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mushroomsugar asked: I think "____ game strong" is AAVE, so don't appropriate it




Oh it is? Okay apologies I’ll go edit them

Here’s the problem with this. AAVE is not this completely separate dialect and culture that does not overlap at all with Standard* American English and mainstream American culture. Words, phrases, and styles developed by black American speakers filter and diffuse into the mainstream dialect. If white people weren’t allowed to use AAVE, we’d also have to get rid of words like “cool” and “rock’n’roll”. Do some white people use AAVE to mock and insult black people? Of course, and they’re racist scumfucks and need to be called out when they do it. But to genuinely adopt phrases used by black speakers because you find them useful and enjoyable in your speaking, is not racist or “appropriation.” And furthermore, for the vast majority of words and phrases, this happened naturally, without anyone consciously thinking to themselves “this is AAVE”. They just learned a new word or phrase, found it useful or cool, and started using it. When “hella” spread around the American dialect, very few people consciously thought “Bay Area young people invented this”, They just heard it and started using it, because that’s how language evolves.

Alright here’s the deal. Using bits and pieces of AAVE isn’t cultural appropriation. It just isn’t. First of all, AAVE speakers regularly come into contact with non-AAVE speakers and AAVE leaks its way into mainstream English use. To imply that they don’t is ridiculous. That’s the first problem here.

The second problem here is that “appropriation” is used entirely wrongly and entirely too often on this site. Cultural appropriation should only be used to refer to when one group (usually white people) CLAIMS the creation of another group as its own. That’s it. If it doesn’t fit that definition, it isn’t appropriation. And here’s why!

The third problem, and the reason people need to stop fucking using “appropriation” as a term so loosely on this site is because it allows us to ignore instances of racism by calling them something else- a more technical, academic seeming term. So

  • If you use another culture’s speaking pattern as a joke, that isn’t cultural appropriation. That’s being a racist. You’re literally making a joke about how other people talk. That’s racism. Not appropriation. RACISM. We have a word for that already.
  • If you use another culture’s sacred symbology or something like that, it isn’t appropriation. It’s being clueless at best and thoughtless/insensitive at worst. It isn’t appropriation. The basic problem there is not theft of another culture’s items: the basic problem is not participating in a culture on that culture’s terms.
  • If you use another culture as a prop or a joke, that isn’t appropriation. It’s racism. You’re pointing at a group and laughing. That’s just racism. Let’s not call it something else. Miley Cyrus isn’t appropriating black culture. She’s making fun of it. That’s racism. Easy.
  • If you use another culture’s symbology inaccurately, again that isn’t appropriation. It’s being thoughtless and inconsiderate but it isn’t appropriation.
  • If it isn’t one group claiming it created something it isn’t, then it isn’t appropriation.

There are several problems with insisting that white people participating in AAVE even in small portions is appropriation. 1- it lets white people off the hook for instances of actual racism by calling it something else, something which seems less intentional than it really is. 2- it assumes that white people already have a frame of reference for everything and should never have to refer to other cultures for ideas/concepts. That second idea is fucked up because:

  1. It assumes that white/mainstream/Western culture understands everything already. That’s literally just colonialism wrapped up in a nice liberal package people can use to pat themselves on the back.
  2. It ignores the fact that white culture (using that loosely, but I’m sure most people understand what I mean by this) actually doesn’t have a way to express everything. For example, “—— game strong” says more than just “you —— look[s] good.” There is no approximation in standard English. Standard English is not a perfect, all-encompassing language.

TLDR: use of AAVE in bits and pieces is not appropriation, and outside of tumblr I know very few black people who actually consider it to be appropriation. If you use it poorly, you’re just misinformed and will probably be laughed at. If you mock it, you’re just a racist. Stop calling every single instance of two cultures interacting “appropriation” because it allows us to ignore the fact that many times when people on here use it, we are referring to instances of racism and letting the racism itself go unaddressed by not calling it what it is. I only know a few black people ON tumblr who consider use of AAVE phrases to be appropriative or racist, and quite frankly I think that view 1- is simplistic and makes no sense and 2- would be laughed off by most black people who hadn’t been steeped in that narrative.

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We never say that all men deserve to feel beautiful. We never say that each man is beautiful in his own way. We don’t have huge campaigns aimed at young boys trying to convince them that they’re attractive, probably because we very rarely correlate a man’s worth with his appearance. The problem is that a woman’s value in this world is still very much attached to her appearance, and telling her that she should or deserves to feel beautiful does more to promote that than negate it. Telling women that they “deserve” to feel pretty plays right in to the idea that prettiness should be important to them. And having books and movies aimed at young women where every female protagonist turns out to be beautiful (whereas many of the antagonists are described in much less flattering terms) reinforces the message that beauty has some kind of morality attached to it, and that all heroines are somehow pretty.
You Don’t Have To Be Pretty – On YA Fiction And Beauty As A Priority | The Belle Jar (via brutereason)

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