Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Hilaria Baldwin, cultural appropriation & institutionalized racism

 Is Hilaria Baldwin guilty of cultural appropriation? She is American and has an affinity with Spain- an economically advanced European country populated by White Christians who, some centuries ago, colonized a good chunk of the Earth. Surely, 'cultural appropriation' only arises with respect to people whose land was taken away and who may have experienced genocide or population collapse? By contrast, Tardean mimetics of a superior culture is 'the sincerest form of flattery'. No doubt, such affectations may attract ridicule. But, it scarcely ethically repugnant.

Hilaria is a Hispanophile in the same way that Frazier, from the sit-com, was an Anglophile while other Bostonians may be Francophile or Italophile or Germanophile- I'm kidding. No one is Germanophile. I only mention it because, having been born in Germany, I have a German sense of humor. What I mean is I was being ironic when I said that a person might be Germanophile in the same way that they might be Francophile. To be clear, I was saying something obviously false for humorous effect. This is not to say that I endorse either the Hegelian conception of irony or that of Schlegel because I wiped my bum on both. This was because I'd taken a dump and, so as to clean my shitty bum, I used Hegel's concept of irony as though it were a piece of toilet paper.  This is a humorous observation because a conception of irony is not in fact a piece of toilet paper.

Returning to the topic of this post, I do think that a categorical approach to issues of cultural appropriation must commence with an analysis of the 'sub-structural' socio-economic mechanisms underlying Institutionalized forms of unjust or discriminatory praxis. This is because Institutions tend to occlude the mechanisms they embody. There is little point analyzing a consciously false consciousness. It is as the sub-structural level that analysis must be directed if we are to make progress.

As a case in point, I may mention a glaring example of Institutionalized racism which I personally witnessed in the early Eighties. At that time I was involved with an organization which helped Overseas Students in London. In this capacity I was invited to a reception by an august Institution whose name I will not mention. The lady who greeted me- a picture of gentility and olde worlde charm- was of a certain age. Allowances should be made but, I confess, I was a bit miffed when she identified me as, not a South Indian man, but a Chinese woman. I protested that I was very dark skinned and couldn't possibly be Chinese. Also I'm a man.

 'Are you though?' she asked peering at my fly. 'Your dick falls well below the medical minimum to permit unambiguous gender identification'.

 'Fuck you know about the size of my dick?!' I exploded.

 'It's the first thing we learn at the Women's Institute. I can accurately gauge length, girth, angle of dangle and testicle circumference from 300 yards even through the thickest pair of Game-keeper, tweed, breeks.' 

'That may have been true in your salad days' I replied, 'but now you can't even tell the difference between a black person and one from China!'.

'Actually, I can. I just thought that by pretending you were Chinese I'd get your mind off the fact that you have a micro-dick. Soften the blow, so to speak'.

The reason I mention this episode from my youth is that, on reflection, the thing I should have concentrated on, in retelling this anecdote over successive decades, was that a White lady had mistaken a South Indian black for a light complexioned Chinese person. This shows that 'color' is something socially constructed. For this daughter of the British Empire, clearly, 'wogs began at Calais'. By bringing up gender and penis size I weakened my own case. In particular, the young Indian ladies I was ill advised enough to tell this tale to, showed little interest in my analysis of institutional racism or, indeed, my offer of my hand, or fist (which is of average size) in marriage. On the other hand, they were very quick to sign up with the Women's Institute. That wasn't 'cultural appropriation' or 'Tardean mimetics'. They simply wanted wanted to learn a useful skill. It is sad they all turned out utter sluts. 

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