Cultural Appropriation

Booker Prize Winner Bernardine Evaristo: 'This Whole Idea of Cultural Appropriation Is Ridiculous'

"I refuse to construct some kind of character who is going to appease everybody."

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Don't dare tell Bernardine Evaristo—co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize for English fiction—that she's not allowed to write about the lives and experiences of people from cultures dissimilar to her own.

"This whole idea of cultural appropriation is ridiculous," said Evaristo, according to The Times of London. "Because that would mean that I could never write white characters or white writers can never write black characters. Look in television: That happens all the time. But there is this idea that when it comes to fiction that you are supposed to stay in your lane. It is a total nonsense."

According to many people on the progressive left, cultural appropriation is an act of theft that occurs when a person imitates a culture to which they do not belong. Wearing an Asian prom dress, teaching yoga, opening a taco truck, and writing fiction are all potentially appropriative acts that various members of the intersectional left have condemned. Just last week I wrote about Micah Sample, a student at Indiana Wesleyan University, who was kicked out of the Honors Program and found guilty of harassment because he dared to mock the concept.

That's why I'm always heartened to see a literary giant who is presumably in good standing with the left taking on this silliest of doctrines. And indeed, Evaristo pulled no punches:

The main characters in Girl, Woman, Other range in age from 19-93. A non-binary character, Megan, who has been brought up as a girl, then changes "their" name to Morgan. Evaristo said it had been difficult writing about Megan because "it is a sensitive area". She added: "That's not my primary concern because you don't know who is going to be offended by anything you write. I refuse to construct some kind of character who is going to appease everybody."

Cultural appropriation puts writers and artists in cultural boxes and tells them it's wrong to use their imaginations, to draw from other people's experiences, to mix and match and blend. It's a trend that all dedicated supporters of racial equality ought to oppose, since cultural intermingling often breaks down barriers and prejudices. Bravo to Evaristo for speaking out.

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  1. The main characters in Girl, Woman, Other range in age from 19-93. A non-binary character, Megan, who has been brought up as a girl, then changes “their” name to Morgan

    This already sounds too woke to smoke.

    1. “They” then change their name to Haven Monahan, and the story goes off the rails from there.

  2. Whats really funny about all this, if you read book on fiction writing most authors say do not describe your character looks unless it important to the story.

    1. So…when reading woke fiction, just assume the antagonist is white?

    2. So, only erotic fiction then?

  3. But there is this idea that when it comes to fiction that you are supposed to stay in your lane. It is a total nonsense.

    I feel seen. No, wait, I FEEL APPROPRIATED.

  4. Isn’t the Booker usually awarded to intellectual pygmies on the basis of who is least recognized by the public and thus best illustrates how stupid the public is?

    1. Yes. That is exactly what it is.

      The main characters in Girl, Woman, Other range in age from 19-93. A non-binary character, Megan, who has been brought up as a girl, then changes “their” name to Morgan.

      My eyes glazed over reading those sentences. I can’t imagine reading an entire novel of it.

  5. If “cultural appropriation” had been “the thing” in 1894, then “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” would never have been published. “Cultural appropriation” is not ridiculous — it’s completely insane.

    1. Yes it is. The main effect of the doctrine would be to banish small or marginalized groups entirely from literature by prohibiting everyone not in the group from even speaking about them. The believers in cultural approbation being bad love these groups so much that they want to ensure no one ever speaks, writes or considers their experiences ever again.

      1. True, but not limited to that: imagine what Shakespeare would look like, banned from writing about Moorish kings, medieval and Lebanese princes, and… well… you get the picture? LOL. Empty pages.

        1. Yes. They want to destroy the arts and civilization with it and replace it with nothing. They are nihilists man. Really.

          1. Dude! That’s not their intention, so it couldn’t possibly the outcome!

            1. I’m convinced that many of them know the outcome, but don’t care. It’s about keeping up appearances.

              1. Its about making people who have not accomplished anything feel better about their miserable lives.

        2. imagine what Shakespeare would look like

          Apart from subject matter, what was new and different in Shakespeare’s time was the appropriation of ancient Greek drama. Prior to Shakespeare, English drama was largely cultural appropriation of Hebrew stories.

          Without cultural appropriation, England isn’t allowed to have drama, let alone Shakespeare.

      2. No, they want writers in “oppressed or marginalized groups” to be given book contracts without consideration of their ability to write, AND to someday, somehow, be able to force you to buy and read their products.

        Seems crazy, but I’ve learned to believe crazy if the actual, true explanation for crazy people’s behavior, is “craziness”.

    2. That’s not true. It is possible to write about a nigger without appropriating his culture.

      What you’re referring to is politically incorrect words.

      1. Well, you do see people complaining about people writing characters of different races. Which may not be exactly cultural appropriation, but a pretty similar (and similarly stupid) concept.

        We have no idea of what anyone else’s experience is, whether they are the same race, sex, etc. as we are or not. Taking this to it’s logical conclusion, the only acceptable form of writing is memoir. And even then, don’t try to speculate about the contents of anyone else’s mind.

        1. Taking this to it’s logical conclusion, the only acceptable form of writing is memoir. And even then, don’t try to speculate about the contents of anyone else’s mind.

          And in the sphere of Western philosophical aesthetics we have already found the end of that road. Becket’s central question – aren’t you still appropriating even when you’re writing a completely internal monologue in which you don’t even name yourself?

          It’s been sad watching the Western ‘intellectual community’ emerge from that cave, blinking, only to turn around and go right back in.

          1. Plus, I think it means six more weeks of winter.

    3. “If “cultural appropriation” had been “the thing” in 1894, then “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” would never have been published. ”

      That just seems like it’s further encouraging Leftists, who have been trying to ban that book for over a century.

    4. It is neither ridiculous nor insane. Rather it is terrifyingly sane and intentional. It’s a doctrine designed to make people feel special while simultaneously isolating and dividing an integrated culture.

      I’ve found the best defense against people who support this non-appeopriation doctrine is to point out the similarities and overlapp between this philosophy and that of white supremacists.

  6. I’m sure that, like all Booker Prize winners, this book sucks. But I’m tempted to buy it just because she called stupid, stupid.

    1. “just because she called stupid, stupid.”

      Sounds like white privilege (which she appropriated).

    2. Wolf Hall was great.

  7. O/T, but really not – I just finished watching Benjamin Boyce’s 15-part Youtube documentary, “The Complete Evergreen Story”

    If you want to see the cultural appropriation mentality run amok, this is for you. Protests, hostage situations, struggle sessions, demands that people not use logic and reason in an argument…

    Link to Episode 1

  8. Cultural appropriation puts writers and artists in cultural boxes and tells them it’s wrong to use their imaginations

    Let me be the first to inform you that if you break out of that particular bibliosphere you will find a great number of writers writing about a great number of things and completely ignoring the cultural appropriation dickbags.

    Stay away from YA fiction, that’s not all there is in the world.

    1. It seems that all of this infects young adult fiction. And I didn’t even read that crap when I was young. Stop reading children’s books and this will seem like less of an issue.

    2. “Stay away from YA fiction…”

      Seriously! How many of those authors are actually vampires?

    3. Focusing on the young is not a coincidence. It’s how you condition people so that when they run in to more “problematic” literature later in life they’re illprepared to digest it much less enjoy it.

  9. “”Because that would mean that I could never write white characters or white writers can never write black characters. ”

    Not that she isn’t completely right, but the entire purpose of the neo-segregationism that is “cultural appropriation” is that it’s only racist when WHITE people eat tacos or watch anime or do anything that isn’t expressly approved for them based on their skin color by our benevolent anti-racist Regressive Left overlords.

    1. Its usually other white people doing the policing too. A lot of immigrant communities are happy to profit off of the rich cultures that they bring with them by selling to all manor of people including white people. A lot of countries want to export their culture too.

    2. Yes, I believe that when non-white people appropriate western culture it’s called “cultural imperialism” and it’s also white people being evil.

      1. Which is ridiculously offensive as it takes all agency away from non-whites.

    3. White ppl can eat tacos. White people can’t make/sell tacos. Or comment about how good/bad they are.

      1. What about all the white Mexicans? For fuck’s sake, Mexico is as multiracial and multicultural as the US.

        1. Blue-eyed Mexicans are obviously the descendants of the evil colonialists, and therefore don’t count as LatinX.

    4. It’s simply the new racism. It’s the same as the old racism but more enlightened and only hurts those ‘bad’ people.

  10. “It’s a trend that all dedicated supporters of racial equality ought to oppose, since cultural intermingling often breaks down barriers and prejudices.”

    The last thing the purveyors of “woke” want to see is an end to racism; that is why the keep re-defining and promoting it. It is too useful a cudgel to wield against those you do not agree with to ever give it up that easily.

  11. So, I can only write a novel with characters who are white, middle-aged women who grew up in the projects in the industrial northeast? Actually, that might work!

    1. You’re only allowed to write as a creative person trying to be inspired in a world full of boring assholes.

  12. OK, so WHO get to write science fiction??
    You know, other species entirely and all that jazz.
    HMMM???
    Riddle me that, Batman.

    1. Clearly, anyone who identifies as a robot/alien/time lord.

    2. All science is fiction. Except for global warming cooling climate change.

      1. Pssssst… it’s “climate alarm” now.

        1. *hits snooze button*

      2. Climate change and the social construction of gender.

      3. I met a person the other day, in person mind you, that seemed to sincerely believe that in less than 12 years the oceans will literally be boiling unless we all switch to electric cars immediately.

        Clearly the science is strong with that one.

  13. Reason writers have been culturally appropriating ancient Sumerians !!

  14. I’m going to write a novel that takes place entirely in total darkness, so the characters don’t even know what the others look like.

    1. That could be an incredible story!

    2. Too dark for my taste.

  15. ” it’s wrong to use their imaginations, to draw from other people’s experiences, to mix and match and blend.”

    Worse, it incorrectly elevates them to expert status on entire groups the were apparently born into. Fiction is all about imagination, not experience – the market decides whose imagination is good or interesting.

    1. Good point. We’re not all born experts on the ethnicity and culture we happened to have been born into. It’s entirely possible to be born Afro-American and know very little about the Afro-American history and experience, depending on ones own life experiences. Barack Obama, for example, has no first-hand experience with growing up Black in the USA. A white author who’s done good research might well have more insight about it than someone who is “Black” by genetics only.

  16. “Because that would mean that I could never write white characters or white writers can never write black characters. ”

    She’s got nothing to worry about.

    Cultural appropriation is only bad when Whitey does it.

  17. This cultural appropriation nonsense is very tiresome, but at least we don’t have nazis, actual nazis.

  18. I reject sjw bloodthirstyness on cultural appropriation issues but, I do think that insensitivity is a bad look. There’s certain types of behaviors which are ignorant and insensitive and I think people should try to make themselves aware of that. One thing that comes to mind is when something comes out of black culture and then Kim Kardashian does it and then people act like she invented it. I think white people should try to think about what its like being a racial minority.

    1. Ok
      I’m thinking about it.
      I understand black people face problems I don’t face.
      But a (half) black man became President.
      There are black doctors, lawyers and generals.
      So why can’t a middle aged Jewish guy sell soul food? Or tacos?

    2. I think white people should try to think about what its like being a racial minority.

      Total Population of Asia: 4.46 Billion
      Total Population of Africa: 1.22 Billion
      Total Population of Europe: 745 Million
      Total Popluation of N. America: 550 Million
      Total Population of C./S. America: 90 Million
      Total Popuation of Oceania: 44 Million

      White, English-speaking Westerners are a minority and (not so) surprisingly you seem to be completely unaware of that fact.

      1. This is such a disingenuous comment

        You are not a minority here, you enjoy all the benefits that come with being in the majority. Why do I even have to explain this, you know you are just playing games.

        1. Does that mean I get into harvard if I am an idiot like obummer but half black? That kind of benefit that comes with being in the majority

        2. Why are you assuming things about other people?

          I am a non-white immigrant, and I find nothing wrong with mad.casual’s statement.

          Would you like to whitesplain to me about why I should be offended by his statement? Perhaps I am not woke enough.

    3. I think minorities should try to think about what it’s like to be blamed for everything minorities do wrong.

      1. Awww you poor baby, you feel personally accused when minorities talk about how the brutal oppression and discrimination their communities have experienced over the centuries and right up until this day have effected them.

        Here’s an idea, instead of just caring about yourself, maybe be part of the solution and help them end these injustices that lead to these problems.

        1. The problem is with the minorities. If they cannot make it in the USA with all the coddling they receive then they are the losers and I do not feel sorry for them in the least. They need to quit listening to people like you who make excuses on why the are inferior and get off their butts and get an education like a white man

  19. And, thus, Uncle Tom’s Cabin should never have been written. QED.

  20. Guess black women better stop straightening their hair immediately.

    1. As far as SJWs are concerned, cultural appropriation can only happen in one direction, from the minority culture to the dominant culture.

      Minority cultures can culturally appropriate as much as they want and it’s OK. They have a whole reasoning behind why it’s OK for them to do it.

      1. This is in line with their modern re-design of the definition of “racism”, the one with special carve-outs for particular races in particular places to hate particular people for their race, and magically it doesn’t fit the definition any more.

  21. Anyone who believes that cultural appropriation exists does not understand what culture is.

  22. Just found her biography. She is a wonderful person!

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