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Author Topic: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation  (Read 4779 times)

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Offline Nachtmahr

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Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #50 on: March 29, 2016, 05:21:31 PM »
Well. I believe I've voiced my opinion on the matter anyway, and I suppose we just disagree then.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #51 on: March 29, 2016, 05:26:21 PM »
That is your privilege and your right.  It has been an interesting dialogue.

Offline TairisTopic starter

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #52 on: March 29, 2016, 05:57:16 PM »
Taking Oniya's post into consideration I need to ask:

1.  Is Rowling's research flawed or careless, or

2.  Did she deliberately sensationalize and distort the facts?


Or... maybe, just maybe, she was writing a book about wizards and muggles, and she used a cultural myth (just like cyclopes, the Sidhe, or kitsune) and decided to use it in her story in a way that fit the story she was telling? Like essentially a thousand different authors have done throughout history. But it's far easier to demonize the person offends our modern 'sensibilities'.

1)Mocking or misrepresenting a group in a position of power may offend, but it is unlikely to hurt.

2)Mocking or misrepresenting a group who has been systematically abused and belittled in part due to the way they've been represented by the dominant group is a perpetuation of that systematic abuse.

That's why blackface is wrong but the Wayans disguising themselves as white ldies is merely ridiculous.

Actually that is literally the perfect example of everything I hate about the modern US culture of political correctness. Blackface is wrong? Fine, but you do not get to have it both ways. Either mocking people because of their race is okay or it's not. That is not equality. That is the opposite of equality. That is looking down at one group of people and going 'you can't take of yourself so we're going to make special rules for you.'

As I said before, you wonder why people like Trump or other crazies get more support than expected? It's because of nonsense like this. This growing culture that says 'be ashamed, you're an oppressor. Everything wrong with these minorities is your fault so you should have to tolerate anything they say or do, but you are not allowed to retort'.

Maybe if we, as a society, stopped spending so much time telling everyone how horrible they were for 'destroying the culture' of minority group A or B and caught up with reality things would actually get better. The cold hard truth? That culture is gone. Just like the Mayans, the native Irish, and thousands of other cultures have died out and been absorbed. What will live on of them will be what pieces are remember by their descendants and what is recorded in our history books.

Spend less time worrying about offending someone's beliefs and more time worrying about how to address the massive instances of substance abuse among Native American communities, the under employment or complete unemployment of many of their members. We have essentially created small nation states out of what the reservations became, but other than highly specialized income (gambling, tourism, etc) they have no economic ability to sustain these micro-communities. To be successful they have to integrate into the society around them, not isolate themselves.

Essentially its the same problem with multiple minority groups: systemic poverty grinds them down... not authors that write novels about wizards.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 06:09:23 PM by Tairis »

Offline Blythe

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #53 on: March 29, 2016, 07:39:10 PM »
The cold hard truth? That culture is gone. Just like the Mayans, the native Irish, and thousands of other cultures have died out and been absorbed. What will live on of them will be what pieces are remember by their descendants and what is recorded in our history books.

Spend less time worrying about offending someone's beliefs and more time worrying about how to address the massive instances of substance abuse among Native American communities, the under employment or complete unemployment of many of their members. We have essentially created small nation states out of what the reservations became, but other than highly specialized income (gambling, tourism, etc) they have no economic ability to sustain these micro-communities. To be successful they have to integrate into the society around them, not isolate themselves.

I live in land that is considered part of the Choctaw Nation jurisdiction. Over 200,000 people count themselves as Choctaw and part of the Nation, and there's a lot more that are part of the Nation if you count ones not currently living in Oklahoma. They would disagree that they and their culture are gone.

The tribe is the first tribe in the USA to fully finance/build a hospital, too, with their own funding. They're doing quite well, and it's more than just gambling--they're in manufacturing, smoke shops, gas stations/plazas, and various forms of management. The Choctaws here contribute significantly to non-Choctaw infrastructure. In my hometown, the tribe paid for new paved roads that everyone uses here. The tribe is not in any significant debt. They are 100% integrated where I live, and they still have a culture of their own.

Just wanted to mention that. Their culture is most certainly not gone. They are a huge part of the area I live in. Just saying--Native Americans in general aren't gone. :/
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 07:51:21 PM by Blythe »

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #54 on: March 29, 2016, 07:52:50 PM »
I liked hearing that, Blythe.  I live in Pittsburgh which is a city built on many ethnic cultures.  It was a gateway to the west in the early days of this nation and many people stayed rather than moving on.  When the steel industry boomed more immigrants came here to work.  We are a city rich in cultural diversity and, in fact, the University of Pittsburgh has an entire section devoted to many of the various nationalities who are a major part of our history.  The one thing we don't do is slough off our cultural heritage.  Perhaps that is why, having grown up in such an environment, I have an affinity for the plight of a group of people who are treated as less than human and shunted aside by others.  I know I wouldn't like to have my bones picked by scavengers either.

Offline Nachtmahr

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Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #55 on: March 29, 2016, 09:24:23 PM »
You really don't seem to like J. K. Rowling a whole lot..

I also really hate to say this, but your statement also makes it seem like anyone who disagrees with you on this matter is somehow ignorant and apathetic. That in particular makes it very hard to get in the mood to debate anything.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #56 on: March 29, 2016, 09:27:03 PM »
So I did a little digging into the topic of skinwalkers - carefully avoiding anything to do with Rowling - and noticed one thing that stood out.  Rowling's depiction is that the skinwalker is specifically evil.  In the Folklore Archives at BYU (link), there is a much different take on the subject:  Skinwalkers are depicted as more 'trickster' than evil.  Things like 'running alongside vehicles and matching their speed', or 'prowling around the outside of a dwelling'.  Even curses placed by skin-walkers are described as consisting of minor hallucinations, achy sorts of pain and other non-fatal and more specifically curable conditions.  This took me maybe ten minutes of Googling.

There is the possible exception of their origins, which are typically described by people who are not skin-walkers.  (Non-skin-walkers are not allowed to view the rituals of becoming a skin-walker, so the creation of such creatures is the most shrouded in mystery of all their activities.)  But then again, how many times has a minority group been accused of such things?  There are numerous stories of non-Christian groups conducting gruesome rituals involving desecrated Hosts and the blood of infants - all of which were used specifically as propaganda against these groups.

That is interesting - the site there says that the process of becoming a skinwalker is mysterious...at least according to Wikipedia (yeah, yeah), even the Dine regard skinwalkers as sourcing their powers in 'evil' magic though. So if Rowling was just lazy and did about as much research as most people would, that's what she would come up with.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin-walker
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch_%28Navajo%29

The term 'witch' itself is a cultural cross-translation that loses nuance, but it doesn't seem ambiguous that they believe, or believed, in some sort of people who used a 'dark' form of their ceremonial Blessing Way. I wonder how much of the current Skinwalker myths are the result of cultural contamination/conflation with Christian missionary teachings (The propaganda angle), and how much is original internal Dine beliefs?



(Incidentally, the presentation of Rowling's Galbraith books as 'bombing' does seem to indicate some bias. They're hardly Harry Potter 2.0, but now, especially after her pseudonym was revealed, they've sold at least 1.5 million copies from the first two in the series as of last October. The Potterverse is still her flagship property, but Galbraith's income isn't exactly pennies.)
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 09:37:41 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #57 on: March 29, 2016, 09:40:20 PM »
You really don't seem to like J. K. Rowling a whole lot..

I also really hate to say this, but your statement also makes it seem like anyone who disagrees with you on this matter is somehow ignorant and apathetic. That in particular makes it very hard to get in the mood to debate anything.
I can't change my opinion of "The History of Magic in North America" to something I don't believe.  It leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion both as a work of literature and an ideological treatise.  I've been on the side of Native Americans on this issue from the beginning and not because of anything said here.  It was badly done and certainly not something I would be proud of.

I have no opinion of J.K. Rowling as a person and gave my opinion of her career earlier.  Taking this personally is not something I wish to deal with here because Ms. Rowling isn't here to discuss this with us. 




Offline Valerian

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #58 on: March 30, 2016, 08:07:45 AM »
(Incidentally, the presentation of Rowling's Galbraith books as 'bombing' does seem to indicate some bias. They're hardly Harry Potter 2.0, but now, especially after her pseudonym was revealed, they've sold at least 1.5 million copies from the first two in the series as of last October. The Potterverse is still her flagship property, but Galbraith's income isn't exactly pennies.)
Eh, 'bombed' is a relative term, but not entirely inaccurate in this case.  The first Galbraith book threatened to disappear without anyone noticing its existence, so the news of the true author's name was quietly released and of course sales took a big jump.  But none of the Galbraith books have reached the level of sales originally hoped for, and though she certainly isn't making nothing from them, they've been a fairly modest success.

The bestseller stats can actually be misleading, which is something most people don't realize.  They're compiled based on total sales to bookstores, not to customers, so you also have to consider the sell-through -- that is, how many copies actually make their way into the hands of individuals rather than being returned to the publisher, and those numbers don't typically get reported outside the industry.  At the bookstore chain that I work for, at least, we've had a higher rate of returns than usual on the Galbraith books, so I suspect that those 1.5 million reported sales are a little more inflated than usual.

Though the last I heard Rowling is still richer than the Queen of England, so I'm sure she isn't hurting for cash.  ::)  </sidetrack>

Offline Nachtmahr

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Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #59 on: March 30, 2016, 09:15:51 AM »
Though the last I heard Rowling is still richer than the Queen of England, so I'm sure she isn't hurting for cash.  ::)  </sidetrack>

This is also why I feel that her actions aren't motivated by greed. Perhaps I'm having too much faith in her as a person, but I don't feel like she'd be so desperate for money or attention that she'd go out and do something like this just to get some headlines or make a quick buck at the expense of goodwill among her fans.

There's also the fact that she's been doing some similar work based on Africa and their magical history, which also garnered some controversy, but not as much as this. I feel like that also supports my theory that she's really doing this out of good intentions, trying to be more inclusive.

I felt like this might be relevant to consider along with my previous arguments to better see where I'm coming from. I don't think she's trying to profit off of a struggling culture, I think she saw a convenient way to include these often forgotten or misrepresented people and didn't realize just how sensitive a subject it really was. Of course ignorance is still ignorance regardless of intentions, but I think the opposition is equally at fault in their rush to burn her at the stake and antagonize her when there's no evidence to support the idea that she's being selfish or greedy.

I'm willing to compromise my position and say that both parties are at fault in their own way, but I don't believe that this controversy rests entirely on J. K. Rowling's actions.

Online Doomsday

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #60 on: March 30, 2016, 07:20:00 PM »
It's kind of disturbing that Native American voices are being squashed in this thread with a rolling dialogue of, "But why is this offensive?"

It shouldn't be the responsibility of an oppressed people to make you understand why some things are insensitive to their culture or their people, especially when they've already told you why. They've voiced their feelings, many of them have or else this thread wouldn't exist. Now it's up to you to decide if your voice as a member of an oppressive culture matters more than theirs.

Offline Nachtmahr

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Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #61 on: March 31, 2016, 12:16:08 AM »
It's kind of disturbing that Native American voices are being squashed in this thread with a rolling dialogue of, "But why is this offensive?"

It shouldn't be the responsibility of an oppressed people to make you understand why some things are insensitive to their culture or their people, especially when they've already told you why. They've voiced their feelings, many of them have or else this thread wouldn't exist. Now it's up to you to decide if your voice as a member of an oppressive culture matters more than theirs.

I don't see how anyone is squashing any voices. The point of a debate is to debate a subject, and everyone's opinion is equally valid. I don't think that J. K. Rowling is responsible for the oppression of the Native American population, and I don't think that her attempt at including them in her work of popular fiction alongside other cultures is oppressive. I think Native American's face systemic issues that are far more serious and grievous than this, and that the fury directed at J. K. Rowling's potentially misguided or insensitive attempt at inclusion isn't constructive in the least, and only serves to widen the gap.

I'm not American nor British, I have no stake in this, and everything I say is from an outsiders perspective. Native American's aren't the only minority that faces severe systemic issues in America though, and progress needs to be made to bring equality and mutual respect. I'll agree with anyone on that at any time. But I don't think J. K. Rowling's fiction is the right choice of battleground, and I think that what she's done, even when someone suggest that it's motivated by greed and the desire for fame or controversy, is at the very least a sign of progress as her depiction is not the deeply racist caricatures we have seen used time and time again in popular media.

But I do still believe that this was done out of good intentions rather than furthering a greedy or racist agenda that profits on oppression.

And it once again raises the question: What is a fair depiction then? How are people supposed to ever take an interest in Native American culture seeded in them if they demand exclusion? Education is the first step towards solving these issues, but you can't force people to read biographies and watch documentaries, especially not youths. J. K. Rowling and creatives like her hold a unique position of power where her work can help seed that interest and respect for these people who are a mystery to many.

I don't feel like it's a realistic concern that people are going to take what she writes as fact. By that logic, we should have a generation of young people in their early 20's still depressed they never went to Hogwarts. But perhaps it might help remind people that this culture still exists, and inspire some to satisfy their curiosity by figuring out what they're really about.

Could it have been done in a better way? Sure, she could have reached out and talked to representatives of various Native American communities and had them advice her on how to include them. She did not do this, and that's seemingly the root cause of this controversy. I don't think that makes her evil or her actions cruel by default, and I don't think she's got any real part to play in the systemic abuse and discrimination that Native American's face.

I think there's more to gain from this if the immediate reaction was not outrage and antagonism towards J. K. Rowling. I'm not in a position to argue whether or not this has offended someone else: Someone else is. But I don't see any evidence to suggest that this controversy as born out of selfishness, greed or a negative view of Native American's on her part.   

Online Doomsday

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #62 on: March 31, 2016, 07:03:06 AM »
Quote
The point of a debate is to debate a subject, and everyone's opinion is equally valid.

This is an issue to me. If the debate is, "Is the way JK Rowling is depicting Native American culture offensive?" Then automatically, a Native American's opinion is more valid. I'm seeing Gadif's firsthand experience and Blythe's secondhand knowledge being simply dismissed because people are struggling to see this from a Native American perspective.

No, JK Rowling is not singlehandedly responsible for oppressing indigenous peoples, nor is she writing anything intentionally racist.

Yes, Native Americans currently face and have faced before more pressing issues.

Sure, there are other oppressed minorities in the Americas.

But it doesn't make JK Rowling's usage somehow more acceptable. She does not have to be 'evil or cruel' to misuse and appropriate Native American culture. You asked what a fair depiction would be, but then immediately suggested that she could have reached out to actual Native Americans to learn the most sensitive and respectful way to depict their culture in her stories. I too think that would have been the best solution, and I hope she learns from this in future works.

Also...

Quote
I don't feel like it's a realistic concern that people are going to take what she writes as fact. By that logic, we should have a generation of young people in their early 20's still depressed they never went to Hogwarts.

Who says these people don't exist?  :'(

I was 10 when I started reading Harry Potter, the same age as Harry in the first book, the same initials and general build/appearance as Harry. I was impressionable, and even though I knew it was fiction, it was still an influence on me as a person. People are impressionable. If you impress on them unfaithful depictions of Native American culture/religion then they'll come away from the experience only more ignorant.

Offline Anteros


Offline Anteros

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #64 on: March 31, 2016, 11:47:16 AM »
Or... maybe, just maybe, she was writing a book about wizards and muggles, and she used a cultural myth (just like cyclopes, the Sidhe, or kitsune) and decided to use it in her story in a way that fit the story she was telling? Like essentially a thousand different authors have done throughout history. But it's far easier to demonize the person offends our modern 'sensibilities'.

Actually that is literally the perfect example of everything I hate about the modern US culture of political correctness. Blackface is wrong? Fine, but you do not get to have it both ways. Either mocking people because of their race is okay or it's not. That is not equality. That is the opposite of equality. That is looking down at one group of people and going 'you can't take of yourself so we're going to make special rules for you.'
Is it how you see it? Yes all race jokes are wrong, iit's not the question. It's about the potential for harm. In the western world, white people almost never get discriminated because of stereotypes about their skin colors. People don't refuse to let them buy houses in affluent neighbourhoods, they don't get shot on sight by the authorities, they're rarely passed over for jobs they're more than qualified for because they're not the right color, etc...
Making racial jokes about minorities offer a form of validation to the stereotypes and prejudices that cause those discriminations and thus it has more potential to harm. On the other hand, a white boss hearing a joke about white people is unlikely to take it as approval for a policy of not hiring white people. Both kinds of okes are wrong, but one kind will hurt more and more people than the other.



As I said before, you wonder why people like Trump or other crazies get more support than expected? It's because of nonsense like this. This growing culture that says 'be ashamed, you're an oppressor. Everything wrong with these minorities is your fault so you should have to tolerate anything they say or do, but you are not allowed to retort'.

Maybe if we, as a society, stopped spending so much time telling everyone how horrible they were for 'destroying the culture' of minority group A or B and caught up with reality things would actually get better. The cold hard truth? That culture is gone. Just like the Mayans, the native Irish, and thousands of other cultures have died out and been absorbed. What will live on of them will be what pieces are remember by their descendants and what is recorded in our history books.

Spend less time worrying about offending someone's beliefs and more time worrying about how to address the massive instances of substance abuse among Native American communities, the under employment or complete unemployment of many of their members. We have essentially created small nation states out of what the reservations became, but other than highly specialized income (gambling, tourism, etc) they have no economic ability to sustain these micro-communities. To be successful they have to integrate into the society around them, not isolate themselves.

Essentially its the same problem with multiple minority groups: systemic poverty grinds them down... not authors that write novels about wizards.

I'm sure you're not trying to be insensitive or insulting, but you have to realize than when you casually dismiss the concerns, experiences, and feelings of ethnic minorities with the explanation that they incite white guilt and making white people feel bad is wrong, you're doing exactly what the minorities are complaining about. You're taking a problem minorities are trying attention to and making it about white people.
Minority people are not a footnote somewhere in the white majority's narrative.
Their complaints are not about white people's feelings, good or bad. White people don't get to decide for them if their concerns and complaints are valid or not, or which of their problems should be seen to or not. The majority doesn't get to define the history, or identity of minorities. They decide what is important for themselves, they define who they are by themselves.
They have to, because they've spent a long, torturous time having those things decided for them by the white majority, and it would be all to easy to get back to that if they're not on their guard.
Minorities can't afford to allow themselves to be reduced to a few stereotypes, because it can validate the tendencies some have to think of them as being less than people. Words can destroy lives. Ideas can kill. There are real consequences. This is important.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/olivia-cole/dear-white-authors-our-fa_b_9532428.html
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 12:01:46 PM by Anteros »

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Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #65 on: March 31, 2016, 12:24:08 PM »
If you impress on them unfaithful depictions of Native American culture/religion then they'll come away from the experience only more ignorant.

This has been happening for decades.  Going back to the time of the Penny Dreadful we'll see a trend of writing of the Native Americans as savages.  This was widely accepted and for decades was the only image most people had of the indigenous tribes in this country and the world.  Prior to that there are cases of peaceful coexistence between settlers and Native Americans, but these are few.  There was no understanding of the nations (Native American) trying to resist and fight off an invading force and their style of living was looked down on by the newcomers.

I've said before that authors can write anything they wish but when they begin writing about historical facts they need to make sure they get it right and they must take responsibility for what they write.  I've done text book editing for a university professor who is head of a department and in the course of that job worked with six fact checkers.  I know that people do this for a living and hiring them isn't difficult.

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Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #66 on: March 31, 2016, 02:21:36 PM »
This is an issue to me. If the debate is, "Is the way JK Rowling is depicting Native American culture offensive?" Then automatically, a Native American's opinion is more valid. I'm seeing Gadif's firsthand experience and Blythe's secondhand knowledge being simply dismissed because people are struggling to see this from a Native American perspective.

No, JK Rowling is not singlehandedly responsible for oppressing indigenous peoples, nor is she writing anything intentionally racist.

Yes, Native Americans currently face and have faced before more pressing issues.

Sure, there are other oppressed minorities in the Americas.

But it doesn't make JK Rowling's usage somehow more acceptable. She does not have to be 'evil or cruel' to misuse and appropriate Native American culture. You asked what a fair depiction would be, but then immediately suggested that she could have reached out to actual Native Americans to learn the most sensitive and respectful way to depict their culture in her stories. I too think that would have been the best solution, and I hope she learns from this in future works.

If I have ever given the impression that I was dismissing the information given by anyone here, then I'm sorry. That was not the impression I wanted to give, and I can assure everyone participating in this debate that I'm not trying to offend or skewer reality to somehow fit my neutral narrative. I'm not J. K. Rowling, I'm not a dedicated follower of her work, and I'm not a Native American. I'm speaking from the perspective of a third party. A spectator, if you will.

I'm not so deeply involved in Native American culture that I can comment on whether or not the outrage is caused by an "Outsider" writing about them, a wrongful depiction, or simply the fact that they weren't invited to take part in the creative process. Maybe it's all three even, I don't know.

I don't subscribe to the idea that anyone is ever entitled to write about anything, I believe we all have a basic right to express ourselves creatively. I think J. K. Rowling is as "entitled" to write about her own version of Native American culture as any Native American is "entitled" to write about their own version of Norse mythology.

Is Thor and his friends in the Marvel universe appropriated culture? Yes, albeit just not from a population that's ever faced severe oppression. I'm not comparing the two, but I don't think it's healthy for the debate to make it out as though there are, as Beguile put it earlier, scavengers out to pick at the bones of other cultures.

And yes, I think we can all agree that this controversy might never have happened if she had invited someone to advice her, but there is still the option that it would not have been enough. If she had invited someone to come join her in an attempt to include Native American culture, can we be sure that she wouldn't have faced the exact same allegations by those who weren't invited to take part? Should it be an unspoken rule that you have to go down this route?

There will always be a lot of maybe's in a situation like this, but ultimately I believe both sides are at fault for different reasons, and both parties could have handled the situation better.

Who says these people don't exist?  :'(

I was 10 when I started reading Harry Potter, the same age as Harry in the first book, the same initials and general build/appearance as Harry. I was impressionable, and even though I knew it was fiction, it was still an influence on me as a person. People are impressionable. If you impress on them unfaithful depictions of Native American culture/religion then they'll come away from the experience only more ignorant.

I'm not sure how you meant for this to be taken, but I should hope that you can see how the beliefs of an impressionable 10 year old versus the beliefs of an educated adult are not the same, and how we should have different standards in either case. You cannot possibly mean to blame children for their misconceptions and lack of understanding of other cultures. When you're 10, you most likely barely have an understanding of your own culture.

And even then, it should not be creative writers responsibility to educate and to make sure that impressionable youths are not given the wrong impressions. It should be the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children do not consume harmful media, be it cultural, political or religious, and the responsibility of educators to ensure that children learn to understand the difference between reality and fiction and how the two should not be considered equal when forming opinions.

And yes, there is a problem with that. We're seeing that more and more these days, using Muslims as an example, because regardless of ones experience with Native Americans, most people on this site will likely have been exposed to anti-Muslim sentiments and controversies. I also strongly believe that most people realize that the majority of negative prejudices are built on a foundation of fiction and people's general lack of understanding. There are a lot of people who will claim to know a lot of things about Muslim culture, but have no experience actually talking to Muslims or studying their history, heritage and religion.

Like I said in an earlier post, racial and cultural harmony is not going to be achieved over night, sad as that might be. I feel like the world was starting to make progress, but that the current (The last decade) global state has had a very regressive effect. I think we're now seeing the culmination of this, and that regardless of what happens, the next few years will in many ways determinate the direction the world is headed in, be it for better or for worse.

I want to see Hollywood make and effort and pour as many resources into making people care about these oppressed and mistreated cultures as they have done in order to try and make us care about tall blue aliens. I want to see Native American authors release massive smash-hits that brings some real enlightenment and genuine interest to those who seem to have largely forgotten about them. I want to see the American government improved and tightened to the point where systemic discrimination can finally become a thing of the past.

But these things take time, and they take the genuine interest of people in positions of power.

And I think J. K. Rowling, misguided as she may have been, wanted this too.

Offline LisztesFerenc

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #67 on: March 31, 2016, 06:46:21 PM »
  Okay, so this has got me wondering what would have been a better example of using Native American mythologies in a fictional world that is never the less based on ours. This is World of Darkness, specifically the werewolves. Now WoD changed the werewolves, making them spiritual warriors, capable of stepping into the Umbra and invoking gifts taught to them by spirits. They also changed it so that a werewolf's bite does not transmit the condition, they had to breed, with wolves or humans (or other werewolves, but that will invariable result in a offspring with a genetic  defects). I've added explanation for the game specific terms, and if interested you can read up more here -  http://whitewolf.wikia.com/wiki/Werewolf:_The_Apocalypse

  So, where wolves have tribes, and 3 of them are based off of the Native American population.

Red Talons: The Talons consist almost entirely of Lupus (born to a werewolf and a wolf) with a few scattered Metis (born to two werewolves, the product of incest, even if the werewolves are not directly relation) thrown in. There are no Homid (born to a human and a werewolf) Red Talons.The Talons believe that the only way to heal Gaia is to kill every human on the planet and to let the Wyld (the spiritual force of creation, one of three) balance things out. The Red Talons despise humans with a passion and have been known to attack humans on sight, even going so far as to devour their flesh. their participation in the devouring of humans has been both a tribal tradition and pastime since nights gone by, and has proven to raise the suspicion of the other tribes since the act of cannibalizing humans goes directly against the Litany (a code of rules the werewolf tribes life by). How a tribe of feral beasts can still manage to fight the Wyrm (the spiritual force of evil and corruption) and not succumb to its influence is perplexing to say the least. They are known to revel in the hunting of humans and destroying technology but because of their tribes traditional "Lupus cubs only" rule, the wolf population dying off, wildlife being lessened and the Wyrm's near victorious status; they are sadly dying out.

Uktena: Originally Native American, the Uktena have taken in every minority that has come to the Americas. The Uktena delve into dark secrets, from vampires, to ghosts, to things that go bump in the night. These dark mystics are often feared by other Garou (what werewolves call themselves) who think they walk too close to the Wyrm (the spiritual force of evil and corruption).

Wendigo: All Wendigo are of Native American stock. They have not forgiven the European Garou (the "Wyrmcomers") for invading their homelands. They consider the Uktena their somewhat misguided brothers, and tolerate the Striders (Egyptian and Middle Easter werewolf tribe), but dislike most of the other tribes. They particularly loathe the Gnawers, Get, Walkers, Lords and Fangs.

                                for comparison sake, some other werewolf tribes, because this is World of Darkness, no one comes out of it looking too well:

Fianna: Traditionally from the British Isles, these Celtic Garou are fond of song and strong drink. They are often seen as drunken fools, but take their fighting just as seriously as their partying. They know much forgotten Garou lore and are considered the lost cousins of the Fair Folk.

Shadow Lords: The Lords consider themselves to be the only tribe fit to lead the Garou in these dark times. They openly despise the Silver Fangs and seek to overthrow them at every turn. They are seen as ruthless, backstabbing and manipulative, which is very often the case. However, they have great tribal unity. The Lords are not often respected but are almost always feared.

Silver Fangs: The ancestral leaders of the Garou, the Fangs are slowly rotting from within. By breeding with only the noblest of humans and by breeding with their own family members, they have bred weakness into their house. Many have mental disorders of some sort and more than one Metis has come about from a Silver Fangs incestuous habits. The rest of the Garou consider the Fangs doddering kings who should be overthrown. The Fangs will not let such a thing happen. Younger Fangs have been trying to fix what's wrong with the tribe and bring in fresh blood, though they haven't had much success as of yet.

  So is that another example of bad Cultural Appropriate, or is it better? And why?
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 06:50:06 PM by LisztesFerenc »

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #68 on: March 31, 2016, 06:58:33 PM »
Hit or miss. Tribes like the Fianna (drunken Irish werewolves) and Black Furies (hyper-feminist man-hating werewolves) are pretty bad, and the Wendigo aren't good good either. Uktena are generally depicted okay, being a multicultural tribe of misfits sort of thing.

Offline Anteros

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #69 on: March 31, 2016, 07:50:19 PM »
I don't have all the Werewolf: the Apocalypse sourcebooks, but White Wolf in general had a period of associating supernatural splats to specific ethnicities which was sometimes ill-advised (The World of Darkness: Gypsy sourcebook was particularly cringe worthy).

I love W:tA but the depictions of the Wendigo, Fianna, Black Furies and Get of Fenris in particular were a mess of shallow stereotypes, although the accent was on werewolf culture rather than human culture.

Offline Aethereal

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #70 on: March 31, 2016, 07:58:25 PM »
(The World of Darkness: Gypsy sourcebook was particularly cringe worthy).
      I can imagine (even without reading the book, just from the title)... The Romani I know hate the term "gypsy" with a passion and consider it a slur on par with any other ethnicist/racist insult. The same goes for various media depictions of Romani as scammers, child-stealers and whatnot.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #71 on: March 31, 2016, 08:05:25 PM »
      I can imagine (even without reading the book, just from the title)... The Romani I know hate the term "gypsy" with a passion and consider it a slur on par with any other ethnicist/racist insult. The same goes for various media depictions of Romani as scammers, child-stealers and whatnot.
Whatever you're imagining, it's worse. WoD: Gypsy is legendarily offensive and terrible amongst OWoD fans. I think it starts at giving them magical powers that are related to or recharge from stealing things, and goes downhill from there.

Offline TairisTopic starter

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #72 on: March 31, 2016, 10:28:12 PM »

Just wanted to mention that. Their culture is most certainly not gone. They are a huge part of the area I live in. Just saying--Native Americans in general aren't gone. :/

I didn't mean as in 'there are no more native americans or organized groups', etc. As I said in the previous post, just like older gaelic culture in Scotland and Ireland and similar places there are always minority groups that will pass down that heritage, history, and culture.

But that culture, as it was before white settlers destroyed it? It is gone, or at least fundamentally changed because you can't completely exclude yourself from the culture around you when you're effectively a micro-nation within the borders of a much more massive nation. That's easy enough to see just by looking at the names of notable tribe members: often a combination of anglicanized names, more traditional names, etc. I'd also be very interested to know how many of those 200,000 practice the traditional religion of the tribe as an actual belief system rather than an item of heritage.

I'm not saying that somehow what happened was right or that the many Native American tribes successful and not should be ignored. But what I am saying is... these aren't the same cultures and peoples that existed when the colonization of the Americas began. They are never going to be sovereign independent nations again. They are, like it or not, part of the greater culture of the United States now and we should treat them as such: citizens, with the same rights and privileges as any other citizen.

Is it how you see it? Yes all race jokes are wrong, iit's not the question. It's about the potential for harm. In the western world, white people almost never get discriminated because of stereotypes about their skin colors. People don't refuse to let them buy houses in affluent neighbourhoods, they don't get shot on sight by the authorities, they're rarely passed over for jobs they're more than qualified for because they're not the right color, etc...
Making racial jokes about minorities offer a form of validation to the stereotypes and prejudices that cause those discriminations and thus it has more potential to harm. On the other hand, a white boss hearing a joke about white people is unlikely to take it as approval for a policy of not hiring white people. Both kinds of okes are wrong, but one kind will hurt more and more people than the other.

 ::) I won't even touch the hyperbole of the entire nonsense with cops and minorities as that's an entirely different debate. My point is if your own stance is 'all race jokes are wrong' then actually act like it. But that's not what I ever see. It's always 'race jokes are wrong... unless they're about white people and then they are 100% okay and will get played on Comedy Central'.

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I'm sure you're not trying to be insensitive or insulting, but you have to realize than when you casually dismiss the concerns, experiences, and feelings of ethnic minorities with the explanation that they incite white guilt and making white people feel bad is wrong, you're doing exactly what the minorities are complaining about. You're taking a problem minorities are trying attention to and making it about white people.
Minority people are not a footnote somewhere in the white majority's narrative.
Their complaints are not about white people's feelings, good or bad. White people don't get to decide for them if their concerns and complaints are valid or not, or which of their problems should be seen to or not. The majority doesn't get to define the history, or identity of minorities. They decide what is important for themselves, they define who they are by themselves.
They have to, because they've spent a long, torturous time having those things decided for them by the white majority, and it would be all to easy to get back to that if they're not on their guard.
Minorities can't afford to allow themselves to be reduced to a few stereotypes, because it can validate the tendencies some have to think of them as being less than people. Words can destroy lives. Ideas can kill. There are real consequences. This is important.

I didn't say making white people feel bad was wrong. I said that making white people feel bad just for being white is no less offensive and insulting than the other way around, which was my entire starting question in this thread: why are we as a culture be okay with it at all if we actually believe in equality?

Nobody gets to tell me their culture is sacred but mine is an open target because of something my ancestors did centuries ago and expect me to just 'yea, that's fair'. That is the root of distaste for the entire narrative of the oppressed minority. It never ends up being about making everyone equal. It always ends up being about 'This happened to our people in the past, that means you need to do X'. I owe no one anything other than the same respect and regard I would give to any individual.

You're right, many minorities faced a terrible uphill battle, they fought for their rights and they were well-deserved. But once everyone gets to the top of the plateau it doesn't mean in the name of fairness you get to start shoving the ones that were already there back down the hill and telling them they deserve it. I fully endorse their right to complain as loud and as long as they want.

But I also have the same right to point out the hypocrisy of decrying the 'misuse' of one culture's religious myths when the same people won't bat an eyelash when another culture's myths are used so often that they're a trope.

You're right. Words do have power and are important. And if a political leader or any prominent figure was out there talking about how minority A or B was inferior or a danger (*cough* Trump) I'd 100% agree that they're a racist and could indeed be a danger. But Rowling? Rowling wrote a book about freaking wizards and used one myth that has various interpretations of its own to fill in a gap in her world in a way she thought fit the narrative.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 10:31:20 PM by Tairis »

Offline Anteros

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #73 on: April 01, 2016, 01:54:53 AM »
Nobody gets to tell me their culture is sacred but mine is an open target because of something my ancestors did centuries ago and expect me to just 'yea, that's fair'. That is the root of distaste for the entire narrative of the oppressed minority. It never ends up being about making everyone equal. It always ends up being about 'This happened to our people in the past, that means you need to do X'. I owe no one anything other than the same respect and regard I would give to any individual.

You're right, many minorities faced a terrible uphill battle, they fought for their rights and they were well-deserved. But once everyone gets to the top of the plateau it doesn't mean in the name of fairness you get to start shoving the ones that were already there back down the hill and telling them they deserve it. I fully endorse their right to complain as loud and as long as they want.

But I also have the same right to point out the hypocrisy of decrying the 'misuse' of one culture's religious myths when the same people won't bat an eyelash when another culture's myths are used so often that they're a trope.

You're right. Words do have power and are important. And if a political leader or any prominent figure was out there talking about how minority A or B was inferior or a danger (*cough* Trump) I'd 100% agree that they're a racist and could indeed be a danger. But Rowling? Rowling wrote a book about freaking wizards and used one myth that has various interpretations of its own to fill in a gap in her world in a way she thought fit the narrative.
I don't know how it is in the US, but I've never heard any POC saying that insulting white people because of their race was OK. If you experienced such a thing, I'm sorry and sympathize with you. Your experience is no less valid that anyone else's.
In the same way, one religion or culture is not more important than the other (And no, nobody gets to tell you than your faith is less important that theirs), but some of them are more vulnerable than the others. Those are diifferent notions.

I'll use an image: People of different weights might need different dosages from a same medicine. A dose that would heal one might kill the other. So when one of them asks for something else than the standard dosage, it doesn't mean they're asking for special privileges; they're asking for what they need. Yes, it might take more effort to provide, but they won't get a greater benefit from this than the other receives from their standard dosage.
People can be affected differently by a same thing, due to internal or external circumstances. This means that sometimes they can't be treated the same way without someone getting hurt. It doesn't mean anyone involved is inferior/superior to the other.

Unfortunately you seem not take into account the fact that minorities mostly don't effectively get to reach the plateau you're talking about, which is a big part of their problem. Minorities are not getting up there with the majority and then shoving people from the top. They almost never get there.
The "narrative of the oppressed minority" you're talking about is not a thing of the past, that minorities complain about to the innocent descendants of the people who were really guilty.
It began then, but it is still happening right now.
Yes things are better now than they were then. But better than horrible do not means good, or even acceptable.

Let's use an image again. Imagine than my ancestor invaded the home of a family. He killed most of them, and forced the survivors to live in the run down shed behind their former house. Now several generations later, I live in that house, while the descendants of the survivors still live in the shed and although they try to come back in the house, I'm making it really, really clear that they're not welcome, with whatever means I can  get away with.
When those guys complain about their lives, it's not just because of what my ancestor did to theirs back then, it's mostly because of what I'm doing to them now. And yes, I'm not responsible for what my ancestor did, but I'm guilty of continuing what he started, if not in the same way; I benefit from his crime while they suffer from it and when they try to repair this situation, I won't let them.
Also I could swear I heard someone snicker when I told the neighbourhood kids to get off my lawn.
Still, that's me. Them? They have other concerns than whatever my feelings might be. They just want into the damn house.


Offline TairisTopic starter

Re: JK Rowling and Cultural Appropriation
« Reply #74 on: April 01, 2016, 03:49:12 PM »
I don't know how it is in the US, but I've never heard any POC saying that insulting white people because of their race was OK. If you experienced such a thing, I'm sorry and sympathize with you. Your experience is no less valid that anyone else's.
In the same way, one religion or culture is not more important than the other (And no, nobody gets to tell you than your faith is less important that theirs), but some of them are more vulnerable than the others. Those are diifferent notions.

It's a pretty common trope even on american TV. The white TV dad is always a bumbling idiot is probably the single most common TV sitcom trope for example. Hell one of Comedy Central's single biggest hits was the Chappel show that rarely made it through an episode without presenting white people as all secretly racist, oblivious, and stupid. The funny thing is that doesn't actually even bother me. I freaking love that show because its hilarious, but it bothers me when someone says 'you can't say that because I'm race X' yet will sit there and talk about how funny that show is.

Quote
Unfortunately you seem not take into account the fact that minorities mostly don't effectively get to reach the plateau you're talking about, which is a big part of their problem. Minorities are not getting up there with the majority and then shoving people from the top. They almost never get there.
The "narrative of the oppressed minority" you're talking about is not a thing of the past, that minorities complain about to the innocent descendants of the people who were really guilty.

Except where is it that said minority is being repressed? I'm not going to try and say there aren't racists in the world but they come in every stripe. I've met white guys who would be in the KKK if it was socially acceptable, I've made Korean business owners that downright hate other asian minorities, I've met black guys who have a literal religious belief that white people were created to be evil (Nation of Islam is yet another thing for an entire thread of its own).

But there are no laws preventing them from living, working, or worshiping like real civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King fought so hard against. No restrictions to keep them from voting. No one is taking their land, their money, or anything else. Nor is anyone telling them they're not allowed into a school because of the color of their skin. And in this example there are no government endorsed programs or respected non-fictional accounts being spread to try and denounce or condemn the culture of Native Americans.

Quote
It began then, but it is still happening right now.
Yes things are better now than they were then. But better than horrible do not means good, or even acceptable.

Let's use an image again. Imagine than my ancestor invaded the home of a family. He killed most of them, and forced the survivors to live in the run down shed behind their former house. Now several generations later, I live in that house, while the descendants of the survivors still live in the shed and although they try to come back in the house, I'm making it really, really clear that they're not welcome, with whatever means I can  get away with.
When those guys complain about their lives, it's not just because of what my ancestor did to theirs back then, it's mostly because of what I'm doing to them now. And yes, I'm not responsible for what my ancestor did, but I'm guilty of continuing what he started, if not in the same way; I benefit from his crime while they suffer from it and when they try to repair this situation, I won't let them.
Also I could swear I heard someone snicker when I told the neighbourhood kids to get off my lawn.
Still, that's me. Them? They have other concerns than whatever my feelings might be. They just want into the damn house.

Here's the problem with that idea: it never ends. I'm well aware of the idea that minorities are on a whole poorer because they did not have an established wealthy class and reduced job opportunities. While I won't agree that its the sole cause of people's current economic situations I don't think its an arguable point that it is most certainly a factor. But how exactly is the solution to that take Item A from Person B who 'didn't earn it' and give it to Person A who also didn't earn it? One of the things that my father taught me that has proven true throughout my life is that people never appreciate things they're just given nearly as much as something they earn.

Reparations are always a big thing from many of the black community. Even ignoring the fact that you would have no way to calculate who got how much money, let's just assume that at 8 am tomorrow every black person in the United States was given $100,000 USD. In a year how many of them would still have that money? Or would, as with a large % of lottery winners, the majority spend it frivolously while a minority used it to pay down debts, establish college funds, make investments, etc. Then a year later what happens when someone else says 'Well, its was only $100,000. Black people were slaves for hundreds of years that doesn't seem like enough money'.

It's an endless moving scale. When is minority A or B now 'equal' to the oppressive white man? Who decides? Do we base it on gross income? If so what happens if after 5 years the gross income levels of one minority dip below those of another. Do we make more changes, move more resources from one group to the other to make the previous group 'equal' again?

Equality means everyone gets a fair shake. Not everyone should get treated like special snowflakes because we refuse to stop living in a past we cannot change. Morgan Freeman's old interview sums it up pretty perfectly to me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMGfhXCpN2k.

If you want to be equal? Then treat everyone as equals. Give their faith, culture, and person the same respect you would give anyone you met on the street. Stop putting people into special little categories and treat them as people. If you see an injustice or a situation where someone is being treated unfairly? Speak up. Work with your community and your government to correct it.

I think the perfect example would the the US school systems. I don't know what country you call home, but chances are it's got its shit together better than we do.

One of the huge complaints I always see is 'not enough minorities are getting into college, we need affirmative action to make sure they're getting the same chance'. It's a special solution to a specific problem that doesn't remotely address the actual problems with our educational system that affect every single student. Instead of worrying about whether enough minorities are getting into college why do we not care about the fact that vast numbers of college graduates of every race are graduating under mountains of debt with limited skills to deal with the world they're coming into.

The funny thing is if we addressed the root problem, that we've created a system designed to churn out college graduates because of an perversion of the 'American Dream' that every child should be a college graduation, wouldn't that help elevate the same people? Instead of worrying about how many minorities get to go to college why not make it so we're educating every student with the basic knowledge they need and focusing efforts on guiding them to what they actually have aptitudes and interest for. Suddenly we have every student with more opportunities instead of being shoved into the same box. Opportunities to learn tradeskills, many of which provide significant upper-middle class incomes and thus letting them reach the same economic and social status as everyone else?
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 03:52:26 PM by Tairis »