Anonymous asked: “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?”

stirringwind:

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 country. The Indian subcontinent is 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.

image

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. 

image

  • 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. 

image

(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 name 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. 

image

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.

image

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

image

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

image

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. There 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. 

image

(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 enough 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!”

image

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 (my bad! the Navajo were not a Native American people who traditionally wore such headdresses. Thanks to tumblr user nativepeopleproblems for pointing it out!) Sioux or Cheyenne war bonnet (akin to veteran’s medals), is something anybody can wear. Recognise this difference. 

6 days ago · 33,928 notes · Source

makeoutinheaven:

dunebat:

coldswarkids:

edwardspoonhands:

thelegendofkungjew:

doxian:

d-dinosaur:

rknjl:

newvagabond:

NO “TELEPHONES”. TALK TO EACH OTHER. FACE TO FACE ONLY. WRITE A LETTER. SEND A TELEGRAM TO YOUR MOM. PRETEND IT’S 1860. LIVE.

NO ‘WRITING’… TALK TO EACH OTHER. THROW A ROCK AT YOUR MOM. PRETEND IT’S 10,000 BCE.  LIVE.

URGGA. ROU GRAAURH. RUH.
<SMACKS HANDS ON WALL WITH PAINT.>

NO ‘HIGHER BRAIN FUNCTIONS’ …USE YOUR REPTILIAN BRAIN
EAT YOUR MOM’S CORPSE SHE DIED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH SUSTENANCE
PRETEND YOU HAVE JUST AROSE FROM THE SEA
SURVIVE

NO “MULTICELLULAR TRAITS”….. USE YOUR SYMBIOTIC MITOCHONDRIA
REPRODUCE ASEXUALLY, YOU’RE YOUR OWN PARENT
PRETEND IT’S 2BYA
EVOLVE

NO “LIFE.” USE FUNDAMENTAL PHYSICAL FORCES TO FORM SPHERICAL OBJECTS REVOLVING AROUND ONE ANOTHER IN SPACE. 
FUSE HYDROGEN INTO HELIUM USING GRAVITATIONAL PRESSURE TO PRODUCE HEAT AND LIGHT. 
PRETEND IT’S 4.5BYA.
STABILIZE INTO EQUILIBRIA

NO “MATTER”.  EXIST IN THE VOID WITHOUT PURPOSE OR MEANING.
THERE IS NO “YOU”, ONLY THE VAST CONCEPT OF NOTHING.
TIME DOES NOT EXIST.
BE.

Wow.

I feel like something really important just happened

makeoutinheaven:

dunebat:

coldswarkids:

edwardspoonhands:

thelegendofkungjew:

doxian:

d-dinosaur:

rknjl:

newvagabond:

NO “TELEPHONES”. TALK TO EACH OTHER. FACE TO FACE ONLY. WRITE A LETTER. SEND A TELEGRAM TO YOUR MOM. PRETEND IT’S 1860. LIVE.

NO ‘WRITING’… TALK TO EACH OTHER. THROW A ROCK AT YOUR MOM. PRETEND IT’S 10,000 BCE.  LIVE.

URGGA. ROU GRAAURH. RUH.

<SMACKS HANDS ON WALL WITH PAINT.>

NO ‘HIGHER BRAIN FUNCTIONS’ …USE YOUR REPTILIAN BRAIN

EAT YOUR MOM’S CORPSE SHE DIED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH SUSTENANCE

PRETEND YOU HAVE JUST AROSE FROM THE SEA

SURVIVE

NO “MULTICELLULAR TRAITS”….. USE YOUR SYMBIOTIC MITOCHONDRIA

REPRODUCE ASEXUALLY, YOU’RE YOUR OWN PARENT

PRETEND IT’S 2BYA

EVOLVE

NO “LIFE.” USE FUNDAMENTAL PHYSICAL FORCES TO FORM SPHERICAL OBJECTS REVOLVING AROUND ONE ANOTHER IN SPACE. 

FUSE HYDROGEN INTO HELIUM USING GRAVITATIONAL PRESSURE TO PRODUCE HEAT AND LIGHT. 

PRETEND IT’S 4.5BYA.

STABILIZE INTO EQUILIBRIA

NO “MATTER”.  EXIST IN THE VOID WITHOUT PURPOSE OR MEANING.

THERE IS NO “YOU”, ONLY THE VAST CONCEPT OF NOTHING.

TIME DOES NOT EXIST.

BE.

Wow.

I feel like something really important just happened

(via creepinginthestreet-light)

3 weeks ago · 736,457 notes · Source

azriah:

awwww-cute:

The Real Difference!

felthier

azriah:

awwww-cute:

The Real Difference!

felthier

3 weeks ago · 4,699 notes · Source

3 weeks ago · 354,642 notes · Source

karisikcerez:

Süper bir şey yapmış lan

Novak Djokovic and Ball Boy

2 months ago · 163,600 notes · Source

economicreading:

chipotlemg proudly immortalizing @sapinker on new bags.

economicreading:

chipotlemg proudly immortalizing @sapinker on new bags.

2 months ago · 107 notes · Source

nprfreshair:

Usually when characters age in movies, they’re covered with makeup and outfitted with prosthetics – or directors use different actors as the character ages. But in the new film Boyhood, none of that is necessary.
The film takes place over the course of 12 years, and it was shot over the course of 12 years. So we watch the actors getting older for real, which gives their characters a sense of authenticity.
Director Richard Linklater told what it was like to cast a 6 year-old boy (Ellar Coltrane) not knowing who he would become: 

"It was a huge leap. I just went with a kid who seemed kind of the most interesting. I liked the way his mind worked — he was a little mysterious and sensitive and very thoughtful. He was cut from no ordinary cloth. He was homeschooled and his parents were artists and I thought, "Well, that’s cool, there’ll be some family support for this undertaking. It will be a fun thing to do in his life."
So I think I had the family support but as far as he goes, you kind of have to admit that your main collaborator here has a really unknown future. But I would have each year to incrementally adjust and maybe go toward who he was becoming. That was sort of the design of the movie.”

Boyhood .gif of Ellar Coltrane via CBC 

nprfreshair:

Usually when characters age in movies, they’re covered with makeup and outfitted with prosthetics – or directors use different actors as the character ages. But in the new film Boyhood, none of that is necessary.

The film takes place over the course of 12 years, and it was shot over the course of 12 years. So we watch the actors getting older for real, which gives their characters a sense of authenticity.

Director Richard Linklater told what it was like to cast a 6 year-old boy (Ellar Coltrane) not knowing who he would become: 

"It was a huge leap. I just went with a kid who seemed kind of the most interesting. I liked the way his mind worked — he was a little mysterious and sensitive and very thoughtful. He was cut from no ordinary cloth. He was homeschooled and his parents were artists and I thought, "Well, that’s cool, there’ll be some family support for this undertaking. It will be a fun thing to do in his life."

So I think I had the family support but as far as he goes, you kind of have to admit that your main collaborator here has a really unknown future. But I would have each year to incrementally adjust and maybe go toward who he was becoming. That was sort of the design of the movie.”

Boyhood .gif of Ellar Coltrane via CBC 

(via allfonsocuaron)

2 months ago · 6,042 notes · Source

stargazerland:

parkbenchpoet4:

poisoned-ivie:

kalories:

thebrokentaboos:

Ad Campaign by Amnesty International Switzerland

Switzerland are always forward thinkers.

this is one of the most humbling ad campaigns i’ve seen.

This is amazing

Commercial art done correctly.

(via kfcbros)

2 months ago · 443,376 notes · Source

“I guess the common ground with all the songs is this abiding need in me to vacillate between atheism or a kind ofgnosticism. I keep going backwards and forwards between the two things, because they mean a lot in my life. I mean, the church doesn’t enter into my writing, or my thought; I have no empathy with any organised religions. What I need is to find a balance, spiritually, with the way I live and my demise. And that period of time - from today until my demise - is the only thing that fascinates me.”

2 months ago · 12 notes · Source

—  David Bowie, on Earthling (via mythsandmedia)