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exoticize_my_fist: (exoticize my fist)

Exoticize My Fist Community

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Created on 2009-06-15 03:09:23 (#406667), last updated 2009-07-19 (418 weeks ago)

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Name:exoticize my fist
Membership:Moderated
Posting Access:All Members, Moderated
The term "exoticize my fist" was originally coined by activist/ theorist/punk rocker Mimi Nguyen.

This community is a place for people of color, indigenous peoples, people who belong to a popularly appropriated ethnic background and/or group and their allies to critically examine the culture of objectification, cultural appropriation and exotification.

Do strangers stop you to ask you where you are from, "what" you are or if they can touch your hair? Do they adopt bits and pieces of your culture which they find appealing while simultaneously ignoring or discarding others? Are you tired of people dressing up as your ancestors for Halloween? Ever been told that you can't be Asian/Native American/Celtic/Gypsy/African American because you don't "dress like one"?

The process of exotification is another kind of cultural cannibalism... outside (and sometimes in escape) of the "western nightmare". There often is this idea that one can pick and choose their favorite parts of a culture and celebrate or participate within that, and yet have the privilege to ignore and not carry the weight of the struggles and oppression of that same culture. When people appropriate Japanese culture (anime, jpop, kanji tattoos, etc.), are they also taking on the burden of internment, racist immigrant policies, the impact of US imperialism, etc? Likely not. This fetishization, exotification, and appropriation of cultures not their own is also dangerous in that they often gain a sense of ownership or accumulate so much knowledge that they see themselves as some sort of ‘cultural authority’. By thus appropriating the voice of the people, they not only present a very distorted view of the culture but also serve to skew the actual issues of the culture.

A common sort of cultural appropriation is the adoption of the iconography of another culture. Obvious examples include tattoos of Hindu gods, Polynesian tribal iconography, Chinese characters, or Celtic bands worn by people who have no interest in, or understanding of, their original cultural significance. When these artifacts are regarded as objects that merely "look cool", or when they are mass produced cheaply as consumer kitsch, people who venerate and wish to preserve their indigenous cultural traditions may be offended. In Australia, Aboriginal artists have discussed an 'authenticity brand' to ensure consumers are aware of artworks claiming false Aboriginal significance. The movement for such a measure has gained momentum after the 1999 conviction of John O'Loughlin for fraud, for the sale of works described as Aboriginal but painted by non-indigenous artists. Another prominent example of cultural appropriation is the use of real or imaginary elements of Native American culture by North American summer camps, by organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, or by New age spiritual leaders (see Plastic shamans). Many summer camps, and many age-segregated groups of campers within summer camps, are named after real Native American tribes (Mohawk, Seminole, etc.); tipis are common at summer camps (even at an enormous distance from the Great Plains); and rituals often evoke Native American culture, using phrases like "the Great Spirit", for example. The Boy Scout honor society is called the Order of the Arrow. A bindi dot when worn as a decorative item by a non-Hindu woman could be considered cultural appropriation, along with the use of henna in mehndi as a decoration outside traditional ceremonies. The Romany people (better known as 'Gypsies') have long been the fodder of this sort of appropriation, misrepresentation, and commercialization. This romanticizing of the Romany depicts them as exotic, overtly sexual, clairvoyant, and, at the same time, illicit and immoral. It turns them into objects and ostracizes them even further outside the social mainstream.

This is a place to rage, regroup, build community, and empower ourselves and each other.

These issues and concerns are the focus of this community. All are welcome to participate, but please keep in mind that this is, first and foremost, a cultural and ethnic safe space. This is not Cost Plus World Market where you can try to shop for culture. Be respectful or get out.

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