From left top: Dead white dude, white dude who replaced an Asian dude, Elemental white chick, half-white dude/half-black dude, white dude (who swims), white dude who people outside comics think is a black dude, white chick, white dude, white dude, white dude, black dude, white douche bag brought back from the dead to replace Blasian son, white dude who keeps dying but still comes back as a white dude, white chick nobody knows so why couldn’t she be a woman of color, white chick evangelized by the white dude who brings back all the white dudes.
As is well known in… well, most of the circles that would be reading this, the DC Universe is going to be “rebooting” in September, with fifty-two separate brand new first issues of fifty-two brand new-or-newly-restarted comic book series.
You’ll note that I put quotes around “rebooting” above. That’s because despite liberal use of the term, this isn’t actually a reboot. As I’ve said elsewhere, at best it’s a few patches and edits being made to a save file.
As with any decision made by a large comic book company, there has been a huge discussion and debate surrounding DC Comics’s plans. People are upset about their favorite comics being tampered with. People are upset about favorite characters disappearing and other characters being changed beyond recognition (or, indeed, being changed into something too recognizable, in the case of Barbara “was-Oracle-now-once-again-Batgirl” Gordon. People are upset over the choices being made, the pants that some heroines are getting, and the fact that Superman isn’t wearing red swim trunks any longer.
And I’ll admit, I’m one of those people. I’ve been quite critical of this moderate shift in continuity. I think it’s ill advised at best and potentially disastrous at worst.
You see… I don’t think they’re going anywhere near far enough with it.
A lot of people have asked me to post DJ Monk One’s Gil Scott Heron tribute mix from our radio show, and I wanted to say a few words to go along with it. This video might not be too interesting for anyone, but it’s one of those things I just had to put into words for myself.
And more importantly, here is DJ Monk One’s superb Gil Scott Heron mix, from our tribute show two weeks ago on WBAI 99.5 FM:
“20. While we recognise the Aboriginal people as the first people of Australia, we encourage them to accept our Government’s apology and invite them to issue a statement of thanks for the good that the British heritage has brought to our nation.”—
This jaw-dropping quote is actually pretty much the fundamental and universal position of whiteness toward people of color, though one rarely sees it laid out in such jarringly jagged fashion. However, let’s not kid ourselves, this is the basic shape of most white people’s thoughts when, using far subtler language, they exert their norms and institutions to coerce us into politely educating them and acquiescing to their forms of legitimacy in any number of fields and contexts. It’s the same sentiment when they say things along the lines of, “Yeah yeah yeah my ancestors did some weird stuff and your ancestors went through some bad stuff but hey you’re speaking English and wearing jeans and driving cars, so admit it on the whole being introduced to civilization has been pretty good for you, hasn’t it?” It’s not just right-wing leatherheads like the Rise Up Australia Party that think like this, it also comes in much more nuanced liberal form. Liberals and progressives are just far more slick about it, but it’s not like you’re going to find the US Democratic Party taking up a call to undermine white normativity, decolonize indigenous lands, and turn back neocolonialism; they too want everyone to issue thanks for the good that British heritage (i.e. “founding fathers” etc) has brought to our nation.
“Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”—Audre Lorde (via lunetlautre)
“We cannot base the education of future citizens on the present inexcusable inequality of wealth nor on physical differences of race. We must seek not to make men carpenters but to make carpenters men.”—W.E.B. Du Bois
If you wanna’ talk about racism, that’s racism. Having an entire channel designated strictly for one group of people. It’s a tad different if it’s religious, in my opinion, but it’s completely stupid when dealing with race.
Like, if there was a White Entertainment Television, that would be banned from the air instantaneously.
If you want an entire channel dedicated to just black people, THAT’S STILL RACIST. For hundreds of years blacks have been trying to say they’re equal to whites (which they are, everyone is equal) but if you want to be equal, then stop making things UNEQUAL.
The same goes for Black history month. The black community has done NOTHING for history. Just as the white community has done NOTHING for history. I can understand an Equality month, or a Civil Rights History Month. Yes, black characters have done things for history (Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, etc.) That’s not the same as the black community though.
This goes for anything of this sort, as well. Asian-Pacific Islander month. LGBT month. It’s all stupid. It puts you above everyone, and/or makes it seem like you’re incapable of holding yourself up as a group, so you have to have a month/television channel help you do it.
I’m not in the mood to explain why this is all wrong - you only need look at the archives of the STFU RACISTS blog to see it explained over and over. (Basically, for beginners - if media is dominated by men, you need programming geared towards women. If media is dominated by heterosexuality, you need programming geared towards the LGBT community. So if media is dominated by white people… figure out the rest.)
It’s just… this:
Like, if there was a White Entertainment Television, that would be banned from the air instantaneously.
I just laugh at the idea of months and months of development, marketing, casting, and production going into a White Entertainment Network, millions of dollars spent in advertising… and then the second it goes on, someone flips a switch and it’s banned. Because nobody would have thought about it at any other point in the process of launching a network. LOL…
WET already exists…you can find it on every channel that isn’t BET.
its funny that there are still people making this argument. I don’t even get mad anymore. I just feel sorry for them.
“Each name has a cultural background and yet we do not have a problem with names like Connor, Dimitri, Alannah, Antonio, Robert, though they mark culture just as surely as Kwame and LaShawn. By encouraging us to hate and ridicule these names, Whiteness is attempting to discipline and shame Blacks, though this is not a phenomenon unique to us. During the heyday of Ellis Island, people would often emerge to find their names changed by agents who were not patient with immigrants. They were poor, and in many cases certainly not understood to be White, though they would be deemed so today. If we look at the history of many people in the public eye the one trend that we can easily see is that if their names are deemed to ethnic they are changed. Just as Frederic Austerlitz Jr. was deemed better than Fred Astaire, even a name is bland as George Michael, is understood to be better than Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou. Whiteness today is still conditional upon no obvious displays of culture, though some cultures are understood be better than others.
There is a cost beyond ridicule to having a Black name. It has been proven repeatedly that given the choice between an anglicized name on a resume and an ethnic name, that employers will choose to interview the person with the anglicized name, even in cases where the resumes have similar education and employment history. There is also a stigma of poverty attached to the name. The more that a person of colour is able to conform to Whiteness, the greater chance they have of financial success. A Black name is considered by many to be an albatross. Instead on focusing on these names, we should be turning our attention to why these names bring about such ire.”—
I fully understand that because Jonathan Alexander Robinson does not sound like a Jamaican-Costa Rican with black separatist and socialist ideas, I get called in for interviews way more than if my name were, let’s say, Malik El Shabazz or even Dwayne Johnson
“Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.
Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”—Rosemary Urquico (via ethiopienne)
I suspect that this would fall under “unpopular opinions” but, yes, I think you can be culturally appropriative of food. I’ve never heard/seen anyone talk about food specifically as being culturally appropriated, but I highly doubt that my thoughts on this subject are unique. I suspect I just haven’t seen some wonderful work done by others. Also, I am relying on the theories and work of others who talk about food justice, even if they haven’t actually connected it specifically to cultural appropriation. *Also remember: This is just my own opinion. There are people in marginalized and oppressed groups who may completely disagree with me.*
So let’s begin with what I *don’t* think constitutes cultural appropriation of food, to get some of the angsty stuff out of the way. I don’t believe it is cultural appropriation to
eat food from another culture
to learn how to cook food from another culture
to modify recipes from another culture for your own enjoyment
to eat at restaurants, authentic or otherwise, that serve food from another culture
to enjoy learning about another culture thru the traditional and/or modern foods of that culture
So no, I don’t think you are a racist asshat because you love guacamole or pad thai. I don’t think you are a privileged douchefuck because you sweated to learn how to make a killer tagine that is now the centerpiece of your family’s holiday meals.
“What’s left?” you may ask. “I can eat what I want, cook what I want, share what I want… okay… then how dare you say that it is possible to appropriate food? Where are you going with this?”
When we talk about food justice we are talking about a few different things. What I will concentrate on here are:
Access to the foods and ingredients that are meaningful, traditional, and wanted within our culture.
Access to high quality and fresh foods and ingredients that are available to low income people in low income neighborhoods.
One way that food can be appropriated is by making it difficult for those of the culture from which it stems to gain access to it. For example, quinoa has become very popular outside its native home of Bolivia, but with that popularity comes a price to the Bolivian people that what was a staple of their diet is now too expensive for them to eat. It’s fair to assume that it will be replaced by less beneficial alternatives, most likely imported and pre-packaged. I’m not saying that everyone should throw out their quinoa or feel useless guilt for eating it. I am saying that it is a good example of where access to a traditional food has been appropriated by people in such a way as to make it inaccessible to the culture from which it comes. We can think about how much of it we eat, if there are more fair ways to get it, and look for ways to support policies and practices that help Bolivians to be able to make an income off of this seed while still maintaining their cultural practices and access to their own food.
Put another way for U.S.ians, can you imagine not being able to eat an apple or have your July 4th homemade apple pie because the government decided to export most of them, thereby raising the prices of the few available here? Sure, you might see some increase in your income, but it wouldn’t be enough to buy you those apples you once took for granted. And it wouldn’t be enough to help you to retain the centrality of the apple to your diet. Oh, but hey, apples are a pseudo-cultural marker of the U.S. (“American as apple pie”, Johnny Appleseed, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, etc.) but aren’t actually a staple for most of us anymore (though perhaps they should be).
Another way that I feel food can be appropriated is by fetishizing it, especially when it includes commercializing it. Privileged white people who visit an “exotic” country and learn all they can about the local cuisine, only to come home and write best-selling books, appear on Martha Stewart, and eventually parlay the experience into their own television deal are a good example of this. Haven’t you ever wondered why the food stations are so overwhelmingly pale even as “festive” and “steamy” meals from “far-away lands” are being cooked up using modern technology? How much of that money do you think makes it back into the hands of the people who generously shared their family recipes with the soon-to-be celebrity chef? When the “experts” of our food are people from outside our communities, that is a form of appropriation.
In a lot of ways food becomes the symbol of a culture. Take fry-bread for Natives. Who hasn’t heard a joke about fry-bread? Do I think it’s wrong for non-Natives to eat fry-bread? No, I don’t. But I do think it is wrong when non-Native dieticians etc. point to fry-bread to explain all the health ills of Natives. I also think it’s wrong when non-Natives refuse to acknowledge the painful history and creation of fry-bread, and the poverty and scarcity of other food that it also symbolizes. And it is wrong when Natives are reduced to “fry bread eating, commodity taking freeloaders”, just as it is wrong when Mexicans are reduced to “beaners”, Arabs to “goat grillers”, and South Asians to “smelly curry eaters”. When our traditional foods are pointed to as jokes or ways to further oppress us, to mark us out as different in a way that is mocked, that is not respectful.
Our traditional foods are central to our cultures too. For some of us there are a lot of memories around sharing those foods, and for many others of us the food was part of our journey back to our people and culture. An honest recognition of that by others is necessary to respect that food. There are also traditional times/occasions for certain foods, and taboos, that should be honored. You can share in our food, but there is still an element of privilege, theft, and imposed change that has to be acknowledged at the same time. Minimizing YOUR theft and imposed change, respecting the traditions that guide when and how that food is served, and being thoughtful of what the food represents for us is a good first step to genuine cultural understanding that moves past appropriation.
oh this hits close to home. so, so, so literally.
y’all, I may not even be able to write about this cuz it’s so intimately connected to my ENTIRE experience with racialization and theft of my cultures. but in the name of all that is holy, thank you for writing this, diggingforroots, even though it looks like you got some dismissive racist reactions to it. I needed to read this tonight.
Oh, oh, oh, this is amazing.
This just summed up my issues with Rick Bayless, Bobby Flay, & to a certain extent Paula Deen. I know she grew up in the south and those foods are what she grew up on, but how they came to be the foods identified with the American south has a whole lot to do with slavery. And she makes a mint selling soul food with a white face. Soul food is often labeled as unhealthy & a lot of the traditional recipes are unhealthy, but they aren’t that way just for shits & giggles. Slaves had to make a meal out of whatever they could scrounge up and they weren’t guaranteed multiple meals a day so those meals had to be high density and low effort. And even now when smoked turkey is substituted for salt pork, a lot of American black families cooking traditional foods are doing so in food deserts and they still need meals that are high calorie and low effort. Time to cook from scratch, access to a full scale grocery store with reasonable prices, and a way to transport those groceries are all luxuries that are often taken for granted.
YES to all this and the commentary - bolded for emphasis.
I’ve written a fair amount about food culture, colonialism, racism, appropriation, etc. so I don’t have much to add to this particular convo at this point, but I’ll just mention that an incredibly high percentage of profitable new restaurants opening these days in cosmopolitan North American food centers are being opened by white executive chefs who have learned a few shallow lessons about “Asian fusion” (or, less frequently, the Bobby Flay concept of yuppified Southwestern, which is basically “Mexican fusion”). Those same restaurants are staffed mostly by white servers in the front of the house — but most of the actual cooking and cleaning is done by people of color in the back of the house. It’s a racial caste system that is right in your face if you’re paying any attention at all.
I’ll also repeat my oft-noted observation that almost every single show on Food Network regularly features Chinese ingredients, techniques, and concepts, but of all the dozens of muppet head hosts, none are Chinese. Yes, I find it disgusting that my proud, ancient, profound, medicinal food culture — which is central to all cultures and particularly strong in Chinese culture — is sold in half-assed half-baked form by ignorant white people for profit and with great acclaim, while actual Chinese chefs are relegated to greasy takeout dives slinging General Tso’s chicken and pork fried rice.
Finally I just want to mention, just because it’s kind of fascinating, that oftentimes peasant food and slave food has actually been healthier than the food served to rich people. I do not believe that “soul food” was originally unhealthy; I believe that it’s the modern industrialized manifestation of it that is unhealthy, with its overuse of fat and sugar. Chicken and pork offal, yams, okra, collards, rice — these are good eats. Low and slow smokepit barbecue can turn the toughest cuts tender. In my opinion, all the greatest food in cultures all around the world comes from the poor.
immediately, plantains and oxtail come to mind. For years, this was my favorite dish, served with black beans and rice. And all that time I would brag to my friends at school [most of whom were white] about the delicious Saturday meals my mother and her aunts could throw together, with oxtail and black beans slow cooking in a crock pot all Friday night. "OXTAILS?!?!?! gross!!!!" is what they always responded with. “you mean like the actual tail of an ox? why would anyone even try to cook that?”
"Slavery, you jackass. We cooked what we could get"
"Oh yeah… I forgot" <—- white priveledge: the ability to forget the entire era of slavery.
Anyways, it wasn’t until after I graduated high school that I started seeing oxtail served places I never would have guessed to find it [usually it was confined to Caribbean restaurants and relatives kitchens]. Then I started overhearing my aunt talking to my mother about how expensive oxtail was becoming. “Almost 10 dolla’ a pound, chile!!!” is exactly what she said. And now, just 2 weeks ago, I went to my local Caribbean food spot, Ricky’s, and was told they didn’t have any plantains. Neither did the chain spot Golden Crust. It was too expensive. I was told to check back in a few weeks… that maybe the price will have gone down by then.
So i can’t get oxtail and fried plantains in Crown Heights Brooklyn, in a predominantly Caribbean neighborhood… but Dizzy’s Cafe in Park Slope [right next to Prospect Park, a neighborhood famous for it’s appeal to upper-middle class white families for it’s “affordability”- for rich white folks] is serving a special Belgian waffle dish with strawberries and- WHAT!?- fried plantains!!!!!!
My plantains have been appropriated… and I am not in the least bit happy about it.
On June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one in the United States.” To eradicate this enemy, he called for “a new, all-out offensive.” But 40 years of get-tough policies haven’t ended substance abuse. Instead, as “The New Jim Crow” author Michelle Alexander recently told a crowd of 1,000 at Harlem’s Riverside Church, “The enemy in this war has been racially defined. The drug war, not by accident, has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color.”
At the estimated cost of $1 trillion, the War on Drugs has triggered the mass incarceration, mostly of black and brown people through harsh penalties for non-violent drug violations like simple possession. It has encouraged racial profiling in the name of enforcement. In addition, people with drug convictions (and their families) have been evicted from public housing, deemed ineligible for food stamps and college financial aid, and denied employment. This failed war has destroyed mothers, fathers, children, grandparents—whole communities.
On my way to a demo downtown about this.
It’s pretty weird to me that Richard Nixon declared the “war on drugs” the day after I was born. He must have known I was coming along, with my insatiable hunger for altered states of consciousness. I’ll also add the same note I always add when people talk about a “failed” war on drugs: it hasn’t failed, it was intended to do what it has done. It was never meant to eliminate substance abuse; many of its operations have in fact been involved in drug trafficking and sales (see: Iran-Contra; crack epidemic; Afghanistan). The “war on drugs” was intended to attack communities of color, maintain an incarcerated and disenfranchised underclass, enforce a white supremacist social order, and give US imperialism a variety of easily manipulated foreign policy rationales, based on drug interdiction, for military interventions in South America and Asia. It has succeeded in these objectives.
again… Zuky drops knowledge. Speak the truth, brother.