Personal blog. I post about black and queer issues, Star Trek, and other bits of nerd fandoms.
BuzzFeed, which I loathe now, has posted an “article” (I use the term loosely with that publication; it’s usually a listicle) titled 23 Words Teenagers Love To Use And What They Really Mean. Most of the words included are Black colloquialisms, so naturally this disgusting appropriation gets stripped of race, cultural context (i.e. some words are specifically from the Black LGBTQIA community and particularly gay Black men, others are from Black women, and others are just among Black people in general), and of history, and then infantilized by the ageism that infers that if it is of “teens” then it must be silly and immature. This is standard White paternalism towards Black behavior, language and culture.
Of course many of the photographs/GIFs in the post are of White people; why? And, just as “women” alludes to “White women” in media, since Black teens are usually ignored (unless stereotyped or extrajudicially killed, especially since when they do well and are celebrated, people question their abilities/intellect and want the celebration silenced; ahem…Kwasi Enin), even the word “teens” is supposed to evoke thoughts of Whiteness. Whites appropriate African American Vernacular English while insulting its creators for using it. Whites decontextualize Black colloquialisms and pretend that White consumption is creation or “discovery.” (To be clear, not all Black people necessarily speak AAVE; this is particular to Black Americans. Not all Black people globally are “African Americans.”)
I posted a comment there but BuzzFeed usually deletes my comments so below is what I posted, in case it is not on the article itself:
These are not “teen” words. This is gross cultural appropriation of African American Vernacular English and Black colloquialisms. This is standard White protocol in the cycle of cultural appropriation. It is infantilization and paternalism since many Black adults use these words. This is simply White privilege in action and standard BuzzFeed vampirism of Black users in social media, primarily Twitter. This is about as IGNORANT as that magazine that pretended that a Kardashian had “epic” corn rows. This cyclical erasure of Black culture into small digestible consumable bites for Whites’ parasitic palette is repulsive.
In Eating The Other, an essay in bell hooks’ book Black Looks: Race and Representation, she alluded to this consumption via decontextualization, where Black people are situated as “the Other” to exist solely for White consumption:
The commodification of difference promotes paradigms of consumption wherein whatever difference the Other inhabits is eradicated via exchange by a consumer cannibalism that not only displaces the Other but denies the significance of that Other’s history through a process of decontextualization.
Creation of fresh, unique thing by Black folks → Mockery of thing by White mainstream → Limited appreciation by select White mainstream → Open (but still limited) appreciation of said thing by White mainstream → Open acclaim of White practitioners of said thing → Open appreciation of said thing by Blacks and cultural acknowledgment of said thing’s creative roots → Lauded “universality” of said thing.
Clearly BuzzFeed—and regularly other media outlets and White writers as well—is at the stage where they seek to strip context to make Black language “universal” (and presumption of universality through decontextualization and Whiteness is a part of White supremacy) while some of their readers are still at the stage of mockery if they know the origins are Black or limited appreciation if they don’t know the origins. In general, the media sets the tone of culture more than any one person who comments on their blog or any blog as media is not arbitrary, random, neutral nor apolitical. The constant pilfering of Black culture and ideas in social media, especially under the White supremacist and capitalistic perspective that if something stated or created by a Black person is publicly visible, the mainstream media—which doesn’t just facilitate White supremacy but IS White supremacy—has the right to consumption, removal of context, content trolling and plagiarism, has become a behavior so common and pathetic that even as Black people are participating in a hashtag on any given day, we already expect the content to be exploited and stripped of context within minutes or hours, not days.
While many Whites—who are adamant about viewing every action facilitated by White privilege as either “not racist” or an “isolated event”—will view this BuzzFeed post as “not a big deal,” the larger picture of how every facet of Blackness becomes a consumable good as Black people ourselves are dehumanized is most definitely systemic and institutional, not isolated. The willful ignorance involved in ignoring structural power and history means they regularly make pathetic arguments such as wearing jeans or speaking Standard American English is us “appropriating” Whites. And certainly there are some Black people who confuse cultural appropriation for “flattery” by unawareness or willfully ignoring how structural power works and how Black people are punished for expressing our own culture that Whites consume (and at times even view their consumption as activism; uh nope) and are appropriative of.
Whether it is our appearance/style, our music, our dances, our hair or our actual bodies and lives, White consumption is a bottomless pit for which no amount of devouring will satiate it. Worse, as Whites are applauded and even paid for this theft and consumption, Black people are ridiculed, not hired and even killed for expressing and celebration of our own culture. All BuzzFeed did was engage in the least amount of creativity and the most amount of content trolling and consumption as possible. Sadly, this is the new normal for media in the social media age using the old normal of the consumption, decontextualization and exploitation of Black culture.
I also feel like white people go out of their way to avoid black culture and pretend to not be aware of black culture “because they’re too high class to know about what black people do”, and also deliberately misinterpret aave in order to perform that superiority
I’ve been rather heads-down at work as of late, so I’ll admit to not being quite abreast of discussions in the fandom as I sometimes am (even though, at the best of times, I generally only get wind of such things well after they’ve occurred).
So after the excited burbling following the trailer release and subsequent announcements, it was a bit of a surprise to hear of concerns regarding Inquisition’s romance system. I didn’t think we’d actually broached the topic yet, but some comments were made in a recent interview that have been subject to speculation and some alarm. Naturally it’s not something everyone’s interested in for Inquisition, but some people are very interested and also invested in what we’re going to do.
I don’t normally do this, but since I answered a couple of questions on the BioWare forums on the subject—and have had it pointed out to me numerous times that the Tumblr crowd is not always privy to the goings-on of our forums—I’ll repost my answers here. Until we can discuss the matter at length (which will eventually come, even if it feels like it will be never be soon enough), it’s really the most I can do. If you have other questions, feel free to message me…just understand that my blog is not really intended as an “Inquisition information center”, and the questions I can answer regarding things which haven’t yet been revealed is very limited.
I hope it helps, and look forward to the whirlwind of information and speculation (as well as excitement, on our part as well as yours) to come over the next, oh, six months or so.
Oh I do hope that Gabe Jones will be confirmed as Trip’s grandfather. Captain America TFA was just on tv, and I noticed a cute parallel:
Trip and Gabe are both these big tough soldier types who shock the people around them by being experts in something other than fighting; science/medical/literary knowledge with Trip, languages with Gabe. They’re both like, what? I can’t know this stuff too??
Ugh. Too perfect.
It was indeed confirmed in the latest SHIELD episode.