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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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Believe It Or Not, Being The 'Model Minority' Is Not A Privilege

Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.

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The topic of racism is one that is very much prevalent in the United States. However, in conversations about racism and marginalized groups, it seems that Asian-Americans are often excluded. The Asian-American experience is different from that of other minorities, with the model minority myth being a major contributing factor. While being viewed as a "model minority" may not seem like such a bad thing for Asians upon first glance, being a model minority does not equate to privilege.

There is a notion that Asian-Americans have suffered less from racism, and that they are privileged compared to other minorities. From elementary school, American students learn about Native American genocide and the history of racism against African Americans, but Asian-Americans rarely appear in any US history courses. They are not shown to have suffered a long history of systematic racism in the United States as other minorities have. Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.

Here's the issue: just because it isn't talked about, just because it isn't taught in school, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Discrimination against Asian-Americans is a part of American history, from the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was the first immigration law to target a specific ethnic group, in 1882, to the Japanese internment camps in the 1940s, to the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, in which the murderers served no jail time, to the issues of media representation that still exist now. This is a history that has seemingly been erased and brushed to the side so that Asians can be used as the model minority.

I'm not asking that everyone become an expert on Asian-American history. It's enough to know that it exists, and that Asian-Americans are still a racial minority in the United States and still suffer from racism. Instead of dismissing them as privileged, acknowledge that Asian-Americans have faced discrimination and include them in conversations about racism.

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