Why Cultural Appropriation Is Real And Hurtful

Why Cultural Appropriation Is Real And Hurtful

It isn't just people of color being whiny.
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I understand that racism has bigger problems than cultural appropriation. Problems like mass incarceration, deportation, police profiling and shootings, etc. However, I do feel that people undermine the fact that cultural appropriation goes beyond just wearing bindis and Native American headgear at Coachella.

The fact that cultural appropriation is the literal translation of plagiarizing someone's culture while continuing to undermine that culture is pretty shocking. And it hits on an individual level affecting even children. Even in my own life, I have seen the terrifying truth about cultural appropriation. For instance, coconut oil today is hailed as the ultimate cure-all for any beauty related problem by every western fashion and health publication, but as a child when my mother and grandmother, who have known the benefits of coconut oil for generations, would put it in my hair, my caucasian American teacher would pull me aside and tell me that my hair looked dirty and I should tell my mother to never put oil in my hair again.

I remember when I was fifteen, seeing an Indian actress go to the Cannes Film Festival and dressing in traditional Indian clothes and accessories. She wore a gold and white saree and a gold nose ring. I genuinely thought she looked stunning and I felt proud that she was representing her culture on this global platform.

However, western fashion critics felt differently. They put her on worst-dressed lists citing her nose ring as grotesque and her outfit as over-the-top. I felt startled as someone who loves fashion and reading fashion publications, I thought they would celebrate her novelty and confidence in wearing her cultural garbs. What bothered me even more, however, is when the French luxury design house Givenchy put out a whole collection of nose rings that same year, the same publication showered the collection with praise and called the fashion house "innovative" and "cutting edge."

I felt robbed. How can a South-Asian woman upholding generations of beauty traditions be called grotesque and a western fashion house stealing from that same culture be called innovative?

What bothers me the most is not that white girls wear bindis to Coachella or the fact that western fashion houses make nose rings. It is the fact that credit and knowledge of the origin of these items and concepts are not known.

That white girl has no idea the cultural history and significance of a bindi and yet she touts it around as if it is the latest seasonal trend. How can I explain to these people that my culture is not a trend?

In college, we are told that we can get kicked out of school for plagiarizing, but what about the centuries of cultural plagiarism that has gone untold and unpunished?

Cover Image Credit: Sarah Larkin

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Please, If You're Somehow Still Using The 'R Word'— Leave That Habit In 2018

Come on guys, its 2018. Google a new word.

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Maybe it was because I witnessed two boys get in trouble in elementary school for using this word as an insult.

Maybe it's because I fell in love with a thing called Camp Able. Maybe it's because one of my best friends is a special ed major. Or maybe it's because I try to be a decent human being. I do not use the R word.

Until this past semester, I hadn't really heard anyone use it often despite one encounter in 6th grade. Most of my best friends I have met while serving at places like Camp Able or Camp Bratton Green where summers are dedicated to people with diverse-abilities. I think having been surrounded with like-minded people for so long made me forget that some people still use it as an expression.

Let me tell you, it's annoying.

The word itself has been brushed off even in a "scientific" sense. It means to be slowed down, but it has stretched far beyond that meaning and has turned into an insult.

It's an insult of comparison.

Like any word, the power behind it is given by the user and most times, the user uses it to demean another person. It's like when you hear someone say "that's gay."

Like, what? Why is that term being used in a derogatory sense?

Why is someone's sexuality an insult? Hearing someone use the R-word physically makes me cringe and tense up. It makes me wonder what truly goes on in someone's mind. People will argue back that it's "just a word" and to "chill out," but if it was just a word, why not use something else?

There is a whole world full of vocabulary waiting to be used and you're using something that offends a whole community. Just because you don't care, it does not mean it shouldn't matter. Just use a different word and avoid hurting a person's feeling, it really is just that simple.

There is not a good enough reason to use it.

I volunteer at two summer camps: Camp Bratton Green and Camp Able. If you know me, I talk nonstop about the two. More realistically, if you know me, it's probably because I met you through one of the two. Even before I was introduced to the love at Camp Able, I still knew that this was a word not to use and it never crossed my mind to think of it.

The history behind the R-word goes back to describe people with disabilities but because of the quick slang pick up it was sort of demoted from the psychology world. Comparing someone or something that is negative to a word that you could easily avoid speaks volumes about who you are as a person.

The word is a word, but it is subjective in its meaning and in its background.

Just stop using it.

A List of Objective Words/Phrases to Use:

Fool/Foolish

Blockhead

Nincompoop

Silly

Ludicrous

Dim-witted

Trivial

Naive

"A few beads short on the rosary"

"On crack or something"

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These 4 Highlights Show How 2018 Has Been The Year Of Asian Representation

Asian people are no longer the sidekick or have a ridiculously incorrect accent. They are now the stars of the show!

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2018 has been an amazing year for Asian representation. From sports to films, representation is at an all-time high. Here are some highlights from this year.

1. Chloe Kim

Chloe Kim rocked the slopes and broke records during her time at the 2018 Winter Olympics. She became the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal at the age of seventeen. She also was the first woman to land a frontside double cork 1080 in halfpipe. Her achievements on the slopes show the amazing work ethic she has which she says she got from her immigrant parents. Her father came to the states with $800 and a Korean to English dictionary. Her father was able to work his way up to an engineering degree, but gave it up so that Chloe could snowboard. Their heartwarming story served as an inspiration for many Asian-Americans.

2. "Crazy Rich Asians" and "To All The Boys I've Loved Before"

Both of these movies changed how cinema views Asians. Asian people are no longer the sidekick or have a ridiculously incorrect accent. They are now the stars of the show! Both movies were released in August and are still making waves. Netflix revealed that "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" was one of the most rewatched original movies on the platform. The Covey sisters were absolutely adorable and the plot of the movie captured the hearts of many.

"Crazy Rich Asians" became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the year making over $169 million in sales.

I personally loved both of these movies because I've never seen anyone that looked like me on the big screen as the lead. Both movies made me cry tears of joy knowing cinema is taking the right step forward with diversity in its cast.

3. BTS

Korean pop is making its way across the world as seen by the success of BTS in the states. BTS became the first K-Pop group to speak at the United Nations. The group uses their music to advocate for the youth. BTS was chosen to be the ambassador of the "Love Myself" campaign which advocates against youth violence.

4. Sandra Oh

To put a cherry on top of the year, Sandra Oh was chosen to host the Golden Globes with Andy Samberg. Sandra Oh has the chance to win and host during the same night for her role in the "Killing Eve."

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