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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cultural appropriation

Where do you stand on this trending outrage?

Me? I'm all for it. I believe the best way for people to come together is to share elements of each others' cultures. Contrary to Mr. Trump's belief that making America great is rooted in keeping people out, I see the history of our country as proof that it is the exact opposite that has led us to our strength as a nation. 

But merely allowing people in is only the first step. A newcomer and their strange ways will always be alien......until those ways are woven into the overall fabric of who we all are collectively. Contrary to current belief this does not diminish the culture. Nor is it disrespectful. (though I suppose some acts of appropriation can be, if done with insensitivity or as intentional insults.) Still, even a clumsy imitation is still an attempt to assimilate something we appreciate.

 "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". -----Charles Caleb Colton 

As proof of my firm belief in adopting the practices of other cultures, I offer a look at our........


"Colonial" Christmas tree.

Prior to two years ago, Rosa and I had a "Zombie Christmas Tree" in our 'Green Room'.....decked out with Zombie action figures from various movies, shows, and games as ornaments. But last year we decided to do a "Colonial Christmas Tree" to match our Federal Period living room where we wished to now have our tree.

I did some research to get the details right, only to find that Colonists didn't have Christmas Trees! The Christmas Tree, as we know it, was introduced to Anglo-culture in 1840 when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert put up a Christmas Tree and an artist did an engraving of the scene. (read more)


Something new!

Prior to 1840, only families in Germany routinely used Christmas "Trees" (O Tannenbaum). Colonists used sprays of bay leaves, pomanders, and other branches, berries, and fruits as decoration. But when people saw Queen Victoria's tree, everyone wanted one of their own. And from England the fashion spread to the U.S.. 

So, while I continue to brazenly appropriate whatever I can from other cultures ( music, food, traditions, etc.) those who are staunchly opposed to "cultural  appropriation" can make their stand now........and throw out their Christmas trees!




31 comments:

  1. Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but a plateau is the highest.

    -Rosco

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    1. Well that’s good to know because I think I hit my plateau years ago! ;-)

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  2. What some now call cultural appropriation used to be called the "American melting pot." And, I'm all for it. I doubt the Indian lunch truck I eat at several times a week minds my appropriating their culture. Nor does the Mexican place where I had dinner last weekend. Or the German company that manufactured one of my vehicles, or . . .

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    1. Exactly right.

      See? We do agree MOST of the time. ;-)

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    1. True. That is definitely one of the things in its favor. ;-)

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  4. BIKSS wants to weigh in on this - he agrees, "There's nothing wrong with cultural appropriation if it's done respectfully" and I tend to agree with him, and you. Hurrah for Christmas trees everywhere!

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    1. I'm glad that you got BIKSS involved in the discussion. One of the perks of Collected Submissions......yes there's kink.....but so much more! LOL

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  5. I've heard there are now Africans playing European instruments like the guitar. Quite proficiently by some acounts.
    Obviously that's a step too far.

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    1. One of our rules is that anonymous comments must have a 'fake name' at least attached in the body of the note. Next time please do this so we know who we are talking to.

      As for your comment, I have to admit that I am picking up contradictory sentiments. On one hand you seem to be asserting that all cultures do this to some degree, which I agree with, but I am confused why you chose to single out African guitar players? Please explain. I don't want to jump to the wrong conclusion. Thanks.

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  6. Second attempt.

    Cultural appropriation is this. You take something from a culture, claiming that it is yours and you invented it, while simultaneously shaming the original culture against it.

    For a current example of this look to the previous posting regarding guitars. Despite the boast it is not a European invention. Try Egypt, which is African by the way

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    1. Welcome, Loki. I have read a couple of things on cultural appropriation and while your definition does occur in some cases, it does not seem to be THE definitive one. Where are you getting this very precise, definition that necessitates including claiming and shaming?

      As for your second point, I agree.....but I have asked the commenter to explain themselves a bit better.

      And welcome to Collected Submissions! Intelligent discourse is always welcome.

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    2. Greetings K.D.

      You see here is the difference between you and I on this matter. While you have read about cultural appropriations, I live it. You see I happen to be African-American of Caribbean descent, and we have a very long list of grievances in regards to cultural appropriation active against our people by White society in the matter that I described in my previous posting here.

      For example. There was the issue regarding a certain black hairstyle that was co-opted buy a white female boxer sometime last year. When it comes to wearing our hair in natural fashion, both African American men and women get crap for it. Those fashion are the called either radical, militant, dirty unkept, sloppy and a host of other negative terms. Yet if someone white Styles their hair in a version of these fashions they are hailed as Heroes. The fashion is called edgy, exotic, as well as creative.

      This was the case in regards to corn rows. Black women who wore them were shamed. From childhood to adulthood if they wore that style. Yet here comes this white female boxer who wears the style and then renames it has boxer braids, claiming that she invented the style herself.

      As I said, this is just one example. There are many more ranging from music to Fashion to literature to fill in the blank.

      As a community, my people do not mind sharing. It is our greatest strength and also our greatest weakness. What we do mind, and are now speaking out on it, is the theft that's occurring in regards to our culture. All of our accomplishments are stolen and then replaced by this belief that we as a people do nothing, produced nothing, create nothing, and are nothing. When in reality it is those accomplishments that have shaped this planet and continue to do so.

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    3. Thank you for the explanation. In reading it I think I can say that we don't disagree about how what you described is wrong. I was just trying to be precise about the term "cultural appropriation" itself. It obviously includes what you describe, but is it solely that? What about when a culture adopts something from another without the negative 'extras' of claiming and shaming? Is that still called 'cultural appropriation' or should there be a different term for it.

      Nothing done with disrespect or dishonesty is anything I would defend. But like with the Christmas Tree example, I fully am aware it was a German tradition, they started it. And we borrowed it and adapted it to our own styles.

      Dvorak was a Russian composer who assimilated American folk songs he heard while visiting here into his Symphony for the New World. Should he not have done that? Should Paul Simon never had collaborated with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on Graceland?

      What I think you are describing with the corn row issue is not solely 'cultural appropriation' but plain old nasty racism. The implication that certain cultures can't produce anything worthwhile is ridiculous. And to steal something and claim it is your own is disingenuous at best. I was not familiar with this boxer's story, but I certainly know where that style originated and if I heard someone claim they invented it on their own I'd say they were full of shit. (maybe she got hit one too many times in the ring and got confused on where she got the idea from?)

      Anyway, thanks for clarifying and please continue to contribute where you see opportunity!

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  7. Hello again K.D.

    I guess I was not clear enough in my description of cultural appropriation or your understanding of it. Which from my perspective is not much of a surprise. To be rather blunt, it is something that I have found the white Community to be uncomprehending at best. Or contemptuous of it at worst. Usually the latter.

    Is racism at the core of cultural appropriation? Yes it is. That and a sense of envy and jealousy all of the dominating culture in regard to the cultures that are under its thumb. In the case of this country, White Society is rather envious of other cultures, their beliefs, their spirituality, their fashion, everything that they are not that is present within the culture they are targeting. And as I stated earlier, as an ethnic American Man, I have seen this throughout my entire life.

    The examples you gave me regarding composers are not cultural appropriation.

    Yes. I know Dvorak is a Russian composer. I do have a taste for some classical music. I must one day share with you classical music's origin as well. I think you'll find it rather surprising and enlightening.

    What Dvorak did was to add this country's sound to the sounds of the rest of the world. He, to my knowledge, did not claim the songs as his own creation nor deny the origin of the originals.

    The same goes for your example using Paul Simon. His collaboration with Ladysmith on Graceland is not an appropriation due to the fact that he acknowledged the original content as not his own but has a joint venture with another culture. Had he just went to Ladysmith and took her music then it would have been a whole different story.

    You also seem to not understand the fact that my culture, especially here in the United States, has been viewed has nothing short of parasitical. Black people happened me the villains and victims of everything you can imagine and our children are taught that we are nothing.

    Remember, I am out of the culture that's been on the receiving end of this. So not only do I know what I'm speaking, it is ridiculous to try and tell me what I am seeing and not seeing. As well as borderline insulting.

    Let me give you a brief example. African American children are too to things about our culture. Slavery and the Civil Rights era. That's it. There is nothing about all the vast Empires that existed with an Africa prior to the wonderful world the slave trade. Nothing of all the accomplishments that have been the foundation for all the technology on this globe. Nothing of our culture of our people of our Nations within the African continent.

    Nothing.

    Unless of course two requirements are met in our history for to be taught. That is pre-approved versions of set history that feature a white savior. Because in the mind of the current Society black people cannot do anything on their own without outside help.

    Now before you raise those fingers to try and contradict this to me, consider our media. How have and are my folk portrayed to yours? Both the men and the women, depending on the tones of our skin as a factor?

    Explorer that first before you answer me. And then if you have questions I will find a time to answer them as much as I can.

    And do note while we are the core victims of cultural appropriation, we are not the only ones. We're just the most targeted ones as we've all been isolated from our ancestral Homeland across the board. Courtesy of this society.

    By the way. The Christmas tree is actually a Norse tradition that is pre-christian in origin.

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    1. There's a lot here to respond to and Blogger limits length so I will do so in sections:

      You: "I guess I was not clear enough in my description of cultural appropriation or your understanding of it. Which from my perspective is not much of a surprise. To be rather blunt, it is something that I have found the white Community to be uncomprehending at best. Or contemptuous of it at worst. Usually the latter."

      Me: I understood your definition quite well and only asked where you got such a limited definition that includes claiming and shaming? My look into the definition did not necessitate those conditions. I stated quite clearly that those things can happen and are blatantly wrong.

      Secondly, I have welcomed you here and expressed agreement to much of your argument.....to the sole exclusion of the precise definition of "cultural appropriation". And you have responded in a rather accusatory and insulting fashion, bringing up my ethnicity as reason for not understanding something I fully understand. It seems to me what you want is for me to just accept your own, very precise and limited, personal definition of "cultural appropriation" or else be labelled as a clueless white person. That's a mighty big leap and racist assumption.

      You: "Is racism at the core of cultural appropriation? Yes it is. That and a sense of envy and jealousy all of the dominating culture in regard to the cultures that are under its thumb. In the case of this country, White Society is rather envious of other cultures, their beliefs, their spirituality, their fashion, everything that they are not that is present within the culture they are targeting. And as I stated earlier, as an ethnic American Man, I have seen this throughout my entire life."

      OK with a lot of that. But we take stuff from fellow whites as well.....hence the Christmas Trees.

      You: "The examples you gave me regarding composers are not cultural appropriation.

      Yes. I know Dvorak is a Russian composer. I do have a taste for some classical music. I must one day share with you classical music's origin as well. I think you'll find it rather surprising and enlightening.

      What Dvorak did was to add this country's sound to the sounds of the rest of the world. He, to my knowledge, did not claim the songs as his own creation nor deny the origin of the originals.

      The same goes for your example using Paul Simon. His collaboration with Ladysmith on Graceland is not an appropriation due to the fact that he acknowledged the original content as not his own but has a joint venture with another culture. Had he just went to Ladysmith and took her music then it would have been a whole different story."

      Me: So again we are back to the definition. Show me where "cultural appropriation" MUST include claiming and shaming for it to truly BE "cultural appropriation". Cite a source. As i said, while these conditions can and do occur, I have nothing saying these conditions must be met for something to fall under this term.

      You:"You also seem to not understand the fact that my culture, especially here in the United States, has been viewed has nothing short of parasitical. Black people happened me the villains and victims of everything you can imagine and our children are taught that we are nothing."

      Me: You know nothing of what I know or don't know. How would you like me to accuse you of not understanding my argument because of your skin color?

      You: "Remember, I am out of the culture that's been on the receiving end of this. So not only do I know what I'm speaking, it is ridiculous to try and tell me what I am seeing and not seeing. As well as borderline insulting."

      Me: As is the assumption that only you know what discrimination is. As if only your experiences count.

      (cont'd in next reply)


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    2. You: "Let me give you a brief example. African American children are too to things about our culture. Slavery and the Civil Rights era. That's it. There is nothing about all the vast Empires that existed with an Africa prior to the wonderful world the slave trade. Nothing of all the accomplishments that have been the foundation for all the technology on this globe. Nothing of our culture of our people of our Nations within the African continent.

      Nothing."

      Me: Next time you are in a book store, go into the History section. Count the books on the history of Italy, Germany, England, and yes, even Black History. Now go and look for books on the history of Poland. You'll be lucky if you find five. Don't tell ME about the destruction or denial of a people's past by the those who have invaded and conquered them.

      While I can sympathize with these things, they are NOT exclusive to Blacks in America. Try looking at the history of the Irish. (and I'm not Irish)

      You:"Unless of course two requirements are met in our history for to be taught. That is pre-approved versions of set history that feature a white savior. Because in the mind of the current Society black people cannot do anything on their own without outside help.

      Now before you raise those fingers to try and contradict this to me, consider our media. How have and are my folk portrayed to yours? Both the men and the women, depending on the tones of our skin as a factor?

      Explorer that first before you answer me. And then if you have questions I will find a time to answer them as much as I can.

      And do note while we are the core victims of cultural appropriation, we are not the only ones. We're just the most targeted ones as we've all been isolated from our ancestral Homeland across the board. Courtesy of this society."

      Me: All valid points with one glaring exception: the manipulation of history and what is taught, while it includes the reasons you cited, goes far beyond that and incorporates all sorts of elements of manipulation. No government wants an informed public.....of any color.

      You: "By the way. The Christmas tree is actually a Norse tradition that is pre-christian in origin."

      Me: Thanks. I am well aware.

      In conclusion, Loki, you are still quite welcome here.....but I have a question for you: When a person of your ethnicity encounters a white racist, I can understand a strong reaction, but when you are dealing with someone who is, for all intents and purposes, 'on your side', what do you hope to accomplish by alienating them with accusatory and insulting assumptions? Is that working well for you?

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    3. I also wanted to add to your point about the teaching of the history of Africa on the continent itself. Unless a person takes a course in a particular country's history, NO ONE is taught about their specific country of origin. My Rosa is from Peru. Her kids were not taught the history of Peru in school. I'm Polish and I was not taught the history of Poland in school.

      As part of American History, certain elements of various cultures ARE. And while they are certainly biased and slanted with an agenda......they are there. AND, if a person WANTS to know more about ANYTHING, there has never been a better time to access information. But the key is that someone has to have the desire to do it. Way too many people of all colors and ethnicities are quite content to spend their time playing games on their I-Phones instead.

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  8. Well, that was a mouthful on your part. From what has been posted, you are attempting to say that I, despite being a member of a people who are the constant victims of Cultural Appropriation for centuries in this country alone have no clue as to what I am speaking. That this is just my "own, very precise and limited, personal definition of "cultural appropriation" and is not shared by my fellow African Decedent People.

    I have only two replies to that line of reasoning. One being the phrase, "Are you bloody kidding me!" And two being this. Congratulations! You are now officially a white stereotype. The stereotype that when confronted with the actual definition of things like Cultural Appropriation and/or Racism by a Black Man or Woman, the white person feels a need to explain that it is not as bad as it appears and it is only their personal perception of such that they are experiencing. And any contradiction or correction on the part of the Black Person is viewed as aggressive and, oddly enough, racist.

    Does that make you the "clueless white guy" in all of this? Well, you called it. Though not for the reasons that you stated. It is not because you disagree with me personally. No. It is because that despite being informed from a Black Person about how this topic affects us, it did not matter to you. What you have done was what many white do in this situation. Agree that yes there is wrongdoing, but other people are suffering too. Yes, Black People were enslaved, but other people were too.

    Anything that can be used to deflect the fact that there is a war being waged against Black People by white society. Cultural Appropriation is just one of the weapons in that war.

    Now, I could go and nitpick everything that you threw at me in response to the attempted nitpick that you have done, KD. But I don't have to repeat myself over and over again when My Point has been more than made.

    Truth of the matter is that you were in the wrong in regards to cultural appropriation from the moment you typed the words, "I'm all for it.". The reason that it is not a big deal for you is because you are not affected by it and you see it as some step to this fictional Kumbya America where a person's native culture does not matter. Unless you are Black.

    Incidentally this, is a very racist thing to say. Truth is that we People of Non-White Colors love our heritages and seek them out, especially when learning such in schools has been all but deleted from the curriculum. Where as those of white complexion seem to only want to bury history, unless it serves a purpose. Such as propaganda. Positive for whites, negative for everyone else.

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    1. So. This spot does not take cut and paste. Good to know.

      Incidentally claiming that People, both of Color and not, are not interested in their culture is no true and was a rather racist thing to say.

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    2. How can holding the same opinion on people of all colors and ethnicities be 'racist'? 'Misanthropic' perhaps, but not 'racist'.

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  9. Oh. I almost forgot this...
    < When a person of your ethnicity encounters a white racist, I can understand a strong reaction, but when you are dealing with someone who is, for all intents and purposes, 'on your side', what do you hope to accomplish by alienating them with accusatory and insulting assumptions? Is that working well for you?>

    To answer this question is simple. The person who is "on my side" would understand that on the topics such as cultural appropriation, racism, gentrification,organ trafficking and the like as it affects myself and My People. Said person would not make attempts to downplay any and all of these issues just because it makes them feel uncomfortable and/or see their society as it really is.

    Now if they feel alienated. that is their fault and not of my doing. I am not out to coddle people with these topics. My Folk have done too much of that in the past. Not anymore.

    By the way. In regards to what I had said regarding to the miseducation of Black Children in our school system. While it has been more than thirty plus years since I have picked up a history book, I am fifty one, I do recall all those times that I explored them, with each grade. I do also seeing the histories of various Nations. Even your ancestral lands had mentions that did not begin with World War Two.

    But Africa never got a positive mention, if mentioned at all. It was something that I had not thought of then. But then my Wife told me that in her schools Black History was a mandatory part of the year. Until the early 80s when it was phased out and not replaced.

    Final note. This..



    I used to work for Borders and happen to be a History buff. Depending on the size of the store and the availability of the books in question, as well as the sales of said books are the reasons why there would be limited run in regards to books about Polish history.

    It has nothing to do with a deliberate deletion of Polish history. It has everything to do with the popularity of the Nations of that region. Poland just is not that popular in contrast to Germany.

    And I know about Irish History as far back as before they went Catholic. To use them to try and downplay what happened to the Africans in regards to slavery has become a common ploy because few people know what an indentured servant was in comparison to a slave. Let alone the chattel slavery of the 1800. Which The Americanized Irish were placed above my Folk in a successful divide and conquer move by the wealthy class among the non-wealthy classes. A move that established a society whose hierarchy is based on skin color.

    A hierarchy that persists to this very minute.

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    1. Loki, I really don't know where to go with this. I thought I made my agreements and disagreements pretty clear.....but you seem to derive something entirely different from them.

      I asked for you to cite a source that defines "cultural appropriation" within your narrow limits and you refer to your personal experience. Would that mean that your definition of 'slavery' is limited to only African victims as well?

      I ask for a precise definition of the term being discussed in the original post and you give me a history of the atrocities committed against your culture. I am not denying those atrocities. But that's like being asked for one's favorite cookie recipe and then answering with a detailed account of one's allergy to nuts. The allergy is probably very real and unfortunate......but it doesn't answer the question.

      What I do see and refuse to play into, is your constant twisting of everything into a color issue. I guess there two kinds of 'color blindness'......one where a person can't see color, and the other where the person can't see anything BUT color.

      As for the destruction of Polish history: "Soviet authorities attempted to remove the traces of Polish history of the area by eliminating much of what had any connection to the Polish state or even Polish culture in general.[16]" cited from a history book on Poland and included in a Wiki article. Next time stick to what you know.

      Again, you are still welcome here, but unless you stick to the topic and answer my very simple question, THIS conversation is done. Rather than remain divided (over an issue we are not divided over), please feel free to comment on any one of the countless other posts.

      All the best!

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  10. I would waste an hour or two taking on Loki's "it's cultural appropriation because I say so" and "you're all racists not because you are but because I say" so BS, but . . . I don't feel like it. Instead, I'll just quote this as my own retort to his multi-paragraph bitch session about why public school curriculum doesn't devote more of its pedagogical "shelf space" to his more favored topics:


    "It has nothing to do with a deliberate deletion of Polish history. It has everything to do with the popularity of the Nations of that region. Poland just is not that popular in contrast to Germany."



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    1. The next time you disagree with me on something I'm going to accuse you of hating Polish people.

      ;-)

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    2. Hardly, but it ties in nicely to your recent posting about jokes, since there are so many Polish ones out there!

      I actually am a huge admirer of the Polish people and their resistance during WWII. Gotta give credit to people fighting tanks with horses. Particularly as contrasted to, say, the French . . .

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    3. No way. I love the Polish people. Particularly the jokes about them. ;-)

      In seriousness, I am a history buff, and I have great admiration and sympathy for the Pole's experience during WWII.

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    4. Thanks, Dan. And their troubles go back even further. But we are a stubborn and resilient lot......even if we do need several fellow Poles to assist in changing light bulbs. ;-)

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    5. My people would buy the beer after yours changed the bulbs.

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  11. Also, while there undoubtedly is a lack of awareness of other society's contributions to the arts and sciences, you stray when you say things like African American children learn "Nothing of all the accomplishments that have been the foundation for all the technology on this globe." That is hyperbole, pure and simple. I have no doubt at all that principles of mathematics and geometry likely arose first in Africa, if for no other reason than modern humans emerged there first, so it would be kind of surprising if things like spoken language, counting, etc. did not arise there first, too. And, certainly we see high level applied mathematics and geometry on display in Egypt long before Europe. But, to the extent you are using Egypt as a primary source of "all the technology on this globe" and bemoaning that African Americans are not taught that as part of "their" cultural contributions, you are committing your own cultural misappropriation, since the most contemporary evidence from DNA studies indicates that the Egyptians are related most closely the people's of the Levant (modern Syria and Turkey) not Sub-Saharan Africa.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/05/30/dna-from-ancient-egyptian-mummies-reveals-their-ancestry/?utm_term=.831c2ffecbdd

    Pointing out the current state of science on doesn't equate to racism. Hundreds and hundreds of societies of varying levels of complexity of risen and fallen over the Millennia and many have contributed to civilization as we know it today. It is hardly surprising that on a part of the continent colonized primarily by Anglo Europeans, we study more English lit than the literature of Sub-Saharan Africa. I lived in the Southwest United States for several years, and kids there learn far more about Spanish culture and history than is probably the case for kids in Maine or Ohio. And, I'm guessing a kid growing up in modern Kenya doesn't learn a lot about the contributions of Tibet or India. It doesn't mean they devalue the contributions of those cultures just because their school library doesn't have large shelves devoted to them.

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    1. Very good points, Dan. I don't know how trying to establish a clear definition of a two-word term has led to all these assumptions of racism.

      Loki: if you wish to continue discussing this with Dan, I won't stand in the way, but the discussion needs to remain as civil as it has been up to now.

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