ethnocentrism

Harpers Bazaar White Washing of India:

Because God FORBID we use ACTUAL INDIAN or DESI models to represent INDIAN Culture and heritage. 

Just because these photos are expensivly shot, and placed in Harper’s Bazaar, doesn’t mean they have to be your “aesthetic”, let this be your inspiration instead: 

These photos are REAL. They are of REAL Indian people in India, living their lives, embracing their heritage and culture with beauty and grace every single day. Let THAT be your aesthetic. 

Saying “But there are starving kids in Africa!” without paying attention to what’s happening in your own backyard perpetuates the idea that oppression is something only other (read: marginalized) groups do. There are starving children in Africa for sure [who certainly deserve our attention!], but, owing to racist and classist policies, there are starving children in the US, too…

Not only do comments like this derail important conversations – they appropriate suffering in developing countries to avoid being introspective about one’s own culture.

—  Sian Ferguson

Surprise, y/our culture isn’t perfect! This is extraordinarily relevant to 90% of the messages that enter my inbox.

“As in any other state, you have to comply with this and any federal law. And that is that English has to be the main language,” Santorum told San Juan newspaper El Vocero on Wednesday.

That’s… not… a law. Seriously. There is no federal law that says a place’s citizens have to mostly speak English to be considered a state. Santorum is winning primaries left and right and he doesn’t even know basic shit about our laws.
Puerto Rico’s primary is this Sunday. If Rick Santorum wins it I’m going to puke.
-Jess
ok but my FAVE scene in Pacific Rim?

when Raleigh is complaining to Mako about showing “obedience” to Stacker and Mako just stops him dead and says “It’s not about obedience, it’s about respect.” I SWEAR I WAS FISTBUMPING and mentally yelling FUCK YEAH because how often has Hollywood completely fetishized and distorted the “respect your elders” aspect of POC (especially Asian) cultures and I mean how many white heroes and heroines do we have that glory in flouting their elders and completely disregarding cultures and “saving” those poor oppressed WOC from their oppressive cultures but this movie THIS MOVIE just said fuck no and flipped that ethnocentrism right on Raleigh’s head and god I’m gonna buy the DVD just so I can watch that scene over and fucking over again and white feminists complaining about the movie need to rewatch and recognize why Mako’s character is so fucking awesome

Inclusive data structures

One of the most aggravating things about much of the infosphere is that a majority of software is designed with a heteronormative, cisnormative, gender-binary, and usually ethnocentric worldview built into its basic operating assumptions. This is especially a problem with social media. The upshot is usually this:

  1. The gender field is a drop-down menu or pair of radio buttons with two choices.
  2. There’s a separate field for first names, last names, and sometimes middle names.
  3. There’s no way of encoding relationships with multiple people.

The naïve solution to these problems is to add choice. Instead of “male” and “female” radio-buttons, a well-meaning programmer might put in a drop-down list including male, female, questioning, queer, and agender. Great. What about bigender people? Genderfluid people? People from specific non-white cultural traditions, like two-spirits or hijra? Okay, maybe we can expand the list to include them. If you account for every discrete gender identification, you’ll eventually wind up with a very long list that’ll cover maybe 90% of people.

What about the remaining 10%?

What about people who have their own way of describing their gender? What about people who more or less fall into an established category but for whatever reason feel uncomfortable with the label the developer offers?

And for some extra fun, what in god’s name happens when you try to localize the list of genders for, say, Arabic?

The point is that this is approaching the problem in exactly the wrong way. Gender is a continuum (in more than one dimension, incidentally) and the standard approach is to refine it down into something discrete. The correct solution? Don’t fuckin’ make people tell you what their gender is.

Seriously, you really don’t need to know. The only real practical application of this data is marketing, and gender-based marketing is poisonous, corrosive muck anyway.

If it’s a social network, of course, there are some problems with that model. The service provider has no reason to know the user’s gender, but the user might want hir friends to know. There’s a fairly obvious solution to this: Add a text field in the “About Me” section. Label it “Gender.” Accept an arbitrarily long string. Allow people to leave it empty and hide it. This is actually easier than radio buttons or a drop-down menu, for chrissakes.

The other potential problem is pronouns. The simple solution is to let the user supply their own, maybe with some examples so they don’t need a linguistics degree to figure out which forms of “xe” are the nominative, accusative, genitive, and oblique. Unfortunately, while this is something that can be resolved in English, other languages aren’t so fortunate. Arabic enforces a gender binary marked on nouns, adjectives, and verbs, and it permeates the language, as do a lot of other languages. Ultimately, there’s no easy answer here. The best one is to avoid constructions that require indicating a user’s gender: instead of “داليا تحب مجلتك” Dāliyā(F) likes.F your article, write something like “يحب شخص مجلتك: داليا.” Somebody(M) likes.M your article: Dāliyā Use icons instead of text as much as possible without damaging the UX.

(Of course, there are languages where this is a non-issue. Swahili doesn’t mark gender at all except in some lexical items, and uses “yeye” for everybody.)

What about the ethnocentrism? It’s a very European assumption that everybody is going to have a given name and a family name, or a given name and a patronymic that can be cleanly separated into a “first name” and “last name.” It also conflates given names with “first names”, so in particularly stupid designs, a Chinese person might have to put their name in backwards so the program will be able to deal with their given name.

“But,” the developer will exclaim, hands wringing anxiously, “we don’t want to call somebody Jonathan Q. Tastyzots everywhere in the UI; he should show up as "Jon” or “Jonathan” to his friends, and “Mr. Tastyzots” to his business contacts! Without a distinction between first and last name, how are we supposed to know which form of the name to use in which contacts?“

Great question, imaginary developer! WHY DON’T YOU ASK THE USER?

Instead of "First Name” & “Last Name” ask the user for all the forms of their name you need. “Full form,” “Personal form,” and “Official/business form” will be enough to handle all the needs above. So Mr. Tastyzots could reply “Johnathan Q. Tastyzots”, “John,” and “Dark Lord Thunderpants the Despoiler” (because also why are you assuming even Europeans have predictable name forms?) and Muḥammad Ḥusayn Abū ‘Umār Ibn 'Abd ir-Raḥmān can answer “محمد حسين أبو عمار ابن عبد الرحمان”, Abu 'Umār “ابو عمار,” and Sayyid Ḥusayn “سيد حسين” or whatever reflects how he uses his name. And it means the developers have less work to do! (Also, you fucking better have Unicode support, or I will wreak a terrible vengeance upon you and your next twenty descendants.)

There’s a pattern that’s beginning to become evident, isn’t there? The old way of doing things asks users for a specific set of information, and then the software assembles a model in the background which it uses to provide surface forms. What we’re doing is eliminating the middle-man, and letting users supply the backend model directly.

Can we apply this model to relationships, though? Yes. This article sums it up better than I ever could, but the basic principle to keep in mind: do not arbitrarily collect data. When you need information, instead of trying to assemble a model from pieces of user-supplied information, just ask them directly. Do you want to know who their spouse is so you know who to contact in an emergency? How about instead you just add a field labeled “Emergency Contact?”

Software should be generic. This applies every bit as much at the cultural level as it does at the engineering level.

Fans often comment that “it’s different in Asia.” Asians often make matter-of-fact comments about others’ appearances; it’s a completely normal thing to do and anyone criticising it is just being ethnocentric and trying to force American attitudes onto Asians. Seeing as the US already controls so much of the global narrative, this is a valid concern; but at the same time, it dismisses those who speak up against this behaviour on their own merit. Asian cultures are different, yes, and we shouldn’t look at them through only the lens of an American context. But this doesn’t exclude Asian cultures from criticism either, and people have every right to denounce the shadeism (and body shaming) that has become a normal part of life: speaking bluntly is one thing, constant mockery is another.

Hey y'all, my friend wrote this.  It’s short, sweet, and totally kick-ass. Look up his other stuff!

“Ben Affleck’s upcoming directorial project, Argo, began shooting last week, and with the arrival of the film’s production has come virtually no dissent regarding his choice to whitewash the lead role. Seeing as Argo is based on the true story of Antonio Mendez, a Latino former CIA agent who made a daring bid to rescue American embassy workers from Iran in the ’70s, Affleck’s casting of himself in the Mendez role is yet another example of a “race-lift” that marginalizes actors of color. And infinitely more offensive than whitewashing characters of fiction, which is already frustratingly commonplace in American moviemaking, Argo boldly rewrites historical fact to put a white hero in place of an existing minority.”

When Guadalupe V. Aguayo puts her hand to her heart, faces the American flag in the corner of her classroom and leads her second-graders in the Pledge of Allegiance, she says some of the words — like allegiance, republic and indivisible — with a noticeable accent.

When she tells her mostly Latino students to finish their breakfasts, quiet down, pull out their homework or capitalize the first letter in a sentence, the same accent can be heard.

Ms. Aguayo is a veteran teacher in the Creighton Elementary School District in central Phoenix as well an immigrant from northern Mexico who learned English as an adult and taught it as a second language. Confronted about her accent by her school principal several years ago, Ms. Aguayo took a college acting class, saw a speech pathologist and consulted with an accent reduction specialist, none of which transformed her speech.

As Ms. Aguayo has struggled, though, something else has changed. Arizona, after almost a decade of sending monitors to classrooms across the state to check on teachers’ articulation, recently made a sharp about-face on the issue. A federal investigation of possible civil rights violations prompted the state to call off its accent police.

“To my knowledge, we have not seen policies like this in other states,” Russlynn H. Ali, the assistant federal secretary of education for civil rights, said in an interview. She called it “good news” that Arizona had altered its policy.

— 

The New York Times, “In Arizona, Complaints That an Accent Can Hinder a Teacher’s Career.”

So, between intolerant anti-immigrant laws, gun laws like a sieve, and now this, is Arizona just one big asshole-shaped state?

[Being mandated to speak English] contributes to the trivialization of anything African and lays the foundation for a deeper sense of self-doubt and an inferiority complex…It instilled in us a sense that out local languages were inferior and insignificant. The reality is that mother tongues are extremely important as vehicles o communication and carriers of culture, knowledge, wisdom, and history. When they are maligned, and educated people are encouraged to look down on them, people are robbed of a vital part of their heritage.
—  Wangari Maathai, Unbowed.
There are children in the world who would do anything to do go school. Therefore, you should be *thankful* that you’re required to go to school. You should be *thankful* for the bullies that torment you relentlessly. You should be *thankful* for the sadist teachers that continually berate you and insist that you’ll “never amount to anything”. You should be *thankful* to spend six to eight hours inside a building that is insufficiently air-conditioned during the warmer months and is insufficiently heated during the colder months. All because there are other children in the world who *wish* they could go to school. Never mind the fact that it’s because it’s an *education* that they want, and *not* the fact that they have some sort of masochistic desire to be relentlessly tortured on a daily basis.
—  the “white saviour complex” - using ethnocentrism to dismiss the needs and feelings of children who suffer daily in an institution that they are, by law, required to attend daily

That Righteous Anger though👌| Trask, Haunani-Kay, and University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Center of Hawaiian Studies. “Typology on Racism and Imperialism.” In From a Native Daughter: colonialism and sovereignty in Hawaiʻi. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Presd, 1999. 251-252. #UHMānoa #ʻIkeHawaiʻi #HawaiianStudies #HigherEducation #NaneaLo #RighteousAnger #Imperialism #Colonialism #Decolonization #ArmedStruggle #Genocide #Racism #Prejudice #Discrimination #Ethnocentrism #Self-Defense #MythsofHawaiʻi