Following the unjust deaths of Alton Sterling Philando Castile, and the five police officers in Dallas, the country is once again having a mirror put in front of her face by the people who inhabit her. With the recent protests and media coverage of the civil rights group Black Lives Matter, other types of institutionalized, blatant, and modern-day racism is being brought to public attention. One that I have personally partook in the past is cultural (mis)appropriation.
Cultural appropriation occurs when someone, typically from the dominant culture, adopts various parts of a minority groups culture, for either fashion or comedic purposes. This then results in that culture itself invalidated in addition to its history being ignored.
When I was eleven, my family took a cruise to various Caribbean islands. I had seen my cousin with cornrows when we went a different cruise, and thought they were so pretty, and when we returned to the Caribbean, I was hell-bent on having my hair braided as well.
This situation is all very innocent and cute, which is the scenario for most instances of cultural appropriation. Most people, myself included, do not realize these fads or actions actual hurt people and what they stand for.
Some people may not care if their culture is appropriated. Thats fine. There may be other people who feel insulted when people use very important and religious items as a fashion statement. Some of the current trends are wearing bindi’s to music festivals or having jewelry with the hand that represents the five pillars of Islam. The one that has occurred for decades is dressing up as different cultures or ethnic groups for Halloween; using someone’s traditional, cultural attire as a costume for oneself.
I am not saying stop this all at once. I personally own items from all different religions and cultures, even if I do not consider myself directly a part of it.
I personally think the line is drawn when we forget where these things come from. These are part of people’s histories, sometimes very hard histories, and if we, the dominant group, use them for fashion, it indirectly/directly mocks what they stand for.