cultural appropriation

Movimiento Mondays: Posts To Read This Morning 7/6/15

Why is Washington Saying Very Little About Puerto Rico

Whether it is by choice or necessity, the Puerto Rican diaspora is growing at an unprecedented rate.  Migration is fraying the socioeconomic fabric of the island. It is upsetting to all Puerto Ricans, particularly those who grew up in its heyday. But as the diaspora grows so does the island’s power. It is up to Boricuas to choose how to use it.

Read more at Latino Rebels

The Political Discourses of Black Indigeneity, and Why it Matters

As is our custom, we began to debate politics, popular culture, and just straight shit talking. Our conversations ranged from whether Beyonce can be a feminist, to how someone could support racist mascots. Then, we started to debate current happenings in the D (Detroit!). The bulk of our discussion was centered on how hipsters⎯white hipsters⎯are moving into Detroit, and setting up businesses downtown. One of my friends called it gentrification, the other homie chimed in and made a distinction between urban renewal, which is what is happening downtown, and gentrification, which is happening all over the city. I was pretty quiet, after all, I’m a historian, what do I know about contemporary politics?

Read more at Native Appropriations


While San Diego Comic-Con has become linked with the city’s economy, it’s worth pointing out that one reason other cities probably feel they have a shot at wresting it from San Diego’s grasp is, there’s very little inside the event that actually reflects the city.

Over the weekend, the Chicano-Con exhibit began putting more of the “San Diego” back into this sphere. The event, a pair of two-day art exhibitions inside Barrio Logan, a neighborhood less than a mile from the convention’s high-rent district that formed its identity in the early 1900s with the infusion of refugees from the Mexican Revolution.

Read more at Racialicious


In Mexico with Frida Kahlo

Frida is an artist of the post-modern world.  She painted about the parts of us that the homogenizing force of modernism and industry attempted to deny.  She illustrated the belittled world of feelings – the struggle to see ourselves as whole, beautiful, precious, especially because of our differences and imperfections.  She painted the world as herself – in fragments.  In the course of doing so, she turned herself, uni-brow, mustache and all, into an icon of beauty, cultural pride, and the unsinkable, inextinguishable, undefinable stuff of which we are made.

Read more at Race Files



Twitter Teach-In: 6 #NothingMoreAmericanThan Tweets To Challenge US Oppression

Rather than acting like pseudo-patriots blinded by the flash of fireworks and national anthems,  many are taking to twitter under #NothingMoreAmericanThan to voice the  hypocrisy of celebrating freedom while maintaining  systemic oppression.

While it would have been better not to simplify the Americas as being representative of a US experience and nothing else (this reproduces exceptionalism & neocolonization), the way in which digital activists have repurposed this hashtag is to be commended. Especially since it’s likely tweets would have continued to conflate and normalize whiteness with US citizenship, as well as erase the struggle for survival that many communities face.

Let the Twitter Teach-In Begin:

Side note: If any of these make you respond with the tired, “if you hate it so much here you can just leave” arguments, or any variation of it, you’re part of the problem.

12 Quotes From Pedagogy of The Oppressed Rachel Dolezal Should Consider

In addition to the black face,  the appropriation of the narratives, community history, lived experiences, life struggles, and personal victories of black women and bi-/multi-racial individuals, Rachel Dolezal, you need to also own-up to your white privilege gone wild.

I don’t claim to speak for anyone within the racial justice movement, nor do I really need to add to the growing digital-literature on how you’ve damaged movements surrounding black and trans folks lives. I really don’t even need to address how your actions have so blatantly been to join, co-opt, and attempt to center yourself within the racial justice movement in a way that allowed for you to avoid conversations like checking your privilege, playing the white savior, speaking on behalf of and silencing communities, or how you, as a white woman (sans, or especially due to,  black face) reproduced racial inequalities through your taking up space and assuming leadership of the black community.

These have all been discussed at great length, by people within these communities, much smarter than me, who have powerful voices of their own . So there’s not much more for a light-skin Mexican-American (mestizo) to add.

In fact, I’d much rather point you, Rachel, to 12 quotes from Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Maybe this will remind you of the role you play(ed) in oppression, and why you, as a white person in blackface, should step entirely back.


  1. “The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves.”
  2. “The oppressor, who is himself dehumanized because he dehumanizes others, is unable to lead this struggle.”
  3. “Discovering [her-/]himself to be an oppressor may cause considerable anguish, but it does not necessarily lead to solidarity with the oppressed.”
  4. “For the oppressors, what is worthwhile is to have more–always more–even at the cost of the oppressed having less or having nothing. For them, to be is to have.”
  5. “For them, having more is an inalienable right.”
  6. “Our [white] converts… truly desire to transform the unjust order; but because of their background they believe that they must be the executors of the transformation.”
  7. “Attempting to liberate the oppressed without their reflective participation in the act of liberation is to treat them as objects that must be saved from a burning building.”
  8. “The revolutionary’s role is to liberate, and to be liberated, with the people–not to win them over.”
  9. “To simply think about the people, as the dominators do, without any self-giving in that thought, to fail to think with the people, is a sure way to cease being revolutionary leaders.”
  10. “The road to revolution involves openness to the people, not imperviousness to them; it involves communion with the people, not mistrust.”
  11. “As the oppressor minority subordinates and dominates the majority, it must divide it and keep it divided in order to remain in power.”
  12. “The culture of the [white] dominant class hinders the affirmation of [black women/] men as beings of decision.”

An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling about the American Wizarding School in Fantastic Beasts

The Nerds of Color

by Dr. Adrienne Keene | Originally posted at Native Appropriations

Dear J.K. Rowling,

I am unabashedly a huge Harry Potter fan. I first encountered Harry when I was in Junior High, volunteering at the public library (nerd status, I know). The children’s librarian handed me book one, and I was hooked. I even used to frequent Harry Potter message boards back in the day with my friend Kathleen (we were “Parvati” and “Lavender” cause we also shared an interest in divination, ha). Anyway, all this is to say, Harry holds a sacred spot in my heart. But I’m not one of those fans who can recite things verbatim, or remember every tiny detail, so if I’m missing something, I hope one of those fans will help me out.

I’ve been interestedly following the news that there is a new Harry Potter prequel-of-sorts in the works, for Fantastic Beasts and Where…

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(In)Appropriation: Disney’s Failed Attempt to Trademark Dia de Los Muertos


By now most of us are aware of Disney’s failed attempt to trademark Dia de Los Muertos for their upcoming animated film, but if by some small chance you didn’t hear about this check out for  more info.

images-7There certainly was an amount of anxiety that many of us had as we  first discovered that a corporation was trying to profit over  Mexican culture. In the most direct way of saying it: Disney’s failed attempt was done out of an ignorance of the history of colonization and how legal structures worked to disconnect indigenous, Mexicans, and Chicanas/os from culture by stealing the material (land) and immaterial (culture). I don’t desire to write a dissertation in the wee hours of the morning, so I’ll keep the philosophical lamenting brief and concise. When I refer to culture as immaterial I am not implying that culture does not produce material items, decorations and symbols come to mind. However, culture is very much an immaterial subject that occurs, first in foremost, in the hearts and minds of communities.


Culture produces symbols and traditions

Sugar skulls

Cultural Production: Sugar skulls

Land on the other hand is material and can produce both material (resources/goods) and immaterial (culture). While Disney’s trademark-gate is an attempt at appropriating the immaterial (culture) in order to produce material goods from cultural productions based upon likely misinterpreted representations of Mexican cultural symbols, the event also falls in line with the larger historical context of colonization robbing our people of the material.

With that said, the history of colonization has been one of stealing the material to create wealth for the settler culture. The land issues in indigenous, Mexican, and Chicana/o cultures are undeniable.  For the colonizer, it has been a way to accumulate vast amounts of wealth as they were/are able to take land, commodify the resources, and transform them into products. In order to do so, legal structures were created and enforced allowing for the privatization of land in cultures that historically believed in communal use and responsibility to land–watch the The Demarest Factor for more info on how this continues today in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Colonizer laws provided legal barriers to blockade indigenous people from using the land that was always  part of their heritage. This created not only a physical disconnect from land and resources, but also a destabilization of cultural connection. Land has many uses, the heritage and culture associated with particular sites present another way that the appropriation of the material can also rob people of the immaterial.

What Disney neglected to understand is the similarities between creating legal barriers to cut people off from their land, as well as the heritage and cultural connection to this land, and the trademarking (legal barriers) of culture. In terms of the latter, it would have it difficult to participate in said culture. According to the LatinTimes:

“Among the trademark applications that The Walt Disney Company has filed for, are education and entertainment services, confectionery, cosmetics, transmission or reproduction of sound or images, computer programs, accessories, jewelry, paper articles, luggage, and more.”

Had this worked, Disney would have legal rights to the name, Dia de Los Muertos, and the images associated with their interpretations and representations of Mexican culture. This images would undoubtedly use traditional cultural productions that would be re-visioned in a stylized manner, but in the above quote we also see “education…services” as part of their trademark. Would this have hindered culturally relevant education that incorporated Dia de Los Muertos (the holiday, not the film)? In all likelihood it would have at the very least complicated any possibility for educators to talk about the subject and showcase the images of Mexican culture.


Regarding the legacy of colonization, the line between stealing the material and immaterial through the colonizers legal structures are pretty clear. Both effectively disconnect people from culture in a variety of ways.  I believe the actions of Disney, whether intentional or not, was a continuation of this process.