Americans find a lot of subject matter offensive. Race, gender, sexuality, class, weight, and myriad other topics are touchy to bring up. There are literally hundreds of examples, some of which I've written about before. If you grew up with responsible parents/guardians, you probably know that you should treat people how you would like to be treated. But the world today can take almost anything you choose to say, or do, as a personal attack (even if it has nothing to do with them).
I used to wonder why people get so offended by menial remarks or "microaggressions." I think I have finally figured it out though. I honestly believe that people have become more sensitive, even unfoundedly, because of how much of a melting pot America is.
Let's take the case of Keziah Daum. Keziah is a white high school student from Utah that decided to wear a Chinese cheongsam dress to her prom. Keziah posted pictures of her in her dress on Twitter and sparked a "national outrage" (by "national outrage", I mean some whiner, named Jeremy Lam, retweeted her picture and cried on his keyboard). This was a huge topic in the news a few weeks ago, until comments started rolling in from actual Chinese people in China.
People in China couldn't understand what people were so offended by in America, relating to the dress. Many commented that they were proud that their culture was being integrated with such an important American event (senior prom). Other people were saying that they were glad their culture was being kept alive in some capacity. But I couldn't find one comment or article of any actual Chinese person in China that was offended by the dress. Why?
This leads me back to my main point; I think America has become so diverse that people have honestly forgotten what is cultural appropriation and what is cultural appreciation. I brought up this point last Halloween, when talking about the costume of Moana vs. the costume of Maui. I also think that this reaction has many folds.
First, I think Americans are entitled.
I admit it, I think we are all pretty spoiled as compared to the rest of the world. This doesn't just mean that cis-gender white men are the only ones who have this complex. I think that all Americans use their keyboards and their mouths to say whatever they feel like (which is a good thing, because it means we have the freedom to do so without being arrested or silenced).
Second, I think because America is so diverse (and because we're all a little spoiled) we've all sort of forgotten our true past. 3rd-generation Indian Americans, more than likely, live in a close family community, around their parents, and sometimes probably take trips to India to see their extended family. But those same 3rd-generation Indian Americans, probably, don't know what it's like to live every day in India, and probably have missed out on some niche parts of their culture (while still knowing and practicing the most basic cultural customs).
Third, because of all of this, we have way more subsets of people in America that get to throw in their opinion (again, I think this is a good thing). I may think Jeremy Lam is a sniveling pee-pants, but that's his opinion. Someone might think I am a sniveling pee-pants for thinking the Maui Halloween skin-suit is in bad taste. But you have to think about how many types of people are in America.
If Keziah Daum had worn that Chinese dress in Iran, there wouldn't be a strong Iranian-Chinese opinion about it (partially because women can't show their ankles in Iran, and partially because there are likely no such things as Iranian-Chinese). In America, there is such a great representation of nationalities, to the point where anything to do with another culture in America will automatically have a group of that same culture in America take issue with it. As with the Keziah Daum dress debacle, it might only be a few people, but there will always be someone.
This all leads to a perfect storm that everyone in America is dealing with today. But I also think this has some positives. Per my own theory, this just goes to show how truly diverse America is (even though some people try to paint that differently). I think that people need to recognize that, no matter your background, if you're in America, you're an American. Maybe this realization will show people that a white girl wearing a Chinese dress to prom, or a white kid wearing a Moana dress for Halloween, is a celebration of other cultures, rather than an attack on those cultures.