oyceter: (still ibarw)
[personal profile] oyceter
I realized that my 2006 in review post didn't really mention the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate of DOOM or International Blog Against Racism Week even as I was writing it. I wasn't sure how to put them into the meme -- how can I claim finally reading up on racism and race as an accomplishment?

I mean, really. I am glad I did it, and I changed a lot because of it. But I don't feel it is an accomplishment because it feels like something I should have known, something I should have figured out a long time ago. And how can I claim IBARW as an achievement or as something I'm proud of when I feel like I am co-opting the voices of those talking about it for so long, except I just never noticed?

I'd like to clarify that I am not ashamed of doing what I did this year in terms of race or of what I said, that I am not saying IBARW wasn't worth it or didn't help. What I'm ashamed of is not that I did these things or posted on these things, but that I was not posting or thinking about these things a long time ago.

I am ashamed that it took so long, and I am ashamed that for a long time, I was a part of the chorus telling people: "It's not that bad" or "You're overreacting" or "Why must you keep talking about being a person of color?"

On a more practical note, a lot of what I wanted to keep doing in terms of blogging on and thinking about and reading up on race and racism ended up in smoke, thanks to real life exploding in my face around the same time IBARW was going on.

I've been rereading some of the old Great Cultural Appropriation Debate and IBARW posts, and -- I was about to say that I am amazed at how angry they still make me. But I am not amazed by that; I am not surprised anymore by how angry this topic continues to make me. And saying that I am amazed by it implies to me that I think I shouldn't be angry, which is still my knee-jerk reaction and has been for years and years, thanks to a general attempt on my end to not be angry (usually good), compounded by years of being told that being angry about race was being oversensitive (sucky beyond measure).

SO I wanted to say: I am still angry. Rereading these posts makes me furious that so much still has to be explained, that so much is still being handwaved away. It makes me want to scream and yell and cry in frustration, only I don't (at least, not in public) because that means I will be dismissed, and I cannot stand that any longer.

Furthermore, rereading these posts still hurts. Not just the normal sting that I feel when I'm argued with (hey, my ego is very large): when I read some of those comments, especially when they are people I know and respect, it still feels like a punch to the gut, half a year after. It is so visceral, this feeling. Every single one of those comments -- and I haven't even reread the comments because I can't, not even now, so it's just a six-month-old memory of the comments -- makes me want to give up and cry, makes me feel so betrayed and alone, makes me wonder if I should only ever broach the issue with people I trust.

I would like for this to be a "I will continue to post more and read more and think more" resolution, except I am not sure if I'll be able to follow up, since I didn't last year. But I wanted to put this in as an addendum to my year, because even though it was only a few weeks worth of drama on LJ, even though I still feel ashamed of having to say that 2006 was when I really started thinking about race and racism, even though I haven't been keeping up with posting and readings for much of the year, these events -- the cultural appropriation panel at Wiscon and the subsequent LJ debate, the Pirates debate, IBARW -- they changed me more than anything else that happened in the last year.

Date: 2007-01-05 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yhlee.livejournal.com
Personally, I'm wondering if any sort of follow-up panel will show up at WisCon this year. Because if so, I might actually like to be on it. With a working voice this time.

But that might just be me.

Date: 2007-01-05 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pantryslut.livejournal.com
Hi. I'm the WisCon programming co-chair.

There's at least one follow-up panel already suggested on this topic, and the programming committee is plotting another. We welcome even more programming item suggestions. I might make some suggestions myself.

If you sign up for programming and indicate you'd like to be on this/these panel(s), I will make sure you're added.

This is the place where I'm supposed to make the usual noises about how WisCon programming is participant-driven, blah blah blah. What this means is, our process is as transparent as we can make it. You want it, you got it, as long as you let us know (and enough other people are interested -- not a problem in this case, I suspect).

The programming URL is here:

http://www.hawkinsprogramming.com/WisCon/programplanning.aspx

You can also send suggestions to program31@wiscon.info.

Date: 2007-01-06 01:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com
If I can get to Wiscon I will sit in the audience with a "go Oyce go" sign.

Just regarding a small portion of the post

Date: 2007-01-05 10:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com
I'm don't want to say you shouldn't feel what you feel, but society is not set up so everyone is aware of this stuff from the moment they're old enough to think critically, so everyone has a point when they're not aware, and a point when they become aware. The people who were already posting and thinking about racism before you were also had their own learning curve-- it may have happened before yours chronologically, but maybe they're also older than you.

Personally, if I beat myself up for spending a long time being clueless, it doesn't motivate me to be more aware. I'd rather think, "Good, I learned something that I didn't know before, and I'm sure there's a lot more left to learn," than think, "What an ass I was for not knowing that already."

If every time I learn something I get angry at myself for not already knowing it, then it makes me feel like I'd rather not ever know whatever it was, and adds to whatever subconscious resistance I already have. So-- again, this is very personal-- I'd rather give myself a blanket forgiveness check for previous ignorance, in order to let myself be open to learning more.

Date: 2007-01-05 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fmanalyst.livejournal.com
I've been reading through your posts on cultural appropriation and the IBARW posts, and I've found them very interesting. They've left me wondering if you've read much post-colonial theory/philosophy because I think you'd be interested in the issues raised by it. I teach literary theory, and post-colonial theorists and critical race theorists have been exploring issues of appropriation and authenticity in literature and film. I saw in one of your posts that you'd been reading Gloria Anzualda. I'd also like to suggest Edward Said's Orientalism. While Said is primarily concerned with European views of the "Arab world", he also talks about the tendency to lump a wide variety of peoples and cultures together as one Other to European culture. Anyway, I think you'd enjoy reading post-colonial theory, and I think it would connect you with thinkers who have been examining the same issues you've been blogging about.

Date: 2007-01-06 12:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fmanalyst.livejournal.com
Most of the things that come to mind are associated with the UK and British Cultural Studies, perhaps because I'm getting ready to teach about it this semester. Anyway, one essay to look for is Stuart Hall's "Cultural Identity and Diaspora." Hall is British of Jamaican descent, and this essay addresses the identity issues that arise through emigration to a Western culture. Which culture does one identify with? How does the cultural identification of the younger generation differ from that of their parents? What happens when you try to return to the "old country"? He looks at the tensions within the minority group and between the minority group and the majority group.

When I'm teaching about this aspect of post-colonial theory, I show the first 20 minutes or so of Bend it Like Beckham, which is a great example of a character trying to figure out how to be Sikh, British and true to her sense of who she wants to be. Speaking of Indian approaches to post-colonial theory, Gayatri Spivak is a very influential post-colonial feminist who would be an important person to read.

In terms of American theorists, I'm having trouble coming up with big names because most of the people I can think of are people I know more through listservs than through their work, like Radhika Gajjala. The novel which keeps coming to mind is Maxine Hong Kingston's Tripmaster Monkey, but you're probably familiar with it. After all, Monkey!

Date: 2007-01-06 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fmanalyst.livejournal.com
By the way, is anyone else having trouble with LJ pictures? Your banner and my icon aren't showing up for me.

Date: 2007-01-06 01:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] juliansinger.livejournal.com
I think it's entirely reasonable to be glad that you have approached something, taken a big bite out of it, wrestled with it, and are continuing to wrestle with it.

I'm not, of course, going to tell you to buck up little soldier and don't feel bad! because, yuck.

But if you can kind of be both glad /and/ guilty, that's... a difficult but worthwhile dichotomy to embrace.

Date: 2007-01-06 01:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coniraya.livejournal.com
I want to say try not to feel too bad that it took you until 2006 to think about this stuff but you really can't help the way you feel sometimes. Just keep in mind that we all decolonize our minds at different times in our lives and there are a lot of people who will never in their lifetimes contemplate these things. You're way ahead of the game in that respect.

It'll always hurt to realize that people that you respect for so many reasons are so completely ignorant when it comes to something so important to you. The only thing to do is surround yourself by people who understand and to have that support. Since I started talking about oppression I've lost quite a few friends or been distanced from them. You just have to hold tight to the fact that you are just speaking the truth and it's not your fault if they can't deal with it. That doesn't make the betrayal hurt less but still.

Date: 2007-01-09 04:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coniraya.livejournal.com
There's always that line you have to figure out with new friends. How far you'll let them in? Will they understand this thing that colors the way I live everyday? Is this going to be a true friend or more of an acquaintance. I think though that when you do find those friends who fit the criteria the friendship is deeper and more solid because you understand each other more.

Safe spaces are so important, just being able to sit with other POC and decompress and speak without the shadow of whiteness hanging overhead can change your whole day.

Date: 2007-01-06 03:43 pm (UTC)
ext_6428: (Default)
From: [identity profile] coffeeandink.livejournal.com
I don't know if it would have made things better or worse if LJ had had subscription notifications live during the Cultural Appropriation discussions. More incendiary, I'm sure, but I'm not so sure that would have been bad. Some of us needed the explosions this time around to wake up (and by "some of us" I mean "me").

I've been doing all my Wiscon panels in chronological order except for the Cultural Appropriation one. I'm making a belated resolution to get that done this month.

Date: 2007-01-06 11:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yhlee.livejournal.com
I am probably going to kick myself for the rest of my life for not speaking up more on that panel.

Or for not having a better immune system.

I would love to read your writeup, but only when you have time!

Date: 2007-01-07 12:45 am (UTC)
ext_6428: (Default)
From: [identity profile] coffeeandink.livejournal.com
I don't think you should kick yourself. It won't help. It's hard to know even where to start when you have such different base assumptions and/or are so angry; I don't even manage to express myself in LJ arguments half the time, and that has the advantage of time and text.

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