Fully appreciating culture without appropriation: a guide in 15 steps

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Fully appreciating culture without appropriation: a guide in 15 steps

#1

Post by Saria Dragon of the Rain Wilds » Fri Jun 03, 2016 9:20 am

http://blacknerdproblems.com/fully-appr ... -15-steps/
There are many people confused about cultural appropriation and the difference between appreciation and appropriation. They are also baffled by the idea that a dance, music style, fashion or hair style can be specific to a certain group and therefore one should look into embracing that activity with care. On April 10, 2016, The Try Guys released a video where they tried stepping, a style of dance that is very specific to Black fraternities and sororities in America. Had this experiment gone wrong, Black Twitter would have exploded, but instead it passed with a chuckle, wink, and a hand clap.

[MEDIA=youtube]r7_fe-bPWnM[/MEDIA]

So the question is: what did they do right or how does someone appreciate and embrace a culture that’s not your own and not get accused of racism, ignorance, or cultural appropriation? To answer that question (because I’m sure inquiring minds what to know) here’s is a list of 15 things they do right; so strap in ’cause this going to be a trip.


ONE
The first image in this video is of Black men. This visually sends the message that whatever we are about to see is something that they, as black men, have mastered. This is our first image.

Image

TWO
The second image that we see is the Try Guys sitting down…. Learning. Coming into the space with humbleness.

How this could have gone wrong: They could have interrupted a step routine and then ask to be taught. This would have sent the message that what someone was doing before what not important until the Try Guys arrived. But no, they entered the space with respect and they were also clearly invited in the space. Which brings me to…

THREE
When participating in something that is not your culture… get invited. Do not just take because it’s cute, fun, interesting…. whatever. Get invited. By all means, read and learn, but if you want to participate, to make your knowledge active. Wait to be invited to do so.

FOUR
“Step. Stepping. Step Dance.” Learn the proper name of what you are participating in. This critical step is what so many people avoid because they can’t be bothered to learn. This is also another example of humbleness and respectfully engaging a new culture.

FIVE
“Doesn’t look like something I’d be very good at.”

He didn’t say, “I’m a White guy so of course I’d be bad at this.” Why is this important? Because that statement would imply that the Black people present are there for his entertainment. Self-depreciation doesn’t sound the same when interacting with the new culture while being White. When you are a white face in the POC space or a straight person in a gay space or man in a woman’s space, or a rich person in a working class space, jokes about your status will carry a weight of insult, injury, and reminded pain because you have been invited into special space and mocking your own privilege implicitly makes the people that you are with the ‘other’.

Image

SIX
The Try Guys don’t just learn a dance. They learn the history of the dance and why it is important to the fraternity, to the Black colleges, to Black people. When people appropriate a culture, they will use an element of the culture without even trying to understand its meaning and legacy. The Try Guys learn meaning while exploring… and that bring us to…

SEVEN
The Try Guys learn from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. The oldest Black fraternity in the nation. A Black person familiar with stepping in America would recognize this reaching out to Alpha Phi Alpha as a legitimate way to learning about stepping without trying to mock it. It’s going to the ‘masters’ if you will, again in a state of humbleness. They didn’t go to step dance cardio class. They went to the source. Another sign of respect and research on their part.

EIGHT
“Seeing 3 White dudes and an Asian guy stepping with you guys in unison…” Own who you are in the space. Vitally important. This may seem contradictory to what a wrote before, but listen. All privilege is a responsibility, but most people don’t feel that responsibility until there are in a space were that privilege becomes apparent. When you have privilege, but come in a spirit of humbleness, you are saying, “I know I am (White, a man, straight) and I know that just by my presence, I may represent people and events that have hurt you in the past, but I am here in the spirit of love and to fully respect who you are as an individual human being.”

NINE
The Try Guys work hard to get it right and understand that by participating in the art form they are now representing the Alpha Phi Alpha and that is a big deal. They take on the responsibility of representing this culture, representing it well and not mocking/changing or remixing it for their own ends (and then renaming Body Beats to teach it as a class at LA Fitness). There are 3 White guys and one Asian guy performing an African American art form with understanding and respect while not claiming to do it better or make more palpable to a White audience nor do they claim to suddenly being “Black” themselves.

Image

TEN
The video shows old pictures of Black Greek organizations further emphasize respect for the history, art form and the culture.

ELEVEN
The brother’s of the Fraternity are shown speaking for themselves without the Try Guys speaking for them which to take away their voice and agency.

TWELVE
“I’m just one guy, but together, we’re a team.” Understanding the importance of a collective and developing the understand that the collective and the brotherhood of the collective is a vital part of the culture which is being explored. And again, respecting the importance of that community culture.

THIRTEEN
“I think our biggest priority is making the fraternity proud tonight” – It’s not about them. It’s about the culture and the frat. It’s not about the Try Guys doing something cute – that would again be othering and disrespectful.

FOURTEEN
When doing the performance that are not wearing any Alpha Phi Alpha logos. Which again, shows respect to their teachers, the organization and those would made it possible for them to be apart of this event. There are people would say without any gall, “I worked really hard on this for a week, my hands are red and my thighs hurt from hitting them so much, I deserve to wear what everyone else is wearing.” No. What the Try Guys did is wear similar outfits to ALLY themselves with the Alpha Phi Alpha, but they are not Alpha Phi Alpha. See how that works?

FIFTEEN
And with all the respect and love given, that respect and love was given back with the members of the Alpha Phi Alpha being impressed with the Try Guys and feeling that love. And respect, love, and admiration for all.


And that ladies and gentlemen, is how you engage in a culture different from your own without being accused of racism, disrespecting, othering or cultural appropriation. I hope you’ve appreciated this tutorial.
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#2

Post by CaptHayfever » Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:04 am

But then, does that mean a white step group would need to show video of their invitation & instruction before every performance?

And remember, "I'm-a Luigi, number one!"

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#3

Post by Deepfake » Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:52 am

[QUOTE="CaptHayfever, post: 1597689, member: 25169"]But then, does that mean a white step group would need to show video of their invitation & instruction before every performance?

And remember, "I'm-a Luigi, number one!"[/QUOTE]
I think it would be fair to simply say that you were invited to participate and were pleased to accept, if it came up in discussion. Sometimes silence isn't the better option, that is true. If there's some profile associated with that aspect of culture being shown in media and to others, amd the person(s) to whom it belongs is/are being denied that spotlight, it would not be respectful to snatch it up for myself. Participation definitely implies responsibility, when the source has historically been marginalized.
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#4

Post by Random User » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:03 am

Then I have to ask, is what Eminem doing, technically speaking, cultural appropriation? Because I'm sure he doesn't hit any of these steps.

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#5

Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:25 am

[QUOTE="Random User, post: 1597698, member: 35827"]Then I have to ask, is what Eminem doing, technically speaking, cultural appropriation? Because I'm sure he doesn't hit any of these steps.[/QUOTE]

Culture doesn't belong to anyone, Eminem is a free man able to live as he chooses without anyone's blessing.

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#6

Post by Random User » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:30 am

Don't get me wrong, I understand that at some point (i.e. American depictions of Native Americans) culture is definitely being appropriated and people are being misinformed about an entire race and/or group of people. But dancing is an art form, and art forms, imo, should not be owned by any groups. Second and third wave ska would technically be cultural appropriation in this case. So would some of Pablo Picasso's paintings. So would an innumerable amount of other things.

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#7

Post by CaptHayfever » Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:20 pm

What Eminem does that a lot of other high-profile white rappers haven't done is simple: He's honest. He doesn't pretend to be oppressed or pretend to be black or anything.
(Also, he did have that instruction; he was mentored by Dr. Dre early in his career.)
[QUOTE="International Space Stalin, post: 1597696, member: 25415"]I think it would be fair to simply say that you were invited to participate and were pleased to accept, if it came up in discussion. Sometimes silence isn't the better option, that is true. If there's some profile associated with that aspect of culture being shown in media and to others, amd the person(s) to whom it belongs is/are being denied that spotlight, it would not be respectful to snatch it up for myself. Participation definitely implies responsibility, when the source has historically been marginalized.[/QUOTE] I'm thinking of the faction who would make unfounded accusations of being "problematic" & call for boycotts just because I forget to cite Chuck Berry on my 7th album after citing him on all of my previous 6 albums, & that 7th album happens to be the first one the faction gets wind of.

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#8

Post by Calamity Panfan » Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:23 pm

Eminem's background also definitely plays into giving him credibility. Also he's fully recognized his privilege as a white artist in a primarily black art multiple times.
and that's the waaaaaaaaaay the news goes

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#9

Post by Deepfake » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:11 pm

[QUOTE="CaptHayfever, post: 1597714, member: 25169"]I'm thinking of the faction who would make unfounded accusations of being "problematic" & call for boycotts just because I forget to cite Chuck Berry on my 7th album after citing him on all of my previous 6 albums, & that 7th album happens to be the first one the faction gets wind of.[/QUOTE]
Sounds like free publicity.
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#10

Post by Random User » Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:01 pm

Fair enough on the Eminem point. Though I still believe all art forms should be allowed to be practiced by all.

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#11

Post by Deku Tree » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:37 pm

I mean, there's no law that says you have to care about cultural appropriation.

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#12

Post by Random User » Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:01 am

Yeah, I know that. The point I was setting out to make here is that art forms should not be exclusive to one culture or group, in my opinion.

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#13

Post by Kil'jaeden » Sat Jun 04, 2016 4:32 am

Basically, this is another way to apologize for being white. Why are there even black colleges and black fraternities? That sounds racist to me. White people don't have freedom of association like that. Not without either being banned, hit with legal action, or being called racist.

Nor did I realize that blacks are so weak and pathetic that speaking too loud around them would take away their agency. Most blacks I have met are quite the opposite, as they tended to be loud, assertive, and speak in "colorful" language(things that get censored here). I often doubt that people that write things like this have met many blacks outside of a small academic bubble. So I guess we should turn whites into morons and blacks into infants. If they own the dance somehow, they can keep it. Maybe they can think about their possible appropriation next time they go to a class, or fail to die of smallpox, or drive a car, or turn on a light. The whole thing is really just a bad idea. It would be like a black guy being told to go to some white people to get permission to play classical music, since that is white people music(until Asians appropriated it). The only problem here is that these progressives don't just want to push "everyone is equal" anymore, they want to push an agenda that is against white people for being white. So this is fine, but a black in the same situation, that would be just awful to them, and they would howl about the racism.
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#14

Post by I am nobody » Sat Jun 04, 2016 6:44 am

I'm all for respecting symbols and practices of great significance to certain cultures, say by not using Medals of Honor in a costume or not getting moko tattoos, but anything less than that should be fair game. If some Czech guys want to start performing bluegrass without documenting their mentorship with American masters, or even without having a mentorship at all, power to 'em.

[MEDIA=youtube]MC8Zl9_qvX4[/MEDIA]

Letting other groups and cultures reinterpret our arts is how those arts evolve. The world doesn't gain anything by saying there's only one valid interpretation and one way to learn.

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#15

Post by Bomby » Sat Jun 04, 2016 7:16 am

I'm in favor of cultural appropriation. At least in terms of fashion, art, and cooking. Because I'm an artist, a fashion killa, and a somewhat decent cook.

Plus, you only live once. **** it. Just don't be disrespectful.

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#16

Post by spooky scary bearatons » Sat Jun 04, 2016 7:21 am

[QUOTE="Bomby, post: 1597803, member: 17840"]I'm in favor of cultural appropriation. At least in terms of fashion, art, and cooking. Because I'm an artist, a fashion killa, and a somewhat decent cook.

Plus, you only live once. **** it. Just don't be disrespectful.[/QUOTE]

Word to this. I think all humans of all races should celebrate eachothers culture and arts and cuisines, ****, all I eat is curry most of the time anyway. Just gotta not be a dick about it.
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#17

Post by Marilink » Sat Jun 04, 2016 7:41 am

I do like the initial article's tone--"This Is how you can celebrate another culture without being a dick about it." But the thing is, it is still cultural appropriation, isn't it? It's just cultural appropriation done respectfully. There's a line being drawn over a certain term, when the issue at hand is actually the attitude beind the term rather than the term itself.

The step group was cool, though. Kudos to them.
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#18

Post by Deepfake » Sat Jun 04, 2016 8:22 am

[QUOTE="I am nobody, post: 1597801, member: 34539"]I'm all for respecting symbols and practices of great significance to certain cultures, say by not using Medals of Honor in a costume or not getting moko tattoos, but anything less than that should be fair game. If some Czech guys want to start performing bluegrass without documenting their mentorship with American masters, or even without having a mentorship at all, power to 'em.

[MEDIA=youtube]MC8Zl9_qvX4[/MEDIA]

Letting other groups and cultures reinterpret our arts is how those arts evolve. The world doesn't gain anything by saying there's only one valid interpretation and one way to learn.[/QUOTE]
Which oppressed peoples are they shunting out of the spotlight so they can take credit as the best and only important bluegrass players who introduced the world to the joys of this music? I don't really see the comparison here. It's not the same as having Depp play a generic 'Native' in Lone Ranger, that's for certain. It's not the same as casting Japanese-Americans in your kill-all-the-redskins shoot-em-up because it villified people of an existing culture and had the nerve to say 'this is how it was' - or exclusively casting Anglo-Americans as cowboys when the lifestyle belonged to Mexican-Americans, Asian-Americans, etc. There is a long history of appropriation which does not make adequate comparison to whether some guys in Europe decided to start playing an already-popular genre of music, unless their performance is being pre-empted as reason not to hire a blue-collar American from Appalachia by way of cultural bias? Would you find that behavior appropriate?
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#19

Post by I am nobody » Sat Jun 04, 2016 8:27 am

No, and I didn't say your examples are okay. Reinterpreting someone's dance or art is not the same as pretending to be them and denying them the opportunity to play themselves.

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#20

Post by Bomby » Sat Jun 04, 2016 9:01 am

I think this article really highlights the matter here.

It seems like the older generation of Japanese-Americans are more than happy to share their culture, and don't really care if a non-Japanese person wears a kimono. The younger generation (several of whom are not Japanese at all) are quick to jump on the "everything is offensive" bandwagon.

I think this kind of plays into my frustration with young activists. The discussion began with actually racist things like whitewashing, blackface/yellowface, etc. Then groupthink happened, and all of the sudden more and more things started being considered offensive - things that older generations who actually have closer ties to the culture they came from are much more lax about.

The sad thing is that, in concept, I agree with young social activists on the general ideas they're advocating, but the totalitarian movement they've created around these ideas disgusts me, and groupthink like this that has turned legit issues into cultural separationism is a symptom of a bigger problem.

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