Own Voices



  • @Stephanie-Hider said in Own Voices:

    1. The book is borderline appropriation

    I don't want to pile on here, and I do agree somewhat with some of your points, but can you explain what you mean here?

    In other words: How is a 60-year old White man (would it change if he was a she and Asian?) writing a story about an inner city black youth "appropriation," borderline or otherwise?

    Again, if you don't want to address this don't feel like you are "losing points" or something--and I really don't want a flame war. I just legit am not sure I understand what people mean when they use that term.



  • @mattramsey I am not mad or offended by the way 🙂 Hopefully I don't come off that way I am pretty direct so it may seem so sometimes. It would be in my opinion appropriation if I illustrated this fictional story probably. That was an extreme example of someone who couldn't possible understand on many levels what this story would feel like in real life but yet was paid (profited) to tell a story about a group of people that did not profit from it and if told incorrectly changed it in the process due to the lack of authenticity. Take it with a grain of salt but this wiki article might help. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_appropriation

    Also to put some perspective on this we don't even do race at my house. My daughter looks white because her father is irish and I am bi racial and I will never forget the day she came home around 7ish to tell me all about her new friend at school. She wanted me to do her hair like the little girls hair and was trying to describe it. Took 20 mins of a convo for me to realize she was talking about a little black girl and her hair was done in little braids. My daughter had no racial box to put her in so had no idea to say "the black girl mommy" to her she was just a girl with nice braids. If she had said exactly that I would known immediately what she meant but its just not what we do not how she was raised. I think all people are equal but I do believe they all have a voice when it comes their life experiences. And with that I think they should be the ones sharing them if at all possible. I say this so you know this isn't playing the race card or something. I am just trying to share a viewpoint that I can definitely understand why it exists.



  • @Stephanie-Hider "Yes that is exactly what I am saying I guess to a point. If you are publishing a book that features the protagonist as a black child and expect it to represent their life in the ghetto for example and how they struggled to get out off the streets in chicago. Are you wanting to accurately represent this story? Are you wanting to inspire other black children to do the same? Or are you just wanting to sell a book and hope for the best?"

    Books and art publication is a business. An AD, Publisher or anyone else involved needs to make money. If/when I am asked to create a piece of artwork it is not to inspire and it is not to represent anything other than the instructions and directions of those I am working for. It is their role to decide of they are desiring the end product to be an inspiration.

    Using your logic if a publisher is producing a book aimed at a white audience than the only people involved in it's production should be white.

    You would be OK with that?

    @Stephanie-Hider "The real world is full of consumers and I can bet you any amount of money if you had two children's books and one was mediocre in style but was written and illustrated by that person's culture and spoke them on a level they will choose it over a beautifully illustrated one that does not check those marks off."

    Jut because an author, artist, etc., if of the same demographic as the audience does not mean it is going to be the best book or illustration.

    I'm sorry, this whole focus on race, representation and appropriation truly has become bizarre in this country.



  • @jimsz

    Books and art publication is a business.

    Already addressed in the previous post in terms of marketing etc. I am not the poster child for this movement it is not coming out of a vacuum so clearly the publishers and others are talking about it in terms of business decisions. Now whether you agree with or not or what side you are on etc does not mean it isn't being viewed and being discussed and within a business context.

    Using your logic if a publisher is producing a book aimed at a white audience than the only people involved in it's production should be white.

    You would be OK with that?

    Aren't they already?

    I'm sorry, this whole focus on race, representation and appropriation truly has become bizarre in this country.

    This is very akin to telling someone they are not allowed to be offended by something just because you aren't. It denies them of their own experiences.



  • @Stephanie-Hider I will check out that article.

    If this is too personal don't answer (and I apologize): Did you braid her hair the way she wanted?

    I only ask because (I haven't read the wiki article yet) some might consider it "appropriation" to have that hair style (you mentioned she looks white). But then, maybe she would be "allowed" to have that because of your genetics? But then, someone not knowing that might confront her and demand she remove those braids vis-a-vis this glorious display:
    http://metro.co.uk/2016/03/30/black-student-accuses-white-man-of-cultural-appropriation-for-having-dreadlocks-5784067/

    I dunno...I think America IS in a really bizarro place right now. I feel like no one can breathe. I'm actually really offended by a lot of this stuff. Again, I'm jumping in the middle of your conversation but a problem I see with your comment "This is very akin....own experiences" might be that, for example:
    person A is legitimately and deeply offended by X, person B is legitimately and deeply offended by the converse of X.

    Now what? Really, what do we do now? Do we choose which one has the right to be offended, thereby denying the other? Or do we say: your offenses both have equal weight so...I guess...what now?

    I guess we are stuck.

    Unless we can make judgments and set the bounds of rational discourse (e.g., saying it is not rational to claim offense at X as some kind of trump card or reason to change a policy or to make someone behave in a certain way or say certain things) we are going to (continue to?) have big problems in our society.



  • @mattramsey No I didn't mainly because the way her hair was braided which caused the confusion in the conversation requires a different texture of hair than my daughters. They werent dread locks which is different but more like this I am assuming https://afrocentriqueaz.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/little-black-girl-braids-with-colorful-barettes.jpg Because of the texture of her hair it is braided that way to keep it neat and the barettes of course little girls like. My daughters hair is too fine and would not hold in that style. I understand why you link the article but I think that is quite a bit different and incorrect of them. That is his hair he can wear it anyway he likes, that is just beyond silly and race baiting in my opinion. Had I braided her hair that way and someone had approached her I would be just as put out as the guy in that article and would have defended my daughter. As this translates to the actual conversation however, any publisher can publish any book they like the problem is people are saying hey if you want to SELL me a book about my culture make sure someone from my culture is telling the story which is different in my opinion.

    There's a difference between saying yes the political world we are in right now sucks. I am actually a moderate and find the far left and the far right completely crazy in the head at the moment. I also think the word racist has been thrown around so much that it diminishes it's actual meaning. But I think deligimentizing someone's point based on our current political environment is wrong. If your (not you personally but the statement I was replying to) only argument against someone from one culture being apart of the story being sold about their cultural (appropriation) is ya well left vs right then... I dunno what to say. I mean if you live in the US that was code to me for "you must be one of those wackos calling people racist about everything and protesting etc etc. just get over it we are tired of hearing all these political commentary" You can't deny the people that are saying they are offended just because you are not in my opinion. Like I have said before and I will reiterate, in the big picture of things I personally believe it won't stop me from doing anything I want to. Someone's viewpoint really does not effect me that much in terms of what I feel I can accomplish. We have actually discussed this on FB and not once has politics been brought up and we have not all agreed about it at all and some brilliant points have been made on both sides. The impression I get from some posters and that they feel threatened or annoyed because someone feels differently than they do. <shrug>



  • @mattramsey
    Oh and in to answer to the solution. I am not sure there is one. It is not like the racial problem just popped up it has been an ongoing thing on both sides in terms of the white/black thing for quite some time now. Trust me as a biracial kid in the 70s things werent rosy so I know. I think the bigger issue is beyond race though it seems our political system is bent on splitting the country into half. This is a whole other conversation but if historical data is anything to go by we are headed towards a civil war based on policies which generally sets up a worse government in it's place after the turmoil that generally is totalitarian. Not the bright happy picture you wanted to hear but I do believe that is the roadmap we are currently on.



  • @Stephanie-Hider said in Own Voices:

    @jimsz

    Using your logic if a publisher is producing a book aimed at a white audience than the only people involved in it's production should be white.

    You would be OK with that?

    Aren't they already?

    There is a difference in selecting an illustrator who happens to be a specific demographic. It's another to choose and illustrator due to them being a specific demographic.

    One is correct the other is bigotry.


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    @mattramsey said in Own Voices:

    Eventually the unicorn of intersectionality will descend from on high and the transgendered, Native American, pansexual, disabled female will have all power conferred to them and will then be able to tell us what to do.

    I am also from the U.S. and this made me laugh so hard. All hale the Unicorn of Instersectionality!

    Personally I would never presume to draw or write about something that I don’t have personal experience with, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t draw a child with brown skin if it’s in a context that I have experience with. In the past when I have drawn a mix of children, they have been drawn generically. For example, the little girl with the tight curls could have any color skin and hair color and still be appropriate. Same with the little boy with the heavy eyebrows. As @Jake-Parker said about women in the last podcast, there are a hundred different shapes to a women, the same applies to the human race.
    All that being said I believe that with proper art direction and understanding a white person could illustrate a book written by a Native American. And visa versa and etc.

    It is a bummer that you @smceccarelli have been asked to segregate yourself. I would take it with a grain of salt and trust your own judgement. 🙂



  • Oh wow! I've started this thread more than two years ago and it has suddenly resurrected! Well, and update is sorely needed. Since February 2017 I've been commissioned to illustrate countless children of all colors and nationalities: white, black, asian, latino and any combination thereof. I've been asked to create "ethnically ambiguous characters" - which seems to have become a bit of a seeked-for skill. So - back to code green. Own voices is still a thing and integrity and honesty in depicting the world a worthy ideal. But illustrators are not banned from depicting ethnicities that are not their own: quite the contrary. So keep putting multi-ethnic characters in your portfolio - there's a high demand for that.


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    @evilrobot I’m glad you posted this link. I thought to do it but you beat me to it. 😜It is a great conversation.


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