‘If you want a great gay novel, write it’

More than 50 years ago, a Tulsa high school student wrote a novel about the conflict between “greasers” and rich kids. S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders became a young adult classic. It was made into a movie in 1983.

Hinton wrote other young-adult novels featuring working-class Oklahomans in the ’60s and ’70s.

Now the author is under fire for not including openly gay and black characters, reports Heat Street.

Some readers think two of her Outsiders‘ characters are gay. Hinton says they’re not.

“Want a great gay novel,” she tweeted. “Write it.”

She added: “I am a heterosexual writer writing about heterosexual characters. Being attacked for being heterosexual.”

How am I supposed to know what a gay character goes through? Not writing about the black experience either. I can’t know that!

If she did feature gay or black characters, wouldn’t she be guilty of cultural appropriation?

Halloween is too scary for college kids

Is your Halloween costume racist? Does it “appropriate” the culture of another group (Native Americans, Latinos, zombies)?

At U-Mass Amherst, students can check the “threat level” of their costume idea on the “Simple Costume Racism Evaluation and Assessment Meter” (S.C.R.E.A.M.) poster.

“If one intends to represent a person on Halloween, the only way to get a ‘green’ threat rating is for the person to be of one’s own race,” reports Campus Reform. “If one represents a person of another race, the ‘threat level’ increases roughly in conjunction with the amount of makeup that one intends to use.”

The flyer also warns about “thing/idea” costumes that reflect “controversial current events or historically accepted cliches,” particularly if “these events or cliches relate to a person or people not of your race.”

One of the displays does give another point of view, reports Campus Reform.

“It’s not fair to ask any culture to freeze itself in time and live as though they were a museum diorama,” one poster quotes author Susan Scafidi. “Cultural appropriation can sometimes be the savior of a cultural product that has faded away.”

Novelist Lionel Shriver defended cultural appropriation at a Melbourne writers’ conference. “I am hopeful that the concept of ‘cultural appropriation’ is a passing fad,” she said. “People with different backgrounds rubbing up against each other and exchanging ideas and practices is self-evidently one of the most productive, fascinating aspects of modern urban life.”

I wonder if students will turn to creepy clowns as a safe costume choice this year. On the other hand, there’s a “moral panic” about the threat of clowns on campus, writes Anne Hendershott. Everything’s scary this year.

Fierce feminists — or Indian-identity thieves?

nativeA girls’ high school basketball team in Iowa is under fire for a poster honoring the school’s Indian mascot, writes Robby Soave on Reason‘s Hit & Run. The Clarke High basketball team stands accused of appropriating Native American culture by dressing up as Indians. (They dance at the bottom of the poster, above the basketball schedule.)

“Several people pointed out on Facebook that the headdress is sacred in Native American tradition, and only men were allowed to wear it,” writes Soave. “But in that case, aren’t the girls actually striking a blow against the patriarchy?”

“Kudos to the Arbiters of Femininity for cyberbullying these girls,” writes The College Fix‘s Greg Piper.

“The girls look fierce as hell,” writes Soave

Clarke High asked photographer Ben Shirk to shoot a poster incorporating the mascot, writes Nick Martin. He calls the result “high-quality racism.”

When I started at Stanford, we were the “Indians.” Home football games started with a dance by “Prince Lightfoot.” My roommate, who was Native American, didn’t mind the Indian name, but hated the dance, which she said was pure Hollywood hoke. By sophomore, we were the Stanford Cardinal — a color, not a bird. I wonder what she’d think of the poster.

Yoga class canceled for ‘cultural appropriation’

Fears of “cultural appropriation” led student leaders to cancel a free yoga class at the University of Ottawa, reports the Ottawa Sun.

Seven years ago, the university’s Student Federation hired Jennifer Scharf to offer yoga instruction at the Centre for Students with Disabilities. Sixty students — disabled and able-bodied — typically participate. Until now.

Jennifer Scharf taught yoga at the University of Ottawa. Credit: Errol McGihon, Ottawa Sun

Jennifer Scharf taught yoga at the University of Ottawa for seven years. Credit: Errol McGihon, Ottawa Sun

“Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately,” according to an email from a Centre official, because it is taken from cultures that “have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy.” Therefore, “we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga.”

Romeo Ahimakin, acting president of the Student Federation, said yoga is on hiatus for consultation with students “to make it better, more accessible and more inclusive to certain groups of people that feel left out in yoga-like spaces. . . . We are trying to have those sessions done in a way in which students are aware of where the spiritual and cultural aspects come from, so that these sessions are done in a respectful manner.”

“I’m not pretending to be some enlightened yogi master, and the point (of the program) isn’t to educate people on the finer points of the ancient yogi scripture,” Scharf told the Sun. She suggested changing the name from yoga to “mindful stretching.”

“Student leaders debated rebranding the program, but stumbled over how the French translation for ‘mindful stretching’ would appear on a promotional poster, and eventually decided to suspend the program, reports the Sun.

Really. Not The Onion.

Sombreros are prohibido

Sombreros are prohibido at Britain’s University of East Anglia reports The Tab, a student newspaper.

Pedro’s Cantina, a Tex-Mex restaurant near campus, handed out free sombreros at a fair for new students — until they were ordered to stop.tumblr_inline_nvdoaf4GSG1tv19na_500

To ensure that everyone feels “safe and accepted, . . . we try to ensure that there is no behaviour, language or imagery which could be considered racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or ableist,” said Chris Jarvis, a Student Union official.

“Who is going to get offended?” asked a first-year student. “Speedy Gonzales?”