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Slip On These "Whiteness Goggles" and the Violence of Cultural Appropriation Disappears | Bitch Media
"A new series of prints by artist Roger Peet aims to address a tricky topic: cultural appropriation. In his series In//Appropriate, which debuted at the Portland State University Littman Gallery this month, Peet printed images of white people engaging in cultural appropriation on tall banners. Frozen in time, Miley Cyrus joyfully twerks with her tongue in its signature position, a hipster wears a keffiyeh, and Katy Perry smiles in her American Music Awards geisha costume. Behind them, another vision of whiteness—a violent one—is printed in red: Miley stands out against a scene of police in Ferguson, a bohemian white girl in a feathered headdress is juxtaposed with an iconic photo of a mountain of buffalo skulls, and a still from Iggy Azalea's "Bounce" video frames a portrait of colonizing Queen Victoria.

To accompany the images, Peet constructed special glasses made from cardboard and red plastic. These are “whiteness goggles,” a sign explains. When you put them on and look at the images, suddenly the red, violent image disappears.

Viewers are left with just the visions of Miley, Katy, Iggy, and Elvis with none of the violence behind them. White audiences specifically are forced to consider the blinders that race creates: one of the privileges of being white is the ability to ignore racism. All too often, the reality of the white supremacy is rendered invisible to people who don’t want to see it.

“When you put on the Whiteness Goggles, the colonial, military and police violence that underpins casual cultural consumption disappears,” explains Peet, in his artist statement of the project. Peet himself is a white immigrant to the US from Britain—he works as a politically minded printmaker with the Justseeds Collective. To develop this show, he worked with a group of advisors who offered ideas for how to make art exploring cultural appropriation and steered him toward making these prints. In addition to well-known celebrities engaged in cultural appropriation, the In//Appropriate show includes an image of Peet, foregrounded holding an American flag against a backdrop of the wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan. Including himself in the show was important, Peet says, to show that as a white person coming from England, he faced few hurdles in immigrating to the United States. “I was welcomed with open arms,” he says—a contrast to the racial stereotyping many people of color face when they immigrate the US.

Whenever there’s a high-profile act of cultural appropriation, like Katy Perry at the AMAs, there’s often a strong backlash among white people who say, “This isn’t a big deal. It’s just a costume. They’re just having fun.” As many people of color have pointed out, white people often derail conversations about racism by saying, “But I’m not racist!” Writer John Metta summed this up recently in an essay about why he stopped trying to talk to white people about racism, “The entire discussion of race in America centers around the protection of White feelings.” And as Malik Nashad Sharpe at Black Girl Dangerous explained, white people often willfully ignore racism underpinning our culture:
“Stop ignoring our history as if it’s literally dated, past-tense, far removed from our more civilized modern society, as if we haven’t been obviously trapped by the deeply cultivated White supremacy entangled with the very founding of the United States.”

Peet is using his platform as a white artist to make white audiences specifically think about cultural appropriation in the context of the history of violence. Without the backdrop of history, acts of cultural appropriation may not seem hurtful. By slipping on the “whiteness goggles,” white audiences can see how we often conveniently ignore the history and current violence that makes cultural appropriation so damaging. Since it calls out whiteness, some white people will certainly be offended by this show. And that’s a good thing. Some white people will get upset by Peet’s implication that they’re missing a huge part of the picture—and that’s a conversation we need to have.

In//Appropriate is up at the Littman Gallery until the end of the month—the show is presented in association with artists Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos), Camas Logue (Klamath-Modoc), Sharita Towne, and Gabe Flores, who are programming additional installations in the gallery. You can see more images from the show and listen to voicemails from people calling in to discuss cultural appropration on the project's Tumblr. [ ]"
appropriation  2015  culturalappropriation  music  photography  mileycyrus  katyperry  iggyazalea  oger  peet  race  racism  elvis  johnmetta 
july 2015 by robertogreco
fille de glissant: WOC vs. Black Women
"Why did these writers herald the film as a site of progressive representation of blackness despite Céline Sciamma's illuminating statements, despite the film itself and above all despite the criticisms of the film made by black French girls? Why did they keep praising the film after Céline Sciamma said that it was a traditional coming-of-age story, using alarming words like “universality,” confirming black French girls contextualized suspicion that this was just another white interpretation of the black suburban experience in France? Why was the spectatorship of non-black women of color centered instead of that of black women?  What lead to this usurpation?

The truth is that the film, being uncurious and vague about the black bodies and the suburban space it is looking at, was the fertile ground for the kind of appropriative, corny and self-indulgent pieces that were written about it by non-black women of color. The film used and decontextualized black, suburban French bodies to make a boring and botched statement on the universality of girlhood and these writers used and decontextualized a film that used and decontextualized black French bodies to make their own points about “brown girl exclusivity,” black female friendships or the importance of representation.

This specific lane swerving is not an isolated case but it was the first time that I seriously started asking myself questions about the meaning of solidarity between black women and non-black women of color.  How does solidarity serve black women? How does this solidarity manifest itself concretely in the world?"

"Are we supposed to feel grateful or flattered?
I only feel despair and disgust.

We are reduced to passive spectators whose voices are despoiled, asked to applaud and watch brown writers patting themselves on the back for pretending to care about black women’s humanity. Do they have any idea of what it looks like from where the rest of us stand? Maybe they believe that they are extending a hand. The intended results might be solidarity and inclusivity, and it might be within the small and self-absorbed writing bubbles these writers navigate in, but it produces quite the opposite: exclusion not exclusivity.

There is a dearth of published and paid black writers. There aren't enough spaces given to black film, art, music critics for you to think that you can speak over us and center yourself on issues that specifically concern black people.

Black women should have been paid to write on Girlhood. In France, thanks to institutional and constitutional colorblind ideology, most of the reviews were written by white men. In the U.S., thanks to WOC colorblindness and solidarity, most of the acclaimed and shared reviews written for so-called inclusive spaces were written by non-black women of color.

(Ironically, one of the only good and necessary reviews of the film written for a mainstream American publication was written by Richard Brody, a white man, for the New Yorker.)"

"The black experience is not universal. Black girlhood is not universal. A specific kind of racism and misogyny inform our experience. While it is true that people of color share the experience of marginalization, black women are on the periphery of the margins. The singularity of our experiences makes it almost impossible to appropriate them without diluting them, narrowing them, erasing them. Something that I have been confronting is that being a black girl, in the West, is very lonely. Being a French black girl in the suburbs of a major city is painfully lonely. Loneliness characterizes the human condition but it seems that black women are made to be conscious of this truth sooner than everyone else."

"Social media has exacerbated the idea that blackness is common property, a public good that must be shared and consumed by everyone. A public good to be profited off of — unless you're actually black. Black people shouldn't own anything. Nothing belongs to us — not even what we produce and invent. Not even our experience, our existence. Everything ours is yours (is there even such as thing as “ours”?). Blackness is constantly flied over by vultures, under threat of being decomposed, consumed and annihilated. When we do claim ownership, we are told we are venal, greedy. When we refuse this looting of our identity, experience and culture we are selfish and capricious.

Well, I am refusing. I am claiming my experience as mine. I am asking for black women to claim their experiences as their own. In an antiblack and misogynistic context there isn’t such a thing as being a capricious or territorial black woman. Our experience is the territory on which we should be sovereign. The loneliness that comes with being a black woman and the apathy the rest of the world has for our existence make us the only witnesses to our lives and it should afford us the right to be the only authorities on our experiences."

"I do not care about the pictures of black celebrities plastered all over your blog. I do not care about your Rihanna and Kanye West worshipping. I don’t care about your black friends. More than anything, I do not care about your compulsive James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Claudia Rankine and bell hooks quoting. It doesn’t signify anything. It doesn’t demonstrate that you have challenged your antiblackness. Fetishization is not love, it’s not respect. Turning black people into figurines and objects that you can use, and throw away as soon as you are done with them is not appreciation.

Here is what I want: instead of jumping on any opportunity to voice your “enthusiasm” for everything black, you should study the weird, neurotic, utilitarian relationship you have with blackness. You can take the Kardashians with you. Until then, until you do this introspective and analytical work, until you decolonize your idea and practice of solidarity, I’d very much like for you to stay away from us. "
girlhood  film  culture  blackness  fanta  fantasylla  célinesciamma  2015  fetishization  appropriation  poc  sarabivigou  woc  feminism  azealiabanks  mia  iggyazalea  heems  blackwomen  hiphop  loneliness 
june 2015 by robertogreco

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