As An Asian American, I Am Conflicted About Cultural Appropriation

As An Asian American, I Am Conflicted About Cultural Appropriation

Where is the fine line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation?
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According to Wikipedia, cultural appropriation deals with “the adoption of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.”

Today, this term is often used to describe someone’s misuse of an aspect of another culture. Usually, the someone is a caucasian and the other culture is a minority culture. Cultural appropriation is a highly debated topic that shows up in news and media almost daily, yet no one really agrees on where that fine line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation is.

To me, the difference between the two is that the cultural appropriation we widely condemn today plucks an important aspect of a minority culture that has traditionally been viewed as inferior and turns that aspect into something that’s suddenly “fashionable” and “trendy”, while cultural appreciation could take that same aspect and showcase it with respect, attributing credit to the original culture.

I’ve seen many posts addressing blatant cultural appropriation.

For example, a Caucasian wearing Native American headdress to Coachella is undeniably cultural appropriation. There is no way anyone can suddenly decide that a culture they had killed and exiled for centuries was suddenly trendy and that the previously mocked culture is now suddenly a way for corporations to profit off of. Blackface, yellowface, and redface are all openly racist and deserve the criticism it has received. There may even be more action necessary to combat these actions.

While most accusations of cultural appropriation in our society today are fully justified, I can’t help but feel like some accusations have gone overboard.

Don’t get me wrong. I despise racist cultural appropriation and misinterpretations of my culture, and I would never hesitate to stick up for it.

However, to me, just because someone adopts an element of another culture, that does not mean it is automatically the cultural appropriation we attack today. If we define cultural appropriation using Wikipedia’s definition, then it is not only inevitable but also not inherently racist. There are ways to appropriate elements of a culture and to show respect for it at the same time.

A few years ago, a mother was accused of cultural appropriation for throwing her daughter a Japanese themed party. People called her a racist and told her to educate herself about cultural appropriation.

However, most people who protested this example of a Caucasian wearing a Japanese kimono were not Japanese or of Japanese descent and were actually highly misinformed about the kimono.

Contrary to these criticisms, opinion polls in Japan, as well as the overall mindset in the kimono industry, actually do not view Caucasians wearing kimonos as cultural appropriation. In fact, many in the kimono industry and many Japanese encourage this kind of practice so that there could be higher sales in the industry and higher awareness of Japanese culture.

Recently, students have started to claim that their college dining halls were culturally appropriating their food. These dining halls would claim to serve “ramen” or “banh mi”, but the actual food served ends up not resembling nor tasting like these foods.

While some call this cultural appropriation, I view this as simply the college’s genuine attempt to try to be more inclusive and diversify the food that they served. Personally, when my school’s dining hall claims to be serving fried rice, I know that the food would definitely not taste like the fried rice I eat at home or in Taiwan, but I still appreciate my school’s efforts recognize my culture on campus.

This is why I have my reservations about our society’s current interpretation of cultural appropriation.

Cultural exchange and cultural appreciation are crucial to a wider mutual understanding among races, yet we’re seeing instances where white kids are afraid to dress up as Moana for Halloween in fear of being accused of cultural appropriation. If someone adopts an element of another culture while being respectful about it, taking the time to learn about the history and meaning of it, they should be able to do so.

So, while Karlie Kloss’s Indian headdress at the Victoria Secret’s fashion show depicts blatant cultural appropriation, we should not criticize every instance of one people adopting another culture without understanding how these people are doing so.

Cover Image Credit: New York Apparel

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The 17 Best Unpopular Opinions From The Minds Of Millennials

Yes, dogs should be allowed in more places and kids in less.
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There are those opinions that are almost fact because everyone agrees with them. Waking up early is horrible. Music is life. Sleep is wonderful. These are all facts of life.

But then there are those opinions that hardly anyone agrees with. These ones -- from Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit -- are those types of opinions that are better left unsaid. Some of these are funny. Some are thought-provoking. All of them are the 17 best unpopular opinions around.

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4. Milk in the cup first... THEN the bloody tea.

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6. "Space Jam" was a sh*t movie.

7. Saying "money cannot buy happiness" is just wrong.

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11. Alternative pets are for weird people.

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CBS, Please Stop The Racism and Lack of Black Representation On 'Big Brother'

Black houseguests need love too.

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CBS,

It's been nearly four weeks since CBS's summer-long game series "Big Brother" aired. On the 20th season, two people have already been evicted, one of whom is black. From what I've witnessed on the live feeds, there's racial slurs and ignorance galore.

I think that your network is known for casting less than two black people on every season of "Big Brother." If that's your way of creating diversity, then your network has some work to do. Every season is predictable.

If you think about it, most of the black houseguests don't make it far in the game, and it's been obvious. I've never seen a black winner of "Big Brother US," ever, and I'm honestly disappointed in the lack of black representation on the show. I'm also very livid with the evident racism along with it.

I've been a faithful superfan. But, as a black viewer, I find it hard to finish a season knowing there's a predictable chance that a certain houseguest is robbed based on race.

On the 15th season of "Big Brother," for instance, two houseguests were in the center of extreme controversy for making very blunt, racist remarks towards the women of color on the show.

In future seasons, Paul Abrahamian, a competitor for season 18 and 19, wore a black facial mask to resemble the "blackface," a way to mock a black houseguest. While TMZ and other gossip websites covered it, he was never reprimanded for what was considered ignorant, prejudiced behavior.

I'm not saying that "Big Brother" should keep houseguests from expressing their views. That's the purpose of the show. However, there's a difference between expressing your views and using your views to belittle the minority. There's nothing wrong with promoting civil conversations and debates.

I'm saying this because an incident occurred between two houseguests after one said the "N" word loud and clear towards a black houseguest.

JC Mounduix, who was previously accused of sexually harassing girls in the "Big Brother" house, forwardly said the "N" word towards Bayleigh Dayton. This incident started after Dayton questioned if he was a midget or a dwarf based on his very short height.

Mounduix did not apologize for saying the word after Dayton told him not to say it. Instead, he argued with her and believed he had a right to say it. A lot of superfans are angered by this, especially considering Mounduix's history. For one, although he is part of the LGBT community, people have disapproved of his support for President Donald Trump.

Now, I wouldn't isolate anyone based on their views, but there are literally some things you shouldn't say, and the "N" word is one of them.

CBS, I know before a live feed, you have a disclaimer. Your network says that the producers and the network do not agree with the views of the houseguests, but when people say things like the "N" word, you don't do anything about it.

Don't cover this up.

It's clear that we need more black representation on this show. We need the racism to stop. We need the clear ignorance to stop. Something has to be done.

Cover Image Credit:

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