Depression is Just a Lack of Bootstraps (TM)!

I was going to let this video slide under the radar. I was going to go on with my life, assuming everyone already knew how surface-level stupid this video and its attempts to elucidate the truth about depression was. But then Paul Joseph Watson decided that “depressed people are just a bunch of pussies” is the hill he’s going to die defending seeing as how he’s just released a new chat with a fellow mental health expert who also thinks depressed people are just a bunch of pussies.

So I guess I have to go back and address the original video in question. Fuck. It’s actually very frustrating because PJW very frequently scratches at the door of having an actual point to make about real problems concerning how we deal with mental health, but consistently ruins it by falling back to the tried-and-true “stop being a pussy” logic of someone who has no real idea what depression even is.
Let’s begin, I guess . . .


1 in 10 Americans are now on anti-depressants. 1 in 4 women in their 40s and 50s are on anti-depressants. The rate of anti-depressant use has increased 400% over the last two decades . . . Why has depression become so common place in modern society? I’ll tell you why: We’re bathed in a culture that glorifies and fetishizes depression. *insert whining GIF*

This is the part where he scratches at the door of relevancy. It all goes downhill from here. I agree that modern American culture doesn’t deal with mental health–depression in particular–very well. We have an issue with simultaneous “need unmet” and “met un-need,” i. e., people who need help don’t get it and people who don’t really need help use up those resources instead. There are very many factors going into that, but I’ll narrow it down to what I think is the major one: the popularization of mental health pharmaceuticals.

With readily available drugs to treat mental health, the topic of mental health became less of a stigmatized one. What once implied that you had an extended stay at a psychiatric ward and were an embarrassment to your family no longer had the same debilitating, shameful connotation; so people were more comfortable talking about their mental health and getting help for it. The dark side of this, though, is that opening the door to conversation also means opening the door to people thinking they have issues that they don’t have. I actually would blame a good deal of that cultural hypochondria on pharmaceutical companies and their very effective marketing strategy of telling people that normal things are signs of serious mental health problems. The problem is that a lot of those hypochondriacs are the relatively well-off individuals who can afford to blow time and money on mental health treatment they don’t need, while lower-class people often get shafted out of those resources because they don’t have the time and/or money, and don’t tend to live in environments that have latched onto “self-care” as an idea as much as the American middle and upper classes have.

I’ll even throw PJW a bone here and say that I do see a certain level of “glorification” of mental health issues like depression, especially in liberal circles. It’s like Buzzfeed’s weird tendency to treat therapy like this wonderful, amazing thing that everybody should try, like it’s the new pumpkin spice. Or Tumblr’s very well-documented history of having a user base that lavishes you with praise if you let slip you’re feeling a little blue. As I mentioned, the “self-care” thing going on right now does oftentimes seem very self-indulgent even though its base idea–make sure that you yourself are healthy–is a fine one. That’s where my bone-throwing stops, though, because this is by no means the overall “culture” glorifying depression. These are very niche, liberal sub-cultures with very little connection to mainstream cultural viewpoints. If anything, the mainstream culture thinks depression can be cured with a pill, not that it’s something cool and “edgy.”

It’s now a form of virtue signaling to constantly drone on about how depressed you are. You see it all over YouTube, these sniveling hug-and-confess videos made by privileged millennial brats who haven’t had a proper day of hardship in their entire life. They think they’re being edgy when in fact they’re engaging in yet another form of basic bitchery.

So much is wrong with this . . . Okay. Paul Joseph Watson does not know what depression is. He just doesn’t. Depression isn’t dependent upon how good you have it in life. You can be a “privileged millennial brat who hasn’t had a proper day of hardship” and still be clinically depressed. The entire point of classifying depression as a mental illness is that it is hindering and maladaptative: Having nothing to be sad about and yet still feeling miserable is what makes it clinical depression.

There’s actually a very huge and very relevant controversy in the world of clinical psychology as to what should qualify as clinical depression in a medical sense (read: something health insurance covers). As I said above, most people have classified depression as something maladaptive, but that definition oftentimes excludes people who would otherwise fit very firmly into the category of “clinically depressed.” Can someone whose life royally sucks be clinically depressed? That’s what the question boils down to. Because feeling sad and hopeless in a situation that actually warrants it is a healthy emotional reaction, isn’t it? If so, does that mean that people shouldn’t get any medical help, subsidized or otherwise, because it’s natural for someone in a worthless, dead-end job to feel empty and suicidal? Yeah, you can see why there’s a debate going on. That’s also another big contributor to “met un-need:” people wanting to be better safe than sorry when it comes to dealing with something that can potentially kill you.

Social media has created a generation of young people suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. They try to one-up each other with depression brownie points with endless blubber-fests about their poor privileged lives.

On the topic of social media: A lot of people use Facebook and YouTube as a means of venting. People pretty much treat those like diaries. You can talk all you want about how people shouldn’t treat publicly viewable social media posts like personal diary entries, but that’s essentially the purpose they serve. For many people, making a YouTube video about their depression is the only platform they have to comfortably talk about that kind of thing. It’s venting to a camera. I see no difference between this and writing emo poetry that you then send off to a literary magazine or listening to sad music that other people can hear. I’ll, once again, throw him a bone and say that yes, there are people who only make those kinds of posts and film those videos because they’re attention whores who just want to see a flood of praise come their way by implying they want to kill themselves or some shit. But it’s incredibly disingenuous to say that all the instances of this happening are just whining attention whores.

I would also advise against showing off how little you know about narcissistic personality disorder in a video where you already know fuck all about depression. Hint, hint: being a bit self-obsessed on the internet is by no means the only qualifying factor for NPD. That tangent about how narcissistic the Facebook generation is also makes no sense as part of the wider argument. The “bratty, narcissistic 20-somethings and teenagers” aren’t the generation that has contributed to the huge bump in depression diagnoses. The social media-free Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers are the ones being prescribed Prozac in record numbers. So much for the “growing up with Facebook makes you more prone to being a pussy” argument.

Meanwhile, people living in African mud huts literally give zero fucks.

According to this article that it took me literally five seconds to look up, the lesser developed parts of Africa (the “mud hut” parts) have some of the highest rates of clinical depression in the entire world at around 6% of the population; while the more developed countries in West and South Africa have comparatively lower rates. Fail.

Maladjustment is now “trendy,” and not in a kind of Morrissey, emo, grunge-esque kind of way. We’ve always had that.

If we’ve always had a thing for wallowing in our own sadness, why are you complaining about it like it’s some new occurrence?

I’m talking about this ridiculous idea that we’ve been forced to swallow that constantly admitting weakness is a strength. It isn’t. Strength of mind is a strength. They’ve transformed being anemic, weak-minded and easily upset into a positive personality trait.

No, we’ve turned being willing to admit that you have a problem/need help into a positive personality trait. I seriously doubt that even the most liberal-minded treehugger off of the Berkley campus thinks that being weepy and miserable is a good thing. Who is making this argument? Who?

Strength of character used to be about the ability to deal with negative stuff without just falling to pieces at the first sign of distress. Now look what they’ve turned us into: simpering pussies wallowing in our own misfortune whenever any tiny thing doesn’t go our way, overeager to share every minor anxiety in a giant self-pitying Facebook post.

I’m just going to repeat myself in all caps now, to really get it across. PAUL JOSEPH WATSON DOES NOT KNOW WHAT DEPRESSION IS. Depression isn’t “falling to pieces at the first sign of distress.” People with clinical depression, more often than not, try to hide and ignore the more debilitation elements of depression in school and the workplace because (especially in America) there’s a very prevalent notion that you just have to power through and make it to the other side and then things will be fine. You just gotta keep swimmin.’ This notion that people with depression are falling to pieces and weeping in the streets is not accurate. It’s not. People who are suffering from clinical depression so thoroughly that they can’t even put forth the effort to power on through tend to be borderline catatonic, not the weepy whining pussies that Paul is describing.

“Oh, but there shouldn’t be a stigma around depression anymore! That’s mean!” Yes, there should, just as their should be a stigma against smoking and obesity. Depression has become the new fat pride movement. Our culture is telling young people that depression is completely normal and should be embraced. Depression is not normal, but allowing yourself to be indoctrinated with this idea that it is is the primary reason that you can’t beat it.

Let’s go ahead and add “stigma” to the list of words and terms that PJW doesn’t have a complete grasp of. Also, on an off note, if 1 in 10 Americans is on anti-depressants, that is pretty fucking normal in a strictly statistical sense. People aren’t saying, “Depression should be embraced, don’t stigmatize it by saying it’s bad.” That is a strawman, and you know it.

People are saying, “Depression is a mental illness, and shouldn’t be stigmatized as people not having enough bootstraps to stop being so sad all the time.” That ‘why don’t you just man up?’ mentality doesn’t treat depression, it makes it worse. One of the most common traits of depression is feeling worthless and weak and ineffectual. Do you really think that going up to someone who is clinically depressed and telling them, “Get off your useless fat ass and make something of yourself, you worthless, self-pitying pussy!” is going to have a positive impact on that? I also need a citation on that last claim that thinking depression is normal is why it’s so hard to get over. No, I’m pretty sure depression being a physically impactful illness that requires active and direct measures to successfully address is why it’s so hard to get over.

This coerced mental fragility also renders you completely helpless when it comes to dealing with actual tragedy and hardships. They’ve turned us into complete pussies, because pussies are easier to push around and manipulate.

PAUL JOSEPH WATSON DOES NOT KNOW WHAT DEPRESSION IS. Being someone whose helicopter parents made them ill-equipped to deal with personal conflicts and hardships as an adult and being clinically depressed are not the same thing.

Logically, the depression epidemic makes no sense. By every single objective factor, there’s never been a better time to be a human being living in the West. Even amongst the poorest, our basic needs are met and exceeded. Depression was barely even a thing–it wasn’t even talked about 50 or 60 years ago. So why is everyone so depressed now when we’ve got it so much easier? It’s because you’ve been completely misled about what depression actually is.

PAUL JOSEPH WATSON DOES NOT KNOW WHAT DEPRESSION IS. I seriously just need to put that into my copy/paste clipboard at this point. Hey, Paul! There’s  reason that million dollar lottery winners oftentimes wind up offing themselves–having all of your physical needs met doesn’t make you happy or more mentally stable.

That second part is also so fucking ridiculous that I don’t feel the need to address it for very long. Yes, there was hardly any depression in the 50s and 60s, just like there were hardly any gay people before the 70s. Just like there were hardly any cases of Alzheimers before the 1900s or PTSD cases before the 40s. Pro tip: just because people didn’t talk about things with the same terminology in the past doesn’t mean those things didn’t exist. The fist Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) wasn’t made until 1952 and that manual wasn’t made into a reliable, standardized text until the late 1980s. Nah duh you didn’t see people walking around talking about depression back then.

But please, do enlightening me on what depression actually is. You’ve proven yourself very well-read and reliable on the topic of mental health.

Depression is nothing more than dissatisfaction with life. It’s temporary unhappiness. But the dominant culture and the pharmaceutical industry figured out that they could control people and make tons of money by treating depression as a pathological disease. So now depression is not unhappiness but a medical condition, which is the responsibility of the doctor to alleviate by medical means, under the insane justification that depression is a chemical imbalance. Which it isn’t.

https://i2.wp.com/www.reactiongifs.com/r/com.gif

I don’t always use Buzzfeed-style reaction GIFs, but when I do, it’s because there’s literally no other way to express my complete and utter shock at the stupidity of what has been spewed into my ears.

What. Okay, I’m just gonna . . .

PAUL JOSEPH WATSON DOES NOT KNOW WHAT DEPRESSION IS.

I have no love for pharmeceutical companies, Paul. I don’t. I think they’re evil. I think they’re peddling of anti-depressant drugs and supplements to people who do not need them is bad. I think them making pharmacological intervention the first option that many people think of, despite the risks involved that they don’t even tell people, is bad. I think them selling unsafe drugs to an eager-for-a-quick-fix public because they know that the patent on the drug, and therefore the blame for any wrong-doing, will be up before anyone can sue them is bad.

I will provide a link here for the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder and depressive episodes. Hell, I’ll even throw in a link for dysthymia (chronic low-grade depression). So, go and read over those criteria and then get back to me and say that clinical depression is just temporary dissatisfaction with life that you can get over by reading a good book.

And, yes, depression is caused by chemical imbalances, you fucking moron. SSRIs work on people with depression because they help balance neruo-chemicals (in this case, serotonin). For people with particularly bad clinical depression, parts of their mid-brain can deteriorate because their neurophysiology’s so out of whack. Clinical depression can physically slow down your movements and reaction time to outside stimuli, to the point of near catatonia in the worst cases. But all that’s just a bunch of hogwash, guys! Paul Joseph Watson thinks it’s all liberal academia and Facebook’s fault, and he’s right on the money!

We’ve been indoctrinated that everybody has a right to happiness. No you don’t. Happiness is earned by the way you live your life. If you make bad life choices, you become dissatisfied with life. You become depressed, and it’s your fault.

I would be inclined to agree that we’re fed this line about how we’re entitled to happiness. But happiness and “not being clinically depressed” are two different things. Hey, Paul, did you know that major depressive disorder is one of the most heritable traits passed down from parents to children? If your mom was a depressed blonde lady, you’re more likely to inherent a predisposition towards depression than her hair color. But it’s your fault. Of course.

People make dreadful lifestyle decisions: they’re lazy, they self-sabotage. And then they wonder why they still get depressed.

What about all those rich, successful people who had great relationships with their families and strong work ethics and smart life choices, just had everything going for them, yet still committed suicide? Did they make dreadful lifestyle decisins?

You are not entitled to be happy. Your mood cannot be independent of the way you live your life.

What about all those Africans in mud huts who are happy despite their poor living conditions, Paul?

You can’t eliminate dissatisfaction with your life by taking pills.

I agree we currently rely far too much on intervention in the form of pills when things like cognitive therapy and life coaches also exist. But pills certainly help in many cases, and flat out saying that they don’t work is actually a harmful idea.

The only cure is to change the way you live your life to make better decisions–to create value, excitement, and authenticity in your life. Work on projects, start businesses, read, absorb worth-while information, create something.

Yeah, because smart, creative go-getters with a lust for achievement never wind up eating a gun.

I don’t have all the answers.

Obviously.

You need to reach for those higher levels on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, because society and the culture that we are subjected to does everything in its power to distract you from achieving self-actualization. That cannot be reached by taking pills or having endless talks with a therapist, most of whom don’t give a damn about you anyway.

The suicide rates for therapists dealing specifically with depressed patients are higher than any other field of clinical psychology. If you go into clinical psychology, there are warnings and screenings and caveat after caveat telling you “Hey, if you think you’re in any way prone to or predisposed toward depression or alcoholism or anything like that, specialize in something else because lots of people kill themselves in this particular job.” And yet people still do it. I guess it’s that sweet, sweet Prozac money that gets them out of bed every day. It can’t be actually caring.


This is one of the worst videos I have ever seen. No joke. No exaggeration. Depression is one of the most fatal mental illnesses in the world due to its tie to suicide, and Paul Joseph Watson has decided that it would be cool and edgy to go onto his show to proclaim that it doesn’t exist. It’s not a problem, it’s not an illness. It’s just the liberals turning people into pussies with all of their post-modernism and safe spaces. Ignore your rotting pineal gland, it’s just you being a pussy suffering the consequences of bad life choices that are all entirely your fault. And if you think Prozac or therapy will help get you back on track, nah those are for pussies too. Why can’t you just get over it by being useful for once?

Fuck him.


Brief personal story time: I’m predisposed toward depression. It runs in the family. There was a day when I cleaned my room and put on a nice outfit and held a steak knife to my wrists, and just barely managed to talk myself out of it, after which I went weeping to my parents asking if they hated me, because I legitimately thought they did. I thought everybody did. Very recently–just a few months ago–I had an episode that caused me to almost fail three of my classes during my senior year of college. These were classes I liked and looked forward to and found genuinely fascinating, but I was too tired to get out of bed to go to them, which made me feel like a useless human being who didn’t deserve to show my face there anyway. I came up with other excuses for why my grades were slipping and did extra credit work to bring them back up and acted normally around my friends and family and went on with my responsibilities until I accidentally let slip while wine-drunk with my friends, weeks into the episode, that I was probably medically depressed again, which they helped me through without pills or therapy visits.

Paul Joseph Watson does not know what depression is. Just thought I’d make that perfectly clear.

 

 

Some Thoughts on Trump and the Transgender Military Ban

This will be a bullet point list, because I’m busy doing stuff I actually enjoy.

Anyway . . . !


1.) I don’t hate the idea of President Trump as much as most people. I still get annoyed when media outlets decide to trash him for innocuous bullshit and/or straight-up lie about what he thinks or does just because they’re all aboard the 24/7 Hate Train for the dude. Actually being fake news is not the best way to fight against the whole “fake news” thing, is all I’m saying. Looking at you, “memes incite violence against the press” CNN.

2.) Generally, I think most of the things he’s done probably looked fine of paper but were put into practice with the skill and subtle practice of a schizophrenic chimpanzee in the process of being immolated with a ‘Nam-style blowtorch. Temporary travel ban on countries connected to terrorist threats? Sure, not the worst idea. That list of countries making little sense in an American security context and being enacted by borderline-detaining people who legally arrived at the airport because they can’t be allowed to leave now? That’s pretty shitty. And that was something that could be partially blamed on ideas drafted up by the Obama administration. That’s not even including things that are totally the Trump admin’s doing like . . . touting isolationist policies that focus on domestic interests and then almost immediately sanctioning another bout of drone bombing, taking more funding away from our comparatively minuscule education and domestic enrichment programs to increase our already over-bloated and misused military budget, enforcing stricter immigration policies by encouraging broken window policing strategies, and getting rid of the current flawed health care system and replacing it with something that didn’t fix any of the bad parts and added more issues on top of them.

3.) And he’s done it again. Trump was the first real Republican candidate who showed open and explicit support of the LGBT community during his campaign run, which I gave him credit for, unlike many liberals who insisted he was homophobic . . . for reasons? I’m not sure, actually. He’s pretty much rolled back on that, though, with the statement he’s just issued:

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, the US government with not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgenders in the military would entail. Thank you.”

There are very, very many parts of this that genuinely confuse the ever loving fuck out of me. I’m not sure if I’m at the morally outraged levels that lots of people are, but I’m definitely bewildered.

Let’s talk about why.

4.) Why is this something he’s chosen to spend time on? Trump definitely knows what a giant can o’ worms the trans issue is. No one was asking for this. No one was complaining on the internet, prompting an official statement on the issue of trans people in the military to be made. He just came out with this one day. Why? With his controversy-laden presidency, keeping chicks with dicks out of the armed forces was really something he decided to make a priority?

5.) This is essentially just an even more regressive version of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. At least that mandate let them serve as long as they kept quiet about it. This one just flat out bans people entirely. I guess it’s good to know that I can go back to arguing against pseudo-evangelical pandering to right-wing demographics regarding LGBT issues again. I thought we were over that in *insert current year,* but okay.

6.) As has been readily pointed out, it’s rather hypocritical to act like the surely infinitesimal percentage of trans people in the military are going to cause some huge undue burden of medical costs for the military when one of the largest medical cost the military currently has is its Viagra budget. Yeah, that’s not an undue health cost at all.

7.) That being said, it’s not the American military’s job to pay for transition surgeries, hormones, or other medications. I wasn’t aware of the huge epidemic of transgender people joining the military for free sex-reassignment surgery, but if you want to cover all your bases and make sure medical exploitation doesn’t happen, fine. If the argument was “Trans people still currently transitioning and in need of consistent medical visits/evaluations/treatments will not be allowed into the military because that leads to superfluous health costs that we are not obligated to cover,” I’d actually understand.

That is not what is being said, though. It just bans trans people as a group, outright. What if they’re not physically transitioning and don’t plan to until after they get done serving? What if they’ve already physically transitioned before applying? What tremendous undue health cost are those trans people causing?

8.) You could say that trans people are more prone to things like anxiety and depression than cisgender people, therefore that is an undue medical risk the government would be taking on. But that law of averages isn’t applied to any other demographics. You don’t see Native Americans being denied entry into the military because they’re more prone to substance addictions, or white males being denied because they make up the largest percentage of sociopaths. The military has psychiatric and physical evaluations that must be passed before you can even hope to go to Boot Camp, let alone actually be deployed anywhere. If someone gets past those initial evaluations, I see no reason why there should be an issue. A trans person who suffers from depression and anxiety should not be allowed in the military, but acting like all trans people are going to come with that baggage by default and therefore should be overlooked as even potential applicants seems rather disingenuous.

9.) You could say that people with mental health issues should not be allowed in the military, which would conceivably exclude trans people. This is a slippery argument to make, though. Transgenderism is a sub-type of body dysmorphia, which is indeed a type of thought disorder, but I’m not sure how solid that argument is once you get past the surface level. Men in the military (as with the rest of very physical scenes like law enforcement or sports) are very prone to developing eating disorders and, yes, signs of body dysmorphia regarding their physiques. This is common amongst men in the military, who passed the psyche evaluation and are serving or about to serve. So . . . what? Samuel wanting to be called Samantha is enough of a disorder to disqualify her from military service entirely, but Calvin unhealthily obsessing over his body mass isn’t enough to disqualify him from military service?

10.) I’ve known people with schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, clinical depression, former drug addictions, and anxiety disorder who have all nevertheless been allowed to serve in the armed forces. Whatever you think about that topic, no one’s kicked up a fuss about it. No one’s making a political issue out of it. No one’s been overly bothered by the fact that my schizophrenic friend was allowed into the Army. Can we just talk about how little fucks the US Military usually gives about the mental health of its soldiers in general? How little support there is for people who have mental issues or develop them later on? Can we talk about how current military training is essentially designed to get people to circumvent human empathy and natural emotional reactions, and then discharged officers are given almost nothing to help them readjust to normal society afterward? Can we talk about how being discharged for having PTSD is seen as a black mark on someone’s military record? But nope! We don’t care about mental health and the military until someone with enough patriotism to want to go out and fight for their country turns out to be a tranny. Then mental health is a huge issue.

11.) And you’re not letting them into any military post? I have a friend who works for the armed forces and their job consist entirely of sitting behind a computer screen doing math all day. Can a transgender person not even do that job? They’d still just be far too disruptive for their own good?

12.) Then there’s the point about “disruption.” The same thing was said about letting gay people serve openly in the military, because the presence of fags would just be too distracting for our boys overseas. The same thing was said about letting women into the armed forces; they have periods you know, which means they’re just too emotional and effeminate to be trusted with any security measures. Hell, the same thing was said about post-WWII generals supporting the idea of racially integrated squadrons. I’d like to know what they think “disruptive” means in this context. I seriously doubt it’s the other normal troops getting the short end of the stick in “disruptive” situations that may arise. The point I’m trying to beat into your head is that someone’s presence being “too disruptive” has always been the go-to cop-out argument for this kind of thing.

13.) But you have to acknowledge the idea a bit more. Because it would be disruptive. A point that many people in support of this legislation have brought up is that the troops have to take the dreaded sensitivity class, and those classes are just way too expensive, and that’s the tremendous cost Trump is referring to. I have lots of problems with sensitivity training–namely that it doesn’t work at all, and usually makes the work environment more uncomfortable, not less–but that’s not an argument against letting transgender people into the military. That’s an argument against the current flawed methods we use to ease their transition into that environment. Pun totally intended. If you want to make an argument against the type of “diversity training” that is currently indulged in in that sphere, I will be right with you on that. But the answer to that problem isn’t “We wouldn’t need stupid, ineffective diversity training if there wasn’t any diversity . . .” *taps forehead and smiles*

14.) There are people saying that this is stupid because the military shouldn’t be involved in gender politics, and I actually disagree on that point. It’s not that I think the military should be involved in gender politics, but it is. It just is. The military is, in most respects, a very hyper-masculine social sphere. When divergent groups go into that sphere–like women, like gay men, like transgender people–it’s going to cause friction because the stereotypical idea of those groups (not necessarily the actual individuals involved, but just the particular demographic identity they belong to) doesn’t mesh well with the stereotypical hyper-masculine space they are in. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are legitimate issues, made worse by them happening in a place where reporting them or getting perpetrators in trouble for it actually is discouraged (because getting someone dishonorably discharged makes you the bad guy).

So this is not me saying that it’ll totally be smooth sailing and that transgender people being in the military will cause no issues whatsoever and that anyone who thinks it’ll cause issues is just being a bigot. But people who point out the problems it may cause as justification for them being banned from serving are doing their reasoning in reverse. They’re using the abuse that trans people very well may face in the military as an excuse for why trans people should just stay away, using the euphemism “disruptive,” instead of actually addressing the issue of mistreatment.

15.) And all that’s operating under the pretense that we don’t already have transgender people in the military, which we do. From the ones who have spoken out about their experience, they seem to have varying experiences with it ranging from totally positive to really negative, as is the case for anyone else who joins the military, I assume. Are those people going to be discharged now? How’s that going to work?

16.) What happened to supporting the troops and shit? The people I see who are waving the American flag talking about how much they respect the people going overseas to fight for ‘Murka seem to have a huge overlap with people who are glad to see this legislation get passed. So what, you respect the troops and have the highest opinion of anyone who goes out and protects American values . . . unless they’re trannies? Way to be consistent.


 

In summary:

Transgender people are not inherently unstable lunatics (at least no more than anyone else with some issues who still wants to join up) and should be be allowed to serve in the military as long as they meet the same mental and physical specifications set for everyone else. The military is not and should not be obligated to fund the medical bills associated with transitioning, and I’d suggest that anyone still in that process put off applying for the military for later. The fact that their presence would take some getting used to is not an excuse for why they shouldn’t be allowed in, and there are trans people serving in the military already, so I imagine some people are already well used to it.

The Alt-Right, White Nationalism, and Calling out Bullshit

A very common criticism that those in the ‘classical liberal/skeptic/whatever the fuck you want to call it’ sphere of social critique get is “If you’re so fair and rational, why don’t you call out the right more?” Dave Rubin (who I still like very much) has been running into the issue of not holding right-leaning guests’ feet to the fire nearly as much as his left leaning guests. Sargon’s gotten into hot water for not criticizing Trump and/or not taking the bad things Trump does seriously. In short: I think the critics have a legitimate point when they say the ones who paint themselves as rational centrists should attack both ends of the horseshoe instead of just focusing on one.

I also do this–out of the very many posts on Disorderly Politics, I’ve rarely dissected right-wing ideologues. My reasoning is that I would like to see the left reform itself into something more respectable, and speaking up and trying to keep the poison out of the well as a fellow leftist is the only way to do that. The right is not my team, and while I could throw rocks at it from the other side of the line if I wanted to, people have done that so often and so thoroughly, I don’t think my rock would add much to the fray. Plus, the upsurge of progressivism has led to right wing ideas and talking points being very unfairly lambasted and those who lean right being painted as automatically under-educated at best and racist/sexist/xenophobes at worst.

Right wing politics aren’t without their legitimate points, and it would do modern-day progressives some good to acknowledge that. Those on the left are very prone to that kind of elitism–and you wonder why self-proclaimed Republicans dislike universities when, as far as the media is concerned, they just seem to churn out elitist snobs who look down on anyone who isn’t a part of the intelligentsia as an apparently sociopathic idiot? And that’s on top of the fact that many social media and news sites seem to think that anything remotely right-leaning (or not even left-leaning enough) is inherently controversial and therefore bad. For that reason, I understand why the ‘skeptics’ have allied themselves with many people on the right end of the spectrum and why right-leaning ideas haven’t been criticized as much. I understand why they want to give these ideas platforms and give people with those ideas a chance to have their voice heard in a context where they will not immediately be negatively judged or seen as less intelligent.

With that huge disclaimer out of the way, though: let’s talk about the alt-right and how much it blows, shall we?


 

In order to talk about the alt-right, you have to talk about them in relation to progressives. Since I want this post to focus on the former, though, I’ll get that talking point out of the way quickly. I think progressive ideology is largely at fault for the rise of the alt-right–both the ironic alt-righters on YouTube who are harmless and just want to trigger feminists, and the legitimate ones who actually believe in alt-right ideals. What do you get when you go around insisting that white people need to see themselves as a distinct social class, insist that the White Social Class needs so sit down and shut up, that all those within the White Social Class have it better than everyone else by default, that the White Social Class needs to own and bare responsibility solely for negative historical happenings, and that racism towards the White Social Class is not only acceptable but not even racism at all? Bibbidi Bobbidi Boop! You get white nationalist alt-righters: white people who decided that if they were going to own the actions of their ancestors, then they were going to own the cool parts. That’s not to say that white nationalism didn’t exist until SJWs started poisoning our social rhetoric, but they weren’t a mainstream thing until that happened. This is the monster that progressives have created, and it’s really up to the rest of us to slay it, because they’re sure as hell are not going to.

Even worse, typical SJW rhetoric has made it incredibly difficult to address the alt-right at all because of their overuse of the term ‘racist.’ Progressives use that word to describe normal people so fucking much that my default reaction to hearing that someone is racist is to think, “Oh, they’re probably a cool, reasonable person who did nothing wrong.” That is the thing I think first because that word has been rendered so utterly toothless by progressive talking heads. Whenever anything legitimately racist goes down, there’s no longer a word you can use for it that accurately impresses the meaning you want without sounding like leftist propaganda.

So when I say that white nationalism has undertones, overtones, and a few shameless indulgences in racism, there will be a large subsection of people who think I’m just whining about nothing and making mountains out of molehills. Thanks, SJWs! But hey, don’t let my shitting all over SJWs fool you–me not being convinced of the wonderful purity of ethno-states automatically makes me a liberal SJW cuck, doncha know?


So onto the alt-right themselves, and the common talking points you hear from them. Note: this is what I have gleaned mainly from researching individual alt-right thinkers or internet comments supporting the alt-right. It’s strangely difficult to just find a list of their beliefs and social/political opinions.

1.) White/European pride. A very large facet of the alt-right is racial pride (whether than extends to specific ethnic European ancestry or just race seems to very). For some examples of comments I’ve seen: “What’s wrong with having pride in your race?”; “Let’s just keep ridiculing anyone with a sense of nationalism or ethnic pride. They must all be nazi edgelords.” ; “The alt right stands for white identity and grouping around that identity in order to improve the group’s standing in a world that is polarized and ruled by identity.”

It is, by nature, very collectivist, as it entails a strong identification with others and strong identification with the accomplishments of others based upon shared race/ethnicity. Some of the more cringe-tastic memes from this sphere typically include making comparisons between classical European architecture and ambiguously African mudhuts to show how much cooler and how much more innovative white people are, for example. I see little point in this. I suppose I understand having a certain amount of cultural pride. The fact that these cultural products are so often conflated with race, however, kind of ruins it.

While I agree that it shouldn’t be seen as racist for a white person to strongly identify and have pride in their race (just as I don’t think it’s racist for anyone else of any other race to do so), I do think it’s a rather flimsy and insecure thing to have pride in or see as a huge identity marker. To me, someone telling me they take pride in their race might as well be saying, “I haven’t done anything of note personally, and am very insecure about my worth as a person, so I latch onto group identity to feel larger than I am and more secure.”

2.) White nationalism and ethno-states. This is not to be confused with white supremacy. From what I’ve seen, there are very many people who identify as white nationalists who also abhor the idea of racial supremacy of any kind. That being said, this idea oftentimes reminds me of social justice warriors in practice.

“I’m not racist, I’m just happy that more non-white babies are being born in this country.” vs. “I’m not racist, I’m just sad that more non-white babies are being born in this country.”

The general idea is that ethnic/racial homogeneity is good and leads to a more stable society and that “white nations” should remain “white nations” in order to preserve their heritage, culture, and some vague notion of purity. The same goes for other nations–black nations should stay black, Asian ones Asian, etc. While this is technically true–it’s hard to have racial tension or race disparities when there’s only one race *taps forehead and smiles*–many white nationalists seem to have a very unrealistic and idealized notion of what an ethno-state would be like.

For instance, they laud Japan as this beautiful, first world, ethno-state that’s 99% Japanese, and doesn’t let in too many of those awful immigrants, and cares about preserving its race and culture, and is full of high-IQed people with pride in their heritage. Japan is, in many cases, their go-to example of the ideal ethno-state. They seem to have forgotten that Japan’s inverted triangle population is on the fast track to screwing over its entire economy because more people are aging out of the workforce than going in. It’s elderly population is draining the country’s federal resources, all while adding nothing to them, with many elderly people living in abject poverty and going without health treatment because there aren’t enough health care professionals to take care of them, and many small towns are turning into financially useless ghost towns after their geriatric populace all dies off. Abe made strides to encourage more women to enter the workforce not because he’s some paragon of meritocracy and gender equality but because Japan’s workforce size was plummeting to the point of financial ruin in many sectors, so having women enter the workforce became necessary to keep things afloat. Many universities were shut down because there just aren’t enough young people in the country to justify their existence, and the ones that still exist are in the process of desperately trying to appeal to international students in order to bring in more youth to enter the Japanese workforce long-term. Meanwhile, its piss-poor relationship with South Korea and China on both a political level and on an interpersonal racism level has made the situation even worse: The two countries nearest them who could provide them with immigrants with relatively similar cultural values (i. e., who wouldn’t cause many cultural tensions) don’t want anything to do with them because Japan is so discriminatory towards other East Asians, largely because of an uptick in Japanese nationalism stirred up by Abe over the last decade.

But, yes, it’s the perfect ethno-state that proves just how successful ethno-states can be.

3.) White genocide. This is where the things that make you raise your eyebrows over how maybe-racist they are come to a crashing halt and fly face-first into full-on Racism. This is the first among many points where you see the alt-right conflation with race and culture, with the essential idea being that white people being bred out of existence will be the end of “white” or European culture. I’m part of the white genocide, I guess, me being a filthy half-breed polluting the good white genes of my matrilineal side. Oh no, it’s even worse–I didn’t even come out with pale skin. How am I going to continue white culture now?! The blacks won.

First, this is unlikely to happen. Yes, immigrants have lots of kids, but not to the point where they’re going to outbreed the native white populations of places like Sweden or Germany. At least not anytime soon. This also ignores that immigrant birth rates tend to decline steadily after that initial boom in numbers, making the chances of them outnumbering the native population even less likely.

This makes even less sense in the US, where alt-righters are freaking out over white people becoming a minority in “their own country.” (Because it’s not like the Native Americans exist–no the country has just always been white.) It literally just groups all the non-white people together and acts like ‘Minority’ is a class in of its own. Newsflash: If minorities became more than 50% of the American population, white people would still be the majority race–‘minorities’ are at the very least comprised of four different racial groups.

For a comment example: “I cant get over the idea that europeans may one day be minorities in their own countries. how does this ‘community’ reconcile this fact or are you not bothered? am i just a racist for believing that european nations should stay european?” What does ‘European’ mean, random YouTube commentor? Because to talk to an alt-righter, the impression you get is that a European can never be anyone who isn’t racially white. There is a conflation with race and culture here that cannot be ignored. I once dated a guy who was the most stereotypically British person on the face of the planet: he had a posh London accent, he was deadpan and sarcastic, he loved tea, he idolized Stephen Fry, he disliked food with seasoning, he modeled his personal philosophy after Sherlock Holmes and British thinkers. He was a quintessential Englishman. He also had darker skin and an ethnic-sounding surname on account of his parents’ parents being from India. So would his existence help keep England English? Would his existence help to uphold the UK as a British nation? Or would his brown skin and presence in a white nation make him part of the genocide of British culture?

4.) Race realism. It’s the IQ argument: “Brown people have lower average IQs than white people, and that’s why we need white ethno-states, but I guess it would be okay to have some Asian immigrants because they have high IQs.” It’s a stupid argument.

My thesis paper was actually all about how important it is to test what you actually think you are testing before you make empirical claims. That is a criticism that has been leveled at the IQ test since its very conception, for good reason. Cultural and social factors have far too varying of an effect on IQ scores to use them to say anything about capacity for intelligence based strictly off of racial demographics. If you go to a poor neighborhood, the people there will likely demonstrate lower IQs on average than test takers in the Palisades, regardless of race.

That’s not to say that race and genetics do not have any effect on IQ (the IQ of the parents oftentimes correlates to that of the child, for instance), but since culture and early upbringing is such a significant mitigating factor in determining what one’s IQ is, it’s rather disingenuous to act as though race is the most important thing to consider. It’s also statistically illiterate–the problem with bellcurves and averages is that outliers screw them up something fierce.

While the IQs of different races aren’t made exactly the same when you account for statistically insignificant outliers–East Asians still have a slightly higher average than whites, African Americans slightly lower–the disparity between them isn’t nearly as wide. And seeing as how it’s a disparity that can be bridged by cultivating a culture that values education and strict self-control and mental discipline more, I do not see how acting like IQ is inherently connected to race helps all that much. There are stupid white people mooching off the state and living off of welfare too, so where do they factor into this?

Also, the last time I checked, my IQ was 135. So am I smart enough to be allowed into your white ethno-state even though my dad is black, or does the extra melanin in my skin disqualify me from being a contributing member of your idealized society because people of my skin tone are less intelligent on average? Just asking.

5.) Anti-Multiculturalism and Anti-Immigration. For example: “Why do whites continue to shame their own kind while sticking up for nonwhite immigration? What are the benefits of that exactly??” ; “Only whites are not allowed to protect their identity today, it is a scary and valid concern in the world of anti-racism , immigration and diversity today.”

This one has a legitimate point to make. According to leftists at least, majority white cultures are the only ones that should be bothered with multi-culturalism. And I do think there is a level of unfairness in the idea that white people are apparently the only ones who have to be okay with their culture being taken or changed by others and that white people can’t have the desire to keep their cultural heritage intact and isolated without being deemed a racist for not sharing. It is legitimately not fair. It is a double standard. I’ll give you that.

When I was in Japan, I met a black woman from Nigeria who had lived and worked in Japan for 30+ years, had children and raised them there, etc.. She expressed a good deal of sadness with the fact that her daughter identified as Japanese more than Nigerian and didn’t care all that much about upholding Nigerian traditions. Personally, I didn’t like how she was trying to enforce her own values and cultural identity onto her child who didn’t want them. But if she can be sad about a loss of cultural connection in her own family, then white people should be allowed to be sad about a loss of cultural connection in their own countries. (Is that black teenager Japanese, by the way? Question for the ages.)

While I’m no hardliner on the idea that “you shouldn’t let non-whites immigrate here,” I understand why it’s so prominent. The cultural clash between European nations and immigrants from different cultural landscapes with distinctly different value systems has caused many, many problems. That mass immigration was not handled well at all, the ‘mass’ part of it being the main issue. While I wouldn’t take it so far as the alt-righters, who seem to think that any and all immigration is bad and that ethnic minorities should be kept in the low single-digits, if any are allowed to live and work in the country at all, I understand the general idea of wanting controlled borders and a firm hand on who immigrates and when. You can’t really escape the racist under/overtones of “We don’t want brown people in our country,” though, no matter how hard you try. If you made it less about race and more about culture, I’d be on your side with this one. But the continued importance of skin tone to the argumentation kills any legitimate point to be had about the importance of maintaining a nation’s values in the face of mass immigration from dissimilar places.

6.) Expediency and Peaceful Transitions. A very common idea I’ve seen floating around alt-right circles is that there’s no time for principles. There is no time for a peaceful resolution to anything. White people are being genocided! If you disagree with us on any of these points, then you support rape of innocent white women! For example: “Classical liberalism will not save you from the impending demographic changes.” ; “I fail to see how ‘classical liberalism’ will protect German girls from Muslim child rapists.” A lot of those incredibly intelligent Asians are Muslim, by the way. ASEAN exists. There are also white Muslims–would they have a place in your ethno-state?

The notion that we don’t have time to treat people equally when we’re faced with such huge issues is a very obvious slippery slope that they don’t defend very well. They just seem to think authoritarianism is awful when it’s forced upon them by other ideological groups, but it’s okay–not only okay, but necessary for the good of humanity–when they do it. Sound familiar? The hypocrisy is very annoying to me. They insist that “classical liberals” are too idealistic: meritocracy is too idealistic, having a racially/ethnically heterogeneous society is too idealistic, being okay with any amount of foreign immigration is too idealistic. But the supposed end goal of the alt-right movement–a white ethno-state–is totes realistic and attainable.

The majority of them, in what seems like a way to further distance themselves from white supremacy, will insist up and down that they want their ideas to be enacted peacefully. I refuse to believe that any of them are so stupid as to think that the formation of an ethno-state in 21st century, first world, Western Europe or North America will be in any way peaceful.

Maybe you could do this with refugees (both the real and the so-called ones) who, by definition of being refugees, are supposed to leave the country eventually. But what about the ethnic minorities who actually live there? Do you think they’re going to just smile and nod while you kick them out of their country of residence? You are going to have to force people to leave, whether that means using federal power to deport law-abiding citizens for no other reason than their race or just physically forcing them out. Either way, that’s not going to be “peaceful,” and I doubt the rest of the world would be okay with it. And that’s assuming that all the ethnic minorities are immigrants–what about the ones born there, who are legal citizens of that country. At that point, you’re literally pointing to legal citizens and forcing them out for no other reason than being the wrong race. And you wonder why people think the alt-right is synonymous with white supremacy?

That’s also ignoring what the ethno-state would even entail: I know you’d want all the browns and most of the Asians gone, but what about different ethnicities of white people? Being mutually white doesn’t stop racism and in-fighting among different ethnic groups, so how is this ethno-state going to work? Are you also going to kick out all the white people whose ancestors don’t come from certain countries specifically?

The last time someone in Western Europe decided to ethnically cleanse the country “for the good of the people,” a world war happened. Hell, the last time an ethno-state was founded, it caused violent conflict that is still happening sixty years later. What about the formation of a white ethno-state is going to go well in the mind of the alt-right? I am honestly asking that question. This is not me calling the alt-right Nazis, this is me pointing out the logical necessity of force to achieve their desired end-goal.


This is something that needs to be called out for the stupidity it is. They may be the enemies of social justice warriors, but that doesn’t make them our friends. They are collectivist, anti-meritocratic ideologues who don’t see the difference between culture and physical appearance, who are apparently fine with authoritarian measures being taken as long as they’re against the people they don’t like. Agreeing with them that borders are a good thing and that mass immigration is bad for the native populace in most cases and believing that their voice shouldn’t be censored is not the same thing as being allied with them.

We shouldn’t be so open minded that our brains fall out. Wanting free speech and open dialogue for ideas that have been written off/censored/automatically demonized by leftists doesn’t mean we can’t address those ideas as bad ones. There is no reason to tolerate alt-right sentiments in the “classical liberal” thinktank just because they internet real good and their voices have been suppressed by progressives too. There is no reason to ignore alt-right rhetoric bouncing around in the “community” like it’s somehow not just as toxic of an idea system as the one we dislike. And while there have been plenty of big names who have spoken out against white nationalist sentiments, I also think it’s important to hold their feet to the fire more consistently than we do.

I’m fine with speaking to them and interviewing them and all of that. I’m one of the people who asked Dave Rubin to interview Richard Spencer. That being said, I’m going to take a page from Maajid Nawaz and emphasize the existence of the minorities within minorities. I’m a biracial woman. I don’t really care what political label I’m given: “classical liberal,” “cultural libertarian,” “independent,” whatever. What is important is that I believe that people should be regarded as individuals, seen for their own merit and their own value, no one else’s. Groups are made out of individuals, after all. With an individualistic mindset, in order to justify hurting a group, you have to justify hurting every single one of its members first. Collectivism makes mistreatment easier that way.

I greatly enjoy the “classical liberal” sphere of dialogue–don’t plan on leaving it any time soon–and there are plenty of minorities in the minority like me, who have similar ideas. And there is a real risk that those people, the ones progressives call coons and Uncle Toms and porch monkeys and race traitors, will be turned away from classical liberalism because so many classical liberals seem content to make strange bedfellows with people who, just like the progressives, don’t respect them as individual people.

Cultural Appropriation, TexMex Edition

皆さん、こんにちは!    今日に、文化的歳出について書きますね。楽しい事実で, cultural appropriationのたまに, 良い翻訳がないと思います。だからその言葉を英語で書いたのです。面白いですね。文化的歳出とは何ですか。さて、私は皆さんに見せてあげます。行きましょう!

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So, why did I just write an intro in a language that’s only spoken by 125 million people on the other side of the world? Besides the fact that my language skills have been floundering ever since I left campus and I’m desperate to make sure I maintain at least a middle-school level of literacy, I did it to make a point.

I am a twenty-two year old biracial chick from bumfuck nowhere South who up and decided to learn the Japanese language because “why not.” To make Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles had to travel to another country for months to learn about musical instruments that you can now sample in Garage Band for free. Post-WWII, Julia Child became famous for bringing French cuisine to American culinary tastes–French cuisine you can now learn about on the internet after a quick Google search. In the 1960s, black American kung fu stars had to travel to and live in China in order to learn martial arts. Fast forward to the present day when having a dojo in your local mini-mall has become a cliche. One of the best places to get Thai food in the US is a place in Nashville, Tennessee right across from a BBQ restaurant and a Greek diner. If you watch one K-Pop music video on YouTube, your recommended videos will be flooded with K-drama clips and BIGBANG interviews for days.

The point that I’m trying to get across is that it’s far easier now than it has ever been to take part in the products of other cultures. The geographical divide that used to keep vastly different cultures relatively separate has been bridged by technology and accessible travel options. And with that cultural bridge comes the inevitable cultural mixing. That’s how you get things like pineapple pizza and Latin jazz and Bollywood superhero movies and kick-ass cartoons written by a Russian guy about a Japanese samurai voiced by a black man fighting an evil demon overlord and a scatting robot based off of Sammy Davis Jr.. Watch Samurai Jack–it’s an awesome show.

It’s not like all cultural mixing is a good thing–the forced introduction of hierarchy-based religions into previously polytheistic or animistic societies lead to new forms of religiously-justified social inequalities that weren’t there previously, for example. But the good thing about modern-day culture mixing, with its roots in voluntary tourism and internet culture, is that it tends to only care about the cool parts–the aesthetically appealing, the interesting, the fun. No one’s going over to Japan and saying, “You know what’s awesome? A work culture so intense it breeds alcoholism, social isolation, and suicide. Let’s bring that shit over here!” But maybe they’ll be inspired to go back home and start a karaoke bar (karaoke is a Japanese invention, you know), or put a rock garden in their backyard, or take up ink painting (which in of itself is a Chinese invention that the Japanese just added a few more techniques to).

According to Jagger Blaec from the Portland Mercury, doing any of the above things would be awful because cultural appropriation *insert the Indiana Jones clip of people’s faces melting off here.* Her article is entitled “This Week in Appropriation: Kooks Burritos and Williamette Week,” and it is just . . . I don’t want to say it’s the worst thing ever, but I would rather wake up at 7am to go stand in line at the DMV than read it again. So, a couple of hipster-douche white girls went to Mexico, decided that they really liked tortilla-making, and opened a food truck making tortilla-based foods in Portland, Oregon. This is apparently worse than the Holocaust.

I’m actually not going to go through her article point-by-point because I have discussed cultural appropriation before multiple times and would just be rehashing myself. I’ve made plenty of points in the three articles linked above that I will not bother re-stating here. I’m just going to be responding to some select excerpts to try to say something new on this ridiculous, ridiculous subject. To start off, I’m going to compile a few instances of this totally-not-racist writer being totally-not-racist.

  • “This week in ‘white nonsense’.”
  • The existence of a list of blacklisted restaurants, blacklisted because they’re “ethnic” restaurants owned and operated by white people.
  • Openly celebrating the fact that the women got their new business shut down.

It’s good to see the social hierarchy in social justice circles make itself clear. Brown people are at least a few rungs above women when it comes to who is the most oppressed. Those two young, entrepreneurial women starting their own business in the male-dominated sphere of restauranteering must be stopped! Fighting the patriarchy isn’t as important as fighting white supremacy, guys. Remember that.

I will now compile the instances of this writer conflating two women opening a taco truck to violence, murder, and general malicious intent:

  • ‘they colonized this style of food’
  • ‘The “they” she was referring to were probably the Mexican “abuelitas” these two women preyed upon in order to appropriate the secrets of their livelihood.’
  • ‘This is where things go from quirky to predatory.’
  • ‘These two white women went to Mexico, ate tacos, and then decided they would just take what the locals clearly didn’t want to give them. If that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to pack up all their stolen intellectual property and repackage it.’
  • ‘Week after week people of color in Portland bear witness to the hijacking of their cultures.’
  • ‘. . . birthed as a result of curious white people going to a foreign country, or an international venture, and poaching as many trade secrets, customs, recipes as possible, and then coming back to Portland to claim it as their own and score a tidy profit.’

How two women opening a food truck in a city across the fucking globe ruins the livelihoods of a bunch of old women in Mexico is truly a riddle for the ages. As many people have pointed out, tortillas are a culinary staple–they’re a simple recipe with a simple cooking technique, owned by no one. Tortillas are not intellectual property. The girls themselves overtly said that they had to come up with their own recipes and techniques since they only learned the basics while they were in Mexico. This is how food sharing works.

When something is poached or preyed upon, as you so hyperbolically put it, it is dead: The elephant that gets poached for its ivory doesn’t have tusks anymore once those poachers are done with it. The owl that preys upon chipmunks eats them alive. The grifter that prays upon people’s stupidity takes something from them, leaving them worse for wear at the end of the encounter.

No one was hurt by what these women did. Their food truck in Portland, Oregon didn’t put those women in Mexico out of work. Those women in Mexico aren’t losing money because a food truck opened across the world selling what they also make. Those women in Mexico didn’t lose the resources and ability to make tortillas because two white girls are doing it now. If anything, they were momentarily annoyed by two tourists who wanted to be taught how to make a certain kind of food even though they didn’t have time to teach them.

You know who did leave this situation having lost something? Having been overtly targeted by people trying to take away their chance at a livelihood? The two girls who had their business shut down because someone on the internet decided that they were too pale to be making the food they wanted to make. You are accusing these random hipsters of doing something that you yourself are perpetrating. You and people like you, with your blacklists and your internet hate-mobs forcing people to quit, actually are “preying upon” businesses that you don’t think have the right to exist. And you don’t even see the fucking irony. The projection is astounding.

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This is ridiculous, and, to super-liberal Portland’s credit, almost all of the comments on the original article are very straightforward about that. All hope is not lost. People are starting to get fed up with this mentality, and it’s starting to show, slowly but surely. The funniest part is that the writer, after overtly applauding the fact that someone’s business was forced to close, has the gall to say that “cultures are meant to be shared.”

The hilarious thing about this entire situation is that it is made extremely evident to anyone who has half a fucking idea what they’re talking about that Miss Jagger Blaec and the people getting up-in-arms with her are nothing but armchair activists. They are getting mad about the “cultural appropriation” perpetuated by the creation of a burrito stand.

Burritos . . . an American food. It’s called Tex-Mex for a reason–burritos are a Southwestern American food item. So are tacos and nachos. Burritos weren’t even a named, recognizable thing until the mid-twentieth century, for crying out loud. If you go to Mexico, the only burrito stands you’ll find are ones for tourists. They’re not a Mexican food. These people are getting pissed off about two American women opening a food truck selling American food. This is even funnier than SJWs getting mad about college Cinco de Mayo parties, totally ignoring the fact that Mexico considers Cinco de Mayo nothing but a corporatized holiday not even worth taking the whole day off for, only celebrated at all because the Corona beer company thought that it’d be a good marketing gimmick to make a drink for specific days. What are you going to complain about next? Are you going to bitch and moan about how fortune cookies aren’t authentically Chinese?

If you ever find yourself in Japan, Ms. Blaec, do not go to a Sushi Roll restaurant. The horrible, horrible sushi-based abominations in that place would make your head explode. That is a company in Japan, owned by Japanese people, and it appropriates everyone with its culinary creations: from its East Asian neighbors, to ASEAN, to Europe, to Australia, to the US. Have you ever had fish n’ chips sushi? How about bacon and scrambled eggs sushi? Kimchi sushi? Fried rice sushi? Orange chicken sushi? I have, all thanks to Sushi Roll. Are you gonna get up in arms about that? Japan did try to colonize China, Korea, and parts of South East Asia, after all. The existence of kimchi sushi should just be considered culinary poaching and theft, am I right?

Hell, what about this one burger place I went to all the time when I lived in Japan–owned and operated by some Japanese hipster dude with dreadlocks and a fedora, making dirty profit off of American food in a country where Americans are an oppressed minority making up less than 1% of the population. Yes, Westerners actually are oppressed by the usual social justice standard–they are tokenized and hindered from being able to advance in the workplace. Western English teachers are often just their for show, unable to promote any actual English-learning. Housing discrimination against anyone non-Japanese is prevalent, and places, especially restaurants, sometimes charge Westerners more by default. Just check the differences between the prices on the Japanese and English menus in tourist cities. With that background of exploitation and erasure, how dare he ask Americans for burger recipes from their home-states?! He stole our food, and now he’s exploiting us even further by making us active participants in that theft?

Holy shit, I just remembered that when I was in Krakow I went to a pizza shop owned by a bunch of Arabs who made “Polish pizzas” with things like potatoes and blood sausage on them. With Poland’s history of being taken over and colonized by outside forces ten ways to Sunday, I gotta call appropriation on that too.

Seriously, guys. Travel the world. It’s the best cure for the cultural separatism and solipsism being promoted by Ms. Blaec and her friends.

* * *

The thing about cultural appropriation is that is assumes that culture is a sacred thing that can only be engaged in one “good” way.  I don’t think that people understand just how dangerous that idea is. That intellectual hard-lining about “doing things the right way” is how you get the Westboro Baptist Church and its lamentation that other Christians have become too weak and “worldly” to promote God’s true will. This conflation of culture with ethnicity and skin tone is how you get white nationalists who insist that a brown person can never truly be “part of their culture” simply because only white people can have “white culture.” The leftist idea of cultural appropriation sounds exactly like the white nationalist idea about how whites need to “protect their culture from outside invaders who want to steal it.” Good to see those on the left finally extending a hand across the aisle and breaking bread with new types of people. It’s very open-minded of them.

So, Jagger Blaec and her friends can live in their boring-ass world where cultures are irreparably separated by skin tone if they want to. While they’re off making a manifesto about the morals of fusion cuisine, I’ll be off caring about actual problems and enjoying the aspects and facets of cultures that are good and beautiful and worth taking part in and ignoring the bad parts.

Technically Being Right: A Response

Hey, guys! One of my readers requested that I respond to this YouTube video by Shaun and Jen, and it’s officially spring break for me so I actually have glorious time to dick around on the internet. So I’m responding to it. It’ll be a bit difficult because the video is a response to a comment about Shaun’s response to another video. It’s kind of convoluted. From what I can gather, they’re talking about Milo Stewart’s infamous “ALL white people are racist, ALL straight people are homophobic, blahblahblah” video that blew up a while ago.

To avoid confusion, here is the YouTube comment that Shaun is responding to:

“You attempted to take a logical middle of the road stance here, but its clear you have a bias.

The problem is that Milo is consciously deciding to claim that an entire group of people (all white people) are subconsciously racist is racist itself and also flatout wrong. The definition of racism is

“the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” To add to this, the other definition is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

therefore, saying ALL white people subconsciously hold this belief over another race from birth is flat out wrong and even prejudiced simply because of the sweeping generalization without citation. Despite your belief that society at large is indoctrinating people to hold racist beliefs, you seem to forget about people that grow up in household where they are NOT raised with these subconscious beliefs.

However, believing races are superior to one another ON AVERAGE in regards to certain things is perfectly reasonable and its fucking stupid to claim we are all perfectly equal in every way. We aren’t equal within our own race, how can we be equal across races?

On average Blacks make better basketball players, on average Asians score higher on the SAT. You cannot debate this.”

And now, I shall respond to both the above comment and what Shaun has to say in equal parts, because there are points where both of them could have done better.

* * *

To address the original comment first: I agree that Milo asserting that all white people are racist is flat out wrong on account of it being a sweeping generalization. I am also slow to accuse “society,” vague, amorphous term that it is, of indoctrinating people to hold certain beliefs, racist or otherwise. Blaming society always seemed like a cop-out to me because there’s really nothing to be done about the whole of society just being bad. That being said, it’s rather difficult to raise someone with subconscious beliefs. The whole point of them is that they are not explicit, so it’d be difficult to intentionally raise someone to subconsciously think something.

Here is Shaun’s point (note: parts of this are paraphrased, so if you don’t trust my shorthand, listen along with the actual video):

I don’t think it’s possible to have any sort of meaningful interaction with society in general and not come into contact with anything that might cause a subconscious bias. Excluding people raised by wolves or in fall out shelters or something, I think we all have some level of racial bias. But I will concede that it’s hard to prove if a subconscious bias exist or not because, by its nature, it’s hard to detect.

This gets me. It always fucking gets me. Can we please have a class, a world wide one that everybody gets in on, where we drill into people’s heads what the definitions and manifestations of certain terms are? Just drill them in. It would save everyone so much time. Shaun doesn’t do this as overtly as most people, so I’m not biting his head off. But it’s a topic that needs discussed.

“Subconscious bias” =/= “racism”

“Racial bias” =/= “racism”

The thing about subconscious biases is that they encompass literally everything. We have biases about clothing color, and height, and posture, and voice, and opinions, and things on the left, and things that come first, and things that come last; and all of those things are further effected by the temperature of the room and the color of the walls and whether or not you just got done jogging before having an interaction. “Subconscious biases” are everywhere.

They can be biases for something or against something, and it is important to note here that being biased in favor of one thing doesn’t mean you don’t like the other things. That’s a common mistake made. Society, in fact, does a pretty good job at mitigating and lessening inherent biases just as much, if not more than, it reinforces them, depending on the environment. So the kid raised by wolves in a fallout shelter would probably actually be more effected by inherent biases than someone raised within society, if I were to guess. You can’t escape these. Newborns have inherent, “subconscious” biases. Month-old infants who’ve never left their house have inherent biases.

This is why it irritates me so much when people talk about “inherent, subconscious biases” like they’re something wildly significant by default. Oh no, we have racial biases! Almost like how we have biases centered around pretty much everything else. What a surprise. Racial biases tend to be in favor of your racial in-group according to eye-tracking studies done with infants. In short, they prefer people who look like them, and this is true for all races, not just evil white people. They tend to see people who look like them as more friendly or less of a threat, which makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Your family is less likely to want to kill you. Even so, that bias is vastly effected by the society you live in (not what you see on TV and billboards, but the people you actively interact with). Children who frequently interact with more racially diverse groups lose the “other races are scary and inherently less preferable than my race” bias, for example. And even with that bias still firmly in place, it is mitigated by a far more specific subconscious bias in favor of people who agree with you. Infants and adults are more likely to have a positive bias for someone who likes the things they like and a negative bias against someone who doesn’t like what they like. And if the one they agree with is of another race than them, they’ll still prefer that person over someone of the same race who disagrees with them.

Sooooooooooooooo . . . inherent biases are tricky. They are mitigated and strengthened and canceled out by a million and one things a million times over before you can act on anything. And those factors are not really something that you can just generalize across entire races, white or otherwise. They are also not the same as overt racism, and white people are not the only ones effected by them.

Shaun is right to point out that subconscious bias is difficult to detect. It’s actually much easier to do with infants too young to speak. For example, the infamous racial bias test that you can take from your very own computer that was used as an official research tool is not reliable whatsoever. If you’re interested, it tracks reaction time to see if you’re faster to associate bad words and images with minorities. I took the same test four separate times and got four wildly varying results. I believe I was biased in favor of minorities once, biased against them once, and got a neutral score twice. So the SJW tactic of telling people what their subconscious biases objectively and definitely are is laughable to me. “If you’re white, these are the biases you definitely have, and they are definitely not mitigated or in any way effected by anything else, either mentally or in your external environment! No question!” It is actually rather ridiculous.

We’re biased in favor of people with their hair parted to the right. Can the lefties start up an interest group lobby now?

That took a long time to respond to. Fuck.

I understand the argument “All white people are racist,” but wouldn’t personally use it. If I did have to say all white people were racist . . . I’d waffle a lot and lay a lot of ground work beforehand, and that just makes the statement lose all of its shock value, which negates the point of saying it in the first place.

Good. You’re saying you’d lay groundwork and further explain the situation like doing that is somehow a bad thing, like it’s “waffling.” No. Being hesitant to make sweeping claims is a good thing.

The argument to be had with the “All white people are racist” approach is one of efficacy. On the one hand, “racism” is a powerful word, and it draws a lot of attention to an issue that needs a lot of attention. But on the other hand, you are gonna get a lot of backlash saying something like that. Is the increased attention worth the backlash? It turns people off.

I don’t think it’s very effective. As Shaun himself pointed out, for everyone one person who decides to continue listening to you after you say this, you’ve got at least one other person who pissed off and decided to never speak to you again. And the backlash this “all white people are racist” sentiment gets is justified, not just because it draws a lot of negative attention. As he states, “racism” is a powerful term. Not only is it a powerful term, but it is an inherently negative powerful term.

I’m forgetting the guy’s name, and I’m too lazy to use Google; but there was a politician in the 1990s who was a staunch Democrat-was all in favor of social safety net programs and made uplifting the black community a huge part of his platform and service record. An upstanding guy. He said the word “niggardly” once in a press conference in regards to finances and got blacklisted from politics, reviled by his former voter base afterward, because a black person heard him say that word and thought it sounded too much like the word “nigger.” This is not a case of mishearing someone. He said “niggardly,” the black person heard “niggardly,” and decided to call it racist anyway because hey, close enough.

Calling things racist is a big fucking deal. Or at least it used to be. I have spoken about this before about how social justice seems very fond of overusing words to the point where they lose all value and meaning, and “racist” is one of the words in question. When you take the inherent human racial bias that is a simple in-group preference (no overt maliciousness) and call that racism, you devalue the term “racism.” When you say that simply having a racial in-group preference (totally ignoring that tons of other factors have a huge effect on whether or not this preference actually makes it to the top rung of things that actively factor into an individual’s higher-level thoughts and outward actions) is racism, you devalue the term “racism.”

You’re essentially damning people for having a thought crime that they may or may not personally approve of and may or may not act on in any capacity, that you don’t even know they actually have to begin with. That is a total clusterfuck. How is that helpful? How? How is accusing someone of being some awful thing and couching the accusation in terms that they are logically incapable of disputing a good way to go about things? This is made even worse by the typical tactic of saying that anyone who disputes the accusation of being “racist on the inside” is just proving that they are indeed racist on the inside “The insane man denies he’s insane” and all that. There’s no winning with this. And when one of your biggest points is one that can’t be argued against, congratulations, you’re in a religion!

And all of that totally ignores my opinion that it actually is a racist sentiment. Racism is awful. If it wasn’t generally agreed upon that racism is awful, then it wouldn’t be such a good word to throw around to get your way. You are fitting into the provided definition of “racism” like a glove: you think that one racial group is the only racial group capable of doing something that you and almost everyone else thinks is utterly deplorable. If that isn’t tacitly implying some kind of inherent moral inferiority on white people’s part, I don’t know what is. And if I’m getting this wrong, and that isn’t the intention, then this sure as fuck has been one hell of an unintended consequence of throwing this “all white people are racist” idea around like it’s just the fact of the matter.

Just for a thought experiment, imagine if I just came out and said that all black people were criminals in order to be “effective” and get people’s attention so I can talk about crime in black neighborhoods. I don’t think you’d like that one bit.

Moving on to him talking about the basketball/SAT topic.

There’re a few different lines of argument here. You need context. For example, I can say, “Dogs are larger than cats.” Is that true? Free of context, that statement is neither true nor untrue. If we’re talking about domesticated dogs and cats, it is true. Even the words “dogs” and “cats” need clarification.

Well, actually . . . *she said in the snootiest, most punchable voice humanly possible*

You actually don’t need context here. Or at least not the kind of context Shaun is refering to. Linguistically speaking, “Dogs are larger than cats.” is a sentence that can be understood in two different ways. “Dogs” and “cats” can either be single conceptual groups or they can be terms refering to every single dog and every single cat in question. In the second scenario, yes, you’d need the context that he provides in order to say whether or not it’s true or false. Conceptual groups, on the other hand, do not require that. For an easier example: “The dog is an affectionate animal.” “Dog,” here is not talking specifics. It’s not asking for specifics. It is making a generalizing statement that is agreed upon by others in the conversation to be accurate on a conceptual level. Our default idea of what goes into the stereotypical, concept-level dog has “affectionate” as a trait, the same way a conceptual dog is bigger than the conceptual cat, so further clarification isn’t necessary.

This is actually a tangent. This sentence structure doesn’t fit likelihood claims very well. We’ll move on.

So let’s talk about the term “Black people are more likely to be criminals than white people.” I see this sort of thing all the time, usually justifying a reported police bias against black people. Is it true?

Yes. He goes into this more, though.

By itself, it doesn’t mean anything. First off, we need a specific location. “In the USA, black people are more likely to be criminals than white people.”

This is the case. Black people are approximately 13% of the US population, and they commit around the same number of violent crimes as white people who are over half of the US population. To say that there’s nothing disproportionate there seems like Shaun is being a bit intentionally dense.

What does more likely mean? Are we speaking genetically?

No. I stopped here to address this point specifically because this seems to be the knee-jerk reaction of people. Not even leftists, just people in general. When you say “Black people commit more crimes than white people,” or “Black people in the US are more violent than white people in the US,” or any iteration of those ideas, people’s default understanding of it is to think you’re saying something about what black people inherently, genetically are. like. They then move from that to calling you a racist, because of course.

This is not a claim about the genetics or default state of existence for people with darker skin tones. It is a description of the reality of the situation, no matter how awkward and uncomfortable that reality is. Just making that clear.

Most people will say no, not genetically but statistically. Where do these statistics come from? Data taken from the police and court system. So, “In the USA, according to data gathered by the justice system . . . white people.”

And here he goes off for a while about how this is inaccurate because statistics about how black people commit more crimes affects policing strategies and leads to black people being policed more than white people, which leads to them getting arrested more, which leads to their data being added to those stats and making them go up, perpetuating the cycle of black people being targeted by the police.

I have many, many issues with this, but I’ll try to be concise and make some bullet points.

  • For the police to go after specifically black people so much that they make it look like 13% of the population has the same crime rate as 60% of the population, that would entail a ridiculous amount of negligence that doesn’t seem readily apparent. American police forces are very arrest-happy. Even when you take into account our population, the amount of arrests made and imprisonments in this country is on par with some pretty depressingly oppressive places, and most of those arrests are of white people.  Yes, I know, “population proportion.” But the implication that American cops are neglecting to apprehend white criminals en mass in favor of going after black people is at borderline conspiracy-theory levels.
  •  This also implies that the initial data was also wrong and that majority black areas in question are just being “targeted” for no reason and the stats got bumped up out of pure racism. This once again seems like he’s being intentionally dense. Go ride around Oakland sometime and then come back and tell me that the LA cops calling it a high crime area are just talking out of their asses because they’re biased against black people. They aren’t being targeted, they’re being policed. And, yes, an area where more police are lurking around is bound to turn up more arrests than one where they have to be called to-location first, but Shaun seems to be willfully ignoring the fact that we don’t have caretaker cops that are just there to give us directions when we’re lost. We have cops that tend to stick around areas where dangerous crimes happen. Yes, this also means that they get people for more petty, misdemeanor chargers as well, but he seems to be saying that there’s no pressing reason for this cop presence and that petty misdemeanor charges are all they hand out which is just false.
  • Murder in particular is a different breed of monster that is, in many ways, more accurately reported on. If someone gets killed, the chances of finding the person who did it are higher than in other violent crimes like a mugging or a rape. Murder tends to get reported (not just shrugged off as a lame experience like getting robbed), there tends to be more evidence, more mistakes tend to be made, etc. And the factor that Shaun will probably think is important is that murder is very homogeneous. You don’t get very many cross-racial murders. The amount of reported murders within black American communities–with black people doing the killing and black people getting killed and black people calling the police for help–is in the same ballpark as the number for the much larger white community. This isn’t arrests, by the way. This is just reports. The court hasn’t touched these numbers yet.The prison system hasn’t touched these numbers yet. So unless the black victims of these crimes are being biased when they call in about one of their friends getting hit by a stray drive-by bullet, making the argument that racist policing must be why the stats are so high doesn’t really work here. And if his argument isn’t “police need to stop policing these communities as much because that’s racist,” I’m not sure what it is.
  • Other minority communities (read: Latino) that are policed and racially profiled just as much as black communities do not show this same pattern of hugely disproportionate crime. It’s almost as if they don’t commit as much.

That’s how you end up with black Americans being arrested more for smoking marijuana far more than white people even though they smoke at similar rates.  And that’s just on the police end. The justice system isn’t perfect. Black people are more likely to be convicted of the same crimes as white people, and they receive harsher punishments than white people. “In America, according to the US justice system, black people are more likely to be found to be criminals than white people.” then.

First, I want to point out that Shaun is using “more likely” statements to justify his own mentality. Seeing as how this entire video is him picking a “more likely” statement that he doesn’t like apart for being too vague and not detailed enough, I just find it rather ironic that he’s perfectly willing to throw out his own “more likely”s about how black people are victims of things without dissecting them for details.

Yes, I agree that black people have been the main victims of overzealous drug enforcement, mainly because they are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are heavily policed. The large percentage of black people in prison can be, with some caveats, attributed to non-violent drug charges earning them stints in prison. I agree that that is messed up, but it’s not an argument against ghettos being heavily policed. It’s an argument against harmful drug laws. Now for some more bullet points . . .

  • There is more to prison conviction than race. A huuuuuuuuuuge factor that no one talks about (which is rather infuriating to me) is the lack of competent legal assistance provided for low-income people. Also known as, the people who get taken to court for petty drugs charges, and the people who rob someone in an alleyway for some extra cash, etc. A judge isn’t looking at a black person and saying, “Because I hate niggers, you go to jail longer!” Black people are arrested in disproportionately large numbers thanks to their high concentration in urban areas. These urban areas tend to be high crime areas. These high crime areas tend to be judicially governed over by a very limited number of courthouses typically based on districts and jurisdictions. Governing over a high crime area means these courthouses are very busy all of the time. These high crime areas tend to be low-income areas where the people being taken to see the judge can’t afford a lawyer and/or don’t know how to effectively work the legal system. The courthouses are severely overworked due to their location, with a severe lack of financial resources due to their location, and a severe lack of publicly provided law representation–the publicly provided representation that low-income people depend on. This leads to people being given a very overworked lawyer who generally doesn’t have the time or energy to even look at their case for more than a few minutes before going to see the judge. This leads to the lawyer giving really shitty, default advice to just take whatever deal the judge gives them because they have no time to argue it any further. The low-income person agrees because the lawyer is supposed to be the expert on these things, and if they want better representation they’re going to have to use money and time that they don’t have to pay for it.
  • The deal the judge gives them is dependent upon very many factors that Shaun has neglected to mention. It’s not just race, believe it or not! It’s location: if you come from an area known for organized gang crime, they’ll put you away longer. It’s affiliation: if you are overtly associated with someone who is a known criminal, they’ll put you away longer. It’s past criminal history: if you’ve been in trouble with the law before, they’ll put you away longer. And if you’re a black kid living in an Oakland ghetto, the chances of having a record before you turn 16 are very high, and so are the chances of you living in Blood territory and having a few friends who really like wearing the color red. Is this fair? Not really. But the very white methheads in ABQ don’t fare very well with the court system either for largely the same reasons–they come from bad, economically depressed, drug-riddled places, have toxic friends, and they got caught stealing one too many times as a teenager, and no one in the courthouse feels like lifting a finger to help them out because it’s just not worth the time.
  • The cycle of poverty is a bitch, and it also effects Native Americans more than black people, btdubs, so if the special victimization points go to anyone, it should be to them. So I guess he should start making some delicately worded statements about how, “Maybe some sources claim that Native Americans have what they call higher rates of alcoholism, if that’s what you think alcoholism is.”

If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of his final watered-down version of the statement that seems less “detail-oriented” and more . . . “dodgy.”

A huge predictor: richer, better educated parents have richer, better educated children. There are black people who were alive or whose parents were alive during the time of segregated schools. They were forced to go to worse schools and get a worse education than white people. These sorts of things take a lot of generations to shrink to the point where they are statistically insignificant.

Fun fact! Black schools were actually pretty good, at least in cities. It’s actually really interesting. They weren’t given as many resources or resources of the same quality, of course, but grade schools in all-black neighborhoods (from the 1920s through the mid-1950s, at least) had incredibly high standards that actually led to them testing on-par with children from all-white public schools.

The reason behind this was that educated black adults would go to these schools in the city as the only places to get a decent paying teaching job, where they then enforced very high educational standards despite their lack of resources. The same goes for black colleges, which were genuinely good schools. This is also combined with the fact that the anti-intellectualism you find in many black communities now wasn’t there for the majority of the twentieth century, so black parents also had very high education standards for their children. Education quality for black people actually dropped after schools were desegregated in the 1960s. Coupled with the beginning of welfare in black communities (that legitimately did screw people over when it was first instituted because they had no idea what they were doing) and the rise of the anti-intellectual sentiment that led to many people placing less value on education than on other facets of life, black academic achievement essentially nosedived into the modern era.

All of that was to say: The idea that black people never had good education or chance for upward mobility within their communities is not accurate. It’s especially not accurate when you take into account the fact that the education boom for black communities was in the 1920s, a time when black people objectively were being systematically oppressed by an overtly racist society, unlike modern times when claims of plain, old systemic racism can even be argued against.

The majority of recent Asian immigrants have BA degrees, and their children and grandchildren are the ones taking the SAT. A bunch of impoverished North Korean farmers won’t be taking the SAT and they’d do shit at it. One good point of comparison is that young black children who are adopted to better on these kinds of tests because adopted kids generally grow up in richer, safer households. If you change the circumstances, you get different results.

There’s nothing all that objectionable here except for me pointing out that even low-income kids in East Asia typically get better scores than Western kids. I’d chalk that up to a cultural thing, though.

Some things are technically right. There’s a point to be made about technically being right. There were a series of tweets by Richard Dawkins where he was ranking how bad different types of rapes are. Even if he’s right, shut up. Shut up, Richard Dawkins. Being right isn’t an excuse for being a prick.

That Richard Dawkins thing is fucking random. Being right is an excuse for being a prick, though. When you have mainstream feminists refusing to discuss what even constitutes a rape, somebody has to step up and try to make these very important distinctions. We do it with everything else. We have different degrees of murder. We say that armed robbery is worse than pick-pocketing. Wanting to discuss the different levels of severity that rape can fall under isn’t “being a prick” because it’s a sensitive subject that some people are uncomfortable talking about. And Dawkins is right. Being raped at knife-point is more traumatizing than being roofied at a party: you’re more likely to develop PTSD, and in cases where both cases lead to PTSD, the overtly violent rape leads to more severe and difficult/longer to treat symptoms. Being exposed to brutal violence does that to a person.

That’s a pretty good way to end this, though, because it helps me make my point. Shaun doesn’t seem like a bad guy or an unintelligent guy, but he does seem like one who cares far too much about being sensitive. You can see it with him spending 15 minutes to talk about the finer points of a vague statement that he disagrees with but him not even addressing when he uses similar vague statements of his own. You can see if with him being very concerned with the nuances of individual situations . . . until Richard Dawkins says something straightforward about the nuances of rape, in which case it should just not be talked about because some topics are just nasty business.

 

 

LGBT Muslims and Cognitive Dissonance

I’m responding to a video from MTV News that pretty much came out a millennia ago in internet time. It’s pretty old. It came out two months ago. But I still feel the need to respond to it because it continues to be overwhelmingly relevant to the current conversation and stupifyingly oblivious treatment that the religion of Islam is given. The video is titled What it’s Like Being LGBTQ & Muslim. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m offended that they left out my intersex and asexual brothers in their gay letter pile up. Everybody knows it’s LGBTQIA+ now, guys. Come on. It’s 2016.

What it’s like to be LGBTQ and Muslim, huh? I can only imagine that it’s very interesting. Fucking gay Christians still have to jump through some mental hoops to justify those two conflicting parts of their identity, and (in the US at least) there are relatively few instances of extremist Christians doing anything worse than inconveniencing them. So being LGBT and Muslim has to be extra difficult. The cognitive load these people are under must be immense.

I wake up every morning and wonder “What identity am I gonna be killed for today?”

Seeing as how murderous hate crimes against Muslims are borderline non-existent in the US and Americans on average have a more favorable view of Muslims than Muslims have of Americans, I’m going to go ahead and say the gay thing is probably your best bet as far as ‘what am I gonna get killed over today?’ goes. Especially if you’re living in a religious community. Then again, I’d advise against waking up with 100% that today is the day you’re going to die in a hate crime. That seems a bit overly cynical. Some cognitive therapy might help with that.  

That’s how you’re going to open the video? Really?

You have Donald Trump tweeting “LGBT people, I’m here to protect you,” but at the same time he also says in the same tweet, “We’re gonna protect you from the people trying to kill you.” So one part of me he wasn’t to protect and fight for, but on the other side he wants to ban me.

I don’t want to be a Donald Trump apologist or anything (disclaimer: he is stupid), but he just supported gay rights here. I know this is MTV, the new bastion of leftist social politics, but are you not even going to give the guy credit where credit is due and admit that he said something progressive and supportive of a minority group? No? The guy can do no right, huh?

This is also a fucking retarded statement. Let me get this straight: You identify as an LGBT person, and you also identify as someone who wants to kill LGBT people? No one explicitly said Muslim, here. Not Trump, and not the guy commenting on Trump. In both cases, it’s implicitly acknowledged that people who want to kill [LGBT people] means Islamists. The guy who is arguing against this mentality just went right on to perpetuate that mentality by inherently acknowledging that they’re one in the same thing. He is outright copping to the fact that being Muslim more often than not entails being anti-gay, and he’s still going to complain about what Trump said. No cognitive dissonance here, folks!

This is the equivalent of a gay rights person talking about the struggles they’ve faced in America, with everyone in the audience inherently assuming that they’re talking about fundamentalist Christians even if it’s never explicitly mentioned. And rightfully so. You didn’t see very many Buddhists speaking out against gay rights. The issue here is that the entire point of this video is to say “Muslims didn’t do nuffin,” and in the first ten seconds, one of the people they’re interviewing makes the fundamentalist Muslim/people who don’t like me conflation seemingly without even realizing it.

You fail at your job MTV. You can’t even make propaganda right.

Where does that leave LGBT Muslims?

In a really shitty room full of hoops to jump through, I’d say.

Basically it feels like my identities are being used against each other.

What? Just, what? WHAT. G:IJIODGHSI:OGDIGODJ:FD FDFD:LGK D:F

Fucking shit. This video is going to be the end of me. It is actually going to kill me.

It feels like your identities are being used against each other because you know — you FUCKING KNOW — that the majority of people who follow your religion (yes, even the moderate ones in Western countries we love to bring up) are explicitly opposed to homosexuality. You know this, and you’re just ignoring it. You’re ignoring it in favor of acting like the people who legitimately point out the personal and intellectual dishonesty you’re engaging in are the bad guys.

This is actually making me angry. This is despicable. There are LGBT dying every day in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt because courts majorly influenced by Islamic law say that being gay warrants a death sentence. People are dying. They’re being run out of their homes by their own family members. They’re being sent to prison. They’re being victimized by their government. They’re being forced into unnecessary and unwanted sex change surgeries to “fix” what’s wrong with them. And you are sitting there in a fucking MTV studio in LA or New York or San Fran, some nice, cushy first-world office where you are perfectly safe and supported by everyone around you, complaining about how it just doesn’t make any sense to you why people who care about gay rights are opposed to your religion. And it’s even more disingenuous when you’re probably the same kind of person who chomps at the bit to talk about how badly Christians treat gay people, but all of a sudden when it’s your religion people are rightfully pointing out as regressive and hateful that just doesn’t make any sense.

There are people out there, Muslims and ex-Muslims and every other kind of person, fighting to reform the religion you love so much. They’re fighting to bring Islam into the modern age to protect people like you! And you could help. You could be the change you want to see by being openly LGBT and Muslim and exposing the people of your religion to someone like you so that they realize that you’re just a normal person. You can work towards that reform. But you’re standing there with your head in the sand denying that there’s any problem that needs fixing, denying that there’s any reform that should be done because you have an okay time being gay and Muslim so you just don’t see what the problem is. Tell that to the people in prison right now. Fuck you. Seriously.

This is the equivalent of Alice being punched repeatedly in the face by Bob, but when Charlie comes to tell Bob off for his behavior, Charlie is the one Alice gets pissy with because Bob is an old friend and she doesn’t like people yelling at him, all while her face is swelling up to the size of a watermelon.

We get heckled. We get harassed by the NYPD. Not just as queer people, or people who look different, or gender non-conforming, or trans. But also we get harassed and surveyed because we’re Muslim.

It’s not the world’s job to accept you. If you’re going to walk around wallowing in how different you are, you’re going to have to deal with not everyone accepting you. That’s just how it is. As for the Muslim thing: You choose to be Muslim. Islam is a thing people choose to believe. It is not some inherent part of their identity that they’re born into and can’t change. When you choose to believe something, it is your job to justify that belief, and the negative implication of that belief are the weight that you’ve chosen to bare. This is like a Scientologist getting pissy about how no one trusts them and everyone judges them and thinks they’re crazy. That’s what you deal with when you join a religion infamous for being full of crazy people. And being surveyed by the authorities is what you deal with when you join a religion infamous for inciting criminal behavior. Maybe you should, I don’t know, try to reform that religion so that’s no longer the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they hear about it. But wait, Muslims didn’t do nuffin. I forgot.

I think the term “radical Islam” is a term that’s overused. But I also feel like it’s a term that can be applied to any religion, any community.

This is the biggest non-argument ever made in defense of Islam. Other things are bad too, guys! Why can’t we just talk about those then? Why are you talking about my bad thing?! Yeah, I know the Salem witch trials happened and killed lots of innocent people and were overtly influenced by Protestant doctrine and religiosity, but look at all the shit Catholics have done! Catholics did bad things, so why are you singling out Protestants? The witch trials had nothing to do with Protestant ideas because other people also did bad things for other reasons, which means talking about religion in this case is pretty much pointless. It had nothing to do with it. You can apply the term “religious fundamentalism” to anything!

Said no one ever because everyone is perfectly fine with talking about the negative effects and implications of a religion as long as it’s not Islam. Islam is fucking sacred and is only responsible for the good things it encourages and has nothing to do with anything bad.

We talk about radical Islam because it is the religion causing the most problems right now. Oh, why don’t we talk about Christians? They don’t like gay people either. Sorry to break it to you, guys, but this is laughable. Out of all the places that have outlawed homosexuality, one of them is Christian (Uganda) and the rest are Muslim. Even though there is some Christianity-fueled anti-gay sentiments left in the US, the West in general seems to have accepted the notion that gay people exist and can do what they want. So a Christian doesn’t bake someone a wedding cake, or the Westboro Baptist Church ruins another beloved celebrity’s funeral. They aren’t hurting anyone. The worst, most damaging things that still happen somewhat frequently are that maybe some Southern Baptist parents kick their gay son out of the house or force him into conversion therapy (which is quickly becoming illegal nation-wide). You can call them assholes all you want, and you would be correct. Those are deplorable things to do. But the instances of that are going down, and it sure as fuck isn’t written into our federal laws that we should kill gay people and even the most fundamentalist Christian in the Bible Belt wouldn’t agree to that, unlike many fundamentalist Muslims who think the death sentences for fags is okay. You are patently ignoring that modern Christian fundamentalism and modern Muslim fundamentalism are too very different things that can’t be conflated with a “but both of them are bad” shoulder shrug.

What do they mean when they say radical Islamism? Who do they mean? They’re using this term to comfort people in America that, “Look, we know what it is. It’s radical Islamism. And we need to kill it. And we need to survey them. And we need to deport them.

You know what we mean, you stupid fucking-

I’m done. We’re pointing out that we know what it is we need to stop because radical Islam turned into a political movement is overtly the thing causing so many problems. What, would you be against us labeling the Nazis as the guys we’re fighting and need to stop? ISIS has control over major states and releases propaganda about how they’re attacking the West because it’s full of sinners. Nah duh we’re identifying that as the problem we’re going up against.

When people use radial Islam, it just feels like the Boogeyman.

Yeah. If the Boogeyman was real and killed hundreds of people a day and indoctrinated them into a radical belief system that glorified above all else dying while fighting the infidels and victimized mainly the other Boogeymen around it for not being “Boogey enough” but has quickly started branching out to kill people en mass in other countries, yeah, it’d be like the Boogeyman then. I see your point.

You realize you would be killed by these people for being a bad Muslim, right? You realize this? You being a Muslim doesn’t protect you from radical Islam anymore than it protected the hundreds of people in the Middle East being subjugated right now.

Being trans-gender in this day and time is rough, especially with everything going on. And being Muslim is also. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Wouldn’t trade it for the world, huh? Let me fly on over to the war-torn deserts of Syria and ask some of those people being terrorized by radical Islamic regimes if they wouldn’t trade it for the world. Let me run on down to the Egyptian prison system and ask the gay man imprisoned for life in barely livable conditions for no other reason than he likes to take dick up his ass sometimes if he wouldn’t trade his situation for the world. Let me ask the gay man in Iran who avoided a prison sentence by being coerced into male-to-female sex change surgery so that his interest in men would be okay if he wouldn’t trade it for the world. Let me ask the woman in Saudi Arabia desperately trying to seek asylum in another country because she’s been accused of adultery but can’t leave because her abusive husband won’t give her her passport if she wouldn’t change it for the world.

This just goes to show how fucking sheltered these people are. They live in the first-world. Nice, Western societies that don’t have to worry about religious insurgent groups, that support their tendency to sit there and navel gaze about their own identity and go on TV to talk about their brainless musings to other people. They have good lives. They wouldn’t change it for the world, because nothing about their life is all that fucking bad no matter how much they insist that they are oppressed.

I want people to recognize that a lot of us live in these intersections that aren’t super clear. Our love lives are really complex, and our family lives are really complex, and our relationship to religion is really complex.

Yeah, I fucking bet it’s complex. I have a complex life too. Balancing my identity as a black woman with my firm belief in Neo-Nazism gets pretty tough sometimes. But I’m complex, and my relationship with my political beliefs is complex. When people point out to me that being a black Neo-Nazi is kind of suicidally stupid and contradictory at the most basic level, that’s just a sign of them not getting it. Neo-Nazis are a fine group that haven’t done anything to warrant that totally false negative judgement. I keep trying to explain this to people, and it never works. That’s the cross I bare, I guess.

I hope that after this tragedy we have a more meaningful conversation about how we can more forward, not just as separate communities but as people who live in this country, as people who want the best for humanity.

Meaningful conversations! Like when we totally avoid the elephant in the room about how modern Islam is overtly and oftentimes violently anti-gay and then go on to make a two minute long video about how we just don’t get why anti-gay and Muslim are conflated so often. Logic.

Herp de derp.

A Black Person Answers 21 Questions One White Guy has for Black People

Hey,  guys!

And hello, Discount Armored Skeptic who posted the video I’m responding to.  As you know,  I’ve responded to three of Buzzfeed’s race baiting videos about how much white people suck,  and I made a comment about how they would never make a video where white people asked black people questions.  They still have not, big surprise, but this guy has. It has the DP stamp of approval already just for specifying that he is one guy asking these questions, avoiding the racial collectivism that other videos of this type often fall into. 

So let’s get started,  shall we?

What is your opinion on Black Lives Matter?

I think it’s unhelpful and ill-equipped to make any significant change due to its only cohesive feature being a victim complex.  When your entire foundation is based on being a perpetual victim,  it’s against the interest of the longevity of your movement to do anything about that victimization.  Black Lives Matter,  much like American feminism,  seems more interested in perpetuating its brand than actually being helpful.  It’s also co-opted the very concept of race activism to the point where not supporting them is considered racist by default,  which does nothing to help the situation.

What is your opinion on black American subculture?

I like the music and food. I’m not a fan of the glorification of anti-intellectualism and external locus of control that the subculture often encourages.

When a cop in America is a lot more cautious towards a black person than a white person,  is that because he is racist?

Possibly.  Individual cops can be racist.  Generally,  though,  the most you can say is that they’re (realistically)  taking into account that black people commit disproportionate amounts of violent crime and are acting accordingly. You can call it stereotyping all you want, but that stereotype exists because black people’s actions keep affirming that stereotype. That’s not the cops’ fault at that point.

Why does chicken taste so good to you?

To me?  Chicken is objectively delicious,  dude.

Do you believe that America suffers from systemic racism?

This is arguable.  I would like to point out that “systemic” and “systematic” are two different words that people often confuse before elaborating: “systematic” means “intentional,” and seeing as how Jim Crow laws don’t exist anymore,  America is not systematically racist. You could argue that since a relatively short amount of time has passed since those laws stopped being in effect that America still has systemic issues due to the echoes of past racism.  I would make that argument,  but I would also argue that addressing those issues as “racism” is pointless since race isn’t the current cause of any of the issues so tackling Racism *insert thunder clap* wouldn’t actually address the problems.

Do you believe all whites to be racist?

No. All people have an inherent bias for their in-group,  but there are so many different and overlapping in-groups that acting like race is the most important one is ridiculous. Also, having biases and being racist aren’t commensurate anyway.

Do you believe that white people of this generation should take responsibilities for what their ancestors did?

No,  white guilt is the secular version of Original Sin, and it’s pathetic to indulge in. You are you, and you’re responsible for yourself and your beliefs. If you don’t believe in racial supremacy,  looking like someone who beloved that once means absolutely nothing. This notion also totally ignores that most Americans today aren’t related to anyone who owned slaves or was even in the country during the time of slavery. My white ancestors didn’t come over until the 1920s, and they were from fucking Ireland. Guess who had nothing to do with slavery and was actually on the receiving end of similar racist treatment?  My white ancestors. The idea that all white people are inherently connected to slavery,  then,  is stupid. This also ignores that there were white people fighting against slavery and segregation from the very beginning,  as well as ignoring that Africa and brown Muslim countries had quite a hand in multiple slave trades. So if white people have to shoulder the burden of past misdeeds of their race,  there’s no reason that black people shouldn’t also be shouldering that awful burden of . . . being related to people who might have done bad things once.

When you label yourself as African American,  do you do so because you’re descended from people who originally came from Africa or is it because you have a strong tie to Africa?

I don’t label myself that. I’m not from Africa,  I’ve never been to Africa,  I don’t plan to go there,  I have no connection to the place,  and I don’t even know if my black relatives are from there. I’m black and an American.  The end.

What do you think the reason is for black males ages 15-34 to primarily die from homicide?

Lots of things. Black children are typically raised in environments where more aggressive behavior is encouraged by their parents/guardians. So being part of a culture that tacitly endorses aggression definitely contributes to the violent escalation of interpersonal confrontation that leads to people getting shot over nothing. The Boondocks called these occurrences “nigga moments.” It’s pretty accurate. That, combined with the lack of familial support in many black families (single motherhood + poverty = not good) leads to the popularization of gangs. Lots of bad life choices piling up. So and and so forth.

Do you guys get sunburned?

I do actually. Granted,  I’m lighter skinned than others. Usually I just tan really well.

Is a black person seeking a higher education negative?

Well, I’m about to go on to get my Masters, so I hope not.

Why do you think the majority of black people in America end up in poverty?

Go to: the “Why are so many homicide victims black males?” answer.

A good number of them end up in poverty because the cycle of poverty that a good number of them are born into is easy to perpetuate and often difficult to break. It’s even more difficult with the current state of race affairs saying that black people don’t need to do anything to improve their own situation and that it’s the world’s job to make things better for them without them having to lift a finger to help themselves. In the end of the day, breaking the cycle of poverty has more to do with your own choices and behavior than what other people are doing. Things like practicing safe sex, being a responsible parent, being interested in education, and having community investment aren’t really things that outside parties can do.

What is your opinion on black ghettos?

They’re shitty and dangerous and any place where you have to move in at four in the morning to guard against people stealing your shit is not a place I want to be in.

What is your opinion on ghettos in general?

See above.

Do you believe in a future where one day blacks,  whites,  and all other race groups won’t see each other for their skin?

There will always be racists, so probably not. Maybe in places like the US, Canada, and the UK this could be widely accomplished, but with all the race-baiting and fear mongering going on that has made racial tensions worse than they’ve been in thirty years, I doubt this will happen any time soon. Japan and China aren’t going to start not seeing race any time soon either. I firmly believe that this will only happen if we enter a Mass Effect style situation where human beings have to ban together under the same flag while interacting with other alien races. Barring that, I doubt it.

Why is it that black people take their black identity so seriously?

Intro Development Psychology class I took two years ago, don’t fail me now.

Black children (not sure about other races) actually have higher self esteem than their white peers because they have a stronger sense of self rooted in having a strong connection to their racial identity, with that typically being enforced by their parents. That is a strong contributor to why many black people take it so seriously, especially since black people are a minority in America that has formed something resembling its own community with its own leaders, culture, and ideas. I doubt a black person in Kenya gives a fuck about their “black identity.” Also, on the sociological side of things, many prominent black subcultures (hip-hop, afro-centrism, etc.) often define themselves as groups in opposition to another group, ie, “My identity is just NOT being like those people over there.” Hip-hop culture is often focused on not “acting white,” afro-centrism is often focused on not doing things the way white people do it (you see this a lot with many black people deriding the idea of nuclear family structures as a Western thing). So, in many ways, the easiest and most mainstream way to have a black identity is to define yourself as just not being like the other races, meaning that “acting black” is very important and something you consciously have to do.

Do you believe white people could be the villains of history?

I feel like the villains of history are the villains of history. Some of them are white and some aren’t. There’s an entire world out there. And it’s a world full of shitty humans.

*Insert Hamilton reference here.*

How do you think Africa would evolve if white colonists didn’t arrive?

Don’t know. That’d be an interesting alternative universe book, though. Get on it.

Do you think that whites were the first to enslave black people?

I’m pretty sure black people were the first to enslave other black people. The African slave trade was going on for years before white people even showed up, to the point where Europeans being offered slaves by black slave traders is what kick-started the Atlantic slave trade.

Do you think that the racial tension black and white people is inherently because of skin difference or because the colonial and enslavery past of America?

The second one. Many black people, and especially the ones who subscribe to Marxist racial theory (the one that treats black people like the proletariat social class going up against the rich white people) use the faults of the past in order to justify current racial hatred and bitterness. How many times have you heard someone say to a white person, “You went over to Africa and made us slaves, and blahblahblah,” like that white person was the one who did it to that black person. There’s no room for temporal understanding after you become thoroughly entrenched in Marxism-inspired identity politics, so anything done to any black person ever has officially been done to you by all white people, and this is encouraged by the guilty white liberals who feel personally responsible for things that happened decades or centuries ago. Once again, no understanding that the present is not the past, apparently.

Cultural Appropriation, Vanilla Edition

I’ll be responding to this post  from . . . Black Girl Dangerous . . . and yet I’m still going to have to try to take this seriously. Okay. I’ll be responding to a post called Can People of Color Culturally Appropriate? Yes. BUT . . . which is a title that inspires confidence in me. So much.

*sigh*

Does it seem like I’m getting more and more depressed? I honestly can’t tell. There’s just so much bullshit in the world, guys. I just don’t know. Let’s get started. The picture for this article is some chubby Asian kid wearing “urban” clothes, which I think is perfectly fine (Koreans have consistently proven themselves to be better at “black” things than black people, after all). I don’t know if this author has an issue with it though. Maybe this is one of the buts.


Lets face it, cultural appropriation sucks. We’ve all seen white people with dreads stomping around like they own the place, or drunk hipsters at music festivals with headdresses and bindis. As people of color it can be incredibly frustrating to see things like this. It reminds us that we live in a world in which whiteness continues to steal cultures without regard to the actual people who’ve invented or maintained those cultures.

“White people with dreads stomping around like they own the place?” Really? Why do I even have to respond to this? I feel like that sentence sums up everything wrong with this mentality in a nutshell. I’ve already talked about headdresses before, and I feel inclined to point out that bindis are only seen as important by some cultures. Other countries in Asia see traditional bindis as a fashion thing and that’s about it. Also, I’m sure there’s never been a vaguely brown hipster at any point ever who has worn feathers in their hair at Burning Man. It’s only the socially-acceptable-to-hate white people who do it. But, hey, dismantling that idea is what this article is all about, right?

So . . . these are the issues you have, huh? Horrible, horrible white people wearing their hair how they want to, and annual music festivals having dumb fashion trends? These are the hot button issues that oppress you? I feel like your life is pretty okay, then, if this is what you complain about. Am I the only one confused by this utter disassociation that certain POC want to have with mainstream American culture? They act like they’re not a part of it at all–like they never participate in fashion trends, or use new slang, or watch what other people watch, or listen to Top 40 radio hits, or go on YouTube. They utterly refuse to believe that they are a part of that at all because “They’re a person of color, and mainstream shit is for white people.”

But if white people are culture stealing bastards, you are just as much a culture stealing bastard too. I would prefer that you don’t group me together with you and your ilk just because we have the same skin tone. This doesn’t frustrate me. Personally, I find it really fucking cool whenever something like box-braids or tattoo designs reach a cross-cultural appeal. It shows that we are becoming one people of planet Earth not divided by barriers as ultimately arbitrary as different cultures, that we can find mutual joy in things and share in each other’s unique aesthetics in order to create our own unique worlds that incorporate many things. White people can do it. Everyone else can do it. It’s great fun. But if you want to see that as a dirty white person punching you in the face and stealing your shit, I guess that’s fine too. I guess I just like liking things and people and not assuming the absolute worst of someone for shoddy reasons. I’m weird that way.

Cultural appropriation occurs when members of a dominant group take elements and symbols of another culture for their own economic or social gain while simultaneously devaluing and silencing the bodies, opinions and voices of the oppressed culture.

So cultural appropriation is one of those things that wholly depends on where you are, then? Can a white person complain about cultural appropriation if they go over to Japan or Korea? They would be the overwhelming minority in that case. How about an African American going over to Nigeria? Can that black guy get mad at the other black people for making hip-hop songs, which are a very African American invention. Can a Southern white person go up to Canada and get mad at the appropriation of cowboy hats there? I’m just confused as to what your standards are.

I’d be inclined to agree with the notion that economic exploitation is bad, but, once again, it’s never economic exploitation that you talk about. It’s white people with dread locks, or hipsters wearing headdresses at Coachella. Was someone taking money out of Native Americans’ pockets in that situation? Was a Cherokee guy waiting in the wings to sell feather hats to the hipsters, but a white person just punched him in the face and stole his merchandise? If Native Americans want to sell feather hats at Bonaroo, I’m sure they’re perfectly able to, they just don’t. Is the person getting a Ying/Yang tattoo taking money away from Chinese people? Was the American who came up with that design stealing it from a Chinese tattoo artist and taking all his customers on the basis of offering that one tattoo that he stole?

Also, the statement that your voice is devalued and silenced rings a little hollow when you have a very popular blog all about how your voice is devalued and silenced. As a general note, people telling you that you’re overreacting aren’t silencing you, as much as you’d love to believe that. They’re telling you that you’re overreacting. That in no way means that they’re making you stop or taking away your platform to speak. They’re saying they don’t agree with the assertions that you are making from that platform. You know what is silencing, though? Telling someone that they can’t do some benign thing and then utterly disregarding their opinion on the matter because their parents weren’t from the right place. Pot, meet kettle. You’re fucking black.

This is problematic for a lot of reasons, and triggering for people of color because it reinforces the way imperialism and racism have allowed the white Western world to steal and exploit people of color while simultaneously denying us representation and rights.

Sorry, I had to take a moment to laugh out loud at the mental image of a black person having a ‘Nam flashback because they see a wigger walking down the street one day. It’s triggering? Way to utterly infantalize a group that you yourself are a part of. Don’t go to The Gap any time soon, I hear they have lots of plaid prints out right now, and the past and current oppression of the Scottish should make the presence of plaid in our horrible, horrible American stores really terrible. I’m surprised someone hasn’t had a heart attack. Fun fact: different plaid patterns are actually important in Scottish culture, so this should actually count as cultural appropriation. And if we’re talking about imperialism, you don’t even want to know how traumatizing it was to be a Westerner in Japan.

Why do you keep talking about this in terms of stealing? You realize that you can’t steal abstract concepts, right? Unless you lose the ability to do something just because someone else can do it too, no one stole anything from you. They just have it too now. Sharing sucks, amiright? But, Moooooooom, I had it fiiiiiiirst!

Since most things regarding race in the US are thought of in terms of their relationship to whiteness, it’s easy for people of color to spot when white people are appropriating our cultures. It’s harder to examine the ways that we borrow from, steal from, and erase each other.

Why are you using this universal ‘we’ like all people of color agree with you and understand what you’re saying? Stop that. I don’t agree with you. I don’t want people to think I agree with you. I don’t want you to think I agree with you. I don’t. Stop putting words into my mouth based off of nothing but my skin tone. Insert accusation of racism here.

Are we finally going to start some good ‘ole identity politics infighting? Golly gee, I thought only the feminists did this, but we’re finally getting to draw ethnic/racial lines now in our attempt to lessen the cultural importance of ethnic/racial lines. Makes sense! Should be fun.

So, can people of color appropriate from each other?

I’m going to go with no seeing as how you’ve spent this entire article so far talking about appropriation specifically as something committed by white people against non-white people with not a glimmer of an idea that it could be any other way, all while setting up very blatant us vs. them situations and using us vs. them terminology that paints them as the perpetual oppressor and wrongdoer in this situation that all of us have to deal with. So no, they can’t. That is my guess.

1. Yes, we can. But:

2. Sometimes people call things appropriation without understanding that multiple cultures engage in the same practices and have shared practices for centuries.

Wha . . .

Just . . . what?

Okay. People of color can commit cultural appropriation, but not really because when a non-white person is called out for cultural appropriation it’s really just people not understanding that cultures have similarities? Okay. Whatever. How does that argument not apply to white people, then? Are there just no shared practices between any of the “white cultures” and all the other ones? No white people in the history of ever have ever had symbolic tattoos or dreadlocks? And how the fuck does this explain away the Asian kid dressing like a gangster? What, are people just not aware of how Africa totes has so much in common with Japan? They’re both not white, and that’s a good enough similarity to me!

That is a piss poor reason designed solely to passive aggressively say that people of color can commit cultural appropriation . . . but actually not really, with that “but actually not really” conveniently excluding white people entirely even though the single qualification you gave should obviously include white people as well.

While all groups of color face our own unique problems that grow with intersecting identities (gender, sexuality, class, etc) we all face a lack of representation and the repercussions of negative stereotypes in America.

Just replace “groups of color” with “people” in that first sentence, and you’ll have something that makes more sense. What about negative stereotypes about white people? What about negative stereotypes about white people perpetuated largely by people of color? What about positive stereotypes of people of color?

This is reinforced and evidenced in many ways, such as the creation of the model-minority myth of Asians in America, colorism (discrimination based on the pigmentation of your skin and the belief that lighter skin is better), or hierarchy among immigrant generations and who is considered ‘more American’.

It seems like the model-minority idea is just a cop-out to ignore that Asians don’t really have anything negative said about them. I can think of one negative stereotype, and that’s that they’re bad drivers. But we can spin that into racism somehow! “People find us respectable and intelligent because they’re racist!” “Colorism” sounds like a fancy word for people just being dicks and also another cop-out to blame white people for the racism of non-white people because we can’t call non-white people “racists.” And the idea of “being American” among immigrant generations happens with white immigrants to America as well. And I doubt you’re ever going to acknowledge “white European” cultures as something that can be appropriated by Americans since they’re “white”, so I wouldn’t mention that if I were you, in order to avoid the hypocrisy.

When we take from each other, we might be assimilating into our neighborhoods or schools or community in order to be accepted by them.

Or, or, just hear me out here–maybe you just like something. I know, I know, shocking revelations all around. It’s not like the black kid who gets a kanji tattoo got it because he wanted it, he only got it to assimilate to horrible, horrible white culture that says that it’s okay. It’s not like that Mexican kid who braids his hair just likes the style, it’s because white culture has taught him that stealing from the blacks is cool! Opinions and likes and personal autonomy don’t exist! A spade is never just a spade. A spade is a sign of fucking oppression.

And assimilation isn’t bad by default, by the way. This is another example of a social justice warrior just talking about something like it’s bad, like I’m already supposed to know that. I don’t. Why is cultural assimilation bad, again? Tell me. I don’t even think this author thinks that cultural assimilation is bad as long as it’s assimilation to a culture she likes. But if it’s evil, bad Western culture, assimilation is bad. The idea that Western culture is the devil with no good qualities and no actual culture confounds me. It’s not like assimilating to Western culture means that you don’t have a culture anymore or that you have a lesser culture. It just means you have a different one than the one you had before, one that happens to be more prevalent (a prevalence that does not make it evil).

Because many communities of color are set next to each other in the U.S., we often end up in a series of cultural exchanges that can be mutually respectful and important to our survival or negotiating of America. My friends of color would often hang out with me for Eid and dress up in our traditional clothes. We constantly exchanged food and recipes. I would go to their houses for Easter, Christmas, and Kwanza and participate in all of the rituals that came along with those holidays. The key here was that we were active participants in celebrating each other, not erasing each other. We were invited by each other to participate in customs, not just donning them because we thought they looked or sounded cool. We also weren’t gaining social or economic capital from partaking in each other’s cultures.

Yeah, Little Mexico being right next to Little Italy means that I can get my indie brewed olive oil and homemade salsa all on the same block! Awesome! So, what I gather here is that cultural exchange is good as long as it’s people of color doing it. As soon as a white person gets involved, though, let me guess . . . that exchange could not change at all yet suddenly turn much less “respectful” in your eyes, right?

How dare you just “play dress up” in your traditional clothes? Don’t you know that that is trivialization of an important garment? So you would go over to their houses for holidays and hang out? Well aren’t you the regular fair weather cultural taste-tester? As a note, I think it’s awesome that she did these things growing up. It sounds fun to me. But using her own logic, it shouldn’t be okay that she did any of this because it wasn’t in the “right” context and she wasn’t an active participant in the new cultures as much as she was just sticking around for the cool parts then leaving. I think that what she did was fine, but her own rhetoric can easily be used against her.

What does “erasing each other” even mean? You were playing fucking dress-up, okay? You thought the clothes looked pretty, so you tried them on. That’s what little girls do. Once again, something tells me that the second a little white girl “plays dress-up” with her Asian friend, she’s going to get accused of erasing the Asian identity by taking the clothes as her own without learning about the appropriate time to wear them because she has white entitlement. This all seems to boil down to “It’s okay when we do it. But when you do it, it’s bad.”

And how exactly is a white person supposed to “education themself” on the culture if they don’t have a helpful ethnic friend to invite them to a “Come do cultural things with me!” party? This idea that you can get your ethnic friend’s permission for something goes against so many progressive talking points it’s ridiculous. It’s making that person a spokesperson for their whole race. It’s tokenizing that person. And then a white person can still be called racist by saying that their Indian friend told them that wearing a bindi to prom was okay, because it’s only the people of color who tell their white friends things that you agree with that are representatives of their race, otherwise they don’t represent a culture . . . unless they do. It’s a lose/lose situation.

As people of color, many of us come from painful legacies of immigration, slavery, and exploitation. There is a violent erasure and orphaning that we have to deal with as we negotiate America.

You should really get into death metal. You describe things in the most metal way possible. “Living in America is a violent erasure/full of pain/cutting myself in the rain!” Has anyone ever told you to lighten up before? Jesus.

My experience has taught me that I am not considered American even though I was born here. I don’t speak Urdu fluently, am not well versed on the current politics of Pakistan, but cling to elements of my Pakistani and Kashmiri culture and sometimes romanticize them. I rock saris anytime I can and wear kameezes as dresses.

CULTURAL APPROPRIATION! You romanticize another culture that is admittedly not your own or one you are deeply connected to, CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!

I do my research before I wear something, but a lot of time that comes from the Internet and not from some deep cultural exchange in my family. That might be considered by some to be appropriative, but for me and other individuals of diasporic identity, it is a necessary part of survival and sanity in America.

Well, writer, without that “deep cultural exchange” what you’re doing is CULTURAL APPROPRIATION. That’s what you tell white people. Why should it not apply to you? Because you really like it? “That might be considered by some to be appropriative.” Huh, it’s almost like shrieking cultural appropriation is a totally subjective thing leveled by people who either have no idea what your thought processes are or who don’t care. It’s almost like people can yell cultural appropriation at fucking anything. You are so close to self awareness. So close.

Has it ever occurred to you that white people can have this same mentality? That a “diasporic identity” doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with race and that a white person can feel just as alien in America as you for various reasons that you may or may not understand? Has it ever occurred to you that having these different cultural elements in their life, even if they’re not deeply attached to it, help them find sanity as well because they are finding things that bring them joy and that they find beauty in in a world that alienates them?

Maybe they identify with that other culture more than the one they were born into. Culture is ultimately a set of values and ideas reflected in certain actions like holidays or dances or art. Just being from a place or having parents that are from a place doesn’t mean that you identify with that culture. The cool thing about culture is that you can pick your own, and if there isn’t one out there that you identify with, then you can create your own either entirely uniquely or from the parts of others. That’s how culture is made. Especially if you live in America, you can create your own cultural identity out of many parts.

Nope! They do it ’cause racist. End of story.

My South Asian friends have complained about seeing other people of color rocking bindis or shalwaar kameez and called them appropriative. Yes, it hurts us to see our culture trivialized or worn as an easily dispensable fashion accessory, especially when it wasn’t seen as cool to wear those things growing up.

This is all about having low self-esteem. I see that now. It should have been obvious before. But this is totally about low self-esteem. Note: I’m making a more sweeping theory here, not specifically about this writer. So here’s my theory, tell me what you think:

You lack a firm sense of self and internal validation of your identity based off of your own ideas and feelings, so you attach yourself onto a culture and what that culture does as a means of giving yourself a concrete identity validated by those around you so you don’t have to worry about actually figuring out who you are. Because when you tried to figure out who you were, people didn’t think you were cool, and you need some kind of outside validation to feel good about yourself. Hey, if you participate in a culture, you get a cool little in-group that will always give you validation!

Attaching yourself to this culture means that this culture is the only solid means of forming an identity that you have, so whenever you see someone indulging in that culture in a way that indicates that they haven’t stapled their entire personhood to it, it freaks you out, because that means that some people have personalities outside of a culture that someone else arbitrarily told them that they should have because their parents were from a place. Who knows, maybe that person is also an insecure individual looking to tack their identity onto cultural expression. But as far as you know, seeing someone indulge in a culture without it being the foundation of their sense of self makes you feel bad about your own surety of self. So you don’t want to be around it.

Is that it? Am I close?

However, it ignores the incredibly complex and rich history of exchange between East and North Africa and South Asia. Though bindis have an important place in Hinduism, they are not only a symbol of Hindu spirituality, but also have important symbolic value and origin in Africa.

Because white people never had cultural exchange with any non-white people in the past or share any similar cultural ideas! Also, read over what you just wrote again. It is ridiculous. Do you think black teenagers wearing a bindi are aware of any of that? I get the feeling that they just saw the bindi at Claire’s and thought it was pretty, so they wore it, the same way a white girl would. You’re essentially saying that past cultural exchanges that are kind of obscure and that people may or may not even actually know about when they do something are the things that make people of color immune to cultural appropriation.

People who looked like them met up with people who looked like you once and may or may not have gleaned anything from that interaction. Awesome. Can you please just fucking admit that you just don’t want white people to be able to do something and that it’s fine for anyone who isn’t white to do it because they’re not white?

Therefore, people of the African diaspora have the cultural right to wear bindis in the same way people of the South Asian diaspora have that right.

A “cultural right?” What does that mean? This is so goddamn esoteric. People doing something 100s and 100s of years ago–people who current generations are most likely in no way attached to either intellectually or emotionally–gives someone “the right” to do something now? So if some black person somewhere ever engaged in some culture act, I’m just entitled to that act? It is mine? God, and you call white people entitled? You’re the one saying that you own everything that anyone whose ever looked like you has ever done. You’re the one claiming personal ownership of something that you don’t even know everything about because people who you may or may not be related to or even care about did it at some point. You’re the one saying that you own types of art and expression solely based on birth right. And that others shouldn’t intrude on your stuff unless they too can prove some convoluted birth right to it as well. You’re worse than Disney’s copyright lawyers who chomp at the bit to sue someone for putting three Mickey-esque circles together.

So next time you are quick to call out someone for culturally appropriating, ask yourself:

Something tells me this is going to apply to everyone, not just the coloreds who you should be giving a break to.

  • Do I know the full history of this symbol? Is it used in other cultures as well?

Why does that matter? Something tells me you would’t be okay with a black kid walking around with a swastika shirt even though the Buddhists thought of the symbol first. This seems like a totally arbitrary qualification that can easily be given to people you like, and then taken back as soon as you personally don’t approve of something. You can’t tell people to operate with discretion whenever they see a person of color doing something they don’t approve of, but then imply that the discretion isn’t necessary for white people as well. It relies totally on non-quantifiable and only vaguely qualifiable elements. How do you know how much a random stranger knows about something else? How much is “enough” in order for their behavior to be appropriate? And if the person doing the appropriating has no idea of that vague cultural connection, does that ignorance matter, or does their inherent birth right that they may or may not even know about cancel that ignorance out?

  • Do I know the identity of the person who I am accusing of being problematic, or am I assuming their identity?

Once again, how does this not apply to white people? How do you know their identity? I have white-passing siblings, so did that lose them their birth right to “black” culture?

  • By using or doing this symbol, is this person benefiting from it socially or economically while erasing the people who made it?

Benefiting from something isn’t bad, you know? I don’t even understand this argument. Do you benefit socially or economically from doing something that isn’t part of your culture? The whole appropriation claim is a double-edged sword, after all. Do you listen to Bach and get credits among the intellectuals even though you’re not European? Are you an Asian who plays classical music in an orchestra? You’re benefiting economically from German culture. Stop that. “Erasing the people who made it.” is such a vague term that it could mean anything. I get the feeling that, in most cases, all it translates to is someone doing something that you have attached yourself to, but they don’t give you the attention you want. It’s like an emo teenager whose entire life is My Chemical Romance getting pissy when they hear someone listening to “Teenagers” without acknowledging that they totally love MCR more than anybody else, dude.

This isn’t to say that people of color can’t be problematic or appropriative. Cultural exchange is important to know, but sometimes people can just fuck up and are appropriative.

This is generally coming across as a totally arbitrary accusation that you can level at anyone for doing anything for incredibly shoddy, personal, and subjective reasons. You personally feeling not okay with something is the only thing required to throw this accusation at someone. That’s at least what I’m gleaning.

We can do this by exoticizing other cultures, and like whiteness, taking while erasing the bodies of others.

Wow, racism alert. “Like whiteness.” Not even “like white people.” Just whiteness. Because the very act of existing while pale entails that you take things and erase people. That’s just what whiteness is, guys.

Once again, you just imply that exoticizing something is bad without ever explaining why it’s bad. At worst, exoticizing something is just inaccurate. It’s not malicious, or racist, or even inherently uniformed (you can know everything about a place and still have a rosy view of it after all). Yes, you can overdo it and become a weeaboo or a mod or something, but anyone can overdo anything. That’s not a “white” thing, that’s a human being thing. Thinking that something is cool because it’s different isn’t bad. That’s a tendency that gets us new things in the world because people actually care about not culturally stagnating in soul-crushing monotony.

I also like how you had to specify that they’re “erasing the bodies of others.” Because not even you would be disingenuous enough to say they’re erasing ideas, which you’d think would be the most important element of upkeeping a culture, you know, the ideas. They’re not erasing your culture or the ideas of your culture, they’re just ignoring you. And that is just unacceptable because you getting outside validation was the whole point of this. But if we talked about actual ideas, you really wouldn’t have any leg to stand on as far as complaining about people stealing it from you go.

For example, wearing Indigenous American headdresses because its ‘cool’ or ‘pretty’ when we are not Indigenous American (such as Pharrell Williams wearing a headdress). The erasure of Indigenous American bodies and culture is not figurative, but very literally enacted by the systematic genocide of indigenous people. Even if we (or our people) were not the ones to have orchestrated this systematic genocide, we live on stolen land and might be complicit in their erasure.

You must be super fun at parties. God, it must be so fucking depressing to have this mentality. You are complicit in every horrible thing that has ever happened ever. It doesn’t matter if you don’t approve of it or are even actively speaking against it, it doesn’t matter if you personally had nothing to do with it, it doesn’t even matter if your ancestors had anything to do with it. You are complicit in horrible things happening all the time. How have you not killed yourself yet if you are this perpetually responsible for everything wrong that as ever happened? How has that cross you’re irrationally baring not crushing you to death?

Also, as a general note, the only reason someone needs to wear an article of clothing is them thinking that they think it looks cool and/or pretty. That is the only reason you need. Because it’s clothes. And clothes, at least in the first world, are an outlet of personal expression. Sometimes that can be a cultural expression, sometimes it can be regular old artistic expression. If a singer known for wearing dumb hats wants to wear another dumb hat, there’s no reason besides your personal feelings that he shouldn’t. And he doesn’t have to listen to you or care about your feelings. He just doesn’t.

This is also true for the pervasive anti-blackness in Asian, Latino, and Indigenous cultures—the way that we can appropriate slang, dress, and black cultures while simultaneously erasing black people. Or the ways that we can benefit off of black civil rights struggle without contributing to it or fighting against anti-blackness.

Please tell me that you’re not another one of those idiots who thinks that “black foolishness” is black culture. Please. Also, engaging in hip-hop culture, which I’m assuming is what you’re talking about here, is not being anti-black. There isn’t a fucking cap. Black people aren’t being kicked out of the culture in order to make room for the Asians and the Latinos. Culture doesn’t have limits. It doesn’t run out. Someone else participating in it doesn’t mean that you can’t anymore. And this totally ignores the idea that imitation is the highest form of flattery, so maybe, just maybe, using “black” slang is showing an appreciation, not appropriation. But nope.

If you want to talk about how Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans can be fucking racist, I agree. I also agree that black people can be racist, and white people. But you’re not talking about people actually being racist, you’re talking about people doing totally benign things that you just so happen to not want them to do. Even worse, you’re talking about them doing totally benign things that they find joy and self expression in doing, and telling them that it’s morally wrong because they’re not from the right place. What the fuck.

Here are some guiding questions to ask yourself when you wonder if you are appropriating:

  • Why do I want to do this? Is it to be cool? Because it looks pretty? (Heads up: if it’s just to be cool or look pretty, it’s probably problematic)

Why is thinking that something is cool bad or problematic? Why is culture something that you can only indulge in in one very particular way, otherwise racism? Culture is the only thing we treat like this, too.

Even fucking religion, the mother of divisive issues, is talked about like a personal thing, like something that everyone does their own way and how everyone should be encouraged to go about doing in their own way because spirituality is a very personal endeavor. You can be super religious and follow the book to a tee, or you can just like gospel and nothing else. You can just like going to church or temple to hang out with friends. You can just like the atmosphere but not believe in the rest. You can Life of Pi that shit and be three different religions at once. You can do whatever the fuck you want whenever it comes to how your express your religiosity and spirituality.

But, for some reason, when it comes to wider culture, even though “culture” is super vague and includes any number of things, unless you do it one “right” way, it’s unacceptable. Why? No one ever says why culture is so important that it needs to be shielded away and kept sacrosanct. They just say that it is.

  • Is this a symbol of a political statement? If so, do I align with the politics not in just dress and appearance, but in actual struggle and resistance?

Tell that to all the progressive liberal kids on my campus who appropriate the fuck out of the Communist hammer and sickle because they like Marx and fancy themselves socialists. Slap that symbol on a flyer for an ice cream party, it has no negative connotations whatsoever! Who cares if Stalin was worse than Hitler, this flag is perfectly fine to wear around. Not the Confederate flag though. That takes it too far. Note: I think they can use whatever imagery they want, just pointing out the hypocrisy there.

  • Do I know the history of this symbol or where it comes from?

This is a cool thing to know from a fun facts and trivia standpoint, but why is this a requirement? Do the random Japanese kids I see wearing American flag memorabilia know why that flag looks the way it does? Probably not. There’s a history behind everything, and knowing about it is all fine and dandy, but it shouldn’t be a pre-requisite to being able to do something totally benign like wearing a thing.

  • Have I been invited by a member of this community to participate in this this culture, word, or symbol?

What happened to the whole, “I am not an educator or representative of my race.” idea? Is that just out the window now? Okay. What if they were invited by a member of the community to participate? Would that change anything? Seeing as how my post about kimonos was rife with protesters calling people race traitors for saying that non-Japanese people wearing a kimono is fine, something tells me that you would utterly dismiss someone who says, “It’s okay, my Mexican friend told me it’s fine.” And really, that’s all you need? You just need some random foreigner who isn’t a representative of their race except for when they are to give you the thumbs up? That’s really arbitrary and pointless. 

  • What role has this symbol played in my own life?

Why does it matter? Also, what if a white person really cares about the yin/yang symbol and it actually had played a part in their life? Is that okay then? Is it? I honestly don’t know.

  • Why do I feel entitled to this symbol?

You do realize that saying, “This X is mine because it’s my birthright! And you shouldn’t be able to have it because it isn’t your birthright!” is also extremely entitled right? You didn’t do anything to earn that ownership, you were just born to certain people who happened to be related to other people who existed a long time ago and made up some cool stuff for their relatives to do. That is your reason for saying that you own a culture that shouldn’t be appropriated. That is your reason. So maybe think twice before you call other people entitled.

When we approach each other with respect for cultures and struggles as well as the awareness that communities of color have historically been reliant on each other for survival in America, we are much more likely to be able to define the line of respect and appropriation. We can question and examine our own choices rather than assuming that we should have access to everything.

So, after all of this, your end point is what I thought it would be: It’s only bad when white people do it (expect for on very few isolated occasions, only one of which I’m actually going to point out), and I’ll be able to jump through hoops to explain to you why it’s more okay when we do it. And, wow,  that last sentence is just . . . it’s just perfect, isn’t it?

How about a pallet cleanser? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the very racially diverse hip hop dance group, the Jaborwockeez!

So . . . Can I Wear a Kimono Then?

Hey, guys! It’s been a while. How about a nice little post about the dreaded cultural appropriation. [Insert Twilight Zone theme song.] So, I already wrote a post called The Case FOR Cultural Appropriation about how I don’t think “cultural appropriation” is even a thing, and after a bs controversy on my college campus about some dude having the gall to wear a sombrero at a party, I’ve really hunkered down on the issue. Claims of cultural appropriation officially make no goddamn sense to me. So here’s this shit for me to get pissed off at for your amusement:

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is hosting “Kimono Wednesdays” through July 2015. People are invited to wear a replica uchikake of Monet’s La Japonaise as a way to explore how Japanese culture influenced European art.

I might have actually shilled out the bus fare to go to this event if it had been anywhere near me. It sounds fun. Japanese art has had quite the influence on many Western artists (look at Avatar: The Last Airbender or the myriad woodblock print inspired patterns more prevalent than the fluer-de-lis for more modern examples). Western art has also inspired lots of Japanese art (the thing I immediately think of is the superflat postmodern Japanese art that oftentimes takes after Western-style cartoons–think Hello Kitty). It’s really interesting to see how the two different cultures’ influences can be found in both pop and high art, and I personally love learning about that kind of thing. One of my final projects was a nearly twenty-minute long video of me talking about the Americanization The Ring and how it’s different from the original Japanese film mainly do to cultural localization yet is still inherently a “Japanese” film. It’s fun. I love comparative art. Let me guess though, you’re going to find something wrong with it?

However, La Japonaise represents Orientalist attitudes of the period and donning the uchikake recreates that fetishism with Japanese culture.

Aaaaaaaaaaanddddd here we go. UGH. Okay.

1.) Even if that painting represents racists attitudes of the period, are people just not allowed to appreciate art that is a product of it’s time, and, more importantly, take what was initially a negative message and spin it into something positive? Because that would be what this event was. The painting was made to be racist, well let’s flip that around and use that painting as a way to promote Japanese culture and help people learn more about it. That seems like a pretty good thing to me. It’s like people who make parodies of those old racist comic strips from the 1940s in order to make fun of racism. And all of that is assuming that the original La Japonaise is objectively racist, which I would argue that it isn’t.

2.) I don’t even get that fetishism part. Am I the only one confused by the negative connotation that SJWs give to fetishes? Even if this painting did just fetishize “Japanese-ness,” what’s really wrong with that again? Japan fetishizes “American-ness” all the time in its media, I don’t see anyone freaking out about that. Isn’t it ultimately just having a really rosy view of something and/or just really liking it? I don’t see anything wrong with liking things, and while you could argue that having rose-colored glasses regarding anything, culture included, is naive, but I don’t know why it’s wrong. Plus, don’t the protesters have rose-colored glasses on regarding Japanese culture since they apparently see it as something pure that should not be tainted by your horrible, horrible whiteness?

I don’t get things, guys. Somebody educate me.

Oh, look. A helpful FAQ that will hopefully do just that:

While we have garnered much support from peers and media, there has also been strong pushback from some members of the public with negative comments through social media. The often aggressively defensive tone, boldness and personal attacks are examples of vitriolic Orientalist attitude. By extension, these behaviors are precisely what events like ‘Kimono Wednesdays’ and ‘Flirting with the Exotic’ foster and make acceptable. The MFA is essentially helping to perpetuate these Orientalist perspectives and doing little to eradicate them.

Yeah, I’m sure you’ve gotten lots of support. Sure. Also, people tend to get a bit aggressively defensive when you make baseless assumptions about their personal character by calling them racist, sexist, bigots. Plus, the people complaining about this are people who regularly go to an art museum for fun. They’re not the typical lower burnouts who “need to educate themselves on the issues,” if you get my meaning. And, yes, I’m sure the MFA is doing lots to eradicate racist ideas by kneeling to the shrieking complaints of people who say that innocent museum goers who just want to learn about another culture shouldn’t be allowed to do that based solely on “not being the right race.” Totally promoting racial cohesion there, guys! Before you know it, we’ll all be sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya and wondering how the hell Japanese internment camps were ever even a thing. I still wonder that . . .

a. What’s the big deal?
Orientalism matters because it reinforces racist hierarchies. White supremacy leverages AAPI as model minorities and “good” immigrant populations to further oppress and demean Black and Brown people in America. Orientalist violence is related to aggression against dark-skinned and black bodies. Darker shades of Asian people most certainly bear violence from Orientalist ideology, compounded by anti-black racism.

Okay. Back up. First you tell me how this event was Orientalist. You are the ones claiming that it is. You can’t just act like everyone already agrees with you and then start from there. The burden of proof is on you. Tell me how this event is racist. You’ve already said multiple times at this point that “It’s racist, and it promotes racism, and racism is bad, and this is racist, it’s racist, guys!” But you’ve yet to actually say why that is. You’ve just been saying it over and over and hoping that the repetition will make people think it’s true. You’ve just said that it’s fetishizing and Orientalist, but okay. Why? What about it makes it those things? Is there another way to do it that wouldn’t make it those things, or is this event just inherently horrible no matter what?

I also love how your answer to people asking you what the big deal is is to go on some totally unrelated diatribe on how, shock of all shocks, racism is bad without even mentioning the painting or the kimono event once. Yeah, you’re totally not just regurgitating tired rhetoric, you’re totally applying logical thought on a case-by-case basis. That was sarcasm. If you couldn’t tell.

b. The Japanese government promotes foreigners to wear and appreciate kimonos. This event happened in Japan. How is this different?
The Japanese government is promoting its own culture in a context where Japanese people do not have a history of being discriminated against in Japan for being Japanese.

So . . . all this event would have had to do to be a-okay in your book would be to get a Japanese person to stand outside the door and give everyone the thumbs up before they went inside? That seems . . . really fucking arbitrary. Also, from my personal experience, Japanese people actually really like it when Americans gush over how cool their stuff is. Japan is one of the world’s leading cultural soft powers for a reason.

c. People in Japan do not agree with the protesters.
We have discovered that there has been much mistranslation of our original writing, which was reduced to, among other things, “no one who is not Japanese can wear a kimono therefore the MFA event is racist.” Some of us have been engaging one-on-one with people in Japan and when we explain our thoughts, they have tended to agree. We are currently translating this letter.

Yeah. I’m sure “they’ve tended to agree.” I’m also sure you’re going to provide some helpful translations of their responses so everyone can see for themselves, wait no. Good thing some of us can read Japanese then. . . wait you’re not even showing us the responses in their original language. Awesome. On another note, that was not a mis-translation. That is what you think. That is why you only ever talk about this event in terms of “white supremacy” and white people putting their grubby little hands over everything. It is very much just a case of “if you’re not X, you can’t do Y.” Stop acting like you’re being mis-quoted, okay? You’re not. It’s not our fault that the translator was straightforward.

d. I’m Asian American, and I think it’s okay. Japanese people should not be used for your political gain.
The model minority myth and Asian complicity with white supremacy are interlinked. Also there is historic discrimination against AAPI as well as other POC when not assimilating into Western norms of culture.

Those goddamn, dirty race traitors, am I right? Any Asian person who disagrees with you is just brainwashed and what they have to say can be thoroughly disregarded, why not?

e. This is appreciation, not appropriation.
The way this programming was framed and curated makes it appropriation, not appreciation.

What? The way it was framed and curated . . . It was literally promoted as “Come on in and appreciate and learn about Japanese culture’s melding with Western culture! Look at the pretty picture, learn more about kimonos!” This is an art museum. Appreciation of the art inside of it is literally the only reason it exist as a place. I don’t even get how a painting can be curated in a racist fashion. What do you people fucking want? This event couldn’t get more “appreciative.”

f. White people putting on the uchikake for a few minutes is not yellow face.
Yes it is, when it is done in order to replicate an Orientalist painting. No matter how it is curated, within such framing it is racist.

Well, seeing as how yellow face literally refers to someone changing their skin tone/facial features to pretend to be Asian, this is objectively not yellow face. Them putting on a Japanese robe doesn’t mean they’re pretending to be Japanese. Seeing as how the event was promoted as “Eastern Art Meets Western Artists,” it was the exact opposite of them pretending to be Japanese since it was explicitly referenced that it was a Western artist’s work as influenced by Eastern art.

Plus, you just said in one of the above points that “the way it was curated” added to the racism. But now you’re saying that it doesn’t matter how it was curated, it’s going to be racist no matter what. So what? Anytime someone not from a place decides to try to replicate art from that place in their work, it’s just going to be racist? Nothing to be done about it? Somebody call up the guy who designed Hello Kitty and tell him that he’s racist for taking inspiration from Western cartoons. While you’re at it, go burn down all the Gothic Lolita stores in Japan because Victorian-style dresses are our thing.

g. Putting on a kimono is not real racism. There are more important problems.
White supremacy is a major problem in the world. This kind of programming fuels and propagates it.

How the fuck is saying “I think Japan is cool! Japanese kimonos, which I fully acknowledge as being Japanese in origin and design, are beautiful articles of clothing! More beautiful than the dresses my ancestors’ culture made!” something that promotes white supremacy? Maybe if they just were totally historically inaccurate and said, “Europe totes invented the kimono, guys, you can tell from it’s authentically European name.” you’d have a point. But this is a case of a museum lauding the artistic merits of Japanese clothing and how it is so artistically valuable that it had an overt effect on Western artistic perceptions and made at least one artist “more Eastern” in his content because it was just that aesthetically good. How is that degrading to Japanese art again?

i. What about Japanese and Asian Americans wearing Western clothing? Isn’t that racist against white people or hypocritical?
Reverse racism claims that there can be oppression against white people and cultures. Here’s an article on reverse racism and why it’s not a valid argument.

Wow. So you’re one of those, huh? I love how you don’t even try to address claims of hypocrisy, you just devalue the very identity of the person calling you a hypocrite and act like that makes their claim less valid. “I think you’re dumb, Bob.” “Well, you’re ugly, Alice.” “Can’t argue with that, I guess you’re not dumb after all!”

j. How can Japan be oppressed? Wasn’t Japan a racist imperialist power, too?
Yes, Japan has a legacy of racism and imperialism. That does not impact the racism Japanese-Americans in the U.S. have experienced (e.g internment camps), and continue to experience by association (e.g. the racist reception of the Japanese women’s soccer team cup loss to the U.S.). The Japanese have not escaped Orientalism (imagine the rhetoric used to justify U.S. internment and atomic bombs during WWII).

No, no, no. You don’t get it, anonymous question-asker. I know we use vague history as a way of talking about how white people have sucked and will always suck. But we can’t use history to talk about how literally everyone else has sucked too. That would be dumb. It derails the conversation. Now, can we please go back to talking about how history proves that white people and only white people are horribly oppressive?

k. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
Yes, Japan is the only Axis power that dared to bomb the U.S. However, the Allies were decidedly winning the war when the atomic bombs were being considered. Scientists urged that the bombs not be deployed. The attacks therefore reflect damningly on U.S. foreign policy at best and the choices to justify the target at worst. They did not target Germany. They did not target Russia.

Who the fuck is saying this as a response to a museum canceling an exhibit. And, yes, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and, yes, I’m fairly sure that’s a contributing reason to why America bombed them instead of the other Axis powers (I feel like basic geography and war-time strategy also contributed, but, you know, racism has to be the main thing). I also don’t think that it was right to bomb Japanese civilians with the deadliest bomb ever created. I will talk shit about America’s decision to do that until the cows come home.

That being said, Japan sure has taken advantage of the fact that America’s army is pretty much its army. (For those of you who don’t know: After the war, Japan was forced to de-militarize itself, leaving it unprotected from attack, with America promising as a “Sorry for the whole bombing your civilians thing” gift to use its military to protect Japan if and when Japan found itself in a war. That may or may not still be the case as of this year, since the Japanese government is currently eating itself trying to decide if it wants to renew the aforementioned military contract with America, but that’s how it was up until very recently.) And Japan has essentially been using the backing of the American armed forces as a bluffing point to antagonize the hell out of China for years now because America has to protect them if anything bad happens and they know that China doesn’t want to fight America.

So Japan isn’t 100% some sniveling victim in all of this even though how America ended WWII was, in my opinion, a bad thing. Plus, once again, Japan may not be a military force to be reckoned with anymore, but they’re second only to America in the amount of soft power/culture clout they have.

l. The protesters are not Japanese and not all of them are of Asian descent.
As we wrote earlier, this is a hyphenated-American issue in a context where AAPIs are homogenized. There are Japanese and Japanese-Americans supporting this response.

White supremacy is supported by Orientalism in order to minimize the Asian-American experience, especially when Asian-Americans try to advocate for themselves: when it is convenient, the Asian-American experience is either homogenized or not authentic enough.

Why are you still talking about white supremacy? Oh my GOD. Are the people criticizing you even white? I’m not, by the way, so can wear a kimono, then, being one of their fellow oppressed POCs and all? You’ve already called some people race traitors, so probably not, but I might as well ask. That’s the thing with obvious hypocrites, you don’t know what they think about anything. And apparently the Asian-American experience is homogeneous seeing as how those aforementioned Asian race traitors’ opinions don’t seem to matter much to you. So much so that you disregard them entirely.

The “Asian-American” experience, to you, extends only to the Asian-Americans who are offended at what you think they should be offended by. The only Asian-American opinion that matters to you is the one that affirms what you already think. The only Asian-American voice that is authentic is the one that doesn’t like white people wearing kimonos. The other voices support white supremacy. So don’t even act like it’s other people trying to silence Asian-Americans. I think you can say whatever you goddamn want.

Also, allyhood is important. Folks with different experiences can and must stand in solidarity where needed. Furthermore, we all stand in solidarity against anti-black and anti-indigenous systemic oppression, because black and indigenous people bear the brunt of the violence fueled by white supremacist iconography and ideology.

What does this have to do with anything?! You’re talking about a museum exhibit of a white woman wearing an Asian dress. Stay on goddamn topic.

m. The protesters don’t represent all Asian-Americans.
We are well aware we do not represent all Asian-Americans nor do we intend to.

But we will shut down entire events that could have been used to educate people and/or just make someone’s life a little less sad and monotonous for a while in the name of “all Asian-Americans.” We will act like the only Asian-American opinion that matters to this discussion is the one that agrees with ours. And we will accuse any Asian-American who disagrees with us as being a supporter of white supremacy. We don’t represent all Asian-Americans . . . just all the true, authentic ones, just the Asian-Americans’ whose opinions are actually worth anything.

n. The protesters are “bad” Asian Americans. They are selfish and just want attention.
Badness, selfishness and attention-grabbing are typical shaming done in Asian cultures against women who are non-conforming. This is specifically misogynist, because of how the public sees us as the visible protesters. This is how stereotypical Asian patriarchal misogyny folds into Orientalism so people in the West can further oppress women, feminine and/or gender queer folk in the Asian-American community.

SJWs are attention whores? I thought all their histrionics were caused by their self-diagnosed bipolar disorders. Huh, who’d a thunk? I feel like the rest of this speaks for itself. You just went on a rant about how not everyone protesting this event is Asian, then one point down you try and fail to connect people calling you attention whores (which you are, by the way) with them being racist toward Asians. And also, they’re sexist, I guess. I don’t even know the genders of the protesters involved. They could all be guys as far as I’m concerned. You’re still attention whores. Oh my God. I can’t even argue with you.

Badness is also part of entitled elite white supremacist patriarchal fantasy that the model minority myth ascribes to. What is bad and what is good helps people in the U.S. assess each others’ desirability. So when members of the Asian-American community speak out, they risk breaking their model minority status, leaving themselves vulnerable to oppressive attacks from both white and Asian-American neighbors.

Someone calling you an obnoxious killjoy when you are being an obnoxious killjoy is not them distressing over you breaking the model minority stereotype. It’s them distressing over you being fucking obnoxious. That’s why the Asian protesters are taken just as seriously (read: not taken seriously at all) as the other protesters are. Or are the non-Asian protesters being treated with staggering levels of respect and understanding by detractors while only the Asian SJWs are being called out for being dumb-asses? That doesn’t seem to be how it worked out. Playing the race card has been denied here.

o. The protesters don’t understand what Orientalism or racism really is.
We cannot possibly have any misunderstanding. We speak from lived experiences of Orientalized racism.

What do you mean “you can’t possibly have any misunderstanding”? Why? Because you’re Asian? You seem like someone who doesn’t like stereotypes, and good for you because you definitely don’t fall into the “Asians are logical, smart, respectable people” stereotype. Way to tear down those misconceptions by being the change you want to see.

Well, I’m black, which I guess means I can never be wrong or have a misunderstanding of anything. I now decide that racism is defined as “a thing that people go into histrionic hysterics over in a counterproductive way to prove that they’re sorry about slavery and which is undeservedly given way too much power as a hammer to beat any and all detractors with.” There. It’s my lived experience, so it’s right, I guess. I look forward to seeing the new definition of racism, as defined by Disorderly Politics, in the next Webster’s Dictionary.

p. The MFA has good intentions. They can’t be racist because racists are bad.
Again, the MFA is defined as good by white elite supremacist standards and benefits from the immediate trust given it. In this framework, if there is any opposition, as an institution it is being bullied. By this ideology, blatant and violent racism is not cultured enough to be good and therefore labeled bad or even evil. Therefore, the MFA cannot be racist.

So, what does an Asian define as good, again? Oh, wait a minute, Asians are not a  homogeneous monolith. Unless they are, I guess, because all the Asians who thought that what the MFA was doing was fine/a good thing are totally ignored here. Of course. Now, I hate the Man just as much as anyone else. I don’t think corporations are people, I think our military has committed unpunished war crimes, yadayadayada. But this is a case of an institution being bullied. Blithely denouncing the idea with a condescending tone doesn’t make it not so. The MFA is being bullied. I can tell by this very next sentence:

We have enough work to do to dismantle white supremacy. Don’t contribute to this mess, MFA.

Using rather baseless and defaming assumptions to shame people into doing what you want is blatant manipulation and blatant bullying. You’re essentially calling the people who organized this, went to it, wanted to go to it, and/or defended this as horrible, horrible racists who really need to go sit in a corner and think about what they’ve done. Making people feel bad about benign, harmless acts as a means of controlling what they do to fit your standards is being a bully.

q. The MFA programming is not racist because the dictionary definition doesn’t apply to this situation.
Most dictionaries do not acknowledge the inherent power structure of white supremacy within their definition.

But we’ll make sure to acknowledge the dictionary definition of feminism like that’s all anyone needs to know and scoff at anyone who acts like the dictionary definition isn’t enough to define a specific situation! Oh, don’t look at me like that, you know these people are in the same feminist camp. Also, dictionaries don’t tend to act like a certain group’s theory is fucking correct. It’s why the definition of Hell isn’t “the place all the fags, niggers, and Jews are gonna end up.”

r. I am offended that I am being called racist. The protesters are the true racists for calling people racist.
This is response, called white fragility, is common in discussions about racism. (More about white fragility at this link.) Being called racist can be uncomfortable. However, when brown and black communities are suffering every day due to systemic racialized violence, white people can afford a little discomfort.

Well, I’m black and I’m offended at you calling white people racist. Also, me, I guess. I’m still not sure if other POC are included in the whole “this promotes white supremacy” thing. This article has done a tremendous job of acting like no slightly tan person on the face of the earth was ever interested in attending that event or angered that it was canceled after someone cried racism. It was only the whites. And those poor white people. They don’t have pseudo-intellectual bullshit to fall back on to justify how saying “making people feel bad for no other reason than their race” isn’t racist. That’s something only we coloreds have.

s. If only Asian people are able to present Asian art, then there can be no cultural exchange.
Again, our opposition is not against cultural exchange. However, we do expect Asian folks to be curators and head administrators at institutions of arts and culture, especially involving Asian-related programming, along with responsible curation, so that this kind of egregious oversight never happens again. Representation is important until we no longer have pervasive white fragility.

Well, clearly it is against cultural exchange seeing as how a picture of a woman wearing an article of clothing not from her culture apparently takes things to far. How do you know that the curator wasn’t Asian, by the way? Also, I love this: “We’re not against cultural exchange, we’re just against anyone of different cultures having anything to do with something that isn’t theirs!” Are you an expert in Edo Era wood block printing because you fell in love with Japanese art styles in college? Well, too bad, if you’re not Asian, you clearly don’t have what it takes to work with Asian art! Race segregated curation is responsible curation. Remember that.

I wonder if they’d say the same thing about a Chinese American who works as a head curator on an exhibit of paintings from Victorian England. Is that just unacceptable too? How about if I went and curated that painting? Would it still be racist and an issue with representation then? I can see the protests now: “Kick Out the Black, and Bring in More Yellow.” I’m sure that would happen.

t. I’m not racist. I just really love Japanese culture.
It is great to really love and want to appreciate a culture different from yours. To do that responsibly know the wider impact your actions have in how that culture is both perceived and received by those who have not put in the time to study it. Appreciate the culture by providing knowledge about it. A culture is more than a set of aesthetics. Learn about the background behind the ‘pretty style.’ Be sure also to assess and acknowledge your privileges and the history of power from which you might benefit.

These people must be really fun at parties. “We love that you like a different culture’s art. Just don’t try to actually indulge in a different culture’s art in any way, shape, or form, because that has a vague ‘wider impact’.” How do you know those people never studied Japanese art? It kind of seems like many people would have gone to that event for the express purposes of studying and learning more about Japanese art because going to art exhibits to see the art is how you learn about it.

Just thinking that something is a ‘pretty style’ isn’t wrong, by the way. You don’t have to know everything about everything before indulging in anything. Or are you going to fly on over to Japan and lambaste all the Japanese youths who have taken a liking to hip-hop even though they don’t know everything about the struggle of African Americans? Hell, how about all the Japanese youths who love K-Pop without acknowledging how racist Japan has been to its Korean neighbors? Not going to address that though, are you?

I’d put a picture of me wearing my kimono (given to me by a Japanese person in Japan, by the way) flipping you off, but I don’t want the internet to know my face. For shame.

Edit: My face is on here now (yay.  . .), so here is me in my kimono. I’m not flipping anyone off in this picture because, believe it or not, I’m a pleasant person. Just imagine it being the case.

12992350_10201851009154559_1739735932_n-1


This is stupid. It’s nothing but authoritarian-minded, entitled idiots self-appointing themselves as moral arbitrators, using shame and offense as a way to make people do what they want them to do. So, since I actually know Japanese (at this point I’m not sure that the writer of this FAQ who cares so deeply about Japan does), why don’t you go and translate this, from me to you?

くそくらえ

ばか . . .

Why Iggy Azalea Doesn’t Deserve All the Hate

Hey there, guys! Time for something a little different. To get this out of the way–I’m not one of those black college girls who writes microaggressions against me on a poster and gets my angry, shame-on-you picture on Buzzfeed. Liberals would call me a “black conservative” even though I am in no way conservative whatsoever. But not agreeing that racism is the worst thing since unsliced bread and that it should be given our undivided attention gets you labeled as one of those by default. What are you gonna do? That being said, let’s talk about Iggy Azalea!


Iggy Azalea is a Mad Lib. She’s a white, female, Australian borderline criminal who moved to the American South without her parents when she was a teenager, got mentored by TI, and became a rapper. And now she’s popular. And the brains of social justice warriors are imploding more than they did when “Same Love” hit the charts–because having a song about how being gay is okay of course makes you just as bad as a homophobe.

So why has Ms. Azalea inspired so much vitriol from the social justice world? Well, she’s a white girl trying to make it in the rap world, so you tell me. People are calling her a culturally appropritive racist. I’ll leave my feelings about cultural appropriation to be written about another day, but I think that the criticism she’s gotten is needlessly harsh and full of specious claims used to get people riled up about how racism is still such an important issue.

I’ll address this right now. I don’t like Iggy Azalea. I don’t want to defend her or her music, but the comments that have been leveled at her are ridiculous upon even the smallest amount of scrutiny, and that’s not all that fair. If you’re not going to like an artist, make sure you have a legitimate reason.

Personally, I don’t like her music. I’ve heard “Fancy” the most, and I don’t get why everyone likes that song so much. It’s not that catchy. It’s actually fairly minimalistic, and the chorus is okay. But is it ironic? Like “ha, ha, I’m talking about how I’m fancy when I’m really just classless new money who wants everyone to know how rich I am now”? That’s the idea that the chorus gets across, but then the verses seem to take the “fancy” claim seriously, and I just don’t get it. It’s a confusing single, and the rest of her songs that I’ve heard have the same quality of just floating around in the ether not really knowing what they want to be.

So I’m not a fan of hers. A lot of people would assume that’s because I’m a Southern black woman who is ashamed of this little white girl stealing rap and acting like a caricature of black people. That’s nowhere near my reason, and I’m here to explain why I think that’s a bad reason to have.

Iggy is not “the realest” as she claims in her hit song. She probably shouldn’t have said that blatant non-truth first. She raps in a Southern drawl but gives interviews with her natural Australian accent, for instance. But it’s hard to find any rapper who lives up to the constant, bragging claims of being “real” that you find so often in the hip-hop genre, even the classic figures. Was Tupac being “real” when he talked about being gangsta and having it hard when he went to one of the most expensive performing arts schools in America and got big not too long afterwards? Was Drake being “real” when he claimed to start from the bottom but really grew up in a comfortable middle class household for most of his life? Is Nicki Minaj being “real” when she raps in a voice totally exaggerated and unlike how she speaks in her interviews (just as Iggy does)? Are any of the rappers who make it big and become rich and famous being “real” when they still talk about living on the streets gang banging like its their current life? Oddly, Kanye West is the only mainstream rapper who can really claim to be “real,” and that’s only because the man has no filter in his music or his personal life, which may or may not be a good thing.

Iggy has the same excuse as the rest of them. Rappers, like plenty of other artists, create stage personas. They create characters to perform in because it’s more interesting that way, or because that’s the kind of person their audience wants to hear music from. Ke$ha actually isn’t a drunken party skank, for instance. Iggy Azalea was mentored by TI and idolized Tupac, so it makes sense that the rap persona she created would take after ATL-style Southern hip-hop, complete with the slow, methodical beats and the Southern drawl. (For the record, Nelly’s Southern accent was nowhere near as thick as it was in his raps mainly because he was capitalizing on being one of the first St. Louis rappers and exaggerating what then made him stand out at the time.) She apparently really appreciates TI’s mentorship and wanted to incorporate his style it into her own because she liked it so much.

Then there’s the idea that she’s Australian and not “part of the culture.” But what is an Australian girl who moved to the Dirty South as a teenager, spent most of her time in hip-hop culture, loved Tupac’s music and style, and then got mentored by TI supposed to act like? She doesn’t have a very stereotypical circumstance. She’s mimicking hip-hop culture about as much as any other rapper who didn’t come directly “from the hood” yet still uses the slang and has the mannerisms. I don’t really know what she’s like as a person, but it seems like that would be her culture, given her background of living in the areas where that culture was prevalent since a young age. It doesn’t really seem like she couldn’t give a damn about hip-hop and is just using it to make money off of her own novelty–she seems genuinely immersed in it.

In the end of the day, the only novelty of Iggy Azalea is the fact that she’s a Mad Lib, like I said before. If she wasn’t a white, female, Australian, TI mentee I doubt anyone would be paying much attention to her. Because she’s no different from every other mainstream rapper. She wears expensive clothes, talks about having money, being awesome, going to clubs, says “bad bitch” a lot, and brags about how people should already know how great she is because it’s just so obvious. That’s the synopsis of almost every popular rap song that’s hit the charts since 2000. I was alive in America in the 2000s, I know how obsessed we were with carbon copy crunk songs back then, and even though rap as a genre isn’t all that mainstream anymore, just go and turn on BET for twenty minutes and tell me that the five music videos you watched were all different and unique and varied in their subject matter. You can’t do it.

She makes music that record companies say that people want to hear, i.e., vapid raps about how cool she is and how much money she has and how much people should love her if they don’t already. That’s the kind of rap that people listen to, so that’s the kind of rap she makes. She was intended to be a star–a popular act in the mainstream, not just the rap world. Her novelty was probably why she and her producers had that intention–she’d be easier to promote to the public if she initially seemed like something new and different–but that doesn’t change the fact that Iggy Azalea has no control over what music the public likes to hear. She is very much at the whim of what other people want. Her persona is that of a cookie cutter Southern rapper no different from every rapper that came before or after, and her popular songs have the stamp of uninspired bragging typical of cookie cutter rapping because those are safe to do.

She even acknowledges that she’s only here to make popular music. Yeah, her songs and style are manufactured to sell, but she’s fully aware of that. That doesn’t mean her music is good, by any means, but she knows what she’s trying to do, and I can commend that. It’s like Ke$ha going out and saying that she only makes the music people want to hear and therefore only makes vapid party skank club tunes. You don’t get many points as an artist for being aware of the poor quality and ulterior motivation behind your product, but you at least get points as a self-aware human being who just wants to have fun and make music that other people like without having to be “deep.”

For manufactured pop/rap music, I think you can do better than Iggy Azalea, and that’s why I don’t like her. It’s based purely upon the quality of the music, and, for the kind of music she makes–intended to entertain and do nothing more–there are better rappers out there. All I Do Is Win beats Fancy by a mile. In Da Club beats Murder Business.

It’s not like she isn’t talented. She has a good flow, which is the most important thing you can have as a rapper, but it’s definitely not the only thing you need to be considered objectively good, and with that, she comes out lacking. I think she has the potential to be genuinely good at what she does, but her social justice critics won’t let her.

To explain that: “Cookie cutter” doesn’t automatically mean “bad.” Pacific Rim is the most cookie cutter movie in existence, but I and many other people had a blast with it, unlike with a similar cookie cutter action robot movie, TransformersYeah by Usher could be renamed “Background Music In Every Club Scene of Every Cable TV Show,” but it’s still really fun.

If you make manufactured music with the intention of selling it to mass audiences first and foremost, that doesn’t mean that the music has to be bad, but it does mean that it has to be good in other ways in order to be anything worth talking about. With pop music, it’s all about personality. You can make the most generic songs ever, but if you as an artist have a distinct personality that shows in all of your songs, you’ve done something good–you’ve done something that helps your generic music stand out through sheer force of will. That’s why Katy Perry’s early songs are better; she had a personality back then that stamped her music as distinctly Katy Perry. That’s why her new songs are bad; you can’t tell any of her songs from anyone else’s now.

To get back to Iggy Azalea, that lack of a personal touch is what makes her music hit below the mark for me. If she didn’t have a girl’s voice I wouldn’t be able to distinguish her songs from Wiz Kalifah’s. Her novelty is all she has, and her critics are making sure that it’s all she’s ever going to have because that’s all they’re ever going to talk about. Why try to have a personality when no one cares and no one will notice? Any and all attempts she’s made at being her own person with her own style, the social justice warriors have come out of the woodwork to criticize her for being a racist or for appropriating hip-hop culture–basically for being an evil white woman trying to steal stuff from the black folk and make fun of it. Iggy Azalea isn’t going to grow into her skin until people just leave her the hell alone for two seconds and start treating her like a rapper instead of just some racist white girl who wants to “act black.”

Because she is, indeed, a rapper. Everything the social justice peeps criticize her of doing is nothing wildly out of the ordinary for other rappers. Rappers have been doing the same thing as Iggy for years without significant comment from them–making politically incorrect comments on social messaging sites, having distinct rap personas, using a different voice while recording, talking about a culture that isn’t immediately theirs and, if it was, isn’t a culture they can honestly claim anymore as someone with money in their wallet. It seems to me that people are using her as a catalyst for what they don’t like about rap culture in general but were afraid to give voice to before because “that would be racist.” Thank god a little white girl came along and gave us someone to throw all of our pre-existing criticisms at in a way that’s socially acceptable.

I’m not saying that you can’t criticize her for doing those things, but it’s incredibly hypocritical to criticize her while simultaneously acting like none of the “real” rappers do the exact same thing. If the action is okay when they do it, it should be okay when she does it–the color of her skin and her place of origin doesn’t matter. If middle class Canadian Drake can “act street,” so can she. If 50 Cent can intentionally mumble in order to replicate how he sounded when his jaw was wired shut even though he’s perfectly capable of enunciating words, she should be able to rap like Tupac.

There are plenty of things wrong with hip-hop culture. Even the female rappers refer to themselves as “bad bitch,” it’s really materialistic, and it makes being a violent thug seem like something to be aspired to because it makes you “real.” Even Jay Z makes claims about how he did terrible things in his past “for the love of drug dealing” in a song all about how he’s so rich now that all he does is sit around wanting to own famous pieces of classical art just to brag about owning them, not for any actual appreciation of the works. I like hip-hop and I can acknowledge those things.

But the vitriol that Iggy Azalea gets seems like her critics are looking at her with blinders on. If they were more consistent in their critiques–if they treated her like a rapper and acknowledged that all of her questionable behaviors are common in that scene for everyone–I wouldn’t care. But they act like she’s some racist white girl stealing the style just to make money and appropriating something beautiful and wonderful and faultless. Rap culture is not faultless, guys. It’s, to use a word that we liberals love, very problematic. And it’s not just her, so you can stop acting like rap is perfect and it’s just Iggy Azalea fucking it up with her white-girlness. People say that she’s racist because she’s acting like a caricature of hip-hop culture when, in reality, all she’s doing is indulging in genuine hip-hop culture with all of its good points and flaws while also being white. Which, of course, makes her horrible. When you do it, Iggy, it’s a caricature. We when act the exact same way, that’s just us being “real.”

I actually find it rather insulting when people say that Iggy Azalea is appropriating black culture. Because broken ebonics, terrible slang words (“Retarded” means “good” now? Really? No wonder rappers do nothing but brag, the slang of the genre makes negative connotation impossible.), materialistic egotism, and  nouveau riche idiocy is black culture now. It’s the thing that we should be proud of and shelter as a part of our racial identity to keep the white man from enforcing his culture on us. Glad we could draw the line and lay claim to that, brothers and sisters. It’s a damn shame that the white gurl took it away from us. . . .

That’s an element of social justice that’s always confused me. Proper, standardized English shouldn’t be attributed to white people and black people shouldn’t be called less “authentically black” if they talk that way. But ebonics is most definitely something that should only be associated with being black, and you can definitely judge a white person as racist and disingenuine for using it. Because that’s not hypocritical and double standard-y in the slightest.

I don’t like Iggy Azalea because I don’t like her music, which is how a musician should be judged. Maybe if she isn’t supported by the public, we’ll get something new (that’s not just Nicki Minaj wearing crazy wigs and failing at creating alter-egos). But calling her racist against black people makes no sense, especially when she really seems to love the culture that she’s “appropriating” so much, and has loved it since she was a teenager and probably before. If anything, Iggy Azalea proved that white girls can be just as factory-mill average as black guys when it comes to the rap game. And that’s true equality.