1. Anonymous said: Hi! I'm sorry to bother, but I have a question. I have a friend who looks white (blonde, light skin, green eyes) but was actually born and raised in India by her Hindu parents. She practices Hinduism and only recently moved to the states. She still wears traditional clothing, but the other day she posted a picture of herself in her traditional clothes and got a lot of hate for it, people saying it was cultural appropriation. She's bummed out about it and is now questioning her ethnicity. Help?




    1. All those people screaming cultural appropriation at her are ignoramuses who are basically saying, “Wow, you don’t look like my ill-informed, narrow-minded stereotype of what people from this region actually look like!” and “I actually subscribe to horrible, reductionist stereotypes that Indian people can only have dark hair, skin and eyes. Light hair? Green eyes? European (origin) only!” 

    This is gonna be a tad long, because it’s gonna delve into biology and history- and it’s because I hope people realise how artificial the US paradigm of race is. It’s woefully incompetent at understanding the biological diversity of our species because it is a social construct. Modern scientists and historians generally refuse to categorise people on the amount of melanin they have because it’s just reductionist and oversimplistic- what they do is classify people by their geographic origin, linguistic and cultural ties. 

    2. India is an EXTREMELY diverse continent. It’s so genetically diverse that the only place more genetically diverse is the African continent, aka, the birthplace of humanity. And this is a big deal. I’ll explain why.


    Surprise! People inhabiting an extremely large country that has more than 2000 ethnic groups, members of all the world’s religions, been the site of multiple ancient civilisations, been on the major crossroads of human migration and trade for thousands of years come in multiple colours!

    • Presently, the most widely-accepted theory of our origins is the Recent African Origin, or Out of Africa TheoryThis holds that originally, humans first appeared in Africa, thus all of us have African ancestors. All modern non-Africans are descended from much smaller groups of people who migrated out of Africa, anytime from 65,000 to 125,000 years ago. How do scientists know this? By looking at our DNA, in addition to fossil and archaeological records. They discovered that the differences in the DNA of non-African peoples like say, a German a Japanese and a New Zealand Maori was far less than the genetic differences between people from different African ethnic groups. (Somali, Dinka, Yoruba, San, Kikuyu, Luo etc- I’m BARELY scratching the surface)
    • What this meant was that Africa had to be the original, diverse genetic pool where modern humans first appeared. Everybody else outside of Africa today is descended from much smaller groups of people who left Africa at various times- and that ancestral genetic “bottleneck” is why people who appear to have very different heritage (e.g European vs East Asian) actually have far less genetic variation than the various African peoples.
    • So, India being the second most genetically diverse place on this planet is a big deal- it’s basically second only to THE CRADLE OF HUMANITY. That’s why I’m pretty convinced your friend can have blonde hair and green eyes and still be 100% Made in India.

    3. Now, the genetics of India itself.

    Genetic studies have shown that if you take a modern Indian from any part of India, no matter how dark or fair they are, his or her lineage will consist of mixing from two main ancestral groups. One is the Ancestral Northern Indians (ANI), and the other the Ancestral Southern Indians (ASI). You may have heard of the ancient Indian caste system which put a lot of social pressure that prohibited marrying outside your caste. Caste discrimination is banned today, but old attitudes do persist. However, even this caste rigidity wasn’t so 4000- 2000 years ago. ANI people married ASI pretty freely, so that’s why every modern Indian has heredity from both groups. So, already to start off, you got quite a fair bit of diversity hidden in people’s genes. 

    • And the next interesting part to explain why it IS possible for Indians to have features stereotyped as “European” is because while the ASI seemed to be genetically unique to the Indian subcontinent, the ANI people are genetically related to Middle-Easterns, Europeans and Caucasians (and I mean this not in the sense of “white” as often used in the US, but the actual region of Caucasus, which borders Europe and Asia).
    • You mentioned she looks “white”- and the American-understanding of “white” being hurled at her by those people screaming cultural appropriation are actually ignorantly treating “white” as synonymous with “European-origin”. In reality, it’s completely useless in the realm of biology. Biologically, there is actually no real dichotomy where “European” suddenly ends and “Asia” begins. 


    • As I earlier pointed out, well, we’re all kinda related. And it’s not at all earth-shattering that some people from India look like they’re of “European-origin”. Because modern Europeans, Central Asians and the Ancestral Northern Indians are all believed to be descendants of a group of people called the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It’s believed they lived around 6000-7000 years ago. Some modern people that are descended from the Proto-Indo-Europeans are French, Germans, Iranians and Pashtuns (a major ethnic group in Afghanistan).  It’s even been found that Europeans and Indians shared a gene for fair skin from a common ancestor- which is why there ARE people who look like your friend. Naturally, fair skin is just relatively rarer in India vs Europe because more parts of India are located in hotter regions. Therefore, there’s more selection pressure for darker skin which has more melanin to protect from the sun- making fair skin rarer, but still possible. 


    (This is a map of the Kurgan Hypothesis, which is currently the most popular theory for how the Proto-Indo-Europeans migrated from their homeland to settle Europe, Central Asia, Iran, India and Turkey etc)

    • Saying Indians are descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans is NOT the same as saying they’re of “European origin”. For example, think of the Proto-Indo-Europeans as like the “mother” of Europeans, Central Asians and the Ancestral Northern Indians- they’re like “sibling” groups, not descendants. The original Indo-Europeans were not “European” in the modern sense. I am clarifying this because plenty of colonial-era scientific racism tried to attribute ancient India’s achievements to “European who left Europe for India”- you might have heard the phrase “Aryan” thrown around in Nazi Germany, which was used to mean “blonde hair, blue eyes”. Nazi scientists and historians also abused it to explain away the sophistication of non-European civilisations in Ancient Egypt and India. In reality, ”Aryan” is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word “Arya" which means "noble". Sanskrit is an ancient language still used in classical Indian texts, and is of Proto-Indo-European origin. For example, the name of the country “Iran” actually means “land of the Aryans”- it was the names ancient Iranians (another people descended from the Proto-Indo-Europeans) gave to what others called the Persian Empire for more than a thousand years before the Third Reich. 

    image(Sanskrit manuscript)

    • Furthermore, many languages we often separate as “European” and “Asian” like German, English, French, Italian vs. Hindi, Farsi (Persian), Gujarati, Punjabi, Pashto, Sanskrit etc are ALL classified by linguists as belonging to the same Indo-European language family- which all evolved from the original language the Proto-Indo-Europeans spoke. See how artificial the Europe/Asia dichotomy really is, in terms of human genetics and origin of cultures? 

    4. Finally- there’s plenty of modern proof that the region we call Europe today does NOT have a monopoly on producing people with blonde hair, fair skin and green eyes.

    This is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, a popular Indian Bollywood actress who is also known for her striking blue-green eyes. She’s 100% Indian- she was born in Mangalore, India to Indian parents. 


    This is a couple at their wedding- the lady on the left is Indian, from the Southern Indian city of Hyderabad. Her husband is Ethiopian.image

    This is a photo of a boy and a woman who is likely his mother, taken in Turkey.


    This is a girl from Darfur, Sudan- an area that has more than 30 ethnic groups.


    This is a Nuristani girl. The Nuristani people are an ethnic group from Afghanistan. 


    5. And in the first place, what makes up a person’s identity IS NOT JUST HOW MUCH or HOW LITTLE MELANIN THEY HAVE.

    • Tell your friend she is 100% Indian, because what makes up her identity is not just how she looks. Identity is what feels most natural to her, and if that identity is indeed very intertwined with major aspects of Indian culture- then well, she IS Indian and noone can say otherwise. 
    • Those people had no right to make her feel awful and “not-Indian enough” because it’s clear she identifies as such due to actually being born there and also practising major aspects of Indian culture. The best example I can think of to explain this is how in the US, people sometimes use the term “Latino” as a race category, with the stereotype that all latinos must have tanned skin and dark hair. In reality, it’s more of a cultural identity. The are fair haired-latinos and darker-skinned latinos whose ancestors included the African slaves brought to the Americas four hundred years ago. But what really makes them “Latino” or “Hispanic” is their upbringing- growing up in the environment of Latin America, which is culturally a syncretic fusion of Amerindian, African, Spanish, Portuguese and other European influences. 


    (This is the Brazilian football team that won the 1970 World Cup- you can see Pelé- second from the bottom right. He is an Afro-Brazilian. If you look at his teammates, you can see how latinos come in ALL COLOURS.)

    6. Your friend should not be questioning her identity, but those people attacking her should be questioning their utterly myopic worldview. The history of human genetics and migrations makes it abundantly clear how DIVERSE India is- so it’s perfectly possible for her to be Indian but have blonde hair and green eyes, even if it may be less common. 

    7. On a more general note, I cannot stress this enough to everyone- DO NOT GO AROUND ATTACKING PEOPLE for “cultural appropriation” when you are NOT even from that culture in question and/or don’t actually know in detail the history and genetics of that region.

    • If you suspect cultural appropriation: DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST or ASK SOMEBODY you know who actually belongs to that group. You may be attacking mixed-race people or people like the anon’s friend, who simply has features that are less genetically dominant- blonde hair shows up less easily in countries with a bigger pool of people with dark hair because dark hair is dominant. Even if her parents had dark hair, it’s possible they both carried a recessive gene for blonde hair that was suppressed by their dark-hair gene. Their child would be blonde if she happened to get both copies of the blonde gene instead of the dark hair gene.
    • Also, even if you think the person isn’t of that group, please bear in mind they might have been invited to dress in that clothing by a friend, or because they’re at an event. (I.e let’s say, at an Indian wedding)
    • I can’t stress how infuriating this “white knight” complex is. Speaking as someone pretty familiar with colonialism, I’ve had people who didn’t grow up in my culture condescendingly insist that if I’m okay with somebody doing something from my culture, it’s “self-internalised oppression”. I’ve studied African colonial literature, and the way people insist on defining what people should be alright with is very reminiscent of 19th century imperialists high-handedly saying, “oh, we have to bring the light of civilisation to save those backwards colonial subjects from themselves!”


    This is Reese Witherspoon, wearing a kimono in Japan, where she is being taught by JAPANESE people how to perform the traditional tea ceremony. This is not reducing a culture to a caricature because she’s actually learning stuff respectfully and wearing a bona fide kimono.

    • Fighting against cultural appropriation is to prevent cultures from being cheapened, made into jokes, sexual fetishes or ugly caricatures. Part of returning power to people to define themselves is ALSO by allowing them to set the parameters of what they want to share with others- and many cultures are perfectly willing to share aspects that are non-sacred or do not have to be earned. So, for example, do not go around insisting a Japanese person should not be allowed to teach non-Japanese people to wear a kimono- because a kimono, unlike a Navajo war bonnet (akin to veteran’s medals), is something anybody can wear. Recognise this difference.

    Know the difference.



  2. amandaonwriting:

    Nine Wonderful Words About Words

    (via drowningindetails)


  3. solarsenpai:


    solarsenpai I need you to not take my posts and turn them into jokes please & thank you especially when I am trying to articulate thoughts that are valid. It’s lowkey disrespectful. Okay? Okay.

    *cracks knuckles*

    It’s highkey disrespectful.

    Look here, you’re flat out wrong to…

    Well this is at least more substantive than attaching a meaningless gif for laughs. Which was all I wanted, so thank you.

    Anyway. The geisha / kimono thing was a fair point to bring up, because that sort of goes back to what I was grasping at, with how the culture as a whole becomes something that people very heavily latch on to. I wasn’t making an “all men” post. And I wasn’t saying that learning a new language or traveling is bad (I encourage and also aspire to those things). I was questioning how a specific place seems to constantly be the subject of obsession by many individuals, and I have seen firsthand people sort of take that to the forefront of their identity in a way that is rather extreme. I’m not bashing anime or learning Japanese, but I think there’s something odd about it.


  4. apathes I think obsessing over Asian women is a merely subset of obsessing over Asian culture, and that’s just what I mean. How does the appreciation of the tech / entertainment that a country exports lead to people so severely wanting to adopt that culture as their own? And that later may or may not manifest into fetishization, etc. I didn’t even mention the fetishizing because I do think sometimes it’s unfair to throw that generalization in, though I’ve met plenty of people who fit it and I can see exactly how it ties in.


  5. "The only reason “coming out” is still even a thing is because it’s presumed that people are straight until they tell us otherwise. “The Other must identify itself, or else it is decieving us” is a fucked up, dangerous idea."
    — Anon (via victor-the-richter)

    (Source: viciousdeactivated, via black--lamb)


  6. "Coming out" is a constant process for those of us perceived as straight in our daily lives. The less flamboyant, those who match into accepted roles of the gender binary…there is often the repeated instance of rejecting the projection of heterosexuality from people on all sides, at every moment. I think less now of the dialogue surrounding what it means to "come out", often spoken of as a single definitive declaration. I am constantly "coming out". It is an ongoing process, not a finite moment.


  7. jdbfanclub:


    Proud of being Norwegian. 

    Down here instead of “nei, men” we say “javel”, “javel” can be used instead of several long sentences and can mean a lot, also work with the “ellers” one

    (via kalimehndi)


  8. "Sometimes you meet someone, and it’s so clear that the two of you, on some level belong together. As lovers, or as friends, or as family, or as something entirely different. You just work, whether you understand one another or you’re in love or you’re partners in crime. You meet these people throughout your life, out of nowhere, under the strangest circumstances, and they help you feel alive. I don’t know if that makes me believe in coincidence, or fate, or sheer blind luck, but it definitely makes me believe in something."

    Brandon Oda NOPE


    (via didyoueatallthisacid)

    (Source: psych-facts, via cash-ewss)


  9. "You’re obnoxiously hetero."

    I said this out loud to someone today, because I realized that men are so prone to turning everything into a sexual innuendo. Of course the assertion of being too ‘hetero’ isn’t limited strictly to men. But I guess straight people do find a way to color little things with sexual connotation where it didn’t need to exist.

    I’ve always been a bystander to these conversations, listening in and trying to be objective and sort of finding myself caught off guard by how easy it is to corrupt innocent phrases or derail a particular trail of thought. 

    With this statement I was also passing a judgment at the classic kind of men who fall into this trap, who I feel exude a very aggressive projection of their sexuality. Where everything is colored by a flirtatious undertone. Everything with this subtext. I find people [men] like that to be extremely intimidating. It doesn’t subtract from their other qualities. You can be sexual at the forefront of your identity and own that and still be so many other layered things: intelligent and insightful and charismatic. But I do find sometimes that it can be overwhelming (for me). 


  10. Strange Enough For Fiction:


  11. dropngoons:


    it’s possible to find DNA on a cigarette butt in the street, sequence it, and 3D print a very accurate face from it.

    Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg reconstructs the faces of strangers from genetic evidence she scavenges from the streets

    We are living in the end times.

    adding this to my list of COOL CONCEPTS TO CORRUPT FOR A SCIFI NOVEL effective immediately

    (Source: smithsonianmag.com, via solarsenpai)


  12. wakaflaquita:




    i have never been so upset about a fav like this?

    basically what she’s saying is, call her by her right nationality. why every time it’s poc in america, they’re recognized by their descent? it’s always african-american or asian-american when most of the people getting called that haven’t even been to their descendant country. why do we have to be called our race followed by “-american” while white people don’t? you don’t hear white people calling themselves poland-american or irish-american. and you wanna know why? because that’s another way white people try to separate themselves from us, try to be on a higher level than us. they always want to be on top and look down on us. so that’s why they identify us minorities in that way. so raven isn’t shaming herself in any type of way, she just doesn’t wanna be identified in their way.

    ok i accept this view

    okay but did she say she was colorless

    But people do call themselves polish-american or italian-american, etc? Especially when they are descendants of recent immigrants. The problem is that America codes these people as “just” white without taking that into account? The same way they count everyone as “African American” for the sake of political correctness.

    With the obvious exclusion of indigenous peoples. Usually “American” as a standalone title would apply best to white people who have been in this country for so long and so many generations that they can’t even claim their country of origin (which would probably be england anyway).

    But Raven’s description of herself is ignorant because she says “I am not african, I can’t trace myself to any country in africa” and that is literally what AA as a term means and thus she is a classic example of WHO EXACTLY IT IS FOR.

    (Source: femburton, via hernameisnora)


  13. seafoamtides:


    Mexico CitySex workers gather to commemorate their colleagues who were violently murdered, two days before the Day of the Dead festival.

    this is why you don’t fuck around with day of the dead, because it has a deeper meaning than “pretty sugar skulls”. those are offerings to the dead, a symbol of each and every person we choose to honor in the afterlife; not some quirky costume to put on and appropriate. those skulls mean something, the pan de muertos and altars mean something. so go fuck yourself if you think that they’re just for decoration while you shit on my ancestors for you stupid pasty ass bland halloween party.

    (via black--lamb)


  14. solarsenpai:


    I don’t really agree with the idea that a lack of aggression or non-confrontational demeanor equates to weakness

    I feel like if someone is talking shit about someone else, they can go to that person and express their problem instead of just saying it in a passive aggressive manner to their friends or followers.

    It just ain’t right, and that right there is weakness in itself.

    That’s fair.

    On the other hand, I can understand wanting to vent or relay your thoughts to a third party as a prelude to eventually addressing that person directly. Or even if you don’t want to bring it up. That works in real life when you rant to a friend about how someone is upsetting you and maybe you do or don’t bring it up to that person later. It doesn’t invalidate their feelings or make them a bad (“weak”) person? Sometimes it’s literally cathartic to just be like, “I’m mad at __ because xyz”. And that can be the end. Sometimes people don’t really care for the extra step of confronting the other person and are able to resolve matters without needing to.

    It doesn’t work on Tumblr since it’s obviously a public platform and everyone gets so personal? I rarely see civil disagreements on here.


  15. How to Get Away With Murder was a really engaging watch. Had a great premise, was very intelligent and required the audience to keep up, and introduced several narrative layers. It gets points for diversity, a black female lead; of the main student cast we get two women, one black the other presumably Latina (I’m going off the last name Castillo); three males one of whom is gay while another happens to be black.

    The flashback setup to propel one story forward while explaining things as quickly as possible really helped to clue us in while avoiding an information overload. That also can be credited to the narrative device of Wes, as a character, clueless as the audience and thrown in media res.

    There’s a lot happening. I like it. I’m impressed.