Misconception: Rewilders are Racist


#1

Man, I get this all the time from other anarchists/anti-authoritarians.

It’s like, “Anti-civ? Sure, that’s fine. Hating the society you’re enmeshed in is fine. But actually trying to get out of it by learning from people who live(d) differently? You’re f*ing racist, you must be appropriating from non-whites because you want to look cool.” When the truth is, I am usually quite hesitant to learn about indigenous traditions. But people make that assumption anyway.

Also, when I say things like, “Tribal societies have so many self-sustaining qualities and attend to human needs more efficiently,” people look at me like I’m a) idealizing and b) talking outside of my jurisdiction as a white person. But I don’t believe indigenous tribes live in some kind of utopia, for pete’s sake. And when I talk about tribal society’s merits, I talk about it in a social-organization sense, as a political theory, not in an indiscriminate, starry-eyed, appropriative way. In Quinn’s “Beyond Civilization,” he describes how traveling circuses were tribally organized, and that model is as much in my mind as any other tribal model when I analyze/comment on social organization.

But it’s a lot to explain to people; it’s very frustrating!

Anyone else have similar experiences?


#2
like I'm a) idealizing and b) talking outside of my jurisdiction as a white person. But I don't believe indigenous tribes live in some kind of utopia, for pete's sake. And when I talk about tribal society's merits, I talk about it in a social-organization sense, as a political theory, not in an indiscriminate, starry-eyed, appropriative way. In Quinn's "Beyond Civilization," he describes how traveling circuses were tribally organized, and that model is as much in my mind as any other tribal model when I analyze/comment on social organization.

But it’s a lot to explain to people; it’s very frustrating!

Anyone else have similar experiences?

Yes, I’ve had similar experiences, Blue Heron. And I’ve come to one conclusion: They just have to read Quinn’s work to understand. Personally, after reading DQ’s work I was able to draw on various tribal experiences that I had in my life up to that point. Southern Wisconsin camping trips with my grandparents, parents, sister and pets come to mind. I didn’t have to find an indigenous tribe, or idealize them in anyway, to understand the benefits of tribalism. The experience was already there for me to reflect on.

thank you,

Curt


#3
"Anti-civ? Sure, that's fine. Hating the society you're enmeshed in is fine. But actually trying to get out of it by learning from people who live(d) differently? You're f*ing racist, you must be appropriating from non-whites because you want to look cool."

OMG, that’s messed up logic. ::slight_smile:

I haven’t heard THAT gem before; instead I always hear the “you’re romanticizing the primitive way of life, it is obviously inferior to this one” bullsh*t. And showing their racism in the process. I haven’t yet had anyone call ME racist for “romanticizing” indigenous cultures. I just don’t see how someone could say that with a straight face!? Crazy people, the insanity never ends…


#4

I have never gotten the comment before, have you explained your thoughts to these people before? The cultural appropriation in the primitive skills world is rampant, and definatelty tom brown plays a part in that with his stories. Recently there was a anarchist “martial skils” gathering on my little island here. The fellow who came to do some wilderness awareness teaching saw that all the local anarchists talk a lot/do a lot of indigenous solidarity. anywho, he got into talking about stalking wolf turning his hand into a branch and pissed a lot of people off. I think there are things that we have lost, that we need to learn from indigenous cultures, particularly in our own bioregions, but i think there are some things that make those people who the are, those things are best left to them. It doesn’t seem like you are really appropriating… at all.


#5

Questions to ask in response:

Does using an Italian shotgun mean someone’s appropriating Italian culture?

Does wearing plaid mean someone’s appropriating Scottish culture?

When indigenous people hunt with rifles, are they appropriating Western culture?

Does wearing a lot of military surplus gear mean I’m appropriating military culture? (it exists, frighteningly enough)

Is styling my hair in a mohawk or some variation appropriating Haudenosaunee culture? Ancient Irish culture? Any other culture that sometimes wore a similar style?

After asking these or similar questions you can explain that using tools traditionally used by other groups isn’t imitating their culture. Ascribing to it the same meaning and cultural relevance that they do is. But tools are tools, and cultures surrounding them aren’t the same thing as the tools themselves. This is especially true with technologies and techniques that exist in many varying forms throughout many cultures, such as fire-making tools and sweat-lodge type ceremonies.

There’s also the insanely racist assumption that only Native Americans and other indigenous people have used primitive tools. Apparently, people of European descent popped up out of nowhere, already using steel tools and practicing agriculture.

Plus, I have the advantage of being able to tell people “Fuck you, I’m not (all) white!”


#6

I like to study the European cultures, though less hunter-gatherer related info is available. When that pops up I’m often able to say something like:

“What do you mean “appropriating”? My ancestors…”

Of course, that sometimes leads to being called a racist for other reasons. Somehow, the leap from “you have found beneficial things in your ancestral cultures” to “OMFG, your a F*cking NAZI!!” is very easy for a lot of people.

Doesn’t help that I’m 1/2 Nordic, 1/2 Gaelic, white as can be, with blue eyes and bright blond hair. Irish surname, etc, etc, etc.

I feel really impaired whenever cultural discussions come up. That “Walking on eggshells” feeling.


#7

I notice a tendency to monitor civilization’s values often when discussing the ‘what next’ scenario.

Certain memes poison our transition. Memes like ‘white guilt’ keep people trapped. For, as long as one feels guilty, white remains “I” and all else as “other”.

Until a white person actually sees themselves participating in the culture of others, perhaps as travelers or seekers or even as the initiate, many whites will continue to communicate ‘white guilt’ stuck in “I&Other” mode.

Creating a network of experience cultivates culture. Finding a place in the network of others cultivates culture. ‘Otherness’, a perpetual state of not belonging, does not form networks nor cultivate culture.

Grieving gives way to constructive behavior, for many.

Having white skin will cause others to react to your ‘walking away’, especially when emulating non-white behavior. In the Four Agreements, Ruiz reminds, “Nothing Others Do is Because of You”.

So I feel even using the word appropriation causes one to think that perhaps, behavior can be drawn on cultural and racial lines. And I feel, saying that one thing or another appropriates another gets closer to being ‘racist’ than the act of appropriation itself. By deciding right and cultural wrong, one takes initial steps towards being culturalists or racists, which, by definition, lack ‘negative’ qualities. They simply describe that points of views and ideas are processed through cultural and racial concepts.

And so, one could conceivably diffuse accusations by first remember the literal meaning of the word and chuckle at the irony of someone using race as a human descriptor then calling someone else a racist, and by two, by remembering that nothing people do is because of us.

We speak for ourselves even if we think we don’t, We think about ourselves even if we use another’s face (that’s called empathy, btw).

And so, if someone tries to knock your climb out of the Karmic hole by calling you names, remember that even if those names hurt you, pray they catalize a reaction in your naysayer.

All of us, as racists, culturalists, and other -ists, we can’t all be black, white, yellow and red at the same time, yet we can tell the difference between african drumming and indian drumming. If I see only the shape of two noses, I can tell you the difference between african or caucasian.

Finally, it isn’t easier to see the differences or the similarities, but depending on the attitude of who tells the anectdote, you may get on answer or another.

But we choose our perceptions, and we can choose positive, negative, or neutral.

Choose well.

p.s.
This January 19th, I hope everyone joins our country in a “day on, not a day off”, and serve their community in the Spirit of Dr. King the day before President-Elect Obama is inaugurated. go to www.mlkday.gov to find a service project near you


#8
Until a white person actually sees themselves participating in the culture of others, perhaps as travelers or seekers or even as the initiate, many whites will continue to communicate 'white guilt' stuck in "I&Other" mode.

I agree with this. I think that my realizing that I reject this dominant, western culture entirely (regardless of the fact that I have “white” racial ancestry) has helped eliminate the feeling of “white guilt”. Unfortunately, I currently do not belong to any culture, but once civ collapses and opens up space for alternative cultures to exist, and form anew, I believe that I will join with others to create a new culture. Therefore, my “whiteness” no longer has any relevance to anything - the whole issue becomes moot.

I don’t mean to say that racism in general no longer exists - I believe that it permeates civilization to the very core. In other words, civ and racism (and sexism) go hand in hand; the former cannot exist without the latter. But it seems insane to me to blame myself for this fact - I had no say in my skin color. I only have the power to recognize the racism inherent in the dominant culture, and to do my part to bring it down.

This makes me think that “white guilt” comes from the liberal way of thinking (as opposed to radicalism) - stemming from believing in individualistic solutions (rather than social ones), which implies that the problems also originate with individuals.

Jessica


#9

In another sense, those indigenous peoples who lived in these places previously, and those that still do, have not so much a “culture” as some kind of abstract set of rituals untied to time and place as they have a language with which they participate in the land’s life. While I don’t want to advocate rampant insincere imitation and “playing indian,” I think there may exist value imitating the ways of indigenous peoples, in order to relearn that language of the land.


#10

I’m not sure if this exists, but can we start a topic that is focused on addressing the unclaimed privilege and cultural appropriation that IS found in Rewilding circles. Somewhere where people can be honest and own their shadow side.
It would be a ridiculous assertion to say that Rewilders are not racist or patriarchal. It’s so easy to defend and say we don’t do mean things, but I have found that it is the unexamined subconscious things that I do that hurt the people around me the most. Lets put our defenses down so we can really decolonize! Let’s do it together.
I don’t know how to start topics, but if someone could do this, or tell me where the topic is, I will surely be the first to move towards admitting my problems.


#11

Mugwort, that’s a great idea.

It’s pretty easy to start a topic. Just scroll to the top of this page and click on “REWILD.info Community” in the list of folders. This will bring you to the “front page” of the forum. Then choose the appropriate section where you want to start a thread. It will take you to a list of all threads under that topic. To the right side, above that list, you’ll see a button called “new thread.” All you need to do is name the thread in the subject line, write the first post, and there you have it… voila!


#12

[quote=“BlueHeron, post:1, topic:1233”][size=10pt]Man, I get this all the time from other anarchists/anti-authoritarians.

It’s like, "Anti-civ? Sure, that’s fine. Hating the society you’re enmeshed in is fine. But actually trying to get out of it by learning from people who live(d) differently? You’re f*ing racist, you must be appropriating from non-whites[/size][/quote]

One of the definitions of Racism is "the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races. Discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race "

The world is full of prejudice people who judge, criticize, and condemn others that look, think or live differently than themselves… putting others down, so that they can feel elevated and SUPERIOR. How can you be considered a racist because you appreciate, admire, learn from and try to emulate other cultures. This seems to me to be the opposite of racism. Perhaps it is reverse racism, if you believe that another culture is superior to your own. What a rewilder feels is a superior culture/lifestyle, is most likely not based on the skin color or ethnicity of the culture.

Lets face it… the modern American Culture of Materialism and Consumerism is shared by the wide human spectrum of ethnic groups of all skin colors who immigrated here and were assimilated into The American Culture. Could or should a Bangladeshi American be called racist for appropriating our American way of life.

How about all of the white kid “Saggers” - Are they also Racists?

… wearing the super baggy pants, showing off their butt cracks and underwear (a fashion statement), using the hip-hop lingo and hand gestures, admiring and trying to be just like the black inner city thugs (I’m being a racist now) who originated / rule the Gangsta, Rap, Hip-Hop “culture / fad”… are they also Racist for appropriating another ethnic group’s “culture”. I think not. Likewise, a rewilder who appreciates, appropriates emulates another culture, over their own is not being a racist.

Real racists who are prejudice, hate or dislike another race or ethnic group are present wherever their are humans, in every group, movement, culture, or ethnic group. Racist whites, racist blacks, racist hispanics, racist gays, racist christians, racist rewilders. etc. However, I believe that the non-racists are in the majority.

One definition of to appropriate is “To take something from another for one’s own use or benefit.” We all do this all the time, since we were born… “monkey see… monkey do”. It plays a big part in who we have become, by learning from and emulating other peoples behavior. I believe that the harm done when appropriating / emulating another’s cultural traditions, is when we twist, modify, corrupt those borrowed cultural traditions and continue to call it by it’s original name, especially when we sell it for financial gain.

A group of Lakota Sioux made an official Declaration of War on appropriators of their culture, especially the New Age groups who have “stolen” their ancient traditions, and changed / corrupted their original meaning/purpose into a New Age ritual and charging admission to participate. But then remember this Declaration was made in 1993 and this group does not represent all Native Americans. http://puffin.creighton.edu/Lakota/war.html

Rewilders who appropriate native american culture as a way of living are not exploiting it. In my mind they are preserving and keeping the traditions alive, and passing them on to future generations. Most Native Americans are completely modernized, americanized, and not very interested in learning or practicing their old culture and traditions. Their culture is rapildy being lost with the passing of the elders and time. I know of Elders who are teaching their old Traditions to interested whites. Is it a Bad Thing when a white person appreciates, respects, learns, practices and passes on Native American Traditions?

(In response to those who may judge me for making this statement about Modern Native Americans - I was raised on 4 different Indian Reservations amongst 7 tribes during the first 18 years of my life, and I lived with a Paiute family when I was 17 years old)


#13

i got often on that topic. I ve never been to the us. only know what i read and what i heard.

im confussed on that topic. cause why is a native less native when he driving a car or eating fast food.

im not so good english american. so i not understand. there is no rascism if u keep simple. i fear getting racist label on me.
but so far im stay a victim of rascicsm there is nothing.

i dont know.