misscam: (Words words words)
[personal profile] misscam
There is a side debate that sometimes comes up when debates about racism is being had in fandom, and it's this - do racism in an American context apply for the rest of the world, and should non-Americans be expected to know it and spot it?

I am a bit torn, I must admit. I am a non-American and I do not like the US being held as the standard for the rest of the world. On the other hand, non-Americans digest a lot of American media and can unknowingly help perpetuate something that hurts people. That's not okay.

I guess I am wanting a bit of understanding that non-Americans can miss out on a lot of American context (because while we do get subjected to some American culture, we are not living it - we are watching it from afar, and shallowly at that) and a bit of willingness from non-Americans to not just dismiss expressions of American racism as 'not our problem!' Fandom is a subculture that bridges many nations - if a fellow fan is being hurt by racism, is it okay to say nothing just because it takes a form you're not familiar with? Is it okay to let it happen again?

The US is not the standard of the world. But us non-Americans, we can certainly hold ourselves to a decency standard. If we learn something is hurtful, we can at the very least try not to perpetuate it further. Maybe we can't be the first to spot racism in an American setting, but we can at least help denounce it. We can realise racism might take unfamiliar forms - but it still has harm as its core. Hell, it might increase sentitivity and help us fight racism in our cultural context, where we have no bloody excuses not to.

Racism is not okay. It is not okay in the US, it is not okay in Norway, it is not okay in Japan, it is not okay in South Africa. That it takes different forms does not make any more okay in any of its disguises - it just makes it harder to fight.

That got me thinking a bit about part two to this, though. Non-American racism. Racism takes certain forms in the US. In other places, it can take different forms. Certain things can be similar, but others might not be.

I got a comment some time ago when I was having a discussion in someone else's LJ about racism, in which I was talking about trying to be careful in never dismissing something as not racist in an American setting, because it's not my culture and there is so much context I am missing. I went on to add racism in Norway takes different forms I am more familiar with, but those wouldn't always be akin to racism in the US, just as racist expressions in the US might not be akin to racist expressions in Norway.

(For instance, I did not know watermelons had been used in a lot of racist imagery in the US, and thus was rather confused about a racist joke some American idiot did with an image of the White House with rows of planted watermelons outside. I was very kindly pointed to resources to read up on it, so now I know. But I always worry I might miss similar things and thus not spot them as racist.)

The comment expressed interest in reading about racism in Norway and the forms it takes, if I should ever write that up. I guess I am wondering, would others be interested too? It would be from a white perspective, though I would try to use as many sources as I could from Norwegian PoC perspectives. It would include some history, some politics, some examples from the multicultural school I've been working at this year and attempts to explain certain cultural particulars in Norway.

Maybe it can help illustrate how blatant racism usually takes the same forms, but the less obvious kind is oh so very good at easing itself into different cultural expressions. At least, that is a pet theory I hold.

So, would you want to read a post about that?

Date: 2010-06-22 02:06 am (UTC)
liviapenn: a little red bowtie rotating in space (who: BOWTIES ARE COOL)
From: [personal profile] liviapenn

Sounds interesting! I am white & American and I would probably find it really educational.

Date: 2010-06-22 02:34 am (UTC)
ordinarygirl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ordinarygirl
I would, personally, be VERY interested in that.

Also, a point about your post, even people WITHIN a certain culture don't always know when something is racist. If I'd seen that picture you mentioned, about the watermelons planted in front of the white house, I would've gone "uh... okay, then," dismissed it as a weird inside joke I didn't get, and moved on, because... I have never in my life heard of watermelons being used in a racist context. Now, obviously, this is coming from a white girl who was raised by upper-class white parents, who knew a grand total of six people of colour before she turned 14 (and three of them were our housekeepers). But I am totally willing to admit that I am really not very aware of a lot of things that could be considered racist, because my experiences with racism have usually been far removed from me specifically - more anecdotal than anything.

Really, I think everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt in regards to racism that they might not recognize, but once they've been INFORMED of it, that's when they need to step up and say "I'm sorry, I had no idea, I'll change it at once" or "woah, I had no idea, that's not cool" or whatever it is that needs saying.

Date: 2010-06-22 02:49 am (UTC)
dechant: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dechant
I would like to learn about non-American racism, and if you can shed some light on the Norwegian variety in particular, I will read and get educated. ♥

Date: 2010-06-22 06:58 am (UTC)
glinda: bambara/ancelyn - love across universes (bambera/ancelyn)
From: [personal profile] glinda
I'd be really interested to read that, it would be really good to get a view from another bit of Northern Europe rather than North America.

Date: 2010-06-22 02:43 pm (UTC)
zopyrus: roman woman with pearls (Default)
From: [personal profile] zopyrus
Speaking as a white American, I think it would be *very* interesting to read. Your thoughts about not always having enough context for American race problems are fairly analogous to my own about the rest of the world--I'd be grateful to read what you had to say about your own culture.

Date: 2010-06-22 05:10 pm (UTC)
falena: Picture of a girl hiding behind a camera, reflected in a mirror. (twisted logic)
From: [personal profile] falena
I'd love to read that post!

Can't wait to have that brain of oyurs nearby to pick on. I'd love to know something about your experiences in your multi-cultural school too, if possible.

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