Happy Monday, writers!
We might no longer be doing the Doing Diversity in Writing podcast, but that doesn’t make the episodes we produced any less relevant. If you haven’t listened to the three seasons we put out yet, here’s your chance.
The full show notes and list of resources mentioned in the episode I’m sharing today can be found below.
In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—talk about the fear of cultural appropriation.
More specifically, we talk about:
- How we define cultural appropriation
- The difference between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange
- Assassin’s Creed III vs. Disney’s Pocahontas, and why Assassin’s Creed III does it better than Pocahontas did
- The “So sorry about colonialism” narrative
- Marvel’s Black Panther, and why the museum scene made Mariëlle say “Fuck yes!” aloud in the theater
Some quotes from this week’s episode:
“These days, cultural appropriation is understood to focus on those moments, those points of interaction and usage, where certain customs, practices, ideas, and so on, are being employed by usually a more dominant culture without any of the positives. There is no positive exchange going on that somehow benefits those whose culture is being used by that other, often more dominant, culture.”
“I can understand why some acknowledgement might feel like worth having, especially when there’s been almost none, but that doesn’t take away the fact that the bigger, disturbing picture remains solidly rooted within our dominant culture and history. And Pocahontas the Disney film did only acknowledge a fraction of it, while erasing the absolute tragedy and evil enacted on Pocahontas herself in real history.”
And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:
- Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward’s Writing the Other: https://writingtheother.com/the-book/
- “Appropriate cultural appropriation” by Nisi Shawl: https://writingtheother.com/appropriate-cultural-appropriation/
- “Reservations about films: Disney’s Pocahontas”: https://lakotachildren.org/2015/09/reservations-about-films-disneys-pocahontas/
- “Disney updates content warning for racism in classic films”: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54566087
You can find this week’s bonus material, our Cultural Appropriation Checklist, in our Diversity in Writing Toolkit, which you can download here.