Subreddit mocks cultural gatekeepers


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/27/subreddit-mocks-cultural-gatek.html


#2


#3

One I heard the other day, white people can’t have dreadlocks because it’s co-opting black culture. Except white people have probably worn dreadlocks for thousands of years… So yeah, I support mocking this trend.


#4

The difference between appropriation-claims and gatekeeping is often power. That’s not to say there aren’t gray areas or trade-offs or an ambiguous spectra of accommodation and appreciation. Just that power is a useful razor for figuring out who, in any given situation, is getting fucked.


#5

no he’;s rite neanderthals were actually really into longboarding and it’s about damn time black people started respecting that


#6

This is my concern/issue. Mocking gatekeeping sort of undermines appropriation claims, however i often find that the majority of accusations of appropriation are idiotic. But that’s not to say there aren’t valid examples of it.

I’d say that most gatekeeping and appropriation claims are bullshit and people need to lighten up. Ideas are free and are meant to be shared, keeping things specific to certain races or cultures does more harm than good. However if one decides to take inspiration of an idea it’s often best to be mindful of the tacit cultural implications it has attached to it.


#7

Has anyone ever studied if appropriation is the first step to cultural acceptance? Do people from disparate cultures that love the ‘other’ so much they incorporate that into their own - help bring the two together at some level for the rest of the culture that looks at ‘other’ as odd or weird.

I always have a very large gut feeling that this stuff is way more complex than we are giving it credit for - I wonder if fighting to keep cultural identifiers unique and special misses the mark.


#8

They are fundamentally idiotic, for the most part. Pretty much throughout all of recorded human history, any time two cultures have come in contact, there has been an exchange. Not always on equal terms, but there’s no way to prevent cultural osmosis. Unless you want to keep your culture completely isolated, like certain religious communities. And even that only slows the process.


#9

ah, what the hell.


#10

Personal views about appropriation aside; it’s more likely because there’s not enough coil in most Caucasian follicles to “lock” properly.

Coiling of the strands is essential for an actual lock to form, as opposed to merely being matted together with dirt, etc.


#11

Oh so you think you’re an expert about Gatekeeping?

Whips out Masters Degree in Gatekeeping Science diploma.


#12

I totally agree. I understand the desire for certain groups that want to keep what makes them unique mostly among themselves, but it’s not only isolationist but it’s unsustainable and can potentially lead to the loss of knowledge and culture if that group dwindles in numbers or if that knowledge is never passed on to the next generation.


#13

Gatekeeping, not of the fandom but of criticism of the fandom wrapped in sexism wrapped in creepy.


#14

I rather regret that I never got around to watching the rest of that series. Good fun.


#15

That’s all true, of course, but let’s be real white people shouldn’t have dreadlocks because white-people dreads look TERRIBLE.


#16

I disagree, i’ve met quite a few people whose dreads definitely fit them very well. But at the end of the day even if it looks shit who am i to judge?


#17

*lolz

I wasn’t gonna go there…

TBH, the only White person that I’ve ever seen with decent looking locks is a drag queen from NYC named Thorgy Thor.
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#18

Looks pretty nice on him/her :slight_smile:

I went to an artsy college in Nevada and i currently live in Austin, so i’ve seen a few dreads and generally i think they fit the people that rock them. Even if they didn’t i don’t have the courage to wear crazy hair so more power to those that do.


#19

Dreadlocks are sort of a weird area. Its probably humanity’s oldest hair style. And if you look at both pre-history and history its well attested throughout most of the world. With yes some evidence of it being common in Europe till at least the Roman period. Particularly in Celtic areas.

But their current popularity, and cultural currency (at least in the Us and British Isles) is almost entirely down to their rise in the US Black community, and Jamaican/Rastafarian/Caribbean culture during the 60’s and 70’s. Particularly with in the Pan African movement. So there certainly is an element of cultural appropriation involved. Though there is a concurrent but much smaller trend of adopting them as a sort of pan-celtic identifier in the British Isles and other parts of Europe. I know a Welsh guy who spent 30 years with some intense ass dreads who started from that point of view. Punk rocker says “fuck the english” with purportedly celtic hair.

You’ll also hear that white people can’t have dreads (or nice dreads) because their hair texture wont allow it. And while there are no end of shitty white dude dreads in the world. I’m not sure that’s really true either. 1st there are plenty of white folks with hair textures closer to typical black hair than stereotypical white hair. And many of my friends in that situation deliberately look to black folks on how to manage their head as a practical concern (because their white friends and family are clueless).

But I think the major thing is that since most of the common, modern, well developed methods for making and maintaining dreads were developed by and for black folks. Well those methods don’t work particularly well on many white people’s hair (even as they work perfectly fine for many other white, Asian, south Asian and so on people). Which does underline the level of appropriation a bit. If dreadlocks are just as traditional for whites, why are we looking towards blacks to figure out how to make them?

Like I said I think that’s more to do with method than it is with actual hair texture. I’ve known several (not many) people with hair identical to my magazine ready, default white people hair with perfectly fine dreadlocks. And the wearing of dreadlocks (and plaits, essentially wide flat dreadlocks, and also a hair disease) is well attested in European history. Plenty of the … physical remains would seem to be, again, built out of the same sort of hair thats not supposed to be suitable for dreadlocks.

Though I’d definitely like to point out that the appearance of dreadlocks, especially in Celtic countries, seems to be often exaggerated. Particularly when it comes to the later Celts of the British isles. There’s obviously preserved bodies. And there are written references. But there’s very little to indicate locks were as pervasive as some people make it out. The big one seems to be Julius Caesar referring to Celts as having “hair like snakes”. But he was very specifically referring to one particular group of Gauls. And he, and other Roman writers making similar comments never actually explained what they meant. And IIRC the bodies we’ve found indicate that top knots/man buns, and stiffing or bleaching the hair with lime or alkaline clay was much more common.

I think there’s also an element of expectation involved. What we expect out of dreadlocks is heavily defined by the way they look on blacks, and the ways the black community wears them. So if your hair isn’t close enough to that, well it looks subtly wrong. Which again underlines the importance of black folks to dreadlocks.

Its often pretty hard to draw the line between cultural exchange and appropriation. But I think a lot of the time it comes down to that point where you’re denying another culture’s contribution (or origination) for something. So as much as its often (unfortunately not always Storm Front gets into some weird things) defensive “But white people have been dreading for thousands of years! Celts! Caesar!” is about that point for me. As far as current US culture and history go. Dreadlocks are Black. Doesn’t mean white people can’t or shouldn’t wear them. It just means they shouldn’t go out of their way to be douches about it.


#20

I’ve lived on the UC Berkeley campus when I was a grad student; so trust that I’ve seen more than my fair share of White and Asian kids trying to rock locks.

It rarely works out well, from my perspective; like I said above, follicles with the capacity to coil are essential for locking, and certain hair types just don’t cut it… bad pun intended.

I agree; I’m pretty sure that she had thick naturally curly hair to begin with, and that’s why her locks work so well for her.