Taboo on National Geographic Channel
Can I just say how much White privilege that show is drowning in? Everytime they show something about Western body modification, first off, everyone they show is White and they never, EVER get into the whole smog cloud of White privilege that surrounds those folks in their pursuit of even more extreme mods. Hint, it has to do with the fact that their unadorned, White bodies are not stigmatized or demonized to begin with!
They even want to think of themselves as pioneers even as they steal mods from cultures of color wholesale and then begin the bleaching process. What they’re calling “suspension” is a wholesale rip off of the Native American Sun Dance. Try and get them to admit NA’s had ANYTHING to do with it. Go ‘head. I’ll wait. And they do this while constantly calling our cultures, even those within the West, “primitive,” “savage,” “barbaric” and “abusive” for doing what they’ve renamed “individual expression” and “creative.”
I remember being a teen in the 80s, when the modern, Western body mod culture really, supposedly, just started taking off. Black girls, including me, were getting their SECOND set of earlobe piercings while our White counterparts were begging and offering their parents rights to their firstborn to get their first set of earlobe piercings. Hell, many of us were even getting our cartilage pierced. Our men were starting the trend of men getting earpiercings. Were we called “avant garde?” “Fashion forward?” “Adventurous?” No, we were “low class,” “ghetto,” “niggerish,” and we were called all that by those who’d later snatch our style and deem themselves “artistic” for it while never acknowledging where they got it from. This from the same people who sneer at the practice many communities of color have of piercing their female infants’ ears. They thoughtlessly hurl the accusation of “abusive” at that practice utterly ignorant or non-caring as to the seriousness of that accusation and how precarious it is to hurt at parents of color in Western countries that are quick to snatch our babies away from us.
Meanwhile, we had to worry about how our very modest modifications would further hinder us in the job market. These folks are complaining that they can only get marginal jobs or jobs as “freak show” performers with their extreme mods, when employers wouldn’t employ a Black man with ONE earlobe piercing or a Black women with a double set! Then as the body modification trend gained momentum, any early contribution to it by communities of color, especially Western ones was deleted and simply not acknowledged. We were even sneered at for not being modified ENOUGH and for being too conservative and cowardly to get more extreme mods even though some of us did and were thrown even further into the “ghetto” territory in their minds.
I’ve written before of how the White body mod community is racist as hell. I’ve written about my experience at the one, and only, tattoo convention I attended. Well, I have another experience to share. Again, it happened in AZ when I briefly worked on the campus of ASU. Eric Sprague, also known as Lizardman, was walking around the campus handing out flyers for a performance and his troupe were going to give. He was walking towards me as I was walking. It was about 9 in the morning so there were not a lot of people around. He was handing out the flyers to the passersby. As I neared him I gave him a friendly smile expecting to be handed a flyer. He looked at me as if I’d just spat on his shoes, proceeded to quicken his step and almost trotted to the person about 25 feet behind me to give them a flyer, a middle-aged, White male professor. He purposely didn’t hand me one. Now he saw me. He looked right at me in my face. And I wasn’t in a crowd of people. I was also in my early 30s, but I looked young enough to be a student which you’d think would be his target audience. The thing is, I was BLACK and the ONLY person of color in that area of the campus at that time of day. My Black ass didn’t rate getting a flyer or seeing his performance. He didn’t need or want my nigger money. That’s one of many reasons I stay rolling my eyes when White body modders bitch about not being able to find work.
Seriously, this is a beautiful and much-deserved takedown.
I’m really disgusted to hear of Erik Sprague’s behavior; he is someone I’ve known for a while and honestly this makes me decidedly uninterested in speaking to him further.
I have/had been involved with the West Coast body modification community online and in person since about 2001, 2002-ish. And I must say that the racism that I witnessed and experienced on the West Coast from time to time was nigh unavoidable and certainly present, but couldn’t hold a candle to the racism I witnessed and experienced on the East Coast.
I never did a suspension or ritual type things because I found them to be appropriative and of somewhat questionable taste, and a lot of white d00ds talking about how “spiritual” it was and how it was like a rite of passage in general just made me roll my eyes…as a Lakota person, it made me uncomfortable.
I think a lot of my drifting away from the whole “scene” had a lot to do with getting increasingly uncomfortable with everything i was seeing from people within and the scene, especially on the East Coast. At least on the West Coast and in and around LA there were a ton of mixed people and people of color…on the East Coast it was awfully like being at some kind of creepy white supremacist party.
Wayyy too many white people into Body mod are having their cake and eating it too: privileged as hell and also feeling like they can just get together and have a BAWWWfest over how “oppressed” they are.
And honestly there’s….much more to it that is even allowable in polite conversation.
on the East Coast it was awfully like being at some kind of creepy white supremacist party.
as an east-coaster i can whole-heartedly agree. any attempt at punk is a largely white male-dominated group reaking of entitlement, appropriation, and cheap, oft illegally attained beers. just cruising for a bruisng. east coast rrrriot girls try to get me to join because “omg i didn’t know people like you like music like that" and i’m sure i’m all exotic and all compared to your middle class suburban garage meetings but no dice. i’m sure that you can get a tap on the hand for your poorly designed attempt at painting gang symbols around town, but i know my place in your attempts, and the exit is about four turns before yours.
you ain’t my cousins.