20 4 / 2014
when I was in elementary school, my class did this weird ice breaker where we stuck a sticky note to another person’s back and wrote, on that sticky note, what fictional character we thought that person was. I got ‘albus dumbledore.’ this was before I’d read the harry potter books, which happened in like sixth grade, so all I knew of dumbledore was that people said he was this eccentric genius gandalf-like character.
it wasn’t until I read the books myself that I realized how spectacularly insulting this was, both to me and to gandalf. what? you don’t think so? you think dumbledore’s awesome?
let me explain to you a thing.
firstly, dumbledore supposedly knows everything. but somehow he missed the fact that quirrel had voldemort’s face growing out of the back of his head. he hired lupin, which should have been a good thing, but then his trust of snape turned it into a terrible thing that ended with lupin’s humiliation and inability to keep teaching at hogwarts, likely furthering racist hiring policies against him.
speaking of snape, he trusts snape. there’s never any clear given reason for him to do so, so based on jk rowling’s statement of dumbledore’s sexual orientation, I assume dumbledore was crushing on snape and that’s where the trust derived from. ‘cause it certainly didn’t come from any of snape’s actions (such as psychologically torturing, pointlessly embarrassing, and all around bullying students).
and that brings us to dumbledore and sirius. sirius, who was james’s best friend since forever, who james literally trusted with his life and the lives of his wife and child. sirius, who certainly had faults, but had a childhood as bad as snape’s (his parents hated him, he spent as much time as possible with james and james’s family, who he may or have may not met on the hogwarts train) and was always, always anti-pureblood supremacy and anti-voldemort. and still, when it appeared sirius killed wormtail and a bunch of civilians, dumbledore just took sirius’s guilt in stride.
???? this coming from the man who forgave snape?
then later, in hp and the chamber of secrets, it’s just one wtf after another. what safety measures does dumbledore put in place to combat the fact that an unknown monster is perusing his halls like a it’s a menu? none. nothing. zippo. life goes on like normal. did they assume it was some sort of student prank? if so, why wasn’t their an investigation to find the culprit?
and if they did suspect, as a truly all-knowing dumbledore must have, that the chamber had been opening, why didn’t they take steps to protect the students? dumbeldore knew the last time the chamber had been opened had been by riddle. surely, there must have been some evidence about what the monster was from back then that could be useful. and even if there wasn’t, it was obvious—by the message, by the history—that the monster was targeting muggle-borns and half-bloods. and based on myrtle and the fact that the monster was most likely serpentine in origin (it is slytherin’s schtick), surely someone as smart as dumbledore could have worked out that the monster was a basilisk? and then give the at-risk children special glasses or face-masks which would serve as a two-way mirror—the students can see out, but the basilisk can’t see in.
but no, it was all, ‘there’s a monster attacking the students. we’ll just wait ‘till we can wake up colin creevy and just hope for the best’
and then the next year, he hires mad eye moody, he supposedly knows, I thought? yet he doesn’t notice, when mad eye shows up, that mad eye ISN’T actually mad eye. and when harry’s name comes up as a champion, there’s never any investigation to find out how it happened. none. dumbledore just stands up for the fact that harry, a kid, is now in the games.
and yes, it’s all well and good that he believes—or at least pretends to believe—harry didn’t put his own name in, but he doesn’t ACT on this. he doesn’t then say, well since it wasn’t harry’s choice, he shouldn’t have to preform in this voluntary, dangerous activity. and he doesn’t try and find out who put harry’s name in, even the obvious answer would be voldemort or one of his minions, hoping to get harry killed.
and then there’s the cup at the end of the maze, which everyone, including dumbledore, somehow fail to recognize as a horcrux. and in book five, he hires umbridge, who’s the worst hire by far.
and then we get to book six, where things really go to hell. sometime over the summer, dumbledore finds one of the horcruxes: the ring. and then he does something amazingly stupid. he puts it on. something which any idiot would know was a bad move.
why he did it is not entirely clear. it seems he wanted to see people who had died using the resurrection stone, but who? his sister? he resented her. grindelwald? presumably he stopped crushing on him when grindelwald went all dark side. so the only real explanation here is greed: his desire to possess the hallows overrode everything else.
for anyone who wants to try and make excuses for that, I’ll remind you the one ring from lord of the rings was way more psychologically powerful, and still gandalf thought better than to even pick it up, and putting it on was out of the question. so yeah, dumbledore’s little “let’s put it on” thing really undermines his supposed symbol-of-goodness-and-redemption crap.
and naturally, putting the ring on leads directly to his death. he gets some sort of sickness, whose effects can be delayed with snape’s potions, but will eventually kill him. as he is the only one voldemort is scared of, his death will basically end the resistance because it will be a huge psychological blow to the good guys, and will increase voldemort’s determination to win and belief that he can.
but instead of leaving mcgonagall in charge of hogwarts and trying to fine and disable the other horcruxes while he can, dumbledore tries to figure out their location from hogwarts. it’s not exactly clear how he intends to find them, but based on how the trio eventually finds them (voldemort’s obsession with artifacts of the founder’s), it’s surprising dumbledore—with his supposed intelligence—didn’t realize what they were, especially in the case of Ravenclaw’s diadem, which seems to be an old Ravenclaw house legend. but the only one he manages to find is the fake one way out in the middle of nowhere.
and so what does he do about defeating voldemort? he manipulates harry into finding the horcruxes by using the fact that harry admires him and sees him as a father figure. he essentially removes harry’s ability to choose (though harry is pretty reckless, so he’d probably go after it anyway) by turning the horcrux search into a last-request and thus guilt-tripping harry, and his friends by proxy, into doing what he wants them to.
the only thing he really does to help them at this point is leave them some stuff in his will: the sword, the tales of the beetle and the bard, the snitch, and the deluminator.
the deluminator proves useful, mostly in leading ron back to the group—more proof of how dumbledore knew his manipulation would extend to ron and hermione.
he left the sword because it could destroy horcruxes—only he apparently underestimated the ministry (I don’t know how) and didn’t realize they might not actually give harry the sword.
and then there’s the tales of the beetle and the bard. the only important part in this is the story of the three brothers, but dumbledore doesn’t do anything to point that fact out. there’s no dog-ear on the page, the title isn’t highlighted or starred, or anything. supposedly this is because dumbledore didn’t want the trio to get obsessed with finding the hallows. and for a while it seems this fear is reasonable, because harry does want to find the hallows. but is this out of his own selfish desire, his connection to voldemort’s desire, or simply because he believes dumbledore wanted him to find the hallows?
what dumbledore should of done was tell them about the elder wand, voldemort’s obsession with it, and dumbledore’s possession of it. the trio would likely have figured out who the wand passed to, and it would have been fine.
there’s really only two points where it’s relevant, anyway. one is when voldemort puts to the cruciatus curse on harry’s “dead” body and it doesn’t work, because the wand won’t do that curse on it’s own master. the second is when voldemort tries to kill harry, and the spell backfired.
(it’s not quite clear why the wand wouldn’t hurt it’s owner. presumably, sometime over the course of its history, some of the wizards had stolen the wand and used it to kill it’s owner, thus gaining it. and if they did, and it failed, voldemort would have known better. and if they never did, well, that would be a little weird)
in any case, the only hallow that it mattered the trio learned of was the elder wand. and dumbledore screwed that up.
so I hope that convinces you of dumbledore’s suckitude, because I’m tired of seeing how ‘great’ dumbledore is and how he’s an icon of the whole ‘wise mentor’ archetype.
18 4 / 2014
What isn’t cultural appropration:
• Trying/eating/making a culture’s food
• Listening to that culture’s music
• Watching that culture’s movies
• Reading that culture’s books
• Appreciating that culture’s art
• Wearing that culture’s clothing IF in a setting where that culture is prevalent and IF people are okay with it and/or it is necessary to fit in and not stand out weirdly (i.e. If you visit Pakistan, you can wear a shalwar kameez so you don’t stand out as an American tourist. Or if you visit a specific temple or religious setting, you may need to/want to adhere to specific dress forms. Or if you’re invited to a wedding and they allow/invite you to wear their cultural dress to participate in the festivities).
• Using that culture’s dance/physical traditions in specific settings (i.e. taking belly-dancing classes, or going to an Indian wedding and trying to dance with them).
What is cultural appropriation:
• Wearing specific items of clothing that may (and probably do) have deeper meaning as a costume. Like on Halloween.
• Wearing specific items of clothing to be trendy or fashionable.
• Trying to imitate their natural beauty standards and possible makeup/markings (i.e dreadlocks and bindis and mehndi/henna).
• Taking their rituals, old-as-hell traditions, and dances and turning them into cheap, tacky everyday garbage for you to have “fun” with (i.e. smoking sheesha. Y’all turned it into this janky nonsense that looks so trashy and stupid).
• Taking spiritual/religious ideas and traditions and subscribing to them to be trendy or unique
• Trying to act like you’re an expert in their food, music, or art, and that you can do it BETTER than them
• Basically trying to WEAR that culture’s skin, clothing, & beauty traditions as a costume/trend and turn old traditions into cheap garbage
And WHY is this wrong? Because, in our society, white people or non-POC can get away with wearing another culture’s clothes and identities and it will be “cute”, “indie”, “bohemian”, “trendy”, and “exotic.” BUT when a POC who actually belongs to that culture wears their own culture’s clothing, styles of beauty, or does things that are specific to their culture, they’re looked down upon, made fun of, sneered at, told to “Go home, get out of this country, we don’t do that here,” and laughed at. The few times I wore a shalwar kameez in public—and I’m Pakistani—people gave me weird looks, like I had a disease. And yet if a white person (or, heck, even a different POC, because POC don’t have the right to appropriate other cultures either) wears a shalwar kameez, people will call her exotic and cute. Seriously? Do you see a problem? I do. Want some proof? When Selena Gomez and Katy Perry use other cultures as costumes in their music videos and stuff, they were thought to be creative and fun. But when an Indian American woman with brown skin won Miss America, there was a huge racist backlash and people said, “We don’t look like that here, we don’t need a curry muncher here, get out of this country.” So I guess Indian culture is only okay if Selena Gomez is stealing it, right? But not if an actual Indian woman is displaying it? Another example: white people with dreadlocks are seen as “soft grunge” and “hippie”, but black people with dreadlocks are looked down upon and seen as dirty and lazy for having them, even though they know how to take care of their dreadlocks way better.
Respect the fact that we are different. You don’t need to be culturally BLIND because that is just as ignorant. Trying to ignore cultures means you’re trying to erase peoples’ identities. You can appreciate/like/admire other cultures without trying to steal them, use them, cheapen them, and wear them as costumes. You weren’t born into it, so know your limits. And YES. There will ALWAYS be those people who say, “But my Chinese friends don’t care if ____!” and “I’m Mexican and I don’t care if people ____,” but they do not speak for all people of that culture and just because THEY don’t mind doesn’t mean other people don’t. Plenty of POC get harassed/taunted/degraded/fetishized over their own cultures WHILE people not of that culture are called “free-spirited”, “bohemian”, “quirky” and “trendy” for imitating the SAME culture—so yes, the people who oppose cultural appropriation do it based on actual microaggressions and bigotry they may have faced and it is NOT your job to try and convince then that they don’t have a right to their own culture or that the oppression against them should mean nothing.
Think about this. There are some women okay with sexism. Some POC okay with racist jokes. Some Jewish people don’t care about anti-Semitic jokes. And your friend might be one of these people. But suddenly that makes it okay for you to behave foolishly, immaturely, and ignorantly?
Wise up. It’s 2014. There is no excuse to be ignorant.
And if you ever need to explain to someone what cultural appropriation is, show them this post (credit me if you post it elsewhere). It’s a good starter and I think it encompasses the basics of what cultural appropriation is and isn’t.
this is a pretty good guide, except for the dreadlocks part. I can see how the double-standard is extremely frustrating, but saying dreadlocks are solely african isn’t true. dreadlocks (though not necessarily with that particular name) are found historically all over the world. in addition to being prevalent in the east, they were common among ancient celts, germanic tribes, and vikings, as well as jews. I’ve seen white jews get bashed for having dreads, as though it’s cultural appropriation, when it’s not. speaking as a jew, it’s insulting.
the dreadlocks issue alwayslabellavita’s talking about seems to be more about racism and double-standards than cultural appropriation.
18 4 / 2014
- 1: We're not going to make it federally mandatory for people to get paid a wage they can actually live off of
- 1: If people want to make a living, they'll just have to work 16+ hours a day
- 1: And if their kids end up disenfranchised because of a lack of parental involvement, well that's not our problem
- 1: In fact, what is our problem is creating a system that will funnel these disenfranchised youth into our prison system so they can work for corporations (that promise us money) for damn near free
- 1: If they don't want to fall victim to this system, then they can seek higher education
- 1: Except such an education will be inaccessible to most disenfranchised people and skewed in favor of the financially stable and white people
- 1: And we're not going to make intervention programs like sex education and conflict resolution federally mandatory, because that's the parent's job
- 1: The parent who is working 16 hours a day
18 4 / 2014
let’s be honest: the doctor has no goddamn idea how old he is. three said he was thousands of years old, nine said he was nine hundred years old, eleven said he was two thousand years old…he has no clue he just makes shit up