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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Is it racist to have a '50s themed party? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Is it racist to have a '50s themed party?
Destineer
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I've occasionally enjoyed the tumblr yoisthisracist.com, but I've recently come upon some entries that strike me as completely nuts. The guy apparently thinks you're racist if you have a 1950s-themed party, for example.

Does this strike anyone as at all sensible? I agree that racism was way worse in the '50s, but having a themed party doesn't mean one is "glorifying" the decade, let alone endorsing any particular aspect of it. Moreover, I see a slippery slope with no possible dividing line. Is it OK to enjoy films from that period, for example?

I don't understand how people get wound up so tight that they can see racial prejudice in something so mundane and harmless.

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Lyrhawn
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I deal with this stuff a lot in my work.

My own personal feeling is no it's not racist, though it'd be nice if you paused and realized exactly what it is that you're doing.

If you dress up in black face, then it's racist, or if you did a minstrel show or something. There are some subtle easy ways you can slip into the glorification or mythologizing of racist things from a time period. But dressing in period dress or something else that's benign? You're fine.

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JonHecht
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Finding a historical time period interesting is not, in itself, racist. There are very few time periods you are going to be able to go to (any?) in which some group or another is not being oppressed. Choosing that a particular time is interesting and wanting to throw a party with it as the theme does not entail that you endorse the bigotry of the day. (Whether it be anti-Black, anti-South, anti-Jew, anti-non-Roman-citizen, or what have you).
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JonHecht
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The website on the whole goes a bit too far:

"So... is the mere act of ACKNOWLEDGING [original emphasis] physical and cultural differences between different racist a racist thing to do?

Honestly, who else besides racists sit around doing bullshit like that?"

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Lyrhawn
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I think they make an interesting point about not being able to cherry pick the things we like from an era, like, wanting to throw a party with zoot suits and flapper dresses, like a Prohibition Party or something, to emulate the roaring 20s, while ignoring the troubles just about everyone who wasn't a WASP experienced during the same time period. I don't think those troubles make the time period off-limits for emulation, but I do think we should recognize exactly what it is we're doing.

Star Trek DS9 did an interesting episode that covered this. In the last two seasons, people went to a holosuite program of a 1960s Las Vegas casino, and in one episode, "Badda-Bing Badda-Bang" they had to rescue it. Captain Sisko, the only black Captain to lead a series, protested against saving it because it was a fantasy. Blacks would not have been allowed into the casino if it was period accurate. The exchange that Sisko has with his girlfriend is particularly telling of both the controversy, and a healthy way to respond to it.

Cassidy Yates just finished saying that she always feels comfortable at the casino, and that she's never had any problems because of race. Sisko responds here:

quote:
Captain Sisko: But don't you see? That's the lie. In 1962, the civil rights movement was still in its infancy. It wasn't an easy time for our people, and I'm not going to pretend that it was.
Kasidy Yates: Baby - I know that Vic's isn't a totally accurate representation of the way things were, but... it isn't meant to be. It shows us the way things could've been - the way they should've been.
Captain Sisko: We cannot ignore the truth about the past.
Kasidy Yates: Going to Vic's isn't going to make us forget who we are or where we came from. What it does is reminds us that we are no longer bound by any limitations - except the ones we impose on ourselves.


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Dan_Frank
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Destineer... It's a tumblr. They make an art form out of being offended by perceived social injustices. Or at least, that's a common impression I have of the place.
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Orincoro
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Racism is a set of erroneous beliefs about what defines people. If you have a clear idea of what humanity is all about, and you don't judge people based on their race, then nothing you do is "racist."

This crap, along with "I'm not white = I can't be racist," thinking gets my goat every time. People learn all the wrong lessons about this. You're racist if you believe that race matters more than actions, in what people can achieve and in what defines them. That's racism- everything else is just flotsam.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Destineer... It's a tumblr. They make an art form out of being offended by perceived social injustices. Or at least, that's a common impression I have of the place.

I've not seen that. Most of my Tumblr contact is with friends who run fashion/music blogs using the tumblr format. But I suppose every social network has its corners of social injustice outrage. Just the other day I was browsing some pro-gun group and its photo-memes- full of choir preaching of course, but easy to ignore that side of facebook if you want to.
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AchillesHeel
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Dress up silly, drink a manhattan and remark on the hosts vintage lamp that was bought for occasion.

Next time suggest a theme party based on how Europeans would scrape and bow while paying a kings ransom in luxuries and technologies to tribal leaders along the African coast. Whether or not you sell Africans from other tribes is up to you.

It is just a stupid reason to dress in costume. If someone throwing the party had any intention of acting in a period accurate manner toward anyone who was not a white male, middle class and up then it would be mean.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Destineer... It's a tumblr. They make an art form out of being offended by perceived social injustices. Or at least, that's a common impression I have of the place.

I've not seen that. Most of my Tumblr contact is with friends who run fashion/music blogs using the tumblr format. But I suppose every social network has its corners of social injustice outrage. Just the other day I was browsing some pro-gun group and its photo-memes- full of choir preaching of course, but easy to ignore that side of facebook if you want to.
Yeah, it's by no means the only thing people use Tumblr for.

But I'd say it's more than a corner, too. I think it's a pretty significant backbone of the site. And the account Destineer's talking about surely fits into the paradigm I'm used to.

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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I deal with this stuff a lot in my work.

Huh, what kind of work do you do?
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I deal with this stuff a lot in my work.

Huh, what kind of work do you do?
Grad student of African-American history and modern race studies.

I should have said "this kind of stuff," as we don't talk about historically themed parties every day, but discussing what is and isn't racism is a daily conversation.

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Samprimary
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'Social Justice' community culture — of the sort that tumblr so readily expresses — has reached utterly surreal levels, to the extent that it is starting to fracture and marginalize itself in a manner roughly and curiously analogous to how the Radfems did a few decades ago. It has worked out a whole inherent set of dogma and specific redefinition of words, its own common vehicular language and associated key words and phrases (see: poc, cis-, trans-, oppression olympics, trans*, ableist, tone argument/tone policing, intersectionality, cultural appropriation, kyriarchy, whiteness, ally, privilege, check your privilege, a specific and mandatory definition of racism and other "isms" that, under Social Justice terminology, cannot be applied to culturally dominant groups, which means that they will say "You can't be racist to whites" or "You can't be sexist to males," etc) and it is BY FAR responsible for the most absolutely mindblowingly surreal shame culture I have seen outside of locked-in right-wing authoritarianism emblematic groups.

I seriously mean it. The entire social justice community has become that profoundly weird that it is difficult to even seriously step back and analyze on a sociological level.

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Dan_Frank
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I agree with Sam.

But I seem to remember him giving me grief for complaining about social justice culture in the past.

You change your mind? Or maybe I misunderstood you, or am misremembering.

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Samprimary
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http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/ubbmain/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=058881;p=11&r=nfx#000546
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Dan_Frank
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Aha, okay.

I remembered you saying that, broadly, but I thought I remembered you as downplaying their prevalence.

You open your statement with "large subset," though, so I clearly didn't remember right. Good deal. [Smile]

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Destineer... It's a tumblr. They make an art form out of being offended by perceived social injustices. Or at least, that's a common impression I have of the place.

I've not seen that. Most of my Tumblr contact is with friends who run fashion/music blogs using the tumblr format. But I suppose every social network has its corners of social injustice outrage. Just the other day I was browsing some pro-gun group and its photo-memes- full of choir preaching of course, but easy to ignore that side of facebook if you want to.
Yeah, it's by no means the only thing people use Tumblr for.

But I'd say it's more than a corner, too. I think it's a pretty significant backbone of the site. And the account Destineer's talking about surely fits into the paradigm I'm used to.

I had no idea. But it does explain a younger friend of mine's relatively constant referrals to dumb liberal memes about social justice. The kind of crap that embraces me as a liberal. She runs a well known fashion blog on tumblr.
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Dan_Frank
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Yeah, a less political friend of mine (she's lightly libertarian, but mostly just hates politics) gets really exhausted by the stuff on tumblr. She can't escape it, even on blogs nominally about totally unrelated things.

It embraces me too! [Wink]

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
I agree that racism was way worse in the '50s, but having a themed party doesn't mean one is "glorifying" the decade, let alone endorsing any particular aspect of it. Moreover, I see a slippery slope with no possible dividing line. Is it OK to enjoy films from that period, for example?

Honestly, in this context I may not be the best person to ask if this is racist. I have a more specific definition of racism than many on Hatrack, at least last time in a similar conversation. This does not qualify.

That said, what I`m going to call an asshole test applies. Where you see a slippery slope, I see shades of grey where people will feel like an asshole at different points. I think like 95% (stat totally picked out of the air) of people would feel like an asshole if they were to invite Jewish grandmothers or grandfathers to a, well fascist German late Thirties party shall we say. 90% of people would feel like an asshole inviting the same generation of Chinese to an equivalent Imperial Japanese party. 75%, inviting black people to a Southern plantation party ... but say only 1% of people inviting Christians to a Roman toga party.

The numbers aren't important, the main point is that I feel that where most people disagree isn`t going to be at the extremes, but in that meaty middle. I don`t feel like I have to have a particularly strong opinion about people I may disagree with in there either.

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Emreecheek
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Racism is a set of erroneous beliefs about what defines people. If you have a clear idea of what humanity is all about, and you don't judge people based on their race, then nothing you do is "racist."

No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.

Racism is a system of inequality based on race.

In the US, white people are the privileged race. People of color can be racist, but only in a context of white racism. If they are, as you define it, "racist" towards each other, whites benefit. Thus, such racism is a different kind of racism altogether.

US Racism is a moving strip at an airport that, unless a white person actively turns around and walks in the opposite direction, will carry her towards an even more racist society. As it is, by acknowledging privilege and acknowledging that color blindness is not a good ideal (It's okay, kiddo, we're all white on the inside!), white people can successfully start moving against it. If one doesn't, though, one is contributing to racism - One is a racist.

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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I deal with this stuff a lot in my work.

Huh, what kind of work do you do?
Grad student of African-American history and modern race studies.

I should have said "this kind of stuff," as we don't talk about historically themed parties every day, but discussing what is and isn't racism is a daily conversation.

I figured that's what you meant. [Smile] That's awesome, do you have a particular research area yet?

quote:
Destineer... It's a tumblr. They make an art form out of being offended by perceived social injustices. Or at least, that's a common impression I have of the place.
Yeah. There is one self-righteous social issue-focused tumblr blog that I think is legitimately hilarious, though:

http://niceguysofokc.tumblr.com/

quote:

US Racism is a moving strip at an airport that, unless a white person actively turns around and walks in the opposite direction, will carry her towards an even more racist society. As it is, by acknowledging privilege and acknowledging that color blindness is not a good ideal (It's okay, kiddo, we're all white on the inside!), white people can successfully start moving against it. If one doesn't, though, one is contributing to racism - One is a racist.

If a color-blind civilization were achievable in practice in the near term, I would disagree more strongly with this. As it is, I think it does have some important truths at its heart. But I think of institutional racism a bit differently than you do. In particular, I think it's possible for a social institution (or system of institutions) to be racist while none of the individual participants in the system are racist. We often do things that contribute to institutional racism but which are not motivated by racially prejudiced attitudes. Doing so does not make someone "racist," in my book--although perhaps that's just a semantic question.

To give a concrete example: Armenians in the US are pretty much just part of white America, enjoying the same privilege as other whites. But there are also some people who are prejudiced against Armenians. These people are racists, even though their racism doesn't contribute to institutional racism.

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Emreecheek
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niceguysofokcupid is the best Tumblr ever.

Me and all my girlfriends love it! Generally, I found the guys on Facebook I'm friends with didn't like it so much. But it's hilarious! [Big Grin]

***Edited to add the following***

I would also just like to point out that OF COURSE race defines us so long as we live in a racist society.

***Edited further because I continually confuse the edit and quote buttons***

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Samprimary
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I just kind of want to ask the yo is this racist dude that in light of the fact that we still live in a blatantly racist society doesn't that mean that any period time party thing is racist and you're a racist if you hold one, like wouldn't that make a 90's theme party racist and everyone who attends one racist, or a flapper costume party is all racist, or even a 2011 theme party.

And if not can we figure where the cutoff date is, does it make you racist to hold a 1979 party but not a 1980 party

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Dan_Frank
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Also I mean if racism is systemic and takes a super long time to get rid of, then a futuristic party is probably still racist too, right? How dare you pretend that 2030 won't be a time full of racism and injustice and bigotry. Check your privilege.
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AchillesHeel
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Wow, I just fell down the rabbit hole that is isthisracist.com. Incoherent caps lock free-for-all. I remember that someone hated fedoras, he lead with it in fact. How much rage must one have before you hate a particular style of hat?
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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
I just kind of want to ask the yo is this racist dude that in light of the fact that we still live in a blatantly racist society doesn't that mean that any period time party thing is racist and you're a racist if you hold one, like wouldn't that make a 90's theme party racist and everyone who attends one racist, or a flapper costume party is all racist, or even a 2011 theme party.

And if not can we figure where the cutoff date is, does it make you racist to hold a 1979 party but not a 1980 party

Ha, yeah. You should ask him and see what he says. (I've actually experimented with asking the guy a couple questions along similar lines, but none showed up on the blog. I don't think he's too interested in actually thinking his views through.)

quote:
Also I mean if racism is systemic and takes a super long time to get rid of, then a futuristic party is probably still racist too, right? How dare you pretend that 2030 won't be a time full of racism and injustice and bigotry. Check your privilege.
[ROFL]
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umberhulk
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Anyone who attends a 90s theme party is not racist, but is, however, a terrible person.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Ha, yeah. You should ask him and see what he says.
probably some variation of 'yo why would this question matter unless DOT DOT DOT'

idk he would probably have some more substantive and reasoned response IF you asked him somehow outside of the obvious performance art n' hijinx nature of the blog, but on the blog it would be boiled down to Great Racist Question for Racists (yo)

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Destineer
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I think you've got him pegged.
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umberhulk
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Is it racist to have an Orange County themed party?

Well, shit.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I deal with this stuff a lot in my work.

Huh, what kind of work do you do?
Grad student of African-American history and modern race studies.

I should have said "this kind of stuff," as we don't talk about historically themed parties every day, but discussing what is and isn't racism is a daily conversation.

I figured that's what you meant. [Smile] That's awesome, do you have a particular research area yet?
My thesis research is on the 1963 "Walk to Freedom," the largest single civil rights march other than the March on Washington, which took place in Detroit a couple months before the MOW.

More broadly, my research interests focus on northern civil rights activity, and on Detroit in particular.

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Parkour
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Tumblr is dumb. People who go around playing social justice police and hunting for white people tears are dumb. way to make a good cause insufferable and pathologically bullyish, ya dinks.
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umberhulk
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1szXOk4vaE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brEOkSj92qc

http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/grant-hills-response-to-jalen-rose/

[ December 27, 2012, 07:03 PM: Message edited by: umberhulk ]

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Carrie
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My experience with Tumblr can be summed up thusly: If I'm reading words, I'm doing it wrong. Show me the pictures of pretty boys!
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Emreecheek
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Hey, girl. I love locavorism.
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Geraine
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What the.....This website is strange.

One guy asks " Is it racist if I am at work today? Please say yes."

What is wrong with some people?

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AchillesHeel
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Some gems.
quote:

Anonymous asked: Is it racist when people of color play white music way better than white people (like when Farrakhan plays classical violin concertos, or yo yo ma plays the **** out of his cello)?

No, it’s merely wack.

quote:

Anonymous asked: yo, is it racist if im indifferent to whether im perceived as racist

Yes.

quote:

Anonymous asked: Why does everyone assume that white people are racist? that in and of itself is racist if you ask me.

Good thing no one is asking your stupid ass, then.

quote:

Anonymous asked: My boyfriend hates my fedoras.

Yo, everyone hates your fedoras.

I'm glad our society has evolved to such an illustrious pinnacle.
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Samprimary
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just wait until you get to watch social justice warriors segfault on the subject of transethnics (I'm an asian in a white man's body. THIS IS WHO I AM, check your cisethnic privilege) or get in fierce battles because sj vegans say you are fundamentally a rapist if you eat meat or because someone didn't put a trigger warning on their picture of an egg sammich they ate that day or people who issue death threats like candy and call any outrage or request for them to moderate their hostility as "tone policing"
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AchillesHeel
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Hitler liked doughnuts.

Do you have this in common with Hitler?

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Samprimary
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I am literally Hitler.
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Samprimary
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Which means, yes, I am responsible for .. that thing. That dark stain on history. Namely, I coded Windows 8 Server.
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umberhulk
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I actually am 25% japanese and have my grandmothers skin color; asian in a white man's body representin'

What do they have to say about the star wars prequels? X-Men first class?

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Samprimary
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nono, that's multiethnic. transethnic is like transsexual: you are biologically born one ethnicity but you do not identify as it and you really consider yourself to be a different ethnicity. Ergo if I were a transethnic black person it would be because my body is biologically white but I consider myself to really be a black person, and would want to be referred to as black, and that if anyone has a problem with you calling other black people brothers or the legacy of slavery your legacy or with you saying the n-word, that's prejudice and trans* shaming because they are denying that you are really black just the same as a ftm transsexual is male.
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umberhulk
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cool got it, but I'm still an asian in a white man's body.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
nono, that's multiethnic. transethnic is like transsexual: you are biologically born one ethnicity but you do not identify as it and you really consider yourself to be a different ethnicity. Ergo if I were a transethnic black person it would be because my body is biologically white but I consider myself to really be a black person, and would want to be referred to as black, and that if anyone has a problem with you calling other black people brothers or the legacy of slavery your legacy or with you saying the n-word, that's prejudice and trans* shaming because they are denying that you are really black just the same as a ftm transsexual is male.

That's so pedestrian, Sam.

There's a thriving Otherkin community on Tumblr, too! I'm a tortoise in a white man's body, check your privilege!

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Samprimary
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http://watchful-entity.tumblr.com/
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Dan_Frank
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Oof.

I feel bad laughing at someone who's so confused and bad at thinking.

But... good god, it's so hard not to.

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AchillesHeel
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I am a Nordic male trapped in the body of a French/German male.

Who is the equivalent of Maury in regards to day time television these days? I have indeed checked my privilege, now I need to share it.

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Daryl
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Sorry but I don't agree. Racism is much more complex than that. How about the country of Fiji where ethnic Fijians have more rights than people born in Fiji of Indian extraction? Look at how the Kurds relate to others in the Middle East. As a middle class white male I generally got on well with people of Australian Aboriginal heritage while working in their culture but a small minority regarded me as inferior to them and made it obvious, that's racism and just as wrong headed as that displayed by rednecks in Alabama.
quote:
Originally posted by Emreecheek:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Racism is a set of erroneous beliefs about what defines people. If you have a clear idea of what humanity is all about, and you don't judge people based on their race, then nothing you do is "racist."

No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.

Racism is a system of inequality based on race.

In the US, white people are the privileged race. People of color can be racist, but only in a context of white racism. If they are, as you define it, "racist" towards each other, whites benefit. Thus, such racism is a different kind of racism altogether.

US Racism is a moving strip at an airport that, unless a white person actively turns around and walks in the opposite direction, will carry her towards an even more racist society. As it is, by acknowledging privilege and acknowledging that color blindness is not a good ideal (It's okay, kiddo, we're all white on the inside!), white people can successfully start moving against it. If one doesn't, though, one is contributing to racism - One is a racist.


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Emreecheek
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Did you include that quote because you forgot to read it before posting?

Or was it an ironic usage?

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