vangirl: (Tear: Harmony)
Windy wrote a good post on privilege and accepting it, and it covers the concept of privilege itself and a bit on how it connects to The Last Airbender movie.

There is a lot of misunderstanding of what privilege is and a lot of people do hear it and think "I'm being called a bad person." This explains that just having privilege isn't the problem in and of itself, but on how not being aware of that privilege is. Since I really do genuinely feel that this is important, I'm going to c&p the post here, though comments will be disabled because I simply lack the spoons to discuss it at the moment.

recognising and accepting my privilege:
[livejournal.com profile] glorious has had some recent posts on privilege, racism, and the Avatar: The Last Airbender movie. She basically said everything I wanted to say, and better than I ever could, but I need to get this out.

I am a white, able-bodied women who comes from an affluent background. I have a lot of privilege. A lot of that privilege is out of my control: I did not choose my skin tone, background, or my lack of disabilities. I am grateful for what I have, because it is a lot better than what others have.

Recognising my privilege has been a hard thing for me. Which is ridiculous, honestly, but I was embarrassed by having it so I ignored it for a long time. I didn't choose what I had, so I didn't want to believe I had it. It's not my fault I have privilege, but because I have it, I have to deal with it.

Everyone has some level of privilege. Can you walk? See? Do people not clutch their bags and wallets when you're near? Do you not get reported for looking 'suspicious'? Then, you have some level of privilege.

But having privilege is not this evil, feel guilty thing. You don't have control over what you have and don't have when you're born. What's important is to recognise what you have. If you can walk and run places normally, you might not think about what it's like to have to wheel yourself everywhere. You don't have to look for ramps, or curbs, or counters being too high. And it's not something you, as an able-bodied person, have to think about all the time. But when someone in a wheelchair says, "I want ramps for my school, or the park, or the supermarket," it's time to think about what you have. I'm not saying, go on a super crusade for ramps for wheelchairs. I mean, look at what you can do. Realise that you don't have to worry about that daily, and accept it. Maybe help out.

But for the love of all that is holy, do not belittle that person. Do not tell them they are overreacting, or oversensitive, or just looking to be offended. There are times when people do overreact to things, but there are far more times where something serious happens to that group of people and the ones without that disadvantage say, "you're overreacting, you're being oversensitive." That is not, and will not, ever be okay.

And now, to tie this into Avatar:

I, personally, have never watched Avatar (except maybe a few minutes). I do, however, know many people that love it. Avatar is a cartoon set in a fictionalized East-Asian area. Everything about this show is East-Asian. Including the characters. I'm not going to bring up pictures right now, but it is pretty obvious that the characters are not white. And also pretty damn obvious that the culture is not Western. Even some of them "look white" (skintone =/= race, by the way), it does not mean they are white. So when you replace the four main characters with pretty blonde white people, that is not okay. And when people get pissed so you replace the bad guy with an Indian guy? Still not fucking okay. He may end up being a "good guy," but it still takes the nice white people to show the misguided brown person the right way. And the nice white people save all the poor colored people, too. They can't do anything for themselves for thank God for the white people.

I realise this will probably have little effect on people who want to see the movie. This entry will probably not change anyone's opinion. This entry probably will get a response for my girlfriend, or maybe a "it's just a movie" response.

But before you see this movie, but before you spend money on it and fund racism, think about this:

If you are white, think about all the media you are in. You are represented in books (for children and adults), in TV shows, in movies, in video games, in toys, in cartoons, in everything. Think about the amount of shows, and movies, and games that feature predominantly colored characters. Avatar was one of them.

So before you whine about how all this "drama" is ruining the movie for you, think about the people who had the movie ruined for them because M. Night Shyamalan decided to whitewash the whole thing.
vangirl: art by <user name="ruaki" site="livejournal.com">, used with permission (Jade: Necromancer)
I had made my New Years Resolution this year to educate myself more about racism and feminism and to watch what I say in regards to those. In the process, I've learned that the world is full of -isms that I didn't even realize existed. And I've also learned that I have a lot of privilege as well.

And when I say that, I mean I've lived a good 20 years of my life having never even heard of the concept. Frightening thought, now I look back.

Warning for possible triggers. )

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