"Am I being racist or Orientalist when I culturally appropriate things from the East?
If you are fascinated with a culture and its people because it represents the exotic and the foreign — in short, because it being different makes it “cool” and “edgy” […] then, yes, you are being Orientalist.”
ALL Western Tibet Supporters must read this. The “Tibet” tag on Tumblr is a perfect illustration of what the author is discussing (think: Tibetan tattoos on Westerners, Western Buddhists taking on Tibetan names and criticising Tibetans for not complying with their standards, fetishizing Tibetans and Tibet generally as “beautiful” and “spiritual”, going on about an overwhelming desire to “escape” to Tibet and live in a monastery, …
"Is Orientalism racism? Yes. Is idealizing Tibet and Tibetans and defining what they should be based on western fantasies "Orientalism"? Yes." From Overlooking Tibet - https://www.facebook.com/OverlookingTibet
"Thus, almost from the moment of first contact, the West established a unique and specific relationship with the East — one that still impacts and influences our conceptions of these regions today. In this relationship (as defined by Edward Said), the West is the “Occident”: the norm, the standard, the centre, the fixed point around which the rest of the world orbits. The East is, by contrast, the “Orient”: the abnormal, the exotic, the foreign, the Other defined specifically by its deviancy from the Occidental, Western norm.
Importantly, this relationship — what Said terms “Orientalism” — draws upon exaggerations of both Occidental and Oriental traits in order to create an Orientalist fantasy that is a fictional recapitulation of both East and West. Western men are reimagined as universally Godly, good, moral, virile, and powerful — but ultimately innately human. By contrast, those traits that best serve as a counter-point to the Occidental West are emphasized in the West’s imagined construct of the East: strange religions and martial arts, bright colours and barbaric practices, unusual foods and incomprehensible languages, mysticism and magic, ninjas and kung fu. Asia becomes innately unusual, alien, and beastly. In Orientalism, Asia is not defined by what Asia is; rather, Asia becomes an “Otherized” fiction of everything the West is not, and one that primarily serves to reinforce the West’s own moral conception of itself.
It is also important to note that Orientalism historically arose both from an attempt to “honour” Eastern cultures as well as to redefine them for the West. Orientalism purports to be a faithful recreation of Eastern traditions and peoples, but actually draws upon real practices and traditions to create an Eastern construct that is largely exaggeration and myth. Thus, it is highly fallacious to presuppose that cultural appropriation motivated by fascination with (rather than malice towards) the East renders the cultural appropriation innocent; in Orientalism, the fascination is, itself, part of the problem.”