Last night Miss Tavi shared a smart and funny satirical article titled "Look Like This: The Social Network!".
The article had some great quotes and images including these two that jumped out at me:
"With reprints of the 60s Japanese Style book “Take Ivy” flying off faux-distressed mahogany hunting mantels in pre-fab mall stores across the world, it is clear that we are entering a brand new age where we are finally looking to rich white people to dictate what is fashionable."
"While obviously the romanticization of pre-Civil Rights era Ivy League white men and the fetishization of their trappings depicted in sepia-toned and Kodachromed photos should be totally and utterly divorced from their glaring historical context (we just really like the clothes, ok?!), it’s clear that Americans are yearning for a time when white people were unquestionably in charge and keeping other, less stylish, people down."
Fashion is a barometer of the times, as we all know, and with all the news about the Tea Party, immigration and socialism, this revisiting of a rose-tinted view of the fashions from the past is everywhere.
So I shared the link to the article, retweeting the source. At that point I received a response stating "Who would know better than her?" and then that same person retweeting it again as a "Hypocritical tweet to savor."
And that's fine. I'm all for freedom of speech and irony and humor. I don't think I am the most PC person so, the comments didn't phase me. But they did get me to stop and think about a larger issue...who can criticize?
What I take from the comments above is that Tavi, as a middle-class to well-off white girl, has no right to agree with the article because she is one of those "rich white people dictating what is fashionable" (please correct me if that was not the implication). That because she is, on the surface, a member of this group by virtue of her birth and upbringing and current circumstances that she has no right to agree with the satire.
Is that true?
Taken to the next step, I should not be agreeing or passing it along either. I too am a privileged white person. I'm not putting that in quotes because this is not a euphemism; I know that I am in that same group. So much so that I didn't even understand until recently how the term "privilege" was being used in the context of race discussions. I have had many advantages growing up and now and am lucky enough to have a comfortable lifestyle now.
But does that mean that I cannot be critical of these discrepancies? Taken on a superficial level, maybe some would feel that I shouldn't. That it could be seen as disingenuous. But what if I use the advantages and opportunities to work for change and to support that change however I can? Should I be criticized for opening my eyes and realizing that I need to learn more and working to share information and make changes? I hope not.
Perhaps I am giving Miss Tavi too much credit (I'm sorry to have to keep using you as an example, Tavi). I only know her through our brief conversations online and perhaps she is a spoiled child who doesn't know how good she has it. But for some reason, I doubt this. Yes, she has definite advantages in her life but that doesn't mean that she isn't interested in changing the world around her to be a better place. Who's to say that she won't be out there, tomorrow or in ten years, actively campaigning for social change. And why would we discourage her now? But Tavi is just here as a reference example.
Growing up I had little access to all of the information and discourse that is available to us now. I didn't have a variety of people to learn from. But even with that insulated life, I still knew what was right and what was wrong. And now I've been taking the opportunities to broaden my views and the perspectives I receive. I want the discussion and I want to know where my privilege has clouded my perspective because I want to learn and change where needed.
Updated: Tavi forwarding the link and the commentary here around that was the start of my thinking for this post but I also want to talk about the larger issue. Not if Tavi has a perspective but more, does it seem unseemly for a member of a certain group to criticize that same group? Comment either way!
Let's foster the discussion.