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Old 01 November 2015, 05:04 AM
Coughdrops Coughdrops is offline
 
 
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Default Ontario High School: Halloween Costume Canít Appropriate Your Own Culture

http://www.mrctv.org/blog/ontario-hi...#.whafukn:V7iI

Quote:
A high school student in Brampton, Ontario was told he could not wear his Halloween costume to school because it allegedly culturally appropriates his own culture.

Joshua Sewerynek, a ninth grade student at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, planned to dress up as part of a mariachi band with his friends. The school, however, stated the Colombian studentís costume is ďvery offensiveĒ and would not be allowed because ďculture is not a costume.Ē
I sure hope none of these people ever go to Japan and see all those Japanese people appropriating Japanese culture.
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  #2  
Old 01 November 2015, 05:54 AM
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Weren't you the one who just posted:
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Originally Posted by Coughdrops View Post
Remember when people cared about things besides how someone draws a cartoon character in fanart? You know, things that actually mattered? [rest of post omitted because it was way way over the top even for you, CD]
Now you want people to be interested in a whole thread about one kid's costume rule complaint? Honestly, I'm finding it harder and harder to take what you say seriously.
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  #3  
Old 01 November 2015, 11:46 AM
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Snopes message board FAQ:

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The primary rule of this board is for members to act civilly towards each other.
Following Coughdrops around from thread to thread and putting out of context quotes from other posts in your off-topic posts doesn't seem to follow the primary rules here.

Regarding the original story, mariachi bands aren't Colombian, so the kid has more work to do than he would if he were Mexican when making the argument that he's appropriating his own culture. That said, dressing as a member of a mariachi band doesn't seem problematic to me whatever one's race, so he's picked the wrong argument. Mariachi is a style of music that not just Mexicans enjoy and perform (as was part of his point). So long as the costume isn't caricature, I don't think it fits what I understand to be the concerns about wearing another culture as a costume. The school does seem to be overly zealous in this case.

So far as I know, wearing Halloween costumes isn't done in Japan so I'm pretty sure it's a nonstarter there. Is Halloween a thing over there ganz?
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  #4  
Old 01 November 2015, 12:03 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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One could take it as a thread about one kid's costume rule complaint. Or one could look at it as an example of a broader trend of criticizing - and forbidding when someone has the apparent authority to do so - costumes and other impersonations.

In this case, the only 'appropriation' was of 'mariachi culture'. It's not appropriating Columbian or Mexican or any other national culture. Mariachi costumes are costumes even for the people who wear them for their work. It is no more 'appropriating culture' than wearing a pirate costume is 'appropriating pirate culture' or dressing in a tutu is 'appropriating ballerina culture' or dressing in leathers is 'appropriating biker culture.' This reminds me of a bit by Bill Maher I saw covered. Let's see if I can find the article - here it is (if you don't want to read the Daily Caller's summation of it, you can just watch the video):

http://dailycaller.com/2015/10/31/bi...outrage-video/

Frankly, I am not clear what the issue about wearing costumes or adopting cultural practices is. If I wear a kilt or lederhosen, how am I harming Scots or Germans? If I play jazz or bluegrass, how am I harming anyone? Y'know, I was about to say as the groups these styles are played by "American blacks' and 'mountain folks' but in fact, playing jazz was originally practiced almost entirely up and down the Mississippi. Playing or listening to jazz was not a 'thing' amongst even the majority of black folks in the USA even at its peak before spreading to white appreciation. When white musicians and listeners learned about and began to practice jazz idioms and stylings, they were not depriving the black jazz fans and musicians of anything. In fact, by spreading the genre more widely, wider appreciation opened up many more opportunities for both playing and hearing jazz. The same has happened with pretty much every genre. Adopting an idea from another culture does not denigrate the culture - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Europe adoption of Hindu numerals was simply a matter of using a more effective system for dealing with numbers than Roman numerals were. No harm whatsoever was done to India in doing so.

Last edited by A Turtle Named Mack; 01 November 2015 at 12:20 PM.
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  #5  
Old 01 November 2015, 12:40 PM
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This movement picked up steam when Julianne Hough wore blackface for Halloween in 2013.

Blackface has such a fraught history that it's impossible to do the "paint yourself darker" thing without being offensive. It's just a question of degree.

Part of the question is whether you're appreciating or mocking a culture. Halloween costumes can be a place to lampoon something, and pretty often are. The key example, other than Julianne Hough's blackface, is wearing some random assortment of quasi-Native American-themed items. Bonus offensiveness points for tapping into the degrading over-sexualized portrayal of a Native American woman (a deeply problematic fetish):

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  #6  
Old 01 November 2015, 12:56 PM
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And yet, Al Jolson, who performed many perhaps most of his shows, in blackface, was a big favorite of the black community (go check Wiki or other sources - I did this when I saw The Al Jolson Story on TV). His performances drew a lot from black performing styles - he appropriated the stylings! - but opened up that style and many of the songs to broader audiences, making opportunities for black performers. It certainly helped, of course, that he also was a big advocate for black opportunities, bringing many black performers into his shows, introducing black performers to white audiences, hanging out at the primarily-black clubs (with actual black friends), etc.
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Old 01 November 2015, 01:31 PM
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If true, I'm not even sure that's relevant. Do you truly believe that a person adopting blackface in this day and age would be doing it to promote racial unity and equal opportunity? That is certainly not my perception.
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Old 01 November 2015, 01:48 PM
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I appreciate the point that it's not always appropriation and it's not always something the culture in question (or some members anyway) are going to object to. But that's not really the issue when it comes to Halloween costumes and school authorities making decisions. In this specific case I think it's likely that they've overreacted but that overreaction may be based on previous situations where they underreacted. It's not always easy to hit that nice balance where you are going to please most of the people most of the time.
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Old 01 November 2015, 01:48 PM
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I don't think it is relevant, since Avril's comments about blackface clearly refer to the present time, and Al Jolson's been dead for more than 60 years.
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  #10  
Old 01 November 2015, 02:16 PM
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It's not relevant. It doesn't matter how warm hearted Al Jolson was, because of how cruel the vast majority of blackface was/is.

But one person wasn't a problem doing X thing doesn't give you license to do such thing. It's like saying that George Burns is a good example of why smoking won't shorten your life and you should just go ahead and ignore the majority of people who smoke like chimneys who end up suffering for it.
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  #11  
Old 01 November 2015, 02:31 PM
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I don't think ATNM meant to use Al Jolson as a way of excusing contemporary actions. The point is even now we have situations where many do not believe something is cultural appropriation despite others who claim that it is. We discussed this recently in at least two other threads, I remember one about bellydancing but can't recall offhand the other.
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  #12  
Old 01 November 2015, 02:41 PM
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Al Jolson was effectively living in an entirely different culture. He was trying to do something that badly needed doing, and because of the culture he was living in was severely limited in how he could go about it. I think he was genuinely trying to do the best he could in a bad situation.

The situation has changed a good deal. I don't see any good reason for wearing blackface now, except possibly in a serious historical recreation, such as of Jolson's life.

As to the OP: it does indeed sound like they're overreacting. However, depending on the size of the school and the extent of students' knowledge, there may well be students who a) have no idea that the student in question is Columbian and b) can't tell a mariachi costume from a generic Mexican-in-sombrero costume. It sounds, in one of the school's replies to the student, as if they're trying to say this:

Quote:
While you may not find it offensive, others may. We have to keep that in mind while approving costumes.
but if so I think they could have explained it more thoroughly.


[ETA: I couldn't tell a mariachi costume from a generic sombrero costume, either; at least, not in that context. I know very little about mariachi.]
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  #13  
Old 01 November 2015, 04:21 PM
Singing in the Drizzle Singing in the Drizzle is offline
 
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When I was thinking mariachi costume it was the fancy dress in the image below that I was thinking about as most mariachi bands are decked out in. Definitely not what this kid was wearing.

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  #14  
Old 01 November 2015, 04:30 PM
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I wonder if he did the best he could with what he could access. But that is a good point. Mariachi performers tend to wear elaborately embroidered suits and sombreros to match, not ponchos.
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  #15  
Old 01 November 2015, 04:43 PM
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For what it's worth, the OP article is from the Media Research Center, which I'd like to note has this as their mission statement:

Quote:
Since 1987, the Media Research Center has been the nationís premier media watchdog. We donít endorse politicians and we donít lobby for legislation. MRCís sole mission is to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media. This makes the MRCís work unique within the conservative movement.

The Media Research Centerís unwavering commitment to neutralizing left-wing bias in the news media and popular culture has influenced how millions of Americans perceive so-called objective reporting.

Integrating cutting-edge news monitoring capabilities with a sophisticated marketing operation, MRC reaches nearly 203.6 million Americans each week to educate them about left-wing bias in the media.
Source

It's not a blog, but it's hardly an unbiased source and I bring this up because the ONLY source for this story is the Media Research Center... and Breitbart, which just vomited up the same story from the Media Research Center.

This is much ado about nothing - kid asks if he can wear a costume, school says no, kid objects, doesn't win, doesn't wear costume.
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  #16  
Old 01 November 2015, 04:49 PM
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Sweet jesus, if they think the media in Canada is left leaning they haven't been paying attention. In the recent election more than a few of our nation's papers endorsed the Conservative party. Maybe by some standards this party is considered left leaning. If so I find that profoundly scary .
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  #17  
Old 01 November 2015, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avril View Post
Bonus offensiveness points for tapping into the degrading over-sexualized portrayal of a Native American woman
My daughter wanted to be Sacajawea this year and I wasn't sure what to tell her. She sees Sacajawea as a female role model (a friend was going as Amelia Earheart), but I didn't want people to think she was appropriating a culture rather than admiring an individual.

She's too young to do the sexualized thing, so that wasn't the issue. But we did have a talk about being respectful of other's cultures.
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Old 01 November 2015, 05:33 PM
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SITD, that's a really good point, but I'm wondering if Mariachi bands in Columbia might dress a little differently? The article mentions the kid says his grandfather hires a Mariachi band for his birthday every year, and that this style of music is very popular there. There was also a picture of a Mariachi band performing in ponchos, though the context wasn't entirely clear to me--it looks like the kid tweeted that picture to the school, though I'm not sure whether it's a picture of those Mariachi bands performing in Columbia, or just some random image he found on the internet that might be depicting ignorant people dressing up as they assume a Mariachi band dresses (and getting it wrong.)

I'm trying to better understand the issue of cultural appropriation and why it's offensive. It troubles me, though, that we've gotten to a place where we're telling kids they can't dress up as people they admire unless those people are of the same race (and perhaps now even the same nationality) as the kid in question. Or maybe it's that no one can dress up as anyone who isn't white.

I read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell when I was a kid and decided to dress up as Karana, the native girl left behind on an island when her people moved on (her brother had been left behind, and she jumped out of the departing boat to go to him. Some time later he passed away, and she was alone.) Much like LPP's daughter and Sacajawea, I looked up to her and did basically the same thing kids do when they dress up as their favorite athlete or fictional character or the generic firefighter/doctor/cop. (I assume the friend who wanted to dress up as Amelia Earhart had nothing to worry about?) I'm not criticizing LPP here, just making a commentary on a default cultural setting we seem to have arrived at that allows children to aspire to be white people, but not POC.

Last edited by Esprise Me; 01 November 2015 at 05:45 PM.
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  #19  
Old 01 November 2015, 05:40 PM
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That makes me wonder where we're drawing the line. Disney has been trying to be more inclusive with their Disney princesses and the like and there is a new cartoon they have on TV called Doc McStuffins where the title character is African American. Would it be ok for little white kids to dress up as Doc McStuffins or as Tiana or Mulan? I don't see why not in any way but is there some reason that I'm not thinking of that would make this a negative thing instead of a positive?
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  #20  
Old 01 November 2015, 05:53 PM
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I think dressing as a person, any person, should be fine. I think Julianne Hough would have had a lot fewer issues without the blackface, because she was dressing as a person, not as a race. So: don't try to change your skin color. But I think a careful Sacagawea costume, perhaps modeled on the Sacagawea dollar, shouldn't be an issue.

Unfortunately, it might be for some, because there really does seem to be a knee-jerk reaction to the whole "dressing outside your race" thing, and Native Americans are rarely seen as people rather than representatives of a race in general. You'd have an easier time with an iconic character with distinctive clothing.
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