No Black Opera Singers, No White Kid in a Gi, No Kabab in UK!

Jessye Norman killing it as Ariadne

I hope Randa Jarrar will break the news to Zaineb Abdul-Nabi, the young, female student-filmmaker featured among a group of six talented young people at last week’s Oscar telecast, that Zaineb cannot make movies because they didn’t originate within her culture.

Hey, it’s not my call. I’m all for a young Arab-American woman becoming a cinematographer, if she wants, but Jarrar says, no — that people have no business “appropriating” artforms outside their culture. Because purity or something — I don’t want to think about it too deeply, it all makes me think of Rassenhygiene, and we don’t want to go there. (via Instapundit)

I bet Jarrar just hates Ireland
, whose national step-dancing champion is an African-American with a Baptist father and a Jewish mother. Shocking.

How will I break the news to my not-a-speck-of-Irish-in-her niece that she must give up her step-dancing lessons, and the pretty dress full of Celtic designs, because being an olive-skinned kid of Italian/Greek ancestry disqualifies her from smacking the floor in hard shoes, like a good Leprechaun.

And someone will have to tell Misty Copeland to put the tutu down, because she has no right to it. She’s “appropriating” outside of her African-American culture.

I’m not sure what we’re supposed to tell the beautiful Lebanese women who wear jeans and button-down shirts and cowboy boots: stop appropriating the clothing of the American frontier! You have no right to wear those clothes! And if you end up going to college in Texas, you’d better not learn to love barbeque and say “I’ll tell ya whut,” because I’ll tell you whut…that sort of cultural appropriation would be raaaaacist!

Apparently in our enlightened age, everyone is supposed to stick to their own kind; don’t step outside your culture, or you might give offense to someone like Randa Jarrar, who only purchases material goods invented by Arabic people, lives in housing conforming to Arabian culture, travels by historically Arabian means, and only uses Algebra, which was developed by Arabs, but never calculus, which is credited to Newton.

So got that? Italians can’t enjoy hummus, and Jews can’t eat lasagna! The French can’t eat Fish and Chips and the English may not partake of Tandoori Chicken.

Nobody can enjoy fried-chicken and waffles until we figure out where that idea came from!

You people stop thinking that art belongs to everyone, or that there is some crazy melting pot of shared appreciations for anything — not for art, not for food, not for clothing, or shelter or modes of travel or even in how we communicate. You’d better not be some brown, yellow, or red person out there, reading Shakespeare or you will be found out and castigated until you act right.

All of you white people with kids in Martial Arts classes — get them out of there, right now! And you black people who brought soul to Handel’s Messiah, you’d better stop it if you don’t want to be told.

I will concede one point to Jarrar. The white belly dancers who give such offense should not gather a bunch of random syllables together to create Arab-sounding names. That’s just classless.

The most disturbing thing is when these women take up Arabic performance names — Suzy McCue becomes Samirah Layali. This name and others like it make no sense in Arabic.

Yeah, ladies, don’t be lazy; there are so many lovely Arabic names, you really shouldn’t have to make one up. You can’t change your skin color to suit Randa Jarrar, but you can choose a real Arabian name that honors the culture whose artform you love and study and practice, yourself, because art can speak to any heart and broaden any soul, and even grow through new perspective and interpretation.

The rest of Jarrar’s complaint is small-minded bubble-speak. One can be perfectly proud of one’s cultural heritage — and even a little protective of it — without succumbing to racist bitchery.

UPDATE:
Glad to see I’m not the only one
making this argument.

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About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    Some cultures are that insular… Curiously enough, Islam imposed the Arab culture and language wherever it spread to. Therefore, appropriating is wrong, imposing is right, as in might makes it right.


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