AW Amazon Store

If this site is helpful to you,
Please consider a voluntary subscription to defray ongoing expenses.


 

Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Page 1 of 12 123456711 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 293

Thread: Cultural Appropriation and Celebration of Failure to Read the Screen

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    196

    Cultural Appropriation and Celebration of Failure to Read the Screen

    With all this discussion going on in Canada about cultural appropriation going on in Canada, I wonder if I'll ever get a publisher to even consider my book.

    In case you don't know, and if you're in the U.S. you won't; there is a huge discussion under way in Canada about cultural appropriation with aboriginals saying "don't steal our art, don't steal our voices," people resigning or getting reassigned from prominent editorial positions and even some First Nations writers arguing about who is more Indian than the other. It all comes out of books written by people purporting to be aboriginal and most recently about artwork resembling that of a prominent aboriginal artist.

    Oops. I used the word Indian. As a (mostly) white person I'm required by PC law to use the words aboriginal or First Nations.

    Only Indians can use the word "Indian" and they do.

    In the U.S. you frequently say "Native American."

    Anyway, I have a novel I'm preparing to pitch after working on it for two years and it has two FN characters in it, and one is a jerk and the other is a woman with possibly a disappeared sibling. In case you don't know, the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women is significant in Canada.

    Seeing as I'm white (I can't prove my 19th century aboriginal heritage) and I don't depict either one as a saint I might as well give up.
    Last edited by Hublocker; 05-19-2017 at 01:18 AM.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW lianna williamson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    small-town New England
    Posts
    897
    I get that it sucks for you that you've got this novel ready to go just at a cultural growing-pains moment that's going to make the content potentially difficult to sell, but take a step back and check yourself. What you are doing is whining that a systematically oppressed people's struggle to define themselves culturally is making your white life so very hard, and that isn't a pretty look.

    Also if you think "avoiding cultural appropriation" = "all non-white characters must be depicted as saints", you have a lot of self-educating to do. You are very, very much missing the point.
    Last edited by lianna williamson; 05-19-2017 at 01:15 AM.
    blogging the novel

  3. #3
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    The land from whence the shadows fall
    Posts
    1,290
    While I broadly sympathise with the issue you've highlighted, and feel genuinely sad that writers of any race feel they are locked into only their own segregated culture... you are nonetheless coming across as a bit of a tit in your post.

    FWIW, "diverse" novels are rising in popularity with agents, and I don't mean BME writers. White writers using BME characters is very popular.
    Deferential, glad to be of use,
    Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
    Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
    At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
    Almost, at times, the Fool.


  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW lianna williamson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    small-town New England
    Posts
    897
    There's no actual law that you can't write a book with POC characters if you're white. Speaking as a white writer who has written POC characters, I think what white writers are really often complaining about is receiving negative feedback from POC readers for doing so. We want to just be able to write the book however we want and not have anyone try to make us feel like racists if we unintentionally offend someone.

    We need to fucking grow a pair. Research the hell out of the groups you're writing about. Get beta readers from that group to give you feedback. Accept that you undoubtably have racist shit you're not even aware of, and REJOICE that you have this opportunity to confront it, and grow as both a writer and a person.

    To quote one of my favorite BookTubers: "Look, there is so much to know about all the different peoples of this world, it is inevitable that at some point in your life you're going to do or say something hurtful or offensive without even realizing it. But to sit on a high horse while you're doing it is not a pretty look."
    Last edited by lianna williamson; 05-19-2017 at 01:28 AM.
    blogging the novel

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    In constant transit
    Posts
    1,474
    I think you should just write whatever you want. This PC stuff is going way too far. Do your research and write intelligently about whatever you choose.
    Last edited by andiwrite; 05-19-2017 at 01:52 AM.

  6. #6
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    The land from whence the shadows fall
    Posts
    1,290
    How has it gone too far? Who is preventing it?

    Just write it as best you can and don't stress about it. Certainly don't set up straw men to rage about.
    Deferential, glad to be of use,
    Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
    Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
    At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
    Almost, at times, the Fool.


  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW Underdawg47's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Federal Way Washington
    Posts
    372
    It sounds like human history to me. What culture has not taken from other cultures? Who still lives on the land of their ancestors? Apparently all of our ancestors came from Africa and now we are spread across the globe conquering and reconquering lands. In similar ways Israel thinks they have the right to take back ancient land that they once owned in the Bible, yet they stole their land from the Canaanites. It is hard to say who originally owned the land first.

    Not only do we steal land, but we have stolen other people's cultures through the millennia and adopted them into our own since the beginning of time. Our language is a mixture of different languages, our art is a mixture of different cultural influences and so is our music. So why should Native Americans be exempt? Yes, our ancestors robbed the native people's of their land and killed them in the process. Our ancestors did horrible things I know, but what do we do now? Is it right to punish those living now for the sins of their forefathers? Do we start by removing native words and copied artwork from our own culture? Should we tread lightly as if on eggshells careful not to copy anything that may or not have been native American in origin? Where does it end? How how back through history can we take this?

    I feel for the plight of those suffering at the hands of oppressors, no matter what race they happen to be, but political correctness just seems to me to be an overcompensation for guilt directed in the wrong way. I don't see anything wrong in adopting language, art, and myths into the evolving culture of modern day society. This has always been what we are as a people. I think if we want to help those are oppressed, then we give them the tools to succeed, raise them out of poverty, and go after and punish those who would oppress them economically.
    “My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don't make that mistake yourself. Life's too damn short.”

    Armistead Maupin quote.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    196
    Original Poster here. Otherwise known as the whining tit.

    I didn't know what BME meant until I looked it up.

    I grew up in the only French-Canadian family in an Anglophone community in western Canada with two nearby Indian reserves. I'm not going into a long "some of my best friends are aboriginal" defense, that's not necessary, all I want to add is that I've seen plenty of ethnic minority and race prejudice close-up in my 64 years on this planet. And I have plenty of grist for the mill in that regard.

  9. #9
    please distract me mccardey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Australia.
    Posts
    11,114
    High time to show a little grace, I'd have thought - the tantrums about this are extraordinary. Yes, there are people on the planet who don't belong to the privileged (often white) middle class. Yes, sometimes they want to be able to tell their own stories. No, this doesn't mean the privileged (often white) middle class will never ever be able to write again. No, it doesn't mean that the right to write anything is being stolen. It means it's being claimed by other people as well. High time, I say.
    Last edited by mccardey; 05-19-2017 at 02:54 AM.

  10. #10
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Lost in space. And meaning.
    Posts
    15,804
    In a novel, you should use the terms for people and entities that the viewpoint character would use. It's down to your skills as a writer to get across that any attitudes or opinions expressed are the characters' not yours. However, you should also do your homework and understand what is sensitive these days and why. And show the actual effects of these attitudes and opinions in action, not by preaching about them, but by showing what they do to people. Some people will be bothered by certain words and expressions, regardless of context, and they may have very good reasons for it. Decide if the story you want to tell needs these elements to work and feel authentic.

    As for cultural appropriation? That's a bit different from cultures exchanging elements with each other. With each other implies it's done with mutual consent, or at least that it's done mutually, between two cultures of equal influence or power. Cultural appropriation occurs when a dominant or colonizing culture takes things from other cultures as the dominant power chooses, often with no understanding or appreciation of the history or context or meaning of the element to the culture it's taken from. And they tend to do this while imposing their own cultural norms or traditions upon the exploited culture (whether they wish it or not). Dreamcatcher rear view mirror ornaments, or "sexy Indian" costumes, come to mind here (in a world where Native Americans were, until recently, forbidden from expressing their own cultures or even speaking their own languages, so many traditions and languages have been lost to memory), or books that claim to celebrate another culture when they actually present a bunch of stereotypes or very superficial treatment of the people involved.

    No one can, or should, forbid you from doing anything you wish in your stories, but nothing can stop readers from criticizing what they think are crude or ineffective portrayals of other cultures or traditions either. If you've got lots of friends and relatives who are of the culture you want to portray, then you shouldn't have any problems finding some beta readers who can offer feedback about whether or not you've done a good job.
    Please excuse me, I was raised by wolves.

    My twitter - My FB - My blog

  11. #11
    Still at it! Odile_Blud's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    A cave. (I power the internet with my imagination)
    Posts
    217
    No. Don't give up. I say, write it. The beauty about art (writing included) is being able to express your views, ideas, and creativity. Some of the greatest art is controversial. Art should challenge us. Art should make us think. In trying to please everybody, we wind up stumping ourselves. We don't get to tell the story, we wanted to tell, and at the end of the day, you can't please everyone. You just have to tell your story. If this a project you really want to work on, a story you really want to tell, do it. Politics should have no say so in art.

    Your art is your voice and you have a right to express it.
    Last edited by Odile_Blud; 05-19-2017 at 02:57 AM.
    Temporarily removed

  12. #12
    please distract me mccardey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Australia.
    Posts
    11,114
    Quote Originally Posted by Underdawg47 View Post
    So why should Native Americans be exempt? Yes, our ancestors robbed the native people's of their land and killed them in the process. Our ancestors did horrible things I know, but what do we do now? Is it right to punish those living now for the sins of their forefathers?
    I would think it's an act of grace to make restitution whenever it's in one's power. If First People are still in a place of disadvantage, then a bit of affirmative action might be very useful. And lets note that in a large part we're discussing Not Continuing To Take Their Stuff (their stories, and voices and identities) as affirmative action - like it's a special thing that they're forcing on us unfairly. There's unfair and there's Unfair, yanno? History is full of unfair as you say - this time it's operating in a teeny, tiny way against Privilege.

    I'm okay with that.
    Last edited by mccardey; 05-19-2017 at 03:04 AM.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW kaylim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    173
    Quote Originally Posted by Underdawg47 View Post
    It sounds like human history to me. What culture has not taken from other cultures? Who still lives on the land of their ancestors? Apparently all of our ancestors came from Africa and now we are spread across the globe conquering and reconquering lands. In similar ways Israel thinks they have the right to take back ancient land that they once owned in the Bible, yet they stole their land from the Canaanites. It is hard to say who originally owned the land first.

    Not only do we steal land, but we have stolen other people's cultures through the millennia and adopted them into our own since the beginning of time. Our language is a mixture of different languages, our art is a mixture of different cultural influences and so is our music. So why should Native Americans be exempt? Yes, our ancestors robbed the native people's of their land and killed them in the process. Our ancestors did horrible things I know, but what do we do now? Is it right to punish those living now for the sins of their forefathers? Do we start by removing native words and copied artwork from our own culture? Should we tread lightly as if on eggshells careful not to copy anything that may or not have been native American in origin? Where does it end? How how back through history can we take this?

    I feel for the plight of those suffering at the hands of oppressors, no matter what race they happen to be, but political correctness just seems to me to be an overcompensation for guilt directed in the wrong way. I don't see anything wrong in adopting language, art, and myths into the evolving culture of modern day society. This has always been what we are as a people. I think if we want to help those are oppressed, then we give them the tools to succeed, raise them out of poverty, and go after and punish those who would oppress them economically.
    I think you're right about a lot this but there are still examples of native americans getting screwed. Just look at the Dakota Pipeline. They were going to route that through a white neighborhood and the white neighborhood refused so instead it was going to go through a reservation and those people have been subjected to terrible crimes so...

    sorry for the derail btw. more on topic, I think you should just try to write with sensitivity but with honesty. Just make sure you do your research.

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    In constant transit
    Posts
    1,474
    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    How has it gone too far? Who is preventing it?
    People are offended over EVERYTHING these days. I think it's ridiculous. But you're right, no one is preventing, nor should they. I always encourage people to creatively express themselves in whatever way they see fit. Trying to avoid offending people is pointless anyway. You could spend weeks researching and create the most sensitively written story ever, and it would still piss someone off.

  15. #15
    please distract me mccardey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Australia.
    Posts
    11,114
    Quote Originally Posted by andiwrite View Post
    People are offended over EVERYTHING these days.
    It was so much better when everyone knew their place and these things just never arose.

    Oh no, wait -

  16. #16
    People are not wearing enough hats JJ Litke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Austin
    Posts
    6,296
    Quote Originally Posted by kaylim View Post
    ...there are still examples of native americans getting screwed. Just look at the Dakota Pipeline. They were going to route that through a white neighborhood and the white neighborhood refused so instead it was going to go through a reservation and those people have been subjected to terrible crimes so...
    This, exactly. If your perspective is that you shouldn't be held responsible for what your ancestors did, as if it's not still happening, you're too ignorant to write about the subject.
    The Invisible Box, Apex Magazine issue #92
    When the Planets Left
    , Cast of Wonders episode 210
    Harbinie of Death
    , Farstrider Magazine issue #2
    jjlitke.com

  17. #17
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,595
    I've seen a lot of cases of books that have been published that contained either really awful stereotypes, or flat-out problematic storylines. I have a hard time believing that (e.g.) a white person writing PoC in a novel is going to have trouble publishing it for that reason.

    And of course I can't prove a negative. But based on what does get published - if your characters have more than one dimension, I'm guessing you're not going to get tossed onto the slush because you don't match their demographic.

    White writers publishing books containing diverse casts are not an endangered species, and aren't in danger of becoming one. There are so many, many reasons to rail at the injustices of publishing - but wow, this isn't one of them.
    October goal: Some words on WIP #2 (1,241/~120,000)

    Hey, I got interviewed by AbsoluteWrite!




    Here are some books I wrote.

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW Jan74's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    610
    As a fellow Canadian struggling with this issue, I can predict a few scenarios.
    1. You publish, the book does amazingly well it's a hit and you must grow thick tough skin and be prepared for the political shit storm that WILL follow with a great success, they will say it's not your story to tell and media circus will follow. Find a cave and wait it out. Or throw on cape and state it's freedom of speech.
    2. You publish, it barley registers and only a few people mumble about it.
    3. You don't publish, nobody knows what you've written.
    4. You publish, with the backing of the first nations people you are writing about and give credit for your sources and make your work a collaboration and most will be happy, media will be mixed regarding Cultural Appropriation.
    As a proud Canadian this is what my crystal ball has shown me the magic 8 ball shows #4 is your best option.
    Last edited by Jan74; 05-19-2017 at 04:43 AM.

    "You fail only if you stop writing" ~Ray Bradbury~
    "The road to hell is paved with adverbs" ~Stephen King~
    WIP Romance or Women's fiction, hopefully by the end I'll know.
    "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." ~Margaret Atwood~
    "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." ~Mary Angelou~


  19. #19
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Far North Queensland
    Posts
    6,138
    Quote Originally Posted by andiwrite View Post
    People are offended over EVERYTHING these days. I think it's ridiculous. But you're right, no one is preventing, nor should they. I always encourage people to creatively express themselves in whatever way they see fit. Trying to avoid offending people is pointless anyway. You could spend weeks researching and create the most sensitively written story ever, and it would still piss someone off.
    People certainly seem to be offended by other people asking for some respect. That causes endless complaints.


  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    196
    What is POC?



    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    I've seen a lot of cases of books that have been published that contained either really awful stereotypes, or flat-out problematic storylines. I have a hard time believing that (e.g.) a white person writing PoC in a novel is going to have trouble publishing it for that reason.

    And of course I can't prove a negative. But based on what does get published - if your characters have more than one dimension, I'm guessing you're not going to get tossed onto the slush because you don't match their demographic.

    White writers publishing books containing diverse casts are not an endangered species, and aren't in danger of becoming one. There are so many, many reasons to rail at the injustices of publishing - but wow, this isn't one of them.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    In constant transit
    Posts
    1,474
    Quote Originally Posted by mccardey View Post
    It was so much better when everyone knew their place and these things just never arose.

    Oh no, wait -
    What does it have to do with "everyone knowing their place?" EVERYONE should be free to write about whatever the hell they want.

  22. #22
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,595
    Quote Originally Posted by Hublocker View Post
    What is POC?
    People of color (non-white folks).

    Quote Originally Posted by andiwrite View Post
    What does it have to do with "everyone knowing their place?" EVERYONE should be free to write about whatever the hell they want.
    They certainly are. And people are free to call them on it if they think the content is problematic.
    October goal: Some words on WIP #2 (1,241/~120,000)

    Hey, I got interviewed by AbsoluteWrite!




    Here are some books I wrote.

  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    In constant transit
    Posts
    1,474
    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    They certainly are. And people are free to call them on it if they think the content is problematic.
    Totally. People can write whatever they want, and people can think whatever they want about it.

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    196
    Well this book has two FN characters, a lot of FN place names and fish names.

    A large part of the the whole narrative is the local FN community's opposition to oil tanker traffic in their territory.

    And another FN community's warm welcome to it.

    Did you know the Tsimshian word for seagull is gaguum?

    I'll betcha nobody here even knows what or where Tsimshian is without looking it up.

    Dried sheets of seaweed is siidzm la'ask.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jan74 View Post
    As a fellow Canadian struggling with this issue, I can predict a few scenarios.
    1. You publish, the book does amazingly well it's a hit and you must grow thick tough skin and be prepared for the political shit storm that WILL follow with a great success, they will say it's not your story to tell and media circus will follow. Find a cave and wait it out. Or throw on cape and state it's freedom of speech.
    2. You publish, it barley registers and only a few people mumble about it.
    3. You don't publish, nobody knows what you've written.
    4. You publish, with the backing of the first nations people you are writing about and give credit for your sources and make your work a collaboration and most will be happy, media will be mixed regarding Cultural Appropriation.
    As a proud Canadian this is what my crystal ball has shown me the magic 8 ball shows #4 is your best option.
    Last edited by Hublocker; 05-19-2017 at 05:20 AM.

  25. #25
    please distract me mccardey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Australia.
    Posts
    11,114
    Quote Originally Posted by andiwrite View Post
    What does it have to do with "everyone knowing their place?" EVERYONE should be free to write about whatever the hell they want.
    Historically, that's a fairly new standpoint, and it's still very privileged. A lot of the people who have had their stories and voices appropriated were not in a position to write, and if they were there was almost no chance their version would be preferred over the more privileged, louder, and yes, freer-to-write mob. Which has been traditionally, in my country at least, white, educated, middle-class and male.

    That other voices have reached a position from which they can be heard demanding the right to reclaim their stories and voices might feel like a terrible injustice to some. It really isn't.
    Last edited by mccardey; 05-19-2017 at 05:21 AM.

Page 1 of 12 123456711 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search