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Once you start looking for it, it’s just kinda everywhere.

Once you start looking for it, it’s just kinda everywhere. published on 14 Comments on Once you start looking for it, it’s just kinda everywhere.

Gentle reminder that you can love something of which you are also critical.


I’ve never understood this whole thing with “cultural appropriation” and such.
I mean we play things like D&D to have fun being something we’re not.
Sure, maybe don’t make something that is actively pissing on another culture, but if you want to build a character around a stereotype go ahead. It’s not like actual Japanese people have a problem with the samurai becoming both stereotype and cultural icon.

I’m on the fence. I think if you’re doing something respectfully, it doesn’t matter who can see you, and that the inverse is true of disrespect. So if you’re a white person but you’re doing some sort of samurai cosplay, and you’re not going around making fun of Japanese accents or something, you’re fine even if someone gives you stink eye. But if you’re a white person and you’re being disrespectful of a culture some how, context starts mattering way more. Is the venue appropriate? Does context clarify your message somehow? etc. Odds are against you in many cases.

As for at the table, I’m more aware of it than anything. If someone asks someone else, “hey, please don’t do that,” it really needs to be the end of it.

The question is “how do you know when it’s disrespectful?”, since the interplay of what different cultures consider “inappropriate” etc. is a problem that has been around since, well, culture.

Honestly I think people should be perfectly free to be disrespectful towards cultures or anything really. You should be allowed to express your views and opinions whatever they might be, and others should be free to “boo” you, but censorship in any of it’s forms doesn’t solve anything, nor does demonization, just makes the problem grow in the dark instead.

Guess I’m just sick and tired of people making chickens out of a feather as it was.
Like the recent story when social media blew up because an American girl wore a traditional Chinese dress to prom. Other Americans shrieked “cultural appropriation”, Chinese people thought it was wonderful she liked their fashion enough to wear it to prom in favour of local fashion.

A good shorthand rule: if the people who wear the thing aren’t allowed to wear it / do it outside, but you are, it’s probably cultural appropriation.

That said, I don’t see any censorship at all on the topic. Censorship necessarily comes from a place of power. If you’re afraid to voice an idea because there might be consequences from people who can’t do anything to you but speak back, that’s not censorship — that’s free speech working as intended.

I’m not sure I follow. Are you referring to some form of process where people are prevented from showing off their cultural heritage in the shape of dress, mannerisms etc, in favour of outsiders putting on a perhaps unavoidably less accurate display?

And the censorship I’m talking about is the whole ordeal of “You are not allowed to do X because you’re not part of group Y and thus it’s automatically offensive” that I’ve personally encountered more times than I think is defensible. It’s gotten to the point where one can be shouted into silence on a topic because only people with certain group-identities are “allowed” to express themselves on the issue. Certainly, insider experience can be a most valuable asset, but the moment you shut out outside perspectives you’ve locked yourself in an echo-bubble where only your own perspective will be reinforced, for better, or more commonly, for worse. Especially considering the false confidence and arrogance that starts festering in anyone who goes unchallenged for too long.

True, censorship requires power, but you’d be surprised how much power can be conjured by an angry mob set in their ways. To pick a point out of V for Vendetta, only fools believe the people to be powerless. All they need is unity to focus that power on a common goal, be it for destruction or creation.

I’ll give you a practical, modern example: black children in predominately white schools are sent home from school for wearing natural hair styles. So when white people suddenly have “boxer braids” or afros, there is justified anger. That’s cultural appropriation. If the culture that it originated from isn’t allowed to do it, but you are, that’s the stem of the anger.

That’s why the term is “appropriation.” The practice has been taken from some group, usually a minority, and used or misused by some other more powerful group.

You might decide not to wear a black hairstyle because you’re afraid of what a black person will say to you. That’s a respectful decision, even if it’s not made from a place of respect. But the fear to not wear that hairstyle is largely unfounded. No mob will lynch you for it. You’re unlikely to be removed from an institute upon which you depend for it. And you’re unlikely to be confronted for it in public (but never say never.) The absolute worst thing that will happen to a white person who wears a black hairstyle is that they’ll be mocked online.

In that specific case, minorities are allowed to form private pressure groups, which is a power many of them haven’t had before. So if you’re feeling uncomfortable because of a few niche things you can’t do without suffering an incredibly minor consequence, welcome to the momentary, fleeting experience of losing privilege. 🙂

Typically – but not always – it comes off as people looking for something to complain about, near-exclusively levied against whites. People just like blaming others for their shortcomings. Sure, there’s some racist depictions out there (see: Mickey Rooney as I.Y. Yunioshi) but 99 times out of 100 these “cultural appropriations” are moral busybodies looking to be offended on behalf of a third party. (see: Tumblr telling a white girl she’s racist for learning about Japanese culture – when no Japanese people were offended.)

And I do see the example of kids hair down there, and feel the need to mention it’s argued as a sanitary issue in regards to lice outbreaks, the white kids aren’t allowed to wear their hair in those manners either for the same reason. But because people are so afraid of being called racist they now allot the privileges to create a health hazard to avoid the trouble, this is more notable in the army where women reserve the right to keep their hair, and african americans may wear cornrows (in certain divisions) or other allotted hair styles from a short-list.

Personally, I just think we should apply rules universally instead of constantly divvying people up into groups saying “you can say this” “only you can do that” “now you can’t do this” and so on. Allotted legal privileges for specific groups does not equality make 🙁


No, that’s not based in reality. Black hair styles are not somehow more prone to lice than others. And besides, as far as I’m aware, that’s not the excuse that’s being used to censor these girls’ outfits and hair.


I don’t really see a lot of people out there looking for some reason to take pot-shots at me. Chances are, if someone is telling someone else repeatedly that they’ve offended them, it’s probably a true statement. In any case, the examples I can readily conjure to my memory are complaints that sane people would respect.

There are definitely spaces online that exaggerate problems, though, and white people telling other white people what is and isn’t cultural theft is not really the healthiest use of our time.

This is great, I just thought about that yesterday and wasn’t really sure how I felt about the matter. So gimme your thoughts!

I guess no one would argue that it’s awesome to play a character from a different background. After all, that’s one of the main hooks about DnD or RPGs in general – being able to become someone else entirely.

So then I saw a picture of a group dressing up as their DnD characters and I thought how I would manage a dress-up as one of my characters. One is a Shou monk and another a Mulan bard. And I figured that it’s alright to pretend at something in a fictional world, but as soon as you transition that stuff to our real world (i.e., cosplay them) there’s a context to consider.
Hence, I decided that personally I’d draw the line at colouring my face a different colour (considering that the different human origins stem from the real world or bear at least a certain similarity) because that just reminded me too much of blackfacing.
This might appear a bit inconvenient to players, but it would probably be folks who never encountered any discrimination themselves, meaning, a bit of empathy on the side of the players would be in order.

This doesn’t have much to do with playing certain characters*, it’s just my 2 cents on a similar topic that went on in my head.

Love the comic, it really hits home with a lot of the scenes <3

*stereotype is boring anyway

Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with saying, “I am Hideyuki Sokugawa, Samurai from Ido Province. I have come to kill goblins.”

The problem would come if the players started bucking their teeth and pulling their eyes taut and speaking in a mocking, broken accent. In other words, respect comes into play. Sure, maybe there isn’t a Japanese person at the table, but letting the other players know that someone thinks “these traits are okay to mock” is probably going to make another player uncomfortable, and assuming that any of this rubs off on someone else at the table, it propagates horrible stereotypes.

If someone wants to make a cross-racial, cross-gender character and they play it honestly and respectfully, I can’t see myself stopping them.

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