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Author Topic: Some racism-related questions  (Read 182 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Some racism-related questions
« on: August 18, 2018, 11:27:31 AM »
If you don't mind, I'd like to ask two specific questions related to the issue of racism, cultural appropriation etc. Please note that I'm not asking these questions to argue, just wondering about your opinions.

1. Skin colour in cosplay

Some days ago, I saw a rather heated argument on the Facebook page of Pugoffka, an Ukrainian cosplayer. She has cosplayed as many different characters and, recently, she released some photos with her cosplays from the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe. In these photos, she used some photomanipulation to give herself Asian and Indian skin colours - which caused many people to accuse her of racism, using blackface and disrespect. What's your opinion: is it okay for a white person to change skin colour for the purposes of cosplay or not?

2. Straight hair and black women

A personal question (which, I hope, won't come off as disrespectul): I admit that when it comes to black women, I find it more appealing when they have straight hair. I'm absolutely not saying that natural black hair are somehow bad / ugly / unprofessional - I have no problem with them. It's just that, speaking purely of what appeals to me as a man, I find straight hair more attractive.  Heck, it's not limited to black women - I prefer straight hair on white women, too. Still, is it really okay? Or is it racist after all?

Offline midnightblack

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2018, 12:01:42 PM »
I have to admit that my simple mind cannot comprehend what manner of convoluted thought process could possibly lead anyone to consider either point as exemplifying racist behavior. Neither fits in any way the definition of racism, not even remotely.

Offline BeorningTopic starter


Offline Skynet

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2018, 12:24:52 PM »
Question 1:

Looks at last link

Oh boy, using an outdated dictionary definition while ignoring the other 4+ definitions already kicking around.

Going to drop this here: https://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=260901.0

So the thing is that given varying definitions of racism, it is possible to logically argue that something is or is not racist depending on which one you're using.

If a cosplayer does blackface but does not believe that skin color is linked to mental and moral qualities, then by that oft-used definition in the dictionary they are not racist. But that would be intellectually dishonest, as that is not what is being argued at the moment.

But in the USA, light-skinned actors using make-up to affect a darker skin tone has been almost 100% been used to portray African-Americans as either buffoons or villains.

As for the Malaysian Japanese soldier cosplay is trotted out as an example of cultural differences and...it's actually relevant. I don't know the history of how black or non-Roma dark-skinned people are treated in Poland. And when skin-altering make-up is discussed in cosplay, it's almost always discussed in regards to white people cosplaying as African-Americans, and not other races.

As for Indian and East Asian skin tones, I do not know how much that is akin to blackface. Indians and East Asians living in Eastern Europe would be the best people to answer this question on account that they would be the most directly affected than USians and others.

Also skimming the article, but something tells me that the writer is not arguing in good faith.

Quote
If we were to operate by that concept, wouldn’t that mean that no one would be allowed to post pictures of pigs, pork or any pig-related products because there are literally millions of Muslims out there who might feel that it is offensive? Then would I be not allowed to share LGBTQ-related articles or images just because it offends millions out there?

However, that doesn’t mean that everything is off the hook. Take misleading articles for example. If I were to write a misleading article with the intention to mislead others or spread fake information, I would be in the wrong because I’ve objectively caused harm or distress by spreading fake information or misleading others.

Appeal to Extreme Logical fallacy. Also, Muslims do not find the existence of pork offensive on a Kryptonite-esque level. In fact, Muslims believe that all beings that breathe have a soul. They merely believe that the faithful should not eat pork and other "forbidden foods."


Offline Skynet

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2018, 12:41:09 PM »
Clarification: When I said "Poland," I meant the Ukraine.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2018, 02:36:40 PM »
So, what's your opinion? Is it racist to change skin colour in cosplay or not? I honestly don't know what to think about it...

Offline Skynet

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2018, 02:55:59 PM »
So, what's your opinion? Is it racist to change skin colour in cosplay or not? I honestly don't know what to think about it...

I can't say for certain. This is kind of outside my field of usual expertise.

I feel that there's a world of difference between the freakish charcoal-black-with-clown-lips of minstrel shows than say a spray-tan for a cosplay, but I'd probably also have to see the specific pictures in question. The only one I could find was the one in the Magic Rain article on the Facebook post from Pugoffka herself.

Even within social justice communities in the USA at least there's a bit of blinders on in regards to this. When Johnny Depp did the same thing to portray himself as an Apache man in the Lone Ranger, there was not much outcry from the same people, possibly because the movie directors consulted with real Apache tribes who were for the most part okay with their portrayal in the movie (or at least what I heard). And there was not as much hue and cry when Ken Jeong, an actor of Korean descent, played a Chinese character in the Hangover*; this is racebending/whitewashing rather than X-face, but the two are often held as similar examples of issues.

*East Asians overall regard each other as akin to being different races

Offline Skynet

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2018, 03:05:32 PM »
DP: I should probably add that it depends on the context, the local culture and how said culture treats the aforementioned minority groups, as well as the voices of the ethnic groups being represented. The last part is particularly important: in many cases there are times when white people would talk over actual minorities on what is and isn't offensive to them, or US folk with those of other nationalities, in social justice circles.

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Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2018, 06:31:18 PM »
I can't say for certain. This is kind of outside my field of usual expertise.

I feel that there's a world of difference between the freakish charcoal-black-with-clown-lips of minstrel shows than say a spray-tan for a cosplay, but I'd probably also have to see the specific pictures in question. The only one I could find was the one in the Magic Rain article on the Facebook post from Pugoffka herself.

Agree, I really don't see how a person donning some cosmetic tan to imitate Barack Obama or Kim Kardashian in a comedy/revue skit, or for a dress-up party, is anywhere near classic blackfacing as it occurred in minstrel shows or early Hollywood movies. It's not the same kind of thing at all, and branding tanned comedy make-up as racist is shooting way over the goal. But unfortunately, those who are the most simple-minded about things like this tend to be the ones who are shouting the loudest and setting up the strictest demands to make everybody else obey them.  >:(

Offline The Lovely Tsarina

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2018, 08:21:17 PM »
Clarification: When I said "Poland," I meant the Ukraine.

It is only “Ukraine”. The “The”, it’s not needed.

Offline Mathim

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #10 on: Yesterday at 12:49:03 AM »
If you don't mind, I'd like to ask two specific questions related to the issue of racism, cultural appropriation etc. Please note that I'm not asking these questions to argue, just wondering about your opinions.

1. Skin colour in cosplay

Some days ago, I saw a rather heated argument on the Facebook page of Pugoffka, an Ukrainian cosplayer. She has cosplayed as many different characters and, recently, she released some photos with her cosplays from the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe. In these photos, she used some photomanipulation to give herself Asian and Indian skin colours - which caused many people to accuse her of racism, using blackface and disrespect. What's your opinion: is it okay for a white person to change skin colour for the purposes of cosplay or not?

2. Straight hair and black women

A personal question (which, I hope, won't come off as disrespectul): I admit that when it comes to black women, I find it more appealing when they have straight hair. I'm absolutely not saying that natural black hair are somehow bad / ugly / unprofessional - I have no problem with them. It's just that, speaking purely of what appeals to me as a man, I find straight hair more attractive.  Heck, it's not limited to black women - I prefer straight hair on white women, too. Still, is it really okay? Or is it racist after all?

1. I feel like starting out by saying that when someone like Dave Chappelle or Tracy Morgan puts on a 'whiteface' style makeup to portray a Caucasian character in one of their comedy skits or shows, I think it's hilarious and helps emphasize the point they're making, so if they do it and no one gets upset, I personally feel inclined to call it a double standard if someone of lighter skin does the corollary but gets criticized for it. That being said, I don't see anything inherently racist about doing so for cosplay but I do feel it's an unnecessary step since it doesn't necessarily have any other context in the way that a social commentary satire does. The clothing and accessories should be sufficient for purely cosplay situations. Now that you mention this sort of thing, I'm actually more interested in what lengths a person would go in portraying a character who is the opposite sex of what they are; outside of cosmetic surgery, how inclined are they to, and how are they going to make themselves look more masculine or feminine to really play the part? And if they do, by the same token (pun intended), is it sexist? But that's a whole different can of worms...anyway, like I said, I feel it's wasteful and unnecessary but I wouldn't call it racist. The motivation behind it is so far removed from any such bigoted sentiments that it really makes it seem like anyone who would call it that is being oversensitive. That's just my two cents.

2. I don't think singling hair out is relevant. Some people are only attracted to certain shades of skin, for instance, so whatever your proclivities are, you're not entirely in control of how you feel about certain things. Conditioning in a cultural context is relevant of course but when you're exposed to that in your youth and end up with one type of preference, you weren't exactly given free reign over what things settled in your subconscious, so anyone hypothetically asking you to expand your horizons in this way isn't taking that into consideration and probably hasn't done much self-reflection in that way. You could probably make yourself feel more attracted to certain aesthetic things with enough effort but it's not your fault for having your subconscious preferences as they are and so you should be free to decide whether you put in that kind of work and not be judged for it if you don't feel like initiating that kind of change. I happen to dislike blonde hair for the most part and tend to largely prefer darker hair or redheads. But rather than avoiding it, I have slowly warmed up to it, though it's still ranking-wise my least favorite. So even if you can see yourself growing accustomed to it, it can still be the least-favorite even if you can honestly say you 'like' something. Not everyone has the time or right means to help themselves try to do this, though, so no one should feel obligated to. I wasn't even trying deliberately and there are still things about it I don't just dislike, but HATE, so it's not exactly perfect even then. But I don't want a pat on the back for doing that, nor a scolding for not, and no one else should have to either. Ugh, I'm tired...need sleep. If that came off as incoherent, that's probably why.

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Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 03:36:31 AM »
It is only “Ukraine”. The “The”, it’s not needed.

For some reason I often say/write "the Ukraine" too (in English), not sure why. Point taken from you, a native Russian. :)

Offline RedPhoenix

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 01:10:17 PM »
Pretty much every cosplayer of color always says don't change your skin tone to play a part - provided that skin tone appears in humans.

The reason for this is there is a long, horrible, awful history of blackface in entertainment and by refusing to take part in that you're disavowing and distancing yourself from that legacy. It would be nice to live in a dream world where that legacy is long past and racism doesn't exist, but we don't live there - especially in America and Europe.

So no, it doesn't necessarily make you a racist to do that (although there are certainly racists who do that, google just about anytime a college fraternity gets in trouble for having a blackface party) but it does make you an insensitive jerk who prioritizes your own giggles over being aware of the world you live in and respecting the people you share it with. I would suggest drawing a line at "racist" and "okay" is a pretty low bar to set and you can do better, tbh. 

There is also a difference between cosplay and comedy. Nobody really gave Robert Downey Jr. grief for wearing blackface in Tropic Thunder either, but if he'd done the same to his skin and gone out as Obama for Halloween yeah that would have been offensive. In both the example about Chapelle and Downey Jr, the absurdity of it is part of the comedy. Dave Chapelle didn't lighten his skin to portray a typical white person he did it to play a racial exaggeration of a white person for comedic effect. Cosplayers aren't, hopefully, playing racial exaggerations for comedic effect (and if they are then yes they're just being racist).

There's also a difference between something an individual does in private v. something Hollywood pays people to do, but that's a long sidetrack diversion and the only real point here is that the analogy isn't a great one.

Regarding preferences. That's a really tricky one. The short answer is no, your preferences don't make you racist unless a judgment based on race is part of them.

But I read stuff like that and I remember the studies done on black kids before schools were integrated, about how they all preferred white dolls to black ones because they believed the white skin was better. This was all back when everyone preached 'separate but equal' and it was a farce, the doll test demonstrated it more starkly than anything else. If you did the same test on white kids, I'm sure you'd have gotten the same result - the more white the doll looks the more desirable it is.

Beauty standards really haven't changed much. It's only recently that girls of color even have makeup that matches most of their skin tones (and even now its really limited in brands). It's only recently that more natural hairstyles are accepted as normal and not some outrageous personality choice. Beauty standards in America and Europe are still very Eurocentric and a lot of people, not just white ones, are raised to think those ideals are the best.

I used to exclusively like straight hair on black girls too. It looks good on them. But is that because I was raised thinking long straight hair was feminine and beautiful? Or is it a genuine preference of mine? How much can we separate that? Is it possible?  I do know that the more time I spent in my life with black girls the more I appreciated other hair styles, now to the point that there is really no one style I think is best. Was that just a change in my preferences? Or did being social with a diverse crowd open my eyes and chip away at what I was taught? Who can say, it's bigger than just one person's experiences.

So the short answer is no, you aren't racist for having a preference, any preference even one that's as blatant as preferring a skin color over another, but do be aware that these preferences aren't isolated from how you're brought up and how you live your life. What you do with that is up to you, but it's something to think about.

Online Blythe

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 01:13:41 PM »
Regarding the cosplay portion of the question: This makes me uncomfortable. Then again, I don't know what the cultural situation in Ukraine is about cosplaying. I'm more familiar with USA cosplay.

USA-wise, I know of several black cosplayers, all women, who dared to cosplay as canonically white characters (they didn't alter their own skin tone), and they were harassed mercilessly and bombarded with racial slurs. I know of at least one friend of mine who stopped cosplaying altogether over this issue because she couldn't take the bullying any more. All because bigots in cosplay felt that it shouldn't be permissible for black people to cosplay white characters. Those same people, the harassers, would argue vehemently for white cosplayers to darken their skin for cosplay.

I'd be less uncomfortable with a white person doing what Pugoffka did if I knew black women weren't going to get harassed any more for cosplaying whatever race they want to.

Offline RedRose

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 01:26:39 PM »
European people will be less sensitive to this, for better or for worse.
I know blackface is a BIG issue in America, and not so much around here. I also know hair is sensitive in America (braids on white girls, straight on black girls) while here my black friends would fight to braid my hair :)

Offline Eye of Horus

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #15 on: Today at 08:41:49 AM »
USA-wise, I know of several black cosplayers, all women, who dared to cosplay as canonically white characters (they didn't alter their own skin tone), and they were harassed mercilessly and bombarded with racial slurs.

This is very sad. It’s the same sort of nasty white-protectionism that came out when a vocal minority of people questioned (or outright complained) why a black actress was being cast as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter play, or as Ru in The Hunger Games.

Regarding the questions:

1) While a cosplayer might mean well, there’s no real justification for altering your features / skin tone and being seen as insensitive (due to the historical baggage around blackface etc, already well discussed by posters above) when you can be perfectly recognisable from the outfit alone. Plenty of cosplayers already do this, or genderswitch characters. If Hamilton can use an entire cast of POC and still make a damn good musical, then it can’t be so hard to give your interpretation of a fictional character. Fictional characters surely don’t “belong” exclusively to one group of people - and to flip it around, that also means that a non-black person who likes the character of, say, Blade or Black Panther shouldn’t have to feel banned from cosplaying them either.

2) You, personally, find straight hair more attractive than curly hair. There’s nothing inherently racist about that.

Offline RedRose

Re: Some racism-related questions
« Reply #16 on: Today at 10:58:17 AM »
I personally like each character to present as "canon" (book, or whatever). I want the queen of Sheba to be black, I want Newton to be white… If the story calls for an entirely, white, black, Indian cast (I watched many Indian movies when I was there even though I didn't understand a thing), so be it. Same about an entirely male cast (Ten angry men) or female cast (8 femmes).