Appropriation and Hypocrisy — May 6, 2015

Appropriation and Hypocrisy

When I hear the word appropriation this comes to mind:

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Its titled The Liberation of Aunt Jemima and it was done by Betye Saar- one of the my personal favorite contemporary artists. When I think of this image I see the bad and the good that has come from appropriation- more-like the good as a result of the bad. You see the cliche Aunt Jemima image- a fat black nanny. I don’t think I need to tell you guys how stereotypical and terrible that generalization was and is of black women. So there’s the negative. The positive is that in this artwork Betye Saar takes back that image for black women. She changes the fat black nanny to a warrior- because people always listen to others with a weapon. She has reclaimed the image, changed how we view Aunt Jemima, changed how we think of black women. Appropriation is actually an artistic term as well. She appropriates the images of Aunt Jemima that you can see along the back panel of the piece. This means she did not make them, she took them, and incorporated them into her piece. So there’s the positive side of appropriating- the bad side is that she had to do that in the first place.

Appropriation, cultural appropriation in specific, is defined as the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture.

The definition itself clarifies how crappy the whole thing is.

The mixing of cultures can be beautiful. Cultures can live side by side influencing each other and exchanging respectfully cultural aspects from the other. However, most of the time that isn’t the case. Most of the time its like the definition says- a dominant culture adopting elements from an oppressed culture. The whole idea doesn’t make sense to me- if the dominant culture was oppressing another culture, why would the dominant culture want to adopt elements that make them more like the oppressed culture? Now I’m not saying that oppressed cultures are lesser. Dominant cultures usually think they are better than others, and it doesn’t make sense to adopt aspects that would make you “lesser”.

Anyways, appropriation has occurred for all of time. But nowadays, its completely obvious when you look around. If you live in the United States, you can see clear references to Native American culture. People wear headdresses for the heck of it, the patterns and symbols of that culture are found on clothing, and there’s even a baseball team called the “Redskins”- I won’t even get into how messed up that is. Maybe I will in another post. But white Europeans conquered these people, calling them savages, and then adopted certain aspects of their life. The impact is obvious- we still see these elements from Native American culture today. Its not just Native Americans, however. White Americans have adopted black culture. From rap to cornrows to hip-hop dancing to baggy pants. The adoption of these elements has led to racial stereotyping- just like the Aunt Jemima image.

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Today, however, I want to point out something in relation to yesterday’s date- May 5th. White Americans have appropriated  the holiday of Cinco de Mayo. We have taken a day from those across the border who we excessively try to prevent to cross it. It’s okay for their culture to cross it, but not the people themselves? Hypocrisy. Now, its known that I’m a supporter of easier immigration and path to citizenship (Go Hillary for announcing that recently!!). So I may be biased on the topic, but I’d prefer to say educated. You can support tighter border security, if you aren’t throwing on sombreros, drinking tequila, and hanging out in “Mexican” restaurants the day of May 5th. We claim that if Mexican immigrants are going to come to the United States, they have to learn our language, take part in our culture.

Yet on Cinco de Mayo, White America is mispronouncing the holiday’s name itself and none of us truly know what this holiday means. We butcher their language, yet want them to take part in ours. We exploit their holiday, language, culture, and expect them to be okay with it as they enter into our “correct” culture. How do we believe that our culture is correct yet we still adopt aspects from the culture we try to keep out of our country? HYPOCRISY. Cinco de Mayo is a holiday where Mexicans commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Pueblaon May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Mexican Americans often use it to celebrate their nationality- to be proud of their heritage. Americans participate in this as an excuse to chug down margaritas not understanding what it really means. We are not aware of the deep cultural significance we take part in and we don’t care because we are the privileged, the dominant culture, the appropriators.

Stop before you appropriate. That’s all folks. Something to think about.

xoxo

abby

p.s. the intermingling of cultures in not a bad thing. it becomes bad when you cross the line from cultural exchange to cultural appropriation.

Let’s talk about White Privilege…. — May 2, 2015

Let’s talk about White Privilege….

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I’ve stood by long enough. Coming from an overtly-conservative and white area, I usually silence my opinion because if I speak up approximately 3 people will jump in to tell me how I’m wrong because I’m either “too young”, “too stupid”, or whatever else. I don’t want to silence my voice anymore. My voice will bring about change. So here we go.

White Privilege is defined as: societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.

I, myself, am white. Here’s ways that I am privileged:

  • Anywhere I go, people will not automatically think I cause trouble, am rowdy, and/or “ghetto”. People will think I am respectable and kind until I prove otherwise- because people see me and not my color.
  • When watching television and movies or reading a book or magazine, I see my race widely represented. White people are spoken for.
  • I can ignore the consequences of race because they do not affect me.
  • I do not have to fear for my family’s life when they leave the house because the system does not work against us.
  • I can choose to fight for racism, then choose not to.
  • People do not attempt to turn my name into an easier-to-pronounce name, that also will end up being Anglo-Saxon.
  • I can seek legal, financial, medical help without my race being held against me.
  • People do not tell me to simply “get over slavery”.
  • I do not have an accent that causes me to be mocked and ridiculed when speaking the all-important language: English.
  • When I succeed, I am awarded my accomplishments, not my race.
  • When I fail, I as an individual am attributed that failure- it is not a reflection on my race.
  • People are not surprised when I am intelligent, articulate, and successful.
  • People think I am capable due to my whiteness.
  • I don’t have to worry about being the victim of law enforcement.
  • I don’t have a “one third of black men will go to prison” statistic constantly looming over my head.
  • I can act how I want without being labeled a “thug”.
  • People automatically assume I am qualified when I get accepted into college or get a new job. They don’t attribute it to “having to meet a quota”.
  • When shopping, employees don’t keep a careful watch on me in case I try to steal.
  • I will never be labelled a terrorist for merely existing.
  • I am never stopped to be frisked.
  • I am always my own person, never referred to as the “White Beyonce” for instance.
  • I can live my life unaware of my skin color.

And that’s just the beginning of this list…


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Most people have some sort of privilege, some groups of people just have more than others. Blacks have privileges too- they’re more likely to get athletic scholarships whereas white athletes, especially in basketball, tend to be ridiculed with the term “white boy” and not taken seriously. (I realize this privilege is nowhere near as serious as the ones I listed earlier). Men are privileged because they won’t be asked “what were you wearing?” if they were raped. Women are privileged because we can be openly emotive without being asked “are you gay?” or being called a “sissy” or “pussy”. Everyone has some kind of privilege- its just that white people have more. US citizens have privileges that non-citizens will never have access to. Wealthier people are privileged because they can afford more opportunities such as college, even if they don’t have a scholarship. Heterosexuals are privileged because they never have to “come out” or worry about whether they can get married or not. By being born cisgender you never have to worry about upsetting people if you use the bathroom you identify with. Being born able-bodied and without disabilities, people automatically assume you are intelligent and you have an “easier” life.

Instead of denying that privilege, we should use that privilege to help others. Become allies to groups that are way under-privileged compared to yourself- any group of color, LGBTQIA, poorer families, the disabled. Use your voice to speak out for fairness, equality, and peace. Ignoring your privilege only contributes to the problem. Recognize it. Stand up for others. People are not born with equal footing on American soil, but we can help change that. Play your part. 🙂

xoxo

abby

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The Pressure Is On and I’m Choosing Not to Care — April 23, 2015

The Pressure Is On and I’m Choosing Not to Care

I love to learn. Absolutely adore it. While school hasn’t always been my favorite thing in the world (mostly due to waking up at the crack of dawn), the learning aspect of attending has always gotten me excited. From elementary through high school, I was required to take certain classes, like every other school in the US. And although I didn’t end up majoring in Mathematics or English Literature, I still loved becoming more knowledgeable in those areas. My junior year of high school I took an AP Art History course, and at the time I had no idea what kind of an impact it would have on me.

Quick disclaimer: I said I love to learn. I never said I love doing homework.

Throughout my entire education up through the secondary level, I “coasted” through school. Meaning that yes I learned so much during class, but my outside of class effort was dramatically different. So during my art history class, I loved what I was learning. I absorbed it. But due to my little effort put into my homework- I passed the AP exam, but only with a 3.

I entered into college as a Pre-Dental major (HAHAHA I know). I took Chem 101 and Bio 110 and completely hated my life. Also, my grades reflected it. Something that I was never told before entering into college the fall of 2013 was that it’s a lot harder to truly focus on and care about a subject that you don’t see yourself truly committing to for the rest of your life. Occasionally I would get really interested in what we were learning, but my motivation to expand my knowledge in Chemistry and Biology past the high school level was at zero. At that point, I started questioning what my major was going to be.

So I was entranced by art since that first art history class in 2011. However, I was terrified of the typical things people who get degrees in the humanities are: no job, no money, lots of stress as a result. Thus, I decided to find a career with art that would be “more likely” to get me a job. I turned to art therapy. The following semester of Spring 2014 I took Psychology 101, Drawing Fundamentals, and Baroque Art and Architecture. I dropped the drawing class after attending two class sessions and realizing that just because I liked looking at art did not mean I could actually do it. I then understood that art therapy was not the way to go. So yet again, I’m left stumped about what to actually get a degree in and the pressure was on for me to decide. I continued in the psychology class just because it was interesting. The art history class, however, was my saving grace. I had been considering minoring in art history just for fun. After art therapy was thrown out the window, I turned to art history. I loved it and I was excited despite the fear of lack of careers in it (which I later realized is a false fear, there are plenty of careers in your passion so NEVER settle).

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I am now graduating in two semesters with a Bachelor’s degree in Art History. Just after I realized I wanted to stick with this major, I had to start thinking about graduate schools. And oh my goodness, the possibilities are endless. Here’s a few:

  • A PhD in Art History. Career opportunities: art historian, art history professor, museum curator, etc.
  • A Joint Master’s in Art History and J.D. Career opportunities: art lawyer
  • A M.A. in Arts Management and Policy. Career opportunities: self explanatory just by the degree title.

Then I started thinking… Do I really want to stick with just art history? Do I love it that much? Do I want to learn about something else for awhile? So I started thinking about other things I like to do- helping people, expressing my opinions, fighting for the rights of myself and others, improving the world. (I know- I’m super noble and ambitious.) Should I get a degree in Nonprofits Management? What about just history? What about just the humanities? How about a degree in education to be able to teach?

And I still haven’t figured it out. So if you were reading this hoping for a happy ending… Well, I’m not there yet. I’m currently leaning more towards getting an education degree. I’ve always wanted to teach, I just felt like I had the potential to do more (not saying teachers settle- just that my passion isn’t just to teach). I may pursue a higher degree while I teach. Because if there’s one thing I know for certain, its that I don’t want one career. I don’t want to be limited. I want to be a high school teacher, a college professor, a museum curator, a community outreach director, a nonprofit manager, a librarian, an art consultant. I want to do it all, which doesn’t surprise me because I’ve always loved to learn new things.

The pressure is on for me, but I’m deciding to not let it get to me. I have to start applying to graduate programs in the fall and that terrifies me but hey, all great things involve a little bit of fear. I used to think that to be 20 was to have your life together and a 5 year plan. But I’m starting to realize, that’s not true. 30 isn’t as old as it always seemed, so it’s okay if I don’t have it figured out until then. I have yet to turn 20, but when August comes and I hit that mark of no longer being a teen, I won’t freak out. Life is beautiful, folks. And we have all the time in the world to explore multiple opportunities.

(P.S. I know I really just talked about me, but I hope some people also took a detour out of Stressville with me.)

Let’s all take a breath, run our fingers through our hair, and not be so desperate unlike Courbet here.

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xoxo

abby

Hello world! — April 9, 2015

Hello world!

Hey, y’all. I’m Abby. I watch Star Wars like its my job and I suck down coffee like its water. I have a very wide-range of interests, but the most important things you need to know about me are:

  • I’m majoring in art history. And it’s awesome.
  • Taylor Swift is my favorite person on the planet.
  • I super enjoy exploring with my make up.
  • My sister, Emily, is my best friend.
  • And I’m very passionate (maybe even aggressive) about things like feminism. I can’t and won’t tolerate sexism, racism, or homophobia. Thx.

That being said I will definitely talk about all of those things pretty often on here, so if you find that interesting- yay!! I’m sure we’ll be great friends. I’m intending to use this blog as a way to talk about all the things I care about or that I go through. Kind of a mental-health exercise I suppose.

If you want to know more before my next post is up— leave a comment. 🙂

xoxo

abby

 IMG_2683 <— me

—I promise to post weekly—