aquadevil asked: I would truly appreciate links to information about race relations and cultural appropriation because modern racism is incredibly complex and I often worry about being in the wrong. This is just my opinion, and I fully acknowledge that I may be very off base, but most people, actually sane, reject the blatant racism supposedly “of the past.” Instead, people seem to practice racism without active malice, sadly much harder for most to identify. This prejudice doesn’t seem to be rooted in hate, but ignorance of what’s offensive and general misunderstanding. I can see how a discussion about Colton’s choice could devolve - - “What do you mean that’s racist? It’s a silly costume!” “But it’s always wrong! He should know better!” - - and I hate the idea of dismissing ANYONE for a poor choice or sending hate their way. I understand that educating the masses is exhausting and the responsibility would all-too-often fall on the group facing “casual” discrimination, but in this instance, I would be really disappointed in Teen Wolf fandom if they can spare the time to pen Sterek dissertations, author petitions, vote in polls, protest unfair polls, message the creator, etc. but won’t pause to have a conversation about why a Halloween costume is problematic. If YOU don’t mind, please help. I need to learn.
The above ask came into my box in three parts; I’ve put them together and am answering it this way so that it’s complete. As always, if I get something wrong/do something problematic, I would hugely, hugely appreciate being told so that I can correct said error and apologize. I promise to offer nothing but thanks in return. <3
So, first and foremost: killsmedead put up a great post here full of links to the information you’re looking for. Among other things, that post will direct you to black-face.com, a fantastic site that gives a full run-down on the history behind blackface and why it’s wrong, and to this great article about cultural appropriation and costumes, and to this post explaining why Colton Haynes, specifically, is wrong (although, to be entirely accurate, I must acknowledge that that post was written in response to Colton’s LAST instance of using blackface, not in response to THIS incident of brownface). Additionally, you might want to check out Resist Racism’s Halloween post. If you’re looking for a broader educational experience, you might check out this post, which, in addition to linking to a number of articles about costumes and cultural appropriation specifically, can also direct you to information on such interesting topics as white privilege, ”reverse racism,” and, of course, shutting up and listening.
Of course, you could also type “racism resources” into Google. Or “cultural appropriation.” Or “why is blackface wrong.” It’s a magical thing, Google. The entire internet at the tips of your fingers! All kinds of ways to educate yourself! Isn’t technology awesome? (Speaking of ways technology is awesome, you should check out this post and, also, Jay Smooth’s completely brilliant TEDTalk in regard to the ignorance/misunderstanding/intent piece of the question you directed to me.)
Now, I would hope that the above links can assist you in the process of educating yourself on why what Colton Haynes did is wrong, and on some of these, as you mentioned, very complex issues. That said, I know that those links provide far more information, from a far more experienced place, than the random white lady on the internet you tasked with helping you to learn (hiya!) could ever hope to produce. Their voices are far more important than my voice on these topics, and they always will be. That is just How It Is, and I appreciate the opportunity to direct you (and hopefully others!) to them. The rest of this post will be dealing with the suggestion that it is the responsibility of anybody except you to educate you. It is, fair warning, a good bit harsher than the tone I usually strive towards striking, and is, as such, under the cut.
Okay so there’s this thing, right, about saying shit like, “I would be really disappointed in Teen Wolf fandom if they can spare the time to pen Sterek dissertations, author petitions, vote in polls, protest unfair polls, message the creator, etc. but won’t pause to have a conversation about why a Halloween costume is problematic,” (which, btw, as linked above, & as is easily verifiable by popping into the Colton Haynes tag, the Teen Wolf fandom is all over tumblr having conversations about why a Halloween costume is problematic at this very moment), or “[P]lease help. I need to learn,” or any variation on the whole “I don’t know what I’m doing, and YOU WILL GUIDE ME” approach to this shit. And the truth is, that thing is not that it’s VERY DEFINITIVELY NOT the responsibility of oppressed groups to educate their oppressors (although, let me be clear on two things: 1. Of course, it is VERY DEFINITIVELY NOT and 2. I am not claiming to be a member of said oppressed groups, because, in the case of this issue, I am definitely not. I am merely stating this because it is a general fact and it is very much worth noting). That thing is also not that it’s exhausting, in general, to educate people (although, to be clear, yeah, it sure is). That thing is not even that learning about various and assorted -isms is a process that is different for everyone, because everyone has heard and internalized and interacted with different shit in different ways, and everyone interacts with and digests information in different ways, and thus everyone must approach their own education with the self-awareness of what they know and how they learn that an outside party is never going to be able to duplicate for them (although, guess what, that’s true too).
No. That thing is this: the idea that your education is the responsibility of a given fandom, or a given person, or a given group of people, or the world? Yeah, that takes that responsibility away from the person to whom it truly belongs, and that person is you. That person is always going to be you. Once you are aware of racism, let alone aware enough of it to acknowledge that it’s a very complex topic, LET ALONE aware enough of it to acknowledge that it’s a very complex topic in a message you typed on and sent via a machine that is connected to the most powerful research tool that has literally ever existed in all of time, your learning about racism? Is. On. You. Does that mean Teen Wolf fandom doesn’t need to take responsibility for the racist bullshit it pulls on the regular? Nope, it sure doesn’t. Does that mean it’s not the responsibility of decent human people to call out the folks in their life who pull racist bullshit? Nope, it sure doesn’t. It just means that your education is on you. It just means that you cannot pass that buck.
Let’s try it this way, for shits and giggles: imagine a person that has never driven a car before. They are old enough to be aware that cars drive on the road. They are old enough to be aware that act of driving of a car is more complicated than simply getting behind the wheel and ~picturing~ their destination. They are old enough to be aware that fucking up in the process of driving a car can hurt other people. If they then get behind the wheel of a car, without availing themselves of, say, a class on driving, or some reading on driving, or the instruction of a kind and agreeable friend or parent willing to do a significant favor, on the act of driving? And their ignorance of how to drive causes them to harm another person? “I didn’t know how to drive the car!” is not going to be an acceptable defense. “The world didn’t teach me to drive the car!” is not going to be an acceptable defense. “I made a poor choice about driving the car!” is not going to be an acceptable defense. “It wasn’t my intent to harm anyone while driving the car!” is not going to be an acceptable defense. Learning to drive was the responsibility of the driver; if they failed to live up to that responsibility, that is on them, and they will have to live with the consequences.
Racism hurts people. Racism hurts people every day, on a staggering scale, all the time. If you are aware enough to know that, then you are more than aware enough to do your own research—seriously. It’s the age of the internet, so Google that shit. Google it hard. Google it all day. Google it with the understanding that it is nobody’s responsibility but yours to make you understand this stuff. Google it with the understanding that your decency as a human being is always in your own hands. Google it with the understanding that there is an UNPRECEDENTED and AMAZING amount of information out there right now, ready and waiting for you to engage with it.
Finally: It’s not wrong to ask people for help, so long as you go into it with the understanding that those people don’t have to say yes, don’t have to be nice about it (“tone argument” is a thing worth Googling, while we’re on the topic of doing that), and don’t have to act as though they’re doing you anything but a GIGANTIC FAVOR, because they are. But the less-than-subtle guilting here? Yeah, that’s not great, and it’s not appreciated. The less-than-subtle suggestion that I would be “disappointing” you if I didn’t answer (which, hey, on a personal note, thank you kindly for unnecessarily smacking a really unpleasant button for me) is not great, and it’s not appreciated. I happen to be someone who would have HAPPILY responded to a “Hey, can I get those links you mentioned” (in, you know, THE TAGS OF THE POST THAT CAUSED YOU TO MESSAGE ME IN THE FIRST PLACE) with the links and a :D. My personal philosophy is all about putting as much honest information out there as I can about the topics I’m qualified to talk about myself, and connecting people to as much honest information out there as I can about those topics I’m not qualified to talk about myself; I would’ve been all friendliness and nothing else. Hell, even if you did not know that about me going in, you can scroll back like, what, four posts on my blog to an extended demonstration of me responding to sensitive questions about my own heritage with nothing but positivity! Like, that’s on the first page of my blog right now. You don’t even have to click the back button.
But instead you decided to go for the passive-aggressive, guilting, let-me-heavily-imply-without-saying-it-outright-that-this-is-on-you approach, which is pretty much the only way to genuinely piss me off on a personal level. I gave you the links anyway, because my being pissed off matters a lot less than that information getting absolutely as much play as possible, but be advised: this is not how you ask for help. Your need to learn is not anyone’s problem but yours. Happy reading.