anonimo ha detto:

I am a pure-blooded Venezuelan who moved to the USA as an immigrant. My family is very deeply immersed in our culture. Yet, when I wear the traditional costume, eat Venezuelan foods, or speak Spanish I'm often accused of cultural appropriation and being a culture-stealing white girl. I'm starting to think that they are correct... what should I do?

To add to the previous ask (I’m the Venezuelan immigrant anon), I have very pale skin and green eyes. My sibling and mother’s entire family side, however, has the typical Venezuelan tan skin and brown eyes.

I’m sorry you’re yet another victim of trainwreck white knighting in the US by people with white saviour complexes. They are not right. Do not think they are right. You don’t have to change anything about yourself. But people accusing you of cultural appropriation need to STFU and really get educated because they are essentially subscribing to ill-informed stereotypes about what people of a culture look like. Sorry, this will be another long post.

Okay, first and foremost, this is what I’ll say to those people accusing you of cultural appropriation:

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You cannot appropriate your own culture just as you can’t steal your own money. 

Let’s tease out what assumptions these people are relying on to support their very, very ignorant conclusions- this is what I detect are the underlying assumptions:

  1. White people = European origin, as per the US understanding.
  2. Latin@s are a race! Because when you say latin@ in the US everyone thinks of Mexicans right? And aren’t they like all with dark hair and tanned skin? Culturally they’re not like white (English-speaking, really) North America, so voila, I have Othered them as “non-white!”
  3. Our race categories apply everywhere! Since I’ve proclaimed them non-white, they darn well better not have have “white” features like fair skin and green eyes!
  4. Venezuela’s in Latin America right? Non-white then! How dare this white girl try and pretend she’s a latino, I mean she has like green eyes and everyone knows latinos only have dark eyes and tanned skin!

From how the anon has described their family’s physical appearance, I would guess they have European and possibly some indigenous American ancestry. And guess what? Even if she has only European ancestry and would be considered “white” if she were born in the US:

1. Amazingly, people can have European ancestry or be fair-skinned and STILL be Venezuelan. Because, uh, “Venezuelan” is a nationality and cultural identity, NOT AN ETHNICITY DAMMIT. I mean, let’s look at the demographics of Venezuela:

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  • What’s that??? Ethnic GROUPS? IN PLURAL??? “White”??? Oh wait, Venezuela, like much of the Americas, was colonised by Europeans! And wait, who are these “mestizos”? People with Native American AND European ancestry! Just as we know there are black Americans and Native Americans just as there are white Americans. Don’t you consider them all US citizens? Same logic applies to this Venezuelan anon. 
  • Whatever the shade of her skin or genetic haplogroups in her DNA, she was born and raised there. She is Venezuelan. She has every damn right to participate in Venezuelan culture. So anon- remember that nationality is not ethnicity- but an identity meant to embrace all citizens of that nation no matter how they look like.

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2. I have got many asks with latin@s saying they’re attacked for being too light-skinned or having the wrong eye colour to be real latin@s- so…LATIN@ IS NOT A RACE or ETHNICITY. 

  • It is a CULTURAL IDENTITY, referring to what these countries have in common from being colonised by Spain and Portugal- Spanish and Portuguese are both Latin languages. They also have other cultural similarities by virtue of being neighbours, though they are distinct cultures. Notably, the modern culture in many Latin American countries is a lively fusion of European, indigenous American and African culture. Latin America is also racially diverse as hell. Not everybody there has tanned skin and dark hair even though many do because they have very, very diverse ancestry due to the various migrants.

These people are ALL LATIN AMERICANS, and there’s plenty of compelling evidence they don’t come in one shade of colour:

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This man is of indigenous ancestry- from the Aymara people, who lived in the Americas long before Spanish rule. He is Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia. 

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This lady is of mixed German, Spanish and indigenous American ancestry. She’s Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican painter. 

This Argentinian lady has Spanish and German ancestry. Aha I guess we spotted our first culture stealing white girl! How dare she call herself Argentinian because isn’t that like far down, deep in Latin America?!?!

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Nevermind, sorry. She’s actually Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the President of Argentina. What witchery is this?! 

And just to hammer in that SERIOUSLY latin@s don’t just have “tanned” skin. They can be a lot darker- like people with African ancestry-  because the Spanish and Portuguese brought many African slaves to the Americas to work the plantations. Like this guy: 

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I mean, he’s only Pele, aka the best Brazilian football player of all time. He was born and raised in Brazil. He’s a black latino, just as there are black Americans. And conversely, there are white, mixed-race latin@s just as there are white and mixed-race Americans. Furthermore, Latin American countries have their own terminology and the concept of “white” “black” or “mixed race” can be quite different.

3. Remember that race is a completely nonsensical construct with no basis on biology to begin with, because skin-tone alone says NOTHING about whether people are related! People from sub-Saharan Africa and Papua New Guinea are both dark-skinned but they are genetically distant. Many Indians are darker skinned than Europeans but they actually seem to share a gene for fair skin from a common ancestor. Go figure. Genetics is amazing. 

  • And if anyone wants to keep imposing these horribly narrow categories on people and not be open-minded to the fact that “hey maybe these things are more fluid and people can’t be rigidly categorised” you’re just perpetuating the structures and hierarchy of racism
  • There is a difference between using the terminology of “black” and “white” when discussing racist power structures today: like “Michael Brown was shot because he was black”, and insisting on forcing people like latin@s into this horrible system of categorisation we should get rid of. In the former, terms like “black” and “white” are essential to understanding and deconstructing the mechanisms of a skin-tone based power hierarchy. When you speak of your experience of racism, “whiteness” and “blackness” are essential to understanding it. In the latter case, you’re PERPETUATING these stupidly reductionist categories that can’t even begin to classify the diversity of our species. Latin@s can be fair or brown or black. They can have blue, brown or green eyes. They can have all sorts of hair colours. People do not fit into these stupid boxes. Tell them anon, that they are perpetuating colonialism because they as outsiders are trying to define your own identity- which they have no right to do!

4. This girl got attacked for practising her own culture because these outsiders who don’t know anything about Venezuela were so convinced she was “culturally appropriating”. 

Thinking you have right to define what is offensive and attack people for cultural appropriation when you are not from that culture and/or don’t know anything in detail about it, is a straight up perpetuation of colonialism. Oh no, colonialism isn’t just about violence, like when the British pumped opium into the veins of my ancestors and mercilessly exploited their community. 

  • You know what else was colonialism? When the colonial powers positioned themselves as saviours to save colonial subjects from themselves, to bring them the majestic light of civilisation, because we’re all so self-oppressed with our backwards cultures and don’t know what’s good for ourselves. Which justified all their social policies where they didn’t bother trying to understand us but just denigrated our indigenous cultures, social structures traditions as inferior and thus saw it fit to destroy them. When they infantilised their subjects as ignorant. 

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No thanks. We don’t need anymore “white saviours”

  • Colonialism is also the imposition of a foreign narrative that completely disregards ethno-religious and geopolitical histories of another group of people. Just like how the European powers sliced up the African continent without giving a shit about the fact that they were dividing up ethnic groups that have seen themselves as whole, or grouping together people who didn’t identify as being part of the same culture.
  • And in fact, those people attacking the anon for cultural appropriation calling her a “culture stealing white girl” are actually practising one hallmark of colonialism- racist Othering of cultures. They’re not actually helping us fight harmful cultural appropriation. Why? The narrative is people who look “white” can’t be latin@s or Venezuelans, another narrative imposition- this time, a US-centric imposition. Because Latin America is the “Other” to “white” (English speaking, really) North America. So, the inclination is to force latin@s into the US racial construct. Because they must be “Othered”, those people attacking the anon cannot conceive of the fact that some of them may be as “white” as white Americans in terms of European ancestry. They have trouble simply thinking, “Oh! We have similar ancestry, but we just aren’t exactly alike because I was born in the US, and she was born in Venezuela- Latin America. So while genetically we may be similar, our cultural identity is very different.”

5. The people who have a right to define what cultural appropriation of their culture is and to practice their culture freely are people of the culture in question. They DO NOT have to pass an outsiders’ preconceived test of what a “real Venezuelan” or real “Indian/Native American/Arab/South African” looks like.

6. On the broader note of cultural appropriation, fuck ups like these would decrease if people bore in mind that:

  • Nobody should go around policing cultural appropriation without taking care to make sure they get it right or defer to the opinions of people actually of that culture. Nor should you, worse still, tell people of that culture they’re “self-oppressed” if they say they are alright with sharing something.

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If you do that, well done. You’ve unlocked the 21st century version of the “White Man’s Burden”, because you are being condescending and infantilising an entire culture full of sentient people who are perfectly capable of logical reasoning and conceptualising their own culture.  And you don’t have to be “white” (or a male) to do this. It’s just getting gratification and egostroking about what an activist you are for poor, oppressed people. Like those people who go to on “volunteer trips” that are just photo-op of themselves carrying kids and not actually anything helpful.

  • Real solidarity and activism is seeing the people you are advocating for as equals. That means supporting, not speaking over them. That means if anyone is truly concerned about harmful cultural appropriation, they should ALWAYS seek to consult what people of that culture actually say and check with them. If you bully people online and police cultures you don’t even know anything about in detail and speak over people of that culture, you are not that different from the colonial powers who came in with this inflated sense of entitlement that they knew oh so well how to free us from our backwards traditions. 

7. Yes, i’m glad people are interested in learning about cultural appropriation. But you must first do no harm- and the white saviour complex has a potential to do a lot of harm.

When you want to point out what looks like a case of cultural appropriation of a culture that is not your own, bear in mind:

  • When we are outsiders, there will be things we do not know and may get wrong no matter how much we read up. Defer to people actually from that culture. Hedge your statements. “Say from what I know” and just don’t act like an undisputed authority, aka “stupid white girl appropriating from venezuelan culture ugh!” Be civil. So at least the entire conversation is cordial if it turns out you are wrong- and the person isn’t wrongly attacked. 
  • "Don’t white knight" isn’t just directed towards white social justice bloggers. I myself am an outsider to say, Islamic culture. Just because I’d be considered a “POC” in the US doesn’t give me license to go around attacking people either about appropriating other “POC” cultures, because hey, “POC” actually consist of multiple cultures. Am I an expert in all of them? Hell no. I have studied the history of the Middle-East and the rise of political Islam in detail, for example, but that STILL does not make me as informed as a real Muslim- and their opinion would always carry more weight than mine. But if it was something about Chinese culture, that’s something I can say I know more about. 

So yes, anon- keep your chin up and keep participating in the culture that you were born in. Educate people if they ask and tell them Venezuela is a multi-ethnic country, that identity isn’t defined by skin tone or appearance. That nationality is not ethnicity or genetics- and that genetics is not culture.

If they still insist you are culturally appropriating or won’t believe what your background is, ignore them- as hard as it may be. They do not have any right to decide your identity for you, and staying true to yourself is better than forcing yourself to be something you are not.

Flaca
Córtame una pierna
Hoy quiero faltar al trabajo
Y hacerte desayuno
Me quedaré contigo
Y el sonido del día al otro lado de la ventana
Córtame la pierna por hoy
Mañana regresaré al trabajo y al mundo

Sabes que no puedo pasar tanto tiempo fuera del mundo
Sabes que necesito estar sin piernas para pensar en ti
Saber que me traiciono cada vez que puedo

Por eso te digo flaca
Córtame una pierna y deja el cepillo donde está
Hoy no me lavaré la cara
No cepillaré mis dientes
Sólo te prepararé el desayuno

Córtame una pierna y regresa a la cama
No la prepares para el almuerzo
Quédate conmigo y ayunemos juntos
Yo un nuevo mocho
y tu mi despeinada
sólo por hoy
hazlo
córtame una pierna y regresa a la cama.
— 

El Poema de La Flaca.

Ennio Tucci.
Venezuela.

Aquel día llovió fuerte
ríos de agua paseaban por las calles
las tejas se volvieron color apache
la melancolía de las gotas despistaban
pozos,gentes,hojas,rayos
Aquel día mis ojos también llovieron
ya no eran color café
mis mejillas inundadas
a la tristeza le encanta lo amargo
fue un largo día,un día sin sabor
Gris,tonto,frío…
Muchacha intacta
rebelde por naturaleza
flor del campo
los rocíos le adornan el alma
las mariposas la prefieren
sus manos,suaves y pequeñas
su raíz es fuerte,como ella
muchacha linda,desobediente
pisa la tierra,estremece la noche
bello todo lo que sale de su boca
muchacha triste,atormentada
dulce,amarga,ácida
cuerpecito delicado,fino
deseo de pocos
muchacha linda
Mi discusión con un político (a propósito del matrimonio igualitario)

El día de hoy 17 de septiembre de 2014, representantes del partido Nueva Visión para mi País (NUVIPA) consignaron 67.800 firmas ante la Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela para “defender” el matrimonio entre personas de distinto sexo. Esto, en vista de que en el mes de enero fue presentado un Proyecto de Ley de Matrimonio Civil Igualitario la cual ha sido sometida a debate en la AN.

Estas acciones fueron publicadas en varias redes sociales por parte de los distintos miembros del partido político NUVIPA, entre ellos su Secretario Nacional, el señor Juan Mata, quien no dudó en publicar en su cuenta Twitter su manifestación de orgullo por tan “noble” iniciativa.

Al leer la noticia, lo primero que me causó ruido fue el hecho de que un partido político venezolano se diera a la tarea de recolectar firmas para evitar la aprobación del matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo, especialmente cuando nuestro país atraviesa por un momento de alta tensión social y económica. Con esto quiero decir, que me parece indignante que los dirigentes de este partido le den prioridad a decirle al venezolano “no tengas sexo con tal o cual persona, porque lo digo yo” en lugar de preocuparse por establecer estrategias y acciones políticas contundentes, en el marco de la más que lamentable situación actual de nuestro país.

Hoy en día Venezuela está inmersa en un mar de problemas sociales y económicos, que a su vez son consecuencias de un problema político bastante serio. Cada día asesinan a decenas de venezolanos por razones más y más absurdas, cada día en nuestro país los niños de la calle sobreviven entre miseria y sobras de comida, cada día la salubridad nacional se deteriora, cada día la inflación se incrementa y cada día nuestros salarios valen menos. De manera muy general, estos y otros problemas son las verdaderas cosas por las cuales un partido político debería organizarse, a fin de resolverlas.

Dese mi perspectiva heterosexual, no entiendo la posición de NUVIPA con los homosexuales. Les pregunto, el hecho de que un hombre ame a otro hombre, o de que una mujer ame a otra mujer, afecta realmente los problemas sociales del país? Acaso, evitar que un hombre tome de la mano a otro hombre evitará que hayan más muertos en Venezuela? O quizás es que quitando el derecho a una mujer de compartir su piel con otra mujer, el precio del dólar paralelo bajará y la inflación se controlará…

Como ven, la homosexualidad en la población no es una cosa que tenga relación alguna con los problemas reales de nuestra sociedad, y los partidos políticos están creados justamente para eso, para atacar los problemas de una sociedad. No están organizados para ordenar al ciudadano a quién deben de besar sus labios o con quien disfrutar de su sexualidad. Por ello, amigos de NUVIPA, qué rayos pretenden con estas firmas? Cómo les afecta que Pedro y Pepe se casen, o que María y Amanda se acaricien en la intimidad de su habitación? Yo no lo entiendo, por más que lo pienso no encuentro una razón por la cual una persona pueda verse afectada por la manera en que otra persona tiene relaciones sexuales. Es como decir que a mí me afectara que dos personas tuvieran sexo en una posición específica; eso no tiene sentido.

Es por ello que decidí escribirle al señor Juan Mata directamente a su cuenta personal de Twitter (saben, el famoso Secretario Nacional del partido) Esta fue nuestra pequeña “discusión”

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Lo primero que destaco de nuestro intercambio de opiniones, es que el señor Juan Mata no cuenta con argumentos sólidos para discutir el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo. 

Al observar sus primeras reacciones, lo que se nota es que el amigo Juan es un tipo sin criterio propio que basa sus acusaciones en la palabra de la Biblia (Libro respetable, pero que honestamente hablando, fue escrito hace 2mil años y simplemente no se adapta a la realidad actual de nuestra sociedad)

Vamos pues, a refutar punto por punto cada uno de sus argumentos. Ya que los 140 caracteres del twitter no me dejan expresarme con el detalle que estas líneas sí me permiten.

a)      “Las mayorías de las enfermedades venéreas se asocian con la promiscuidad, homosexualismo y prostitución”

-          Estás errado Juancito, las enfermedades venéreas efectivamente se asocian a la mala praxis del sexo seguro, cuando no se toman medidas de protección entonces se corre el riesgo de contraer enfermedades venéreas. Esto se presenta tanto en relaciones heterosexuales como relaciones homosexuales. La tendencia sexual no es un factor determinante para contraer una enfermedad, si usted tiene sexo con Roberto o con María, protéjase y no le pasará nada (Pero si no se cuida, aunque sea o no sea promiscuo, anótelo, se contagiará de algo eventualmente)

b)      Una vez refutada su tesis de enfermedades venéreas, Juan comenta lo siguiente: “La familia proviene de la heterosexualidad, en la homosexualidad se pierde el parentesco”

-          Acá Juan tiene razón, de las relaciones heterosexuales se crea el parentesco sanguíneo. Pero mi pregunta es la siguiente ¿Acaso el parentesco sanguíneo es garantía del bienestar familiar? ¿Acaso una familia que adopte y no tenga nexo sanguíneo con el niño, no puede ser una familia feliz y amorosa? Como es lógico, el parentesco sanguíneo jamás será un factor que determine directamente en el bienestar familiar, son muchísimos los casos de personas que estando unidas por lazos de sangre, jamás llegarán a ser una familia. Porque la familia, amigo Juan, se consolida en el amor, en la confianza, en el respeto, en los valores, y no en la sangre. Así que tu argumento, nuevamente queda destrozado por la lógica y la objetividad (Algo malo para ti porque se supone que eres un político inteligente, bueno, en teoría hay que serlo para llegar al puesto de Secretario Nacional de un partido)

c)       “Romanos 1 del 18 al 32”

-          A partir de aquí, Juan sólo intentó argumentar su posición contra la homosexualidad, en base a versículos bíblicos. Bien, para un domingo de misa estás hecho todo un crack, pero para debatir eres débil y muy poco inteligente. Te explico, vivimos en una sociedad en pleno siglo 21, y hemos avanzado en muchísimos aspectos en comparación a generaciones anteriores. No podemos establecer que somos dueños de la verdad absoluta, por un libro que escribieron Mateo, Marcos, Lucas o Juan hace más de 2000 años; puede que la palabra de estos hombres sean tu más ferviente creencia; pero es sólo eso, una CREENCIA. No es, ni jamás será una CERTEZA, se entiende la diferencia?

Estás pensando que tu creencia es la verdad absoluta, y eso es un acto de egoísmo impresionante. Porque piensas que tú y tu religión son el camino para la salvación de la humanidad. Y no entiendes que el camino de la salvación es el amor y el respeto por el prójimo, y como te dije a través de en twitter, NUVIPA no está respetando al prójimo, por el contrario, quiere meterse hasta las habitaciones de los venezolanos y decirnos con quién debemos acostarnos y cómo debemos hacerlo. Eso no es amor, eso no es respeto, eso es creerse superior a los demás, eso, se llama SOBERBIA (uno de los 7 pecados capitales que te debes saber de memoria)

Es lamentable que un dirigente político pretenda acabar un debate utilizando la palabra de un libro que se constituyó en el año 325, especialmente sabiendo que estamos terminando ya el año 2014… No me sorprende, pero me repatea muchísimo que en mi país aún existan personas con un grado de fanatismo tan alto y con una mentalidad tan pobre.

Los políticos son peligrosos, y los fanáticos religiosos también. Pero cuando se juntan esos dos perfiles, los resultados pueden ser catastróficos.

Hagamos un ejercicio sencillo. Imaginemos que el partido político NUVIPA ganase unas elecciones y fueran el centro del poder gubernamental de Venezuela. Se imaginan hasta dónde intentarían llegar estos dirigentes? Se imaginan la cantidad de atrocidades y locuras que podrían realizar tomando como base sus CREENCIAS religiosas, y no sus CERTEZAS humanitarias? Piénsenlo, y evitemos darle continuidad a este tipo de partidos políticos, porque Venezuela necesita otras cosas.

Cierro con esto, menos politiquería, menos fanatismo y más objetividad. Sólo así venceremos…

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