'Tis the Season

'Tis the Season

...for cultural misappropriation...
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Tis the season for cultural appropriation. Around this time of year, people get really upset about people dressing as characters, actors/actresses, and singers/rappers of other races. Honestly, I think many people call "misappropriation" at the wrong times. Unpopular opinion: let the little white girl dress up as Moana.

I know I'll receive a lot of backlash for this but before we get into it, I just want it to be known that this is completely my opinion. Don't try to prove me wrong or try to knock me, though I know someone will, here we go!

There was something in the news recently that said that some people are upset about little girls dressing as Moana. The only thing a little girl knows is that she loves Moana and that she's been "staring at the edge of the water long as she can remember".

Now I will say, labeling something culturally appropriate does make sense when someone is doing it with the purpose of being vacuous. It is true, though, that sometimes this does happen on Halloween. But I think when someone is paying tribute to someone of a different race or if the person in the costume is a 7-year-old little girl, the term shouldn't be used to break someone down.

I saw that Kim Kardashian dressed as Aaliyah to "pay tribute to her" and Twitter tore her to shreds. Figuratively, of course. Kim Kardashian and her family are always in the spotlight, somehow, some way. I feel like this isn't cultural appropriation, though. She tweeted right before she came out in all of her costumes, in which she dressed as Madonna and Cher, and said, "My Halloween theme this year is Icons! Musical legends!!! Paying homage to some of my faves!" This doesn't fall into the "cultural misappropriation" column. I could see if she chose to dress as Harriet Tubman or Rosa Parks, then I would label it more than a Halloween costume.

I think that cultural appropriation is when someone dresses as a "Mexican" or a black person or an Asian etc. etc. But if a child wants to dress as Pocahontas, let her dress like Pocahontas. If a little white, black, Asian, Latina girl wants to dress as Moana or Mulan, let her do it. She's not choosing to do blackface. Cultural appropriation. She didn't say, "Mom, I want to be Sojourner Truth for Halloween." What does a 7-year-old TRULY know about Sojourner Truth? Nothing much.

I'm just saying, we should learn the difference between paying tribute, dressing as your hero or your favorite Disney character and cultural appropriation. We should also learn not to hurt ourselves over everything that happens. Don't start a riot or a Twitter argument over a little kid, or a Kim Kardashian.

Start arguments over childhood obesity, gas prices, THE PRESIDENT, global warming, ya know, the things that matter. But when something is being culturally misappropriated then, by all means, rage on.



Cover Image Credit: Everyday Feminism

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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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The Snapchat Threatening To Lynch High School Sophomore N'Senga Kinzonzi Should Be Taken More Seriously

We should all be sharing Kinzonzi's story and giving her our support.

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N'Senga Kinzonzi, a sophomore at Minisink Valley High School, had a classmate not only call her the N-word but also state that the girl needed to be lynched. The threat was made on Snapchat in the form of a caption on a photo taken of her.

It broke my heart to see the video of Kinzonzi talking about the incident because you could see on her face just how horrified she was. She decided to give her classmate the benefit of the doubt and explain to them why their caption was unacceptable. Kinzonzi stated,

"I thought maybe he doesn't know the history and I thought I'd take an educational approach and inform the student about the history behind this hurtful caption."

I am immensely impressed that she had the strength to go out of her way and tell her classmate about the history of the slur. It was not her responsibility, and frankly, I would not have blamed her if she had chosen to lash out instead because her life was in danger and she was being dehumanized by being called the N-word.

The teen's classmate ended up apologizing after being educated by her and many students from their school have come out in support of Kinzonzi. However, she has also been facing additional harassment from some students. Her family was disappointed by the school district's response and have been demanding that the school take action. Kinzonzi's grandmother, Drusilla Kinzonzi, suggested that the school should have more sensitivity training for its staff and students and that the school's administration should be more diverse. She went on to say,

"And if we're not teaching all of American history, we are not teaching."

Kinzozi's grandmother makes a good point because school should be the place where young people learn about the discrimination that different marginalized groups face so that they can sympathize with them and unlearn the oppressive ideas that have been ingrained in them by society. Many people seem to believe that we live in a post-racial society and if this is the sentiment that the teachers at Minisink hold, they may not have seen the importance in teaching their students about lynchings the racist history behind the N-word since racism is "no longer an issue."

This could potentially be the reason as to why Kinzozi's classmate did not know why it was offensive for them to call her the N-word and say she needed to be lynched. However, I feel like the chances of the student genuinely being unaware of the implications of their words is slim at best. Of course, we all make mistakes in regards to racism and other social justice issues but trying to convince others to lynch one of your classmates is far too violent to be a mistake.

The severity and danger of Kinzozi's classmate's threat seem to have been lost on some because the teen's mother, Nicole Kinzozi, has had to emphasize how disturbing the situation truly was. She stated,

"This was a threat made on her life, and there was a call for others to participate in this. The caption said 'we' must lynch her."

It is disheartening to know that even though this was a clear threat, the school district has not done enough. Kinzozi's classmate should be expelled and have charges pressed against them. I believe that the school district most likely brushed off the situation either because Kinzozi's classmate apologized or because they saw the Snapchat caption as some form of a joke. Either way, Kinzozi was clearly terrified as a result of the Snapchat and she should have been given more support, especially since there were more students harassing her at the school after the Snapchat was posted.

Kinzozi's family decided to take the matter into their own hands and hire civil rights attorney Michael Sussman in order to make sure that no one else ever has to face the same situation. They also have a meeting scheduled with Brian Monohan, the school district's superintendent. I hope that the family will be given proper support and will be able to find peace.

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