In response to optimiss’s recent controversy concerning the modification of photos of chop_sockey to resemble other ethnicities:
In first grade, I played Nefertiti in a school play. I took on traditional dress (not the godforsaken blackface, but I’m undeniably white if that makes any difference), and did the thing. The part was mine, despite the availability of other suitable black girls (and they are called as such because none of them were African immigrants), because my teacher decided it so.
In such a context, and in the vein of the arguments presented, this very act is one of uncondeable racism, but the surprise here is the authority to place me in such a position. It was approved, even encouraged, by a black faculty and administration! And it was an intercity school, but one for children of ability—the majority of whom were black and in a city instituting a policy of desegregation until the 21st century. Never did my parents or I consider it “reverse descrimination”, the undermining of my ancestral background of German and Croatian immigrants, because it didn’t oppress me nor did it misalign with my identity. As far as we were concerned, it served to teach me the diversity of culture, even one so remote from that of my closest friends, from our modern existence and at such minimal of a level.
It is, of course, anyone’s prerogative to voice an opinion, but in this case, and in Kat’s, it is uninformed and tasteless to view the transposition of one race onto another racial identity (through skin color and features, now the non-identifiers of most heritages) as an offense. What of children of a mixed ethnic background? Are they solely the product of one group’s oppression over another? What of white, suburban teens adopting the mannerisms and dress of the purveyors of hip hop or rap that they see on TV and hear on the radio? Would their actions be inherently racist? Or, what of occupied Japan, with its adoption of western figureheads and ideas-- are they only being oppressed? Is there anything else besides that?
Context is important, and intent (despite the difficulty humanity may have in reading outside the diagetical lines) as well, but does this instance of Photoshopping carry the same sort of connotation as, for instance, the desecration of Tibetan holy sites by the Chinese, who are, as feeble-minded blowhards might have you believe, almost the same ethnographic group?! I MEAN, THEY’RE ALL FUCKING AZN, DON’T FRONT!
Cultural values aside, physical features and media concepts are shared in a variety of ways. The implication is, of course, circumstantial. The consequence of photo modification is negligible. All brouhaha concerning the post in question seems to me a discourse in “how can we stratify other cultural/ethnic/religious/&c groups by placing our own heteronormative values upon them?” Because that’s the last thing we, as Americans, as individuals and as a culture, need—to treat everyone else as a completely inaccessible outsider.