So magical right?
April 7, 2018 9:25 AM   Subscribe

The Crystal Capitalists aren’t just participating in some warped, consumer-focused version of hippiedom. They’re doing a thing outsiders, especially white ones, have long done in New Mexico: consuming too greedily, too obliviously, while imagining themselves to be in a new and untouched place, a sort of Manifest Destiny-lite with souvenirs.
posted by lazuli (21 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Although it makes many good points, this article is a self-indulgent, candle-lit ceremony of condescension and snark. I hope the author will now use her writing talents and knowledge to craft some genuine 'service articles' (as they're called in the magazine business) that explain some of the very good points she makes about the region's cultures and history in a tone the tourists she so clearly disdains might actually read and learn from. Educate, don't excoriate.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:47 AM on April 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


Maybe you manifested it, maybe it's white priveledge
posted by ananci at 9:52 AM on April 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


Although it makes many good points, this article is a self-indulgent, candle-lit ceremony of condescension and snark

i mean... are you unfamiliar with jezebel as a media outlet, or...
posted by halation at 10:09 AM on April 7, 2018 [17 favorites]


To a commenter, she enthused, “So magical right? It’s like Nevada City, Olympia, Ojai and Joshua Tree had a baby.”

I have never understood the New Age-y appeal of Nevada City.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:24 AM on April 7, 2018


That said, this is an excellent article. I was going to pull out some quotes that I felt were especially meaningful, but there were too many. Once you get past the initial snark, which I enjoyed, it makes some really important points about cultural appropriation and commodification.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:34 AM on April 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


At the same time that Santa Fe and Taos undergo a massive and perhaps irreversible gentrification process

Wasn't that about 1985?
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:37 AM on April 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


Or maybe 1975?

What's at least as old (and tired) is hearing that every piece about cultural appropriation is supposed to be some nice, educational thing that hand-holds adults with resources into lessons on how not to be an asshole when entering a cultural context that is not their own. That any amount of anger or snark or exasperation is awful and people who express it are Hurting the Cause.

Look, just because one is unaware of the approximately one billion nice, gentle, non-blamey pieces on how not to be an asshole in a cultural context you're new to doesn't mean those pieces don't exist.
posted by rtha at 10:41 AM on April 7, 2018 [26 favorites]


I grew up in NM and love it, though I no longer live there. This piece is well-intentioned but the topics of racism and cultural appropriation are best served by writers who are actually affected by them rather than by indignant white onlookers. I’d love to see Jezebel run something on this topic by a Native author — I think this piece would have worked better if it were more closely focused on the author’s shame in sharing a culture with racists and appropriators. Also if it had been a little less self congratulatory about the racial progressivism of her parents and grandparents.

Separate from this piece, I have been thinking lately about the racism I grew up with in NM as a child. From ages 3-11 in the 1980s I lived in a small town, not Española but not unlike Española. There were a lot of Española jokes, which I never told, but also never registered as being profoundly racist. My elementary school history education presented conquistadors as heroes/ brave pioneers. We got zero history of Native Americans, but there were plenty of Gallup/“drunk Indian” jokes. There was also free floating cultural contempt for “Fanta Se” and the white people who moved to NM to make ugly paintings, wear bolo ties and, yes, drape themselves in turquoise jewelry.

After elementary school, I lived in Abq until I graduated from high school. In my small town elementary school white kids were actually an ethnic minority, and were sort of disdained as dorks, but as I got older and visited the small town I grew up in on the weekend, I noticed that the closer kids got to the “real world” of adulthood — where some kids would be going on to college, and some wouldn’t —the more social and cultural cache whiteness accumulated.

All of which is to say that the forces the author identifies are certainly nothing new — white people “discovering” NM dates back to at least the 1930s — she’s just aging into the cohort where people she knows or knows through media become clueless cultural appropriators. But I’m glad that Native and hispanic activists have, through the internet and social media, louder megaphones than in centuries or decades past. I’m hopeful that white harm can be diminished and some measures of restorative justice can be taken.
posted by mrmurbles at 11:16 AM on April 7, 2018 [20 favorites]


This piece is well-intentioned but the topics of racism and cultural appropriation are best served by writers who are actually affected by them rather than by indignant white onlookers. I’d love to see Jezebel run something on this topic by a Native author — I think this piece would have worked better if it were more closely focused on the author’s shame in sharing a culture with racists and appropriators.

This is a really good point --- though I don't know that I'd say that I know that 'shame' is what I think the missing ingredient is. But I definitely agree that it would have been better if Jezebel had taken the presumptive pitch and commissioned a piece from a Native writer, especially a Pueblo author. I mean even just commissioning a companion piece by Castro or someone from TWU would seem fairly natural.

I hadn't thought about it this way before you made your comment, but in some ways the piece enacts the attitudes it decries. As an Anglo who grew up in western NM, I'm going to have to think about some of my own tendencies in this light.
posted by PMdixon at 11:27 AM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


I am a little disappointed that it wasn't the froth-filled vitriolic takedown I was expecting. Instead it seemed almost polite in its indictment of the latest wave of cultural appropriation.

Speaking only for myself, and not complaining about TFA in any way, I'm positively tired of reading polite articles about societal ills that attempt to reach entitled white audiences without making them reach for Swarovski-encrusted iPhones to emergency dial the Tone Police.

I dunno, it's all jumbled up in my head about how there is simply no way that any kind of genteel interaction is going to actually alter anything in the establishment. Entrenched systems don't change without strong motivation, whether it's positive or negative reinforcement. "Asking politely" isn't either.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:33 AM on April 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


I really enjoyed the article and many of the included links which help crystalize (ha!) terms like Silver Lake Shaman for me. I was aware of the trend (Coachella, Goop, Amanda Bacon, Instagram) but this really pulled the room together.
posted by misterpatrick at 1:22 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


While there are aspects of this article that I don’t agree with (like the implication that Brooklyn is an escape from gentrification), I thought this was an interesting representation of Santa Fe and its history. Certainly better than the travel writing about our glorious sunsets, healing hot springs or the city different of happy harmonious cultures. I think her piece reflects the general dissatisfaction younger folks here have (Santa Fe is not really a teen friendly place).

I moved to Santa Fe from Texas in 1986 and it was certainly a City Different to me. My schools didn’t have Hispanics, African-Americans or Native-Americans. And they didn’t teach us much about those cultures and what was done to them. It wasn’t until I came here that I was exposed to them and examined how my culture and priviledge was effecting them.

My wife and I began selling beadwork jewelry at craft shows on the Plaza and we met a few white artists making feathery dream catchers and other “Indian inspired” work. We named our business Paleface Designs expressly so customers would know we were not native. There are folks who come here to play Indian or Cowboy or healer or artist or shaman and take bits of those cultures that appeal to them. Not so much different from those of us who thought Led Zepplin invented the blues or kids who emulate the clothing and speech of their rap idols.

Years ago, artist Alma Lopez made a representation of Our Lady of Guadalupe that caused a huge uproar in the Hispanic community. Recently, we had the native protestors at the Fiesta parade. Having these arguments, I think, is healthy for a place where so many different people live so closely together.

The wonderful thing about this place; beyond its natural beauty, is the variety of artists who live and work here. For every bronze statue of the muscled Indian brave pulling his bow (oh god how I hate those statues), there are many more innovative works like Meow Wolf and others. And there is a thriving market for Indian and Hispanic art along with institutions to help younger artists.

The growing activism is a healthy thing for Santa Fe. At this past March for Life, students came from all high schools, including the local pueblos. Maybe the next generation can honor all our cultures and make a change for the better.
posted by jabo at 2:01 PM on April 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


This piece is well-intentioned but the topics of racism and cultural appropriation are best served by writers who are actually affected by them rather than by indignant white onlookers.

What would Metafilter look like if it held a "day without well-intentioned articles by indignant white onlookers"?
posted by Pararrayos at 2:20 PM on April 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


posted by lazuli
Eponystericrystal!
posted by lollymccatburglar at 2:27 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


What would Metafilter look like if it held a "day without well-intentioned articles by indignant white onlookers"?

Quieter, but not as quiet as No Concern Trolls Saturdays.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:59 PM on April 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


the topics of racism and cultural appropriation are best served by writers who are actually affected by them rather than by indignant white onlookers

I suspect everyone here believes it is positive and helpful when advocacy against antisemitism comes from non-Jews as well as Jews. Why would the cause of greater social justice be served by saying the direct victims of injustice should be the only ones to speak out about it?
posted by PhineasGage at 4:52 PM on April 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


I was curious to read this -- my in-laws live in Sedona, which is scene to more than its share of this sort of cultural re-appropriation. But, I found the article too long and diffuse and I'll confess that a ways in I gave up on it.

But I am glad that the editors put that illustration of the sarape stretching from loom to instragrammer in that first half of the article where I could notice it! Sure it boils things down to an exaggerated duality, but for simply capturing an essential tension of the situation, I thought it did so with great impact. And I found it very well done.

It prompted me to check out the website of the artist, Angelica Alzora. Some nice work in there!
posted by Theophrastus Johnson at 4:58 PM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I suspect everyone here believes it is positive and helpful when advocacy against antisemitism comes from non-Jews as well as Jews. Why would the cause of greater social justice be served by saying the direct victims of injustice should be the only ones to speak out about it?

But nobody is saying that the direct victims of injustice should be the only ones to speak out about it.

Non-opressed people should absolutely speak up about oppression, they should amplify the voices of the oppressed. But that's what it should be -- amplification, not speaking over.

I think in an ideal world the author would have had an idea for this post, pitched it to Jezebel and they would have found a Native writer to write about it.

The author of this piece could have then written a shorter, companion piece about how it's difficult to go home/go to LA/read Goop or whatever because of all the [shame/rage/whatever] she feels as a white person watching other white people do this.

This would have accomplished a few things: it would have given an under-represented voice a megaphone. It also would have put this author's feelings where they belong -- on the sidelines. That doesn't make those feelings stupid or trivial or unworthy, there are whole bodies of literature about white people who love the South but hate its racism, for example, and the conflict they feel about that. Those stories are worth hearing. But when you jumble those things up into one piece -- here is a problem and here is how I, an unaffected but decent person feel about them -- you drown out other voices, do injustice to the topic, and to the people who are affected by it.
posted by mrmurbles at 5:19 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also these specific issues of appropriation of Native American culture and the socioeconomics of places like Santa Fe, etc, are not the same as "antisemitism."

Sometimes swapping out minorities like this to make a point is valid but that's way too generic. This is a different very contextually situated phenomenon, and there are indeed some elements of antisemitism that are better for Jews to speak about than for well-intentioned allies.

And it's not like there isn't well known native criticism of "whiteshamanism."

White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men


Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality (1993)

Also, TFA makes no mention of Goop. My experience of Goopy folk is that they're way more into ersatz "Eastern" spirituality than NAI. Maybe a bit of a distraction here.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:19 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


GREAT ARTICLE! If you have scrolled down here reading the comments, but haven't read the article because you're worried it's a hot-take low-effort un-nuanced Jezebel.com rant -- please take the time (probably 20-30 minutes) and give it a read. (Maybe even print it out, if you don't have the online attention span.) It's really a short, personal, highly-informed, staunchly liberal/left social history of New Mexico (mostly northern NM), the white American mythology/reality of the place that fed its 20th-century transformation, and the Native reaction and resistance to damaging extremes of capitalism. Thanks, lazuli, for bringing this essay to my awareness, and to the NM commenters in this thread who've shared their experiences and explanations. Y'all are why I come to Metafilter.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:16 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


Here's a fascinating article offering more on the complicated history and blood-lines among different peoples in the Southwest.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:48 AM on April 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


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