8,000 years. Other Afrikan cultures subsisted before the Yoruba arrived from Egypt.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,cultural mutt
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 06:08 PM

I've often heard it said that a language informs and determines the thought processes of the speakers of that language. Since the history of the English language is a story of perpetual appropriation of words, perhaps we are linguistically pre-programmed for cultural appropriation.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: GUEST,21 Oct 15 - 08:11 AM
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 06:10 PM

Thanks Susan. On reflection most of what I had been thinking was racism may actually be zenophobia, or even just not being from a multicultural environment so not sure how to behave when cautious about someone who is different.

Caution and/or aggression when faced with the unfamiliar is widespread amongst non-human vertibrates. It may be something that we all have to learn to deal with in ourselves and with which some cultures offer more support and reinforcement than others.

I am sure I learned at schools that west African slaves were mainly bought from slave traders, the payment being with goods from Europe. I suppose that may have been a lame attempt to throw some of the responsibility back to Africa, but that doesn't mean it was not true.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 06:55 PM

Please folks. if you're going to use acronyms or foreign words (IFA, AR, oyinbo) explain them at least once. I've never seen any of them before.

Conversely: the distinction between racial prejudice and racial discrimination was explained to me in primary school in New Zealand about 55 years ago, and not in terms that suggested it was some kind of new discovery even then. How come it isn't still common knowledge in the developed Anglophone world?


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 10:47 AM

IFA is a religion - or perhaps more accurately a belief system. Its origin is Afrikan.

I don't know AR.

Oyinbo is a Yoruba word used to describe white people - but also (although to a lesser extent Afrikans of sharp European style features and/or paler skins including albinos. It has become a generic Afrikan term for white people - to the extent that I may be excused for omitting the correct tone markings. The first two syllables have falling tones and the third a rising tone. I have heard a number of different explanations of the etymology.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 10:49 AM

The obfuscation of the difference between racial prejudice, race discrimination, and racism arises to my mind mostly from those who wish to defend white privilege - for their own advantage.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 10:59 AM

is there another word for inter-ethnic prejudice with no asymetry of power.

Try xenophobia, sometimes spelt with a z. Fear of/hostility towards the stranger. Probably more prevalent in England than racism as such.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 11:22 AM

Ifá isn't an acronym, even if Richard Bridge wrote it in all caps.
Wikipedia


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: wysiwyg
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 04:00 PM

AR = Anti-Racism. Anti-Racism training is about deliberate action against Systemic Racism.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Oct 15 - 09:58 AM

The obfuscation of the difference between racial prejudice, race discrimination, and racism arises to my mind mostly from those who wish to defend white privilege - for their own advantage.

It's not clear, Richard, whether you mean that distinguishing between those things is obfuscation, or that confusing them is. My feeling is that it can be useful to distinguish between race discrimination - actions and structures which can be made illegal - and racially prejudiced internal thoughts and attitudes which cannot, and which need to be dealt with in other ways.


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Subject: RE: In defence of cultural appropriation
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 10:39 AM

Rather than start a new thread I thought I would tag this on here. Not music or fashion this time but food, drink, bars and, potentialy, lifestyle. I am not sure it is as bad as the author says but I found it an interesting viewpoint.

The poor fetish: commodifying working class culture

If anyone feels it deserves a thread of it's own, please feel free to start one.


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