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Friday, March 11, 2011

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Little Lost Linden

I would say the aspects of this topic that seem the most interesting are ones where people have very valid reasons for being anonymous, or even for those who just prefer to be anonymous. This article entitled "Facebook, Single Identities, and the Right to be Anonymous" should give you some good ideas to discuss at the event. Here is the link:

http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/07/editorial-facebook-single-identities-and-the-right-to-be-anon/

Deoridhe Quandry

One of the most interesting racial interactions I had was when I was roleplaying a black character with braids - for those who may not know, braids are common for black women to wear. I ran into another "black" character who complemented me on my "exotic" hairstyle.

It completely floored me that someone might play a "black" character and seemingly have no experience with actual black people - at least enough to know that calling a black woman "exotic" is not a complement, and how central hair can be to the identity of black women.

Mathilda Islay

I find this topic VERY interesting, and wish I could be out there for the panel.

When I first rezzed, I was surprised (and disappointed) by all of the Barbie dolls here - and white ones, I might add. With so many people here from different cultures, I'm not sure why there is such an overwhelming majority of skinny white avatars, though it certainly does make me wonder about how we view ourselves and our own identities.

With that in mind, though IRL I am a white woman, I decided in SL to become a woman of color, though most people can't figure out what culture my avatar is from, be it Latina or Egyptian or even Indian. In making that decision, I did have a moral dilemma because in reality I am still a white woman and I didn't want to appropriate someone else's culture and all that comes with that - I didn't want to wrongly represent anyone. But at the same time, I wanted to add something different to the grid; to be one less white Barbie doll, though I confess I am still skinny here, but at least I try to keep my boobs proportional! All I can do is be myself and respectful of others and hope that I am doing more good than harm...

I hear what Deoridhe's saying about understanding the culture you are representing - and it does strike me as pretty ignorant to "pretend" to be a black woman and not understand how hair plays a role there in cultural identity. One thing that has *deeply* troubled me is the role-playing by non-people-of-color (and it can be pretty damn obvious). I have met some very offensive "black" people on the grid, who stand around talking about collard greens and ribs, to point out one example I experienced. Lots of "fo sho's" also. Really churns my stomach and makes me very angry.

I love that this virtual world holds the promise of exploring the bounds of one's own self-identification and gives us the opportunity to re-define ourselves in a meaningful way. But I also believe that our avatars are still extensions of the people behind the keyboards and, as such, basic decency *should* still apply. Not sure how or if we can change the behavior of those who choose to exploit other cultures (insert long history lesson here on exploitation) here, but I can only hope that social pressure may cut down on it a little.

Of course, RL media still uses harmful stereotypes and exploitative imagery, so how can we expect any different in SL?

Laetizia 'Tish' Coronet

As long as there are scores of black artists out there talking about things like collard greens (Snoop Dogg springs to mind: "Gettin' funky on the mic like a' old batch o' collard greens" in 'Nuthin but a G Thang') I can use that to get 'into character', being that I am not black in real life.
Rap slang is not a "stereotype", it is "actual black culture". Not the only expression of it, and certainly not the most highbrow expression of it, but it's there and it's genuine. Like it or not.
I also have a very nice knitted rasta cap that goes together well with my Bob Marley shirt. Is that a stereotype as well? My wide nose? My curvy shape? What is allowed, Mathilda? Is a saxophone too much already? Tell me, I'm lost.

Mathilda Islay

I think you're missing the point. And if Snoop wants to talk about collard greens in his work, he is coming from a part of HIS culture. He is a complete person based on his experiences and that is just one part of him. If you are pretending to be of that culture and represent only one part of it, then yeah, I think that's exploitation. Why would you want to do that to a culture if you really respect it?

And I never said rap slang is a stereotype. What I posted was just a small snippet *as an example* but not the entirety of what I've seen. The way I have seen people represent black people on the grid is not just them talking in slang. It's a complete package of racism where they can't actually talk in a way that isn't making fun of the culture. They're crass and rude and don't have anything to say other than talking about stereotypical foods and such. If that's not you, then I don't see what you would have a problem with.

And if you think I said anything about physical appearance being a negative stereotype, perhaps you didn't read my post correctly? Maybe you were too caught up in being offended by what I wrote to respond to what I actually said or was referring to. But I guess that can be what happens when someone takes something personally and feels like they aren't properly represented, huh :)

Laetizia 'Tish' Coronet

I think white people like you have WAY more hang-ups over perceived racism than most black people.
I have seen some ugly racism in SL. In certain places people sneakily whisper the N-word in voice to see if they can get a reaction out of me. Others keep making references to me belonging in a kitchen which is very funny indeed (yawn). Newbs have been brutally attacked if they say they are from any place not deemed worthy enough (India, Pakistan, Egypt, you name it). Griefers have long preferred racism and homophobia to rile up the masses.
And therefore I have no time to worry about some people pretending to be 'gang bangin'. It's about as bad a stereotype as the Dukes of Hazzard.

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