How Do You Say…

seoulfoodI know this isn’t graffiti. It’s a food truck and their logo has a certain distinctive style that looks, hey, kind of like graffiti. And that was probably intentional because the Funk Seoul Brother food truck serves “Seoul food” and it’s riffing on African American, and in particular inner city urban, culture. I don’t want to bust their chops for it because I think it’s funny and, in my opinion, it’s like some kinds of fusion cuisine. It’s a cultural blend that works.

Others may disagree, but that’s what the comments section is for. I’m open to alternative viewpoints.

What’s interesting is I saw the food truck on the same day I read about a sportscaster getting some flak for a t-shirt he wore highlighting how certain sports teams mascots make fun of other–especially Native American–cultures.

caucasians

Source: Deadspin.com

Yeah, I think I’m treading on really thin ice here, but I’m both trying to approach the controversy thoughtfully and relying on the fact that this blog is only read by a small number of intelligent people and while I wouldn’t mind a wider audience I don’t want to end up on The Internet Ruined My Life.

Several years ago I went to an opening of an exhibition of photographs of Native Americans. These were contemporary photographs, not old ones. People asked the photographer questions and some would say “Indian” and then correct themselves and say “Native American”. Finally one person said, “What do they prefer to be called?”

The photographer replied a little pointedly that “they” are individuals but that most didn’t care if they were called Indians or Native Americans as long as they were treated with respect.

That reminds me of my favorite Simpsons lines, from the episode “Homer’s Phobia”, when Homer, speaking to the gay character John, voiced by John Waters, says, “Queer. That’s what you like to be called, right?” And John replies, “Well, that or John.”

I’m not really sure where I’m going with any of this which I could use as one of half a dozen reasons for not bringing any of this up. Questions of cultural appropriation and even cultural fusion are difficult and risky because they’re emotionally charged. If I don’t say anything, though, it might seem like I’m not interested in listening and learning. Silence may lead to the assumption that I don’t think about these issues and am closed to alternative viewpoints.

3 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    I say that I like this post and I don’t care what anybody thinks.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Sometimes that’s the way to approach things. If it helps though you’re not alone in liking it.

      Reply
  2. Ray V.

    What ever happened to “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”? Society has gotten out of control when it comes to safe places, and demanding the right not to be made to feel uncomfortable. Our society seems fine with letting radical islamists behead folks, but the Washington Redskins is offensive. We are on a downward spiral.

    Reply

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