Clearing Some Stuff Up About Race, POC, Diversity and Racism

I think a lot of people have been confused when it comes to race and racism, etc., so I’ve decided to make a thread clearing a few things up so that we can all be on the same page when we’re talking about how we can move forward as a community:

  1. Race and Ethnicity are two different things which often get mixed up. Ethnicity is much more narrow. Your ethnic identity is dependent on the country or culture from which you come. For example, a Jewish person can be religiously Jewish, ethnically Jewish or both. They cannot, however, be racially Jewish. The term “race” refers to a more broad idea. For example, Caucasian, Black, East Asian, etc. It can include lots of different ethnicities.

  2. Race and Culture are not as closely linked as you’d think. People all identify very differently, and it can be a sticky subject to make assumptions about someone’s allegiances or values based on their skin colour or race. Just because someone is Black, it doesn’t mean they subscribe to African American culture.

  3. "African American" can be seen by some as an offensive term. Be careful with this. People often use the term “African American” to describe all black people regardless of their history or geographical location. It can seem like you see America as the whole world, which can be quite an ignorant way to view the world. I’ll also contend that it makes Black Americans seem like less of Americans than White Americans… unless we start using the term European American, but that’s just me, and it’s something I’d be happy to discuss and hear your takes on.

  4. Cultural Appropriation is a hotly debated subject. That means there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the positive or negative aspects of it. Whether it is a legitimate idea, or simply a by-product of a lack of education is in contention, so please try not to shut people down too much. If the academics debate this - and they do - it means there’s no right answer. There are just some answers which are better than others.

  5. Racism is also a hotly debated subject. We’ve probably all heard the argument that black people can’t be racist because they don’t have privilege. That’s an issue for many different reasons: one, it completely negates the fact that one definition of racism is simply prejudiced behaviour or language which focusses on race. Two, it negates the fact that there are other races out there which black people can be in a state of privilege over. Three, it is often used as an excuse for people to be mean to others, which is something we need to be super careful about on the forums. Four, it can lessen the extreme behaviour which some individual white people are faced with. Five, this prejudice + privilege = racism equation is actually more accurately used if we acknowledge we’re talking about systemic or systematic racism.

  6. Education is always the way. It can be super easy for us to tell someone off when they say something we consider offensive, but that risks ostracising them and making them feel like you’re against them. I’m not saying you can’t confront them. I’m saying that we all identify with race in different ways. If someone has offended you, explain things to them! Education goes a long way… especially over the “I’m right, and you need to shut up and listen to me” or “I can’t be bothered to talk to you so I’m going to tell you that you’re wrong and leave it at that” attitude which is dismissive and plain rude.

Please feel free to add some of your own stuff when it comes to the aforementioned topics! As I said, education is always the way, so let’s help everyone get on the same page!


It’s very true that culture and race are two very different things that are often linked but not inherently. There are many people who are raised within a culture and move to a different one, often in a different country and are able to assimilate perfectly. And let me be clear, assimilation doesn’t mean the destruction of one’s cultural heritage or upbringing. I didn’t completely destroy the aspects of my cultural heritage by dating an English girl, did I? And there’s the thing. There’s no such thing as culturally white, despite what white nationalists will tell you - white people have hundreds or thousands of different cultures across the globe. Mine is one of them, one that has gotten the shaft in terms of cultural appropriation.

I don’t complain about it, because a lot of people ‘appropriate’ aspects and clothing from other cultures out of good intentions. I like to make sure to educate the people I come across that a kilt is not just a skirt. Just as there are a lot of black people who like to educate people on why certain hairstyles and the like have cultural importance (Mostly in America, though in other places too for sure.) Without telling people that they aren’t allowed to do it in a very racially charged way. Racism, culture, appropriation and the like are incredibly complex subjects that require much more debate than is even around today. There are regressive ideas on both sides, just like any debate. And boiling the points down to a very simplistic black and white view is counter-intuitive to real progress being made on these issues. Culture and culture appropriation, in conclusion, is linked to race and ethnicity but it is not the end-all be-all. There are Arab Muslims in Britain who identify as British - and they are. There are white people who follow Buddhism, and they can call themselves Buddhist if they follow that particular faith. It turns out that being a human being is actually rather complicated.


Also, I feel like I need to say that white people wearing cornrows or dreads do not automatically equal bad appropriation. I have a blonde haired and blue eyed friend who grew up in Jamaica and is a RASTAFARIAN. He has dreads. He is an active member of the community and participates in the religion. It’s only bad appropriation when people start to take credit for things that they didn’t invent… or refuse to learn the history behind what they’re using.


Yes, cultural appropriation and racism really does create controversy. As a person who’s half South African, I personally couldn’t care less when someone outside of my culture wears something that belongs to the culture. To me, when I see someone who wears something/eats a certain food I don’t find that offensive. I actually appreciate that and think to myself, “wow, this person certainly likes it and enjoys, I feel appreciated”. As long as people aren’t using traditional/cultural things in a disrespectful manner then I have no problem. And plus, isn’t everything globalized nowadays?

However, that doesn’t mean that I am against those who have a problem with it or that they find it disrespectful. Everybody has their reasons and I can understand why this thing is seen as a big deal.

As for racism, I believe that no matter what we do, no matter how much we talk about racism, racism just seems to never go away. I don’t think we can change some people’s mindset, maybe influence them but not actually change them. But one thing that I don’t like is that how some POC think they are more superior than others and I find it unfair
how they pin things on innocent white people who haven’t done anything and be really mean to them. I understand that POC still face discrimination to this day, but why should we use that as a reason to be prejudice/racist to those who haven’t really done anything? How can we make a difference in the society when people are doing things like this?

We all bleed red at the end of the day. No matter what color we are, where we come from and what is our background, we should love and care for each other no matter what. We must be on the same level, no one should try to be greater than the other.


Interestingly, dreads came from multiple different cultures at different times, including India, Greece and Egypt. Braids also appeared in different cultures completely independently of one another. It’s much more complicated than most people claim and it’s actually dangerous for people to claim it’s black culture only. I’m sick and tired of people acting like African Americans are the only underrepresented minority.


Also, it’s even more dangerous to associate culture with skin colour. I remember speaking to a blonde girl with dreads once who got a lot of abuse for it… only for her to explain that she was adopted and grew up with her black family in Jamaica. Her culture IS the Jamaican culture. Remember that Hitler tied culture to race and skin colour. It’s a really, really slippery path to fall into.


I agree with your points. I’d like to add something:

Some white people think that certain problems within dark skin black people don’t happen, e/g dark skins are called “too dark, midnight or pretty for a dark skin”.

I see posts just uplifing dark skin people and these people will say “nobody calls them those things” “that doesn’t happen grow up”

It irritates the fuck out of me. How are you gonna say this shit when you haven’t even experienced it? Sit the heck down, sir lol.

Just because it doesn’t “happen as often” doesn’t mean they don’t ever happen. This gets me pissed every timeee


I’ve also witnessed people calling EVERYONE who’s interested in other cultures out for appropriation. The problem with appropriation as a concept, in general, is that it deters people from going outside of their comfort zone when it comes to portraying a diverse cast in their stories.

When someone says “that’s appropriation”, they’re, in effect, saying “that’s an aspect of minority culture which you’re not allowed to use or engage with”. That makes it seem like cultures are really, vastly different when people have actually been mixing and adopting foreign cultures for millennia.

When you start excluding races from some cultural points or reserving some things for certain cultures, you make people feel like they’re vastly different from one another. How can we expect writers to be comfortable with characterising minorities when we’re telling them that minority people are different and that they’re not allowed to engage with and participate in these differences?


Okay, I need to add something else to this after being linked to a certain thread.

NO – monolids on non-Asian characters is NOT OFFENSIVE. There are significant populations of people throughout the world (in parts of Africa, Europe and the Americas) where people of non-Asian descent, with no link to Asian ancestry, have monolids. It’s offensive to assume that only Asians have them. Yes, they developed as an evolutionary trait with dominance in Eastern Asian countries, but that does not mean they are exclusive to Asia. In Africa, these traits are common in Botswana, among other places. They’re also a feature of a lot of Polynesian peoples. The Epicanthic Fold, which often accompanies the monolid, is prevalent among many peoples throughout the world. Just look at Dwayne The Rock Johnson – or me for that matter! I have no East Asian descent, yet my Caribbean father has passed his own Epicanthic Fold onto me. If they can develop evolutionarily in Asia, anyone who thinks they can’t develop elsewhere doesn’t understand how science works. The whole point of evolution is variation. Multiple alleles of the same gene mutate, and then the most useful of these survives.

Now on to braids: I have said before that they exist in many different cultures completely separately from one another. Utilising braids because you’re fascinated by a culture aside from your own as a white person is NOT A PROBLEM. It’s a GOOD THING to like other cultures and to incorporate them into your own lifestyle. It’s a great way to promote cultural cohesion and help people understand one another. We have been mixing cultures and taking things from one another for CENTURIES.

Even before the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Europeans were doing deals with kings of the territories which would now be Ghana, trading with them and learning from them. Morocco had the first university in the world, but I don’t see these people getting offended that we’re appropriating universities. The Arab world “appropriated” Western philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, and thanks to that, we were able to SAVE THEIR WORKS. If it weren’t for the boom in Muslim and Arabic scholastic ventures, we would have no The Republic now. We have things like soap from the Arab world. We always share thinks! Heck, we wouldn’t even have the number 0 if it wasn’t for Indians and Babylonians. Mixing of cultures is GOOD.

Now onto tribal tattoos. It is not offensive to use tribal tattoos on people who do not originate from that tribe. However, if you want a tribal tattoo, make sure you do your research on what it means and why they were used. It’s much more useful and helpful to really understand that culture and be able to educate others on it when they ask you about your tattoo, instead of just getting one because it looks cool. Even the fact that we still call them “tribal tattoos” shows that we aren’t trying to take credit for them. What could be more respectful than an homage to a culture by using their tattoos correctly? We wouldn’t even have tattoos if it wasn’t for these tribes, but I don’t see you calling out tattoos themselves as appropriation. Just a particular design? It’s ridiculous.

Yes, don’t put tattoos on devout Muslim characters, though. Of course, you will find Muslims with tattoos in the real world, but they’re probably also not really listening to the drinking rules or the halal ones (in my experience). They’re what I’d refer to as “culturally Muslim” – their family practices the religion, and so they kind of go along with it, incorporating Western ideals too. If someone is wearing a Hijab, going to Mosque frequently or praying often, don’t put a tattoo on them. They wouldn’t wear one.

People need to stop getting so offended and policing everything people do.


Something else that really annoys me: being mixed race doesn’t automatically make you black. Why don’t you ask the person what they identify with instead of making assumptions? I mean, if someone is mixed black and white, they got just as many genes from their white side as their black, so why does black win out all the time? I refuse to be called either Indian or Jamaican. Don’t deny me half of my ethnic identity. I’m a mixed-race Brit. It’s as simple as that.


I just wanted to say that I really appreciate this thread. I’m white and I will admit I don’t have enough education about different races and cultures and therefore I do feel confused sometimes what I am “allowed” to say to people from other races without being offensive. The fact that racism still exists in 2018 is horrible, and it often makes everyday conversations toxic too and leads to many misunderstandings.
Your summary is very helpful to understand these points better and I hope it will really help us to get on the same page.


Thanks for this! Yeah, I think that racial tension is only being exacerbated by radical leftists who feel the need to make anything an offence. I’m not going to name any names, but I’ve witnessed a few people recently denying the facts just so they can call any non-POC who wears braids racist… even though the braid in question is a European invention. Sigh.


I’m the one who linked your thread because I agree with what you’ve said here and I think a lot of people can benefit from this. I hope you don’t mind :slightly_smiling_face: Thank you for taking the time to make this thread and clear all this stuff up.


I don’t mind at all! Thank you for getting me involved actually! It’s nice to know that someone agrees with me, haha!


I’ve gotten a lot of people saying things like “So you’re basically French” or “You wouldn’t understand, you’re not really French”… Sure, genetically, mixed-race people might have 50% of this, 17% of that, 33% of whatever else. But that doesn’t make us “less than”. Let me say that I have two ethnicities and don’t try to dictate where I’m “really from”. I don’t mind people asking more about it out of curiosity, I’m always happy to talk about my ethnic background. But it’s upsetting when people make assumptions and dismiss you as “not really this or that”.

Of course, how could I not? :grin:


Exactly! It’s entirely about how the person identifies… and what’s wrong with just calling them mixed race anyway?


At least 5 different people are going to attack me for this but I have to say it.

Racism is not just towards POC. I grew up in a Canadian neighbourhood where the dominant race was Sri Lankan. I was bullied for the entire time I went to school in that neighbourhood. The kids at my school deliberately targeted me because I’m white. Sometimes, I was afraid to go to school because of the hatred I received and I still tense up if I see someone from my elementary school.


I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with anyone just taking the time to touch on some points. (I know this is long sorry :weary:.) Firstly, the term “cultural appropriation” is neutral. It literally just means taking aspecs of one culture and having it mingle with another. Happens all the time and it isn’t cause for concern even though the term itself has recieved a negative connotation. Kimono style wraps have become pretty popular in fashion this year. I own one. I’m not Japanese. That’s cultural appropriation. See how that works? Cultural appropriation can be good, bad or somewhere in the middle which is why it’s such a hot topic especially when discussing aspects of American culture. Saying something is cultural appropriation doesn’t automatically make it bad. What makes it bad is the context of the situation. For example, if I took that same kimono wrap and turned it into a Native American headress, something used for more of a religious purpose, that would be bad cultural appropriation. I felt the need to say this because people just like tossing that term around and getting other people whipped up.

The second topic I want to discuss is the difference between racism and discrimination. Discrimination refers to the prejudiced behavior of one racial group towards another. Race A is the majority group in a town and they express distaste for Race B out in the open. This term can also be applied to other situations involving gender and sexuality. Racism is a whole different situation all togther. It’s similar in concept, but very different. Racism is the SYSTEMATIC oppression of one dominant group over one or many other groups. The word system is important because racism is not as simple as one person hating another for how they look. It take into consideration how that person is treated by the police, the school, the government, the healthcare system and many other systems that run society as a whole. Racism talks about the big picture whereas discrimination deals with the individual incidents of prejudice. That’s why US discrimination law is called discrimination law and not racism law or something else. We happen to conflate the two in our daily lives, but they are both different and real. This is why some people disagree with the idea that minority groups can be racist against white people, at least in most parts of the world. This is because colonialism placed white Europeans in a place of dominance over most of the world, shaping the SYSTEMS and governments that run life for so many people. The place of my ancestry received independance from England just over 50 years ago. You better believe the queen shaped how that place is run. Please keep these things in mind during your discussions. I hope people are actually interested in these topics and I didn’t waste my time.

I agree with you, however, in the first paragraph, I think you’re confusing cultural appreciation and appropriation. Cultural appreciation is the good version you mentioned, and cultural appropriation is the bad version. Appreciation means the person understands the history and meaning of whatever cultural element they’re using and honors them, appropriation is when the history and meaning is ignored and the elements are used and possibly distorted. Google has better resources than me, I’d suggest you look it up rather than rely on my definitions though.

Cultural, meaning the ethnic customs of a group of people. Appropriation, the adaptation of one behavior to yourself or something else. Put them together and you get what I described. Cultural appreciation was a term created out of the need to redeem a term like cultural appropriation, making it sound positive. The original term, however doesn’t need redeeming. The definition I used is the definition used by sociologists. I understand where you’re coming from though. I did look it up and find what you decribed, but you have to be cautious with that. The definitions of certain things, unless scientific, can carry a bias. This is the definition I’m using btw.