I do not have an official question yet, so far my idea is, "What is considered racism in the arts and literature?" I might modify this question later to make it more specific, as it's a pretty broad topic.
I am interested in this topic because I am really interested in writing and the arts, and there is a lot of controversy about portraying different cultures through art and stories, so I wanted to look into that.
What do I already know? Well, before I started researching the topic in depth, I had heard a lot about the subject of cultural appropriation. We had talked a lot about it last year in writing class. Cultural appropriation in this context is basically when an artist/author/producer uses a culture that isn't their own and makes a claim to it. This is typically considered offensive, and is hurtful to a culture when the producer of the work resorts to stereotypes and such. Often, however, the author/producer believes they should have the right to portray other cultures and use a variety of voices. I'm intrigued by these arguments and want to look carefully at both sides.
I started researching and I've gained some new knowledge based on examples of artists appropriating other cultures.
One side of the argument "doesn't believe in cultural appropriation" (1) but rather, believes that people from all cultures should be imagining what it would be like to be another culture. (1) This side suggests that there are too many "boundaries" on what people are "allowed" to create art about, and artists should be able to cross these boundaries by portraying other races. It's believed that art, fiction, etc. wouldn't even be possible if we weren't able to put ourselves in the position of someone of another culture. (3) (4) They believe that the concept of cultural appropriation stops art from being produced, and that this idea makes it so that there is such limits on diversity in the arts. (1) As well, this side suggest that the only way to avoid offending someone is to portray what you immediately know - so, write about your exact life, background, and situation. (3)
On the contrary side of this argument, many people are offended and hurt by the way artists portray their cultures. (1) They say that cultural appropriation is something that's been going on too long and isn't going to change anything. (2) There is a firm belief that artists cannot make assumptions about another culture, and should not rely on stereotypes to create characters. (3) There is also a lot of debate about how artists can make a profit from turning other culture's struggles into work. (2)
I can see valid points with both sides. I think artists should go beyond what they immediately know, but ultimately, I stand more with the second side of this argument. Using stereotypes to create art is offensive and hurtful, and it makes sense that no one should make assumptions about another race when creating a work because they couldn't accurately convey information and important things to that culture. (3) There is also a lot of discussion about a middle ground, where artists can portray other races as long as they take them seriously, do research first (3) and portray another race in a "normal" way, or not use another culture's story as their own. (3)
I'm definitely excited to get into more research with this. This is a topic that I think will really help me in the future if I get into a career involving writing and the arts. Cultural appropriation has a lot of different subjects within itself, but I think I'm going to focus mainly on racism. As well, I'll be talking mostly about how racism is reflected with writing, but I'd like to look into how it affects theatre, visual arts, movies, etc.
I'd love to hear other's perspectives!