Can we talk about cultural appropriation?
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Before I jump in: my intention is not to start a firestorm here---I'm hoping for an open, polite discussion in which we can share and inform one another. Can we all agree to keep things friendly?
Recently, I've been hearing the phrase "cultural appropriation" used quite a bit. I use the words "gypsy" and "tribal" in many of my listings, descriptions, etc.---and I do so with much love. I consider myself a *gypsy* soul---a traveler, both in body and mind--and I have a strong *tribe* of close friends and family who support me and share in my life.
That being said, I understand that these words carry different significance to others and might even be seen as hurtful, or as stealing an identity that isn't *mine*.
I'm hoping to open up dialogue about this and see where others stand on the matter.
Posted at 9:57 pm Jul 2, 2012 EDT
What an interesting discussion! As a vintage collector and seller, I have to deal with some of the same concerns. I think the most controversial term in vintage fashion is probably the so-called "squaw dress". It has a full tiered skirt and is lavishly trimmed with metallic braid and rickrack. Like these on Etsy
The Squaw Dress was very popular in the 1950s, and beyond. Since that's the term they were originally marketed under, it's a term buyers use to look for them, but many of us feel uneasy about perpetuating any use of the word. On the other hand, they're pretty dresses and how else do you get yours seen? It's a dilemma with no easy answer.
Posted at 12:02 pm Jul 3, 2012 EDT
Thanks for sharing that blog on cultural appropriation. Lots to read through there, as well as some valuable links to other blogs and articles.
This thread has been very thought provoking and eye opening for me. I feel like I'm just starting to wade into this issue with real awareness and probably have lots more learning and reflecting to do, but this seems like a good place to start!
Posted at 12:02 pm Jul 3, 2012 EDT
For all of you who have written some variation on:
"I think of terms like 'tribal' and 'gypsy' as a reference to style less than a cultural slang term for a people"
This is a problem. It means that the actual people who embody these descriptors have been so thoroughly erased and marginalized that the labels have been divorced from their human context. This is a form of violence.
Someone posted a link to Cultural Appropriation Bingo upthread and I'm going to repost it because it can be a valuable tool in identifying some of our behaviors. I invite everyone who is complaining about our concerns being "overly PC" to check it out.
Junot Diaz recently gave an interview to Paula Moya and he said something that really resonated with me (and that I plan to use in my own college classrooms). Please give it a read and then read the whole interview if you feel so inclined.
"How can you change something if you won’t even acknowledge its existence, or if you downplay its significance? White supremacy is the great silence of our world, and in it is embedded much of what ails us as a planet. The silence around white supremacy is like the silence around Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, or the Voldemort name which must never be uttered in the Harry Potter novels. And yet here’s the rub: if a critique of white supremacy doesn’t first flow through you, doesn’t first implicate you, then you have missed the mark; you have, in fact, almost guaranteed its survival and reproduction. There’s that old saying: the devil’s greatest trick is that he convinced people that he doesn’t exist. Well, white supremacy’s greatest trick is that it has convinced people that, if it exists at all, it exists always in other people, never in us."
Posted at 12:03 pm Jul 3, 2012 EDT
This conversation is incredibly interesting. It reminds me of a lot of my anthropology studies last year. And although I'm guilty of using the term "tribal" to describe my truly non-tribal goods, I understand completely why it could be deemed hurtful. I guess we all have to use common sense and keep in mind cultural relativism--while we might just use it as branding and as another tag to bring in the views, it could be offending to others.
But I can see the complete opposite side of the point too--which is why I've gone and used the tags myself (although a bit hesitantly). As an artist, I am extremely proud of my creations and would never wish them to be viewed as derogatory, instead as something beautiful in the world. They are not really tribal or gypsy, but it is sometimes the inspiration behind it that comes through enough in the style that I label it as thus.
So I suppose I'm a bit on the fence with this topic.
Posted at 12:10 pm Jul 3, 2012 EDT
satanica batcakes from BatcakesCouture says
I would like to add that I think the Etsy Admins that pick the featured sellers should also check out these links and books.
Too many white Europeans are featured in the blogs or the front page.
Looking at etsy, one would think other cultures exist soley in free-floating motifs. Cupcake-ified!
Posted at 12:28 pm Jul 3, 2012 EDT