Cultural Appropriation Or Cultural Appreciation?

Cultural Appropriation Or Cultural Appreciation?

How cultural appropriation is being taken out of context.

Throughout the past few years there has been an increasing debate about cultural appropriation—what does it mean and why is it wrong? I never entered that debate until a few weeks ago when I was in Wal-Mart. A woman came up to me and told me that I was “appropriating black culture” because my curls were a little wild and resembled an afro. What that lady didn’t know by just looking at my skin color is that I am mixed and that I am of Jamaican heritage. This prompted me to start looking into the debate on cultural appropriation, and why that term has started to lose its value due to overuse.

Cultural appropriation essentially means that people should not adopt styles or elements of another culture that isn’t their own because some elements are sacred to that culture specifically. Recently, many celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian have come under fire for appropriating black culture. Even Cosmopolitan magazine has been in the spotlight for a video on how to create “Mohawk Braids” which are essentially cornrows.

The key to realizing whether you are appropriating a culture or not is to question your motives. Are you wearing the headdress because it is cute and you want to show it off on your Instagram, or do you have ties to Native culture? Is that bindi you’re wearing because you are Hindu or Jain, or is it because everyone at festivals wears them and you just cannot be the only one without one? If it is something sacred to another culture, and you have no ties to that culture, don’t wear it. However, if you wear it with ties to a specific culture and someone questions you, do not be afraid to tell them your history and shut them down because you do not have to deal with ignorance.

Cover Image Credit: Shsrattler

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Stop Using Your Parents As A Bank

Nobody likes a Mona-Lisa.


A few years ago, I had an argument with my dad about privilege. I off-handedly mentioned how I was privileged to have what I have, and he got defensive about how he had worked for most of his life to get to where he is. Read that sentence again and tell me where the miscommunication happened.

I said I had privilege; he said he did not.

He thought I was meaning he didn't work for where he was and didn't deserve it. While he may have some privilege by being a white guy, he had to work hard to get where he is now. He started from the bottom, from three jobs to make ends meet, to well-off and not having to worry about counting pennies for peanut butter.

I, however, never worked for that. I was born into a middle-class family and never had to worry about where my next meal would come from or whether I would have clothing that properly fit me. Most of my life, my money has not been my own.

When I came to college at 18, I paid for nothing. My dorm, my tuition, my groceries, my gas—my parents paid for all of it.

I'm 21 now, and I still don't pay for my tuition. My parents still pay most of my rent. My utilities, my groceries, my gas, my entertainment, and my cats are all me, but the vast majority of the money I spend isn't. My parents can easily pay for everything, and I could ask them to do that forever, but I don't want them to.

I don't think anybody should.

I don't care if your parents' salaries combine to be seven digits a year—you should have your own source of income. You should work for what you get, even if they're still helping out. Because guess what? Your parents aren't always going to be around to take care of you.

People around you don't always have that privilege, either, so hearing about how all you did during the summer was travel, how it felt "so good" for your "soul" or whatever, is rubbing salt in the wounds for everyone else. Most people have to work for at least part of their summer, if not all of it, and everyone should have to experience that at some point.

I'm not saying everyone should have to start from the bottom. I don't think anyone should ever have to worry about if they'll get more than one meal today or if they can pay their next bill, but I do think people should have to work for something, even if it's not a necessity.

Nobody likes to hear this:

So just don't do it. Instead, get a job. If you can't (because we all know how hard it can be), ask your parents if there is any extra work you can do for them so that you earn what you use.

Don't be Mona-Lisa.

Use the privilege you were born with, but don't abuse it.

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