Cultural IN-Appropriation


I’ve learnt to keep my opinions to myself, mainly because when I have in the past shared my thoughts, opinions and believes some sensitive person has taken offence. I don’t justify my beliefs based on what will or won’t offend someone, I have them because they are what I strongly stand by, now I am open to healthy debates and opinions that go against what I believe, so long as the other person understands that I have my own thoughts too.

I think that’s part of the problem with people, they are so happy to make judgments and form opinions without hearing another side of the situation, without the other side you can’t honestly have an educated understanding of a matter, that’s why it’s healthy to discuss and debate. I have fairly strong beliefs/opinions and I don’t mean just with my faith but also with things like politics, global warming and X-Factor. I know what I like, what I don’t like and what I can/can’t comprehend. People in the past have told me my ideas and beliefs are “wrong” but no belief is really wrong is it? People have been offended by what I’ve said and that’s on them because they were clearly never taught how to be an adult in an adult world where some people are going to disagree with you and that doesn’t mean either of you are wrong, it just means that this world is so vast that there’s plenty of room for lots of different views and opinions. I’m all up for human rights (admittedly to a point) but I wouldn’t say I was entirely politically correct, because there are some things I have extreme views with extreme solutions to things, let’s not go into it right now, we don’t know each other well enough yet.

This whole thing about cultural appropriation is quite a big thing right now. I’m always seeing personal essays online about why doing this is wrong, why wearing that is wrong. Whilst I understand some of the frustration that certain things can bring I don’t understand why people are slowly becoming so afraid to say/do anything wrong to people who may be perceived to be in a minority that they end up acting weird or at least not their usual self. I have to admit I’m not really too worried about doing this usually but I’d been reading so many articles about this situation that, now this example is not exactly relevant but I feel like it is… When I was in the company of my best friend and his boyfriend, I became so afraid to offend their homosexuality that I acted very awkward. My best friend has been in my life since I was 6 years old and never had their been a time when we were awkward around each other, in fact our relationship when testing the waters of his homosexual life resembled a black guy, white guy relationship (thinking of JD and Turk for all the Scrubs fans) where the white guy always asks the black guy if he can use the N word when they’re alone) except I’m Asian and he is gay, and white. Don’t get me wrong I would never ever purposely cause offence, I would never let a bad word be said to him or his boyfriend, but they can protect themselves, they’re pretty feisty and confident as they should be.

I read recently about why wearing a bindi is wrong if you aren’t from that culture because you haven’t been through the struggle that has earned you the right to wear it.

This particular article annoyed me, that’s putting it lightly, it struck something in me that woke up a sleeping beast. It made me mad that it put a frown on my face for quite some time until I figured out why it had affected me so much.

So by the time I had read the 50 millionth article about why wearing a head scarf, henna, white rappers rapping etc. is culturally wrong, I had already decided the only way I will be able to understand the situation is by writing it down and then explaining why I’m so mad about the situation.

I’m mad because in this day and age people have allowed political correctness to take priority over equality. Human is human and by being overly politically correct you’re treating someone as being less than human, you and I. Treating someone special compared to another person you consider “normal” is just as offensive and treating them differently makes them feel different and not in a good way.

I feel like the world is trying to bring everyone together but by starting this ridiculous string of “cultural appropriation” is further dividing the human race. As someone who came from a Filipino culture to come to England and was forced to integrate into English norms was hard enough without being made to feel different. The hardest part to adjusting whilst also growing up was the fact that I always felt different to everyone else when actually my classmates were kids just like me. Instead of embracing our similarities and accepting our differences, the media and society constantly force feed us their rules and regulations. It’s like assuming the use of the word “gay” is derogatory when it isn’t.

Why must we constantly make a big deal about something that we shouldn’t. We should move forwards as a society not constantly nit pick at what used to be wrong with the world.

I understand that once upon a time people with bindi’s were treated differently and ostracized but how does ostracizing and insulting those who wear it in what you seem to be an inappropriate fashion making the views of society better?

How does throwing a barrage of insults to someone wearing a headscarf because they want to cover their head and not because of religious reasons going to help people embrace the differences across the cultures?

People want change and unity but their actions make it hard to accomplish.

I’m angry because of the little kid I used to be who so badly wished my new classmates would not look at me differently, never had the chance to say, “adults, please stop treating me like I need more protecting than another kid just because I’m foreign” I wish people embraced my culture, hey, if an English person wears a Barong to a party, I won’t accuse them of causing offence or tell them they have no right to wear it because they never struggled like my fellow Filipinos. I would just be so flattered that someone took a part of my culture and wanted to channel it through their own personality and life.

I think people need to use this “cultural appropriation” at educating the person on the story behind the bindi, scarf, and henna, Barong etc.

Every time someone wears a bindi “wrong” is just one step into them understanding the real reason behind it and the struggles the people faced when it was first originated.

These items, objects, they’re just another part of a story that people are willing to listen to if you just gave them a chance.

In 2016 people are more understanding and willing to embrace and explore a culture and you shouldn’t punish them because they never experienced what your ancestors did.

That’s another thing, it was your ancestors who walked that struggle not you, and whilst you should remember the difficulties they faced you should also remember that they had a lot more enemies and obstacles they had to face. Yours is probably the dreaded 6am wake up call for work.

I say this but I am also aware there are some really nasty people out there today who do want to cause hurt and offence and that is why I’m so confused as to why people chose to outwardly punish the many who want to promote part of the culture in a positive light.

Wearing henna at a festival does not make the person evil or ignorant, the only way for them to be ignorant is for someone who claims to be offended by this act tries to educate them and they refuse to listen. Did you do that when you were angered by someone’s fashion choice? Or did you decide to sit behind your computer screen and type out an angry essay like I’m doing now.

A white person picking and choosing things they like from “black culture” is something I’m unsure about but at the risk of already offending people, let’s talk about this. Basically this idea that white people glamourize the black culture is absurd because… Well all you have to do is turn on MTV

Equality means everyone is equal (my English teacher is screaming at me “Jessica, when you define something you shouldn’t use the actual word.”) regardless of culture, race, colour, we are all the same. The only way for us to learn is through acceptance of diversity and education.

If I offend you, teach me, if you offend me I will teach you.

The only way we’re going to move forward as a human race is by embracing each others differences, cultures, stories and accepting that people may not understand us straight away but the best thing we can do is educate each other and learn ourselves.

The debate of cultural appropriation is so tough that the line between being what is deemed ‘appropriate’ and what is seen as ‘offensive’ is very fine and more often than not an innocent act is blown way out of proportion.

One day I believe that people will see by being too politically correct, they are hindering us from moving forward, and that in actuality we are causing more offence.

Let’s learn from this shall we?

Agree or disagree, my opinion is just one of many in this world.

Don’t forget…

Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday, and you proud everyday!

Peace and Love,

Jessy x


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