And I’m still not buying it. Remember the crafty white dreadlock-wig-making person? She posted a response on her blog:
This post has triggered negative feelings in people, and I want to apologize. I created this dreadlock wig in 2006 as hair for a type of gothic, dark, forest fairy. I realize that by not sharing the costume in it’s entirety, I left it open for interpretation. And the way that it was interpreted was as an insensitive and racially charged project. I want it to be clear to everyone that I had no intention of mocking anyone, no intention of cruelty, and no intention of representing any group of people. It also very important for everyone to know that I do not condone using this project as a tool for perpetuating stereotypes.
Not cutting it. Because it’s not about “interpretation” or “intention.”
You took a hairstyle that has religious, cultural, social and political meaning for many people and reduced it to a Halloween costume. It’s cultural co-optation and commodification at its worst. And besides the dehumanization of using such a symbol as part of a Halloween costume (because people with locks are not Sponge Bob Square Pants), you also apparently chose this hairstyle because it represents the “other” for you. Your fantasy fairy. “Gothic and dark.” Which you referred to as as “Rastafarian tooth fairy.”
I had this same discussion with a white somebody who thought it was funny to put a dreadlock wig on a baby. And all I can ask is, “If you had Rastafarian friends, would you still do this?”
Because it occurs to me that most white people live in a white bubble. Therefore they rarely risk any criticism for their racist actions. I wrote before about encountering a woman dressed as my race at a Halloween party. It became very clear that her discomfort (and the discomfort of other attendees) had to do with the fact that they assumed the party would be all-white. Worse yet, to find that the person of color was fucking the boss. Heh.
In the same way, the craft community is a pretty white bunch. So white people will simply praise you for your wonderful, creative idea. And they will defend it. It’s merely a faulty interpretation.
But “interpretation” refers to the fact that you view our “interpretation” as wrong and yours as right. Obviously people of color do not have the ability to think critically or to have opinions that are informed by our life experiences. Or our nuanced viewpoints of race and racism. So when a white person tells us it’s about “interpretation,” what she is telling us is that we are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
By the way, that’s not an apology, either. Next time you should consult with Dr. Sinoangle’s Service for Racist Apologies. Dr. Sinoangle is distributing free apologies at the link.
I’d note that I would not include intention at all. Whether or not you intended to further an ism, the fact remains that you did so. Focusing on intention is a white perspective. Focusing on addressing the wrong is an anti-racist perspective.
And how exactly did you think that people might use this project? Well, my guess would be that they’d use it to create dreadlock wigs so they could be all hip and edgy with their racism. But in this post-racial world, nobody is a racist. Nobody had any intention. It’s all about the faulty interpretation of those other folks. Yeah.