First off, I'd like to wish everyone a happy holiday season. Whatever you celebrate, hope it's great!
Now anyways, back to the research. For those who have been following my work, in my last round I looked at different examples of cultural appropriation in visual arts and film. This is my last research round on this topic. I'd like to thank everyone for their comments on my previous rounds. Many people suggested I look at the "fine line" in terms of cultural appropriation. In other words, what actually counts as racism and what is defined as simply appreciating another culture?
We understand that there are social boundaries when it comes to cultural appropriation, but there are legal boundaries as well.
According to the National Review (1), Canadians are restricted in a sense when it comes to freedom of speech. There are certain ideas and opinions that are not allowed to be expressed in certain contexts. The idea of “hate speech” is defined by the Canadian government as speech that is “...obscene...treasonous, pro-terrorist, or hateful.”(1)
“Section 319 (2) of the Criminal Code of Canada says: ‘Everyone who… promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of:
- (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
- (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.” (1) (2)
- “Identifiable groups” are determined as those of a certain skin colour, race, religion, ethnicity or origin, sex, sexual identity, gender identity, age, as well as being differently abled mentally or physically. (1)
Section 320 (8) of the Code states that “any writing, sign, or visible representation” that would fall under the offense described in Section 319 qualifies as “Hate Propaganda,” (2) and that any “books, printed paper, drawings, paintings, prints, photographs or representation of any kind” would be considered an offence and is punishable. (3) ("Representation of any kind" refers to visual/physical objects in this case, but I think other arts would qualify.)
So there are laws against cultural appropriation in the arts. Despite the fact that there are laws in Canada that are against discrimination in the arts, it appalls me that people continue to do it. My thoughts are that in many cases, these kinds of discrimination scenarios may not be reported or dealt with, which is why people get away with it. (I am not sure what these laws are like in the U.S.A. or Kenya or other countries, but if students from outside of Canada have anything to contribute in terms of this, please let me know, I'd like to hear your sides of the story.)
Now that I understand the legal boundaries when it comes to cultural appropriation in the arts, here are some of the social boundaries that artists have come up with when it comes to this topic. When including other cultures in artistic representations, here are some suggestions from sources I looked at.
- Do research. British writer Chris Cleave explains that he often writes about characters of other cultures, but he "always does research first." (4) It is also important to understand the full historical context about a culture when creating art that involves it. Rachel Zellars, a historian and lecturer, claims that cultural appropriation is often a result of not understanding history. (5) That way, important information wouldn't be overlooked. Zellars also says it's important to take chances and really learn about the culture. Talking to people from a certain culture would help the artist to gain their perspective and really embrace another culture. (5) Nowadays, we have Internet access, television, as well as other humans to connect with, and in some cases we have opportunities to travel, so there are many ways to do research on other cultures. (6)
- Do not rely on stereotypes of offensive content. This one is obvious, but it happens a lot in the arts when portraying other cultures. Kamila Shamise, a British-Pakastani writer, explains that "a well - written book would not rely on stereotypes to create characters." (4) Artists shouldn't be making a profit of something they have so little understanding of. Slurs or offensive images or symbols are also a huge 'don't' when creating art. If you're not sure if a word or image is offensive, it probably is, which means you should not use it. (6)
- Don't try to meet a "diversity quota." Don't just represent other cultures in art just to say you did. (6)
- Don't take ownership of another culture. It is important to include other cultures, but don't treat them as your own if you aren't part of them. As well, don't talk about another culture's sacred traditions, struggles, or other important details as if you fully understand them. (6)
- Lastly, portray other cultures in a realistic way, and include other cultures respectfully. Diversity makes art real and relatable, and everybody wants to be represented. People sometimes say, "Why can't they just deal with it?" But the truth is, underrepresented communities have been "dealing with it" for a long time, and the people who say this have already been represented in art many times. Art, characters, films, etc. should represent realistic people and situations that we can connect with, so many races and cultures should be included. And by using the above points, people can portray other cultures in a respectful way.
Pictures from top to bottom:
- The address for the last one wouldn't paste so this is the best I could do.
Well, that's my last round. My next post will be a reflection, and after that, I'll be putting all this together in a creative way to show you all. Thanks so much for reading, and once again, Happy Holidays!