Cultural Appropriation Is Not Really About What You're Wearing

Cultural Appropriation Is Not Really About What You're Wearing

Maybe reconsider wearing that qipao to your prom.
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Cultural appropriation is one of the hottest new buzzwords. But, is it just that—a buzzword? It seems like celebrities and civilians alike get vilified if they so much as think about wearing a saree. I do not think it is fair to claim every single thing is a form of cultural appropriation. However, I also do not think it is fair to claim cultural appropriation does not exist or is not harmful.

Saying cultural appropriation does not exist reinforces the long-held practice of dismissing the voice of the minority in society. This is because cultural appropriation involves a distinct power dynamic. It is when the dominant group in a society takes symbols, such as hair, clothing, and accessories, from the minority, often historically oppressed groups. This is most harmful when the culturally dominant group does not acknowledge where these symbols originated from and capitalize on them.

One heavily referenced example is Kim Kardashian and her braids. It is not the fact that the Kardashians are wearing braids that makes people mad. It is the fact that it is acceptable on a white woman’s body and shamed on a woman of color’s body. It is the fact that they have been rebranded and called something they are not, denying its cultural origin.

See also: Let's Agree On One Thing: Cultural Appreciation Is Not Cultural Appropriation

Let’s say you wear a qipao to your prom or a Native American dress to a Halloween party. You just think they're pretty, but you have a vague idea of where these articles of clothing originated from. Is this not cultural appreciation? The context of the situation creates a fundamental problem. It appears as if you are reducing someone’s culture to a costume. This culture is exotic and other.

Another example of this power imbalance is when cultural symbols become fashionable for the dominant culture but are physically harmful to the minority culture from which they originated. For instance, as of late, bindis have become very trendy for girls to wear at Coachella or in music videos (where artists capitalize on the minority culture). However, some South Asian women were specifically targeted by a gang called dotbusters while donning bindis, specifically because of their culture.

It may just be a hairstyle, clothing, or accessory to you, but it may mean more than that to someone else.

Feel free to wear what you please because cultural appropriation is not really about what you are wearing. It is about the fact that people who actually wear their own cultural symbols are treated in dramatically different and negative ways than a cultural outsider. So maybe reconsider wearing that qipao to your prom.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

Cover Image Credit:

https://unsplash.com/photos/JFirQekVo3U

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Working A Minimum Wage Job Is A Privilege, People Need To Stop Complaining About Making Money

If you're thinking, "Wow, what an upper middle class problem." You're completely right.

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It's no lie, working a minimum wage can be painfully frustrating. I've worked at Abercrombie & Fitch for about a year and a half, within that time I've learned that I'm afraid of middle-aged stay-at-home moms, that patience truly is a virtue, and working a minimum wage job isn't glamorous (as it shouldn't be). Not very many people LOVE getting yelled at by customers who you have to serve with a smile and a whole lot of tolerance to be paid $11.50 an hour.

I'll be honest, when I applied for my first job, I thought, "How hard could this be? It's just folding clothes and being nice to people."

I guess I didn't take into account that you still have to be nice to people who yell at you because you can't return their shirt without a receipt.

Or you have to wait on people who change their minds while they're at the cash register while there's a line behind them of even more angry people. Or refolding a pile of shirts just to turn around for a second a finding out that it's been ruined again.

Needless to say, if there's one thing working a minimum wage job has taught me is that people are incredibly selfish. Because although these seem like minor acts that shouldn't matter, they do when it's all happening simultaneously and you're trying to keep your cool. The list could go on and on about how to piss me off while I'm at work and I find myself exhausted mentally and physically every time I leave my job.

If you're thinking, "Wow, what an upper-middle-class problem." You're completely right.

I am so humbled and privileged to be able to work not out of necessity but because I want to be a little less financially dependent on my parents. Sometimes I might forget that in the heat of the moment because I get to go home to a roof over my head that I don't have to pay for our food that's already made for me and a lot of people in this world don't have that luxury.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't an end goal that people should be striving for and by no means, is it my end goal but for now, it's extra cash that gives me the freedom to do as I please without having to worry about asking my parents for money. I've spent a lot of time watching my parents, who immigrated to America when they were 19, struggle to make ends meet by working minimum wage jobs when they could barely speak English and working their way up to the jobs that they have now and I'll be damned if they traveled all this way for me to end up working a minimum wage job for the rest of my life.

Although I may stand at the cash register pulling my hair out at the fact that a customer wants to return 20 pairs of jeans that they ordered online because they weren't sure of their size.

Please stop doing that, I'm losing a lot of hair.

I've not once forgotten that it's also a privilege to be able to work a minimum wage job. It's a privilege to be able to learn that the real world is rough and I am more than happy to be able to say that I work for what I want instead of having everything handed to me. And all of this just makes payday all the more satisfying. I'm thankful every day that this is an "issue" that I have because I know it could be far worse.

Cover Image Credit:

Jannessa Lai

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