culture appropriation

The banjo was once our instrument.  Blackface minstrels stole it from us, destroying the black banjo tradition along with the oral history of our slave ancestors.  Little by little, we’re working to reclaim it.


photos by Ashlen Sepulveda at Swarthmore College, 2014

"This poem hates you for taking
the things that made me different, so I didn’t want them then -
now, my no-Hindi skills, my Bollywood shame,
my one-visit to India. My too-polytheistic-faith, my smelly food.
My mother who wants me to wear a sari to graduation
and my resistance.
I just wanted to be like everyone else,
and now? You take a Buzzfeed quiz on which Hindu god you are.
You have curry powder in your spice rack.
You gyrate wildly to garba songs.
You say holi is your favorite holiday
even if you never remember its name.”

- from “Holiness” 

Okay, so there’s this one two-panel comic post going around and like, p much it’s about these two girls, one’s white and the other is Indian (whom I’m going to assume is the OP).

In the first panel, it’s labeled “First Grade”. Well, the white girl is calling the Indian girl/OP’s food “gross” because it’s homemade Indian food. Then comes in the second panel, labeled “Now”— which seems to portray both girls as older teens/young adults. The white girl “now” seems to be embracing Indian culture by wearing an bindi and cultural garbs— but the OP then makes a post comment regarding that “you can’t pick and choose which parts of a culture you want to embrace”.

As much am I am against cultural appropriation, I’m also for cultural blending and people being unafraid to be curious of other cultures, however I feel that OP’s two-panel comic was a really poor demonstration of cultural appropriation.

For instance, the first panel was of the two girl in first grade. Kids aren’t really aware of what’s rude to say and do, they still have mentalities of kindergartners. And especially since they were kids, they aren’t going to be very open to new foods. All kids are picky with foods they’ve never seen much less tried.

For example, my nationality is Mexican-American, I only know and like lots of American culture (granted there is a lot of bullshit to see and hear, but I don’t trust a lot of foods that I’ve never tried. However, compared to now and back when I was a kid, I like a lot of foods that I didn’t like as a kid.

Once upon a time, I was iffy on “white”, Asian, Louisiana Creole, Saudi Arabian, and even Mexican food— but now I like them a lot (excepts for some parts of Mexican food, I’m “too American” for it). When you’re a kid, you’re going to be weirded out by a lot of foods you’re not familiar with because you’ve never been exposed to them (or you were exposed but you were still unsure about eating it. To try and demonize a little girl (who had probably never been formally introduced or informed about Indian foods) it just desperate, because I sure know my younger sibs (they’re mixed) don’t like a lot of the Mexican food my family makes for them, but at one point, they also didn’t like spicy foods (they now like spicy foods).

Kids are picky with food, it doesn’t makes them xenophobic or racist for it.

Now, as for the “Now” panel and the comment, it doesn’t make sense? “You can’t pick and choose which parts of a culture you want to embrace”? Okay, from the “First Grade” panel to the “Now” panel, both girls clearly went through a lot of growing up seeing that they are no longer kids. For all the OP knows, the little white girl was probably reintroduced to Indian food, and instead of outright rejecting it like she did as a kid or making assumptions that it was “gross”, she tried it. And she might have liked it, or disliked it.

It’s food, not everyone has the same taste. I love Mexican food because I grew up with it. I hate Mexican foods that have internal organs like stomach line or tongue or bones or anything like that, because I grew up in America where you ain’t going to find cow heads or organs or bones out in Walmart or something. In America, you ain’t going to get a burrito filled with chorizo and pig fat. Does that mean that I fail to embrace my Mexican heritage? No, I just have a different taste compared to my family. So, using food as a “you’re appropriating a culture because you don’t like the food to it” is a really bad argument because it’s food. Not liking one dish doesn’t make you not like the entire food of a culture— and it’s a hell lot ruder to vomit food you don’t like than just not eat the food you don’t like. Please, if you don’t like it (even after trying it), don’t make yourself eat it.

So, do we know what happened to the white girl from the First Grade panel to the Now panel? No, we don’t. However, we can’t assume that she is appropriating a culture just for the fashion. If you assume that she’s appropriating Indian culture, than you should also assume that some time from when she was in first grade to “now”, she went through a change, a situation, a transition, something that changed her outlook on Indian culture, and decided to embrace by converting to Hindu and embracing Indian culture.

Now, I’m not saying OP shouldn’t feel a bit angry at this girl (bullying is not fun, especially when you’re singled out simply because of your culture, I know that feeling as well), but OP should have tried talking to the white girl instead of making a “Then” and “Now” comic to demonize her.

OP should have tried learning about what made the white girl want to embrace Indian culture instead of outright assuming that she was appropriating it. Like, who know, maybe the white girl got a bit older and realized what she did to OP was rude and messed up, started to look up Indian culture, and realized that she liked it and wanted to embrace it to make up the fact that she once made fun of it (or the food at least). Why was it necessary to assume the worst of people, when you didn’t even try talking to them? (And if OP did, why didn’t OP mention that in the comic/comment?)

anonymous asked:

My parents are Christians, and my mom has always told me she's descended from Sefardi Jews (she's Hispanic) even though her mother denies it. Since I've been a child my parents have chosen to teach me about the traditional Jewish festivals in the first five books of the bible because they believe it's essential to understanding Christianity. So I've been brought up celebrating Passover and The Feast of the Trumpets (and sometimes others) my whole life. This concept is really important to my (1/2

2/2) to my parents interpretation if Christianity, but now that I’m older I’m reality questioning the validity of it. My mom knows Hebrew, she and my dad have both been to Israel many times, and they’re very careful to research everything they’ve taught us. Is this cultural appropriation in any way?? Since I’m only possibly Jewish by blood and we aren’t converts to Judaism, should I refuse to participate in these “Messianic Jewish” practices and offend my family? I don’t want to be disrespectful

This is a tough question. I have to admit, I’m not super knowledgeable about Christian religious practices, and I don’t know what the Feast of the Trumpets is…? (eta: ah, it’s this, apparently.) In any event, my immediate reaction is of extreme discomfort, even anger. Christians have persecuted my people for so long; sometimes it feels like, isn’t it enough that they’ve killed us, forced us to convert, assimilated us out of existence; they have to steal our traditions, too?

But that’s not your fault, and I’m sure your family has no malicious intent. I am torn as to what to recommend to you. Keep shalom bayit in your home? Stop observing these appropriative customs? Can you do both? (This is a rhetorical question.) I don’t want to advise you to confront your family, and thus cause pain to you and a rift in your family. But I don’t feel ok with people doing this stuff. Ultimately it really is a slap in the face.  I get the sense that you’re a good person, and I don’t blame you in any way for this. But I find it very uncomfortable.

Canadian design duo, identical twin brothers Dean and Dan Caten, aka DSquared2, showed their latest line at Milan Fashion Week on Monday. In what can only be described as a desperate plea for attention, instead of coming up with an original idea or concept, they decided to misappropriate Native designs and patterns, and name their line “Dsquaw”—yet another misappropriation of a Native word, as well as a derogatory term for Native women.

… and then they had the fucking nerve to call it DSquaw? Absolutely disgraceful on all fronts and they need to be put to task on this.

What is an actual, real life, immediate concern, though, is people with big platforms making the same mistake that Heidi MacDonald made, a mistake that many of us will be guilty of at some point. By writing off the opinions of people of color simply because they don’t align with ours, we are complicit in a system of white supremacy that consistently marginalizes non-white voices. If you, as a white person, are not offended that a comic is culturally appropriating Japanese culture, that doesn’t mean that a Japanese person cannot be. Dismissing criticism because you don’t see what the critic sees is naive; dismissing offense because you’re not offended is toxic.

anonymous asked:

why is it bad to use a name from a culture you aren't a part of?

it’s bad to use a name from a MINORITY culture you aren’t a part of because it is cultural appropriation: taking a part of that culture and claiming it as your own when you have no right to do so. even if you “don’t mean it like that,” that’s what you’re doing. it’s racist.

anonymous asked:

The way you look is why I get mildly annoyed when people yell at 'white' people get dreads etc. you look white passing, but you're black so you're fucking black. I bet if you had locs and posted a photo with no context you'd get hate (and you even have to put a disclaimer on your blackout selfies). I wish people wouldn't assume race.

It’s already happened plenty of times. I just saw a person, who wasn’t really even that white passing, with locs called out by a white person like three weeks ago. The white person implied their locs were so disgusting they were going to puke. - [Link] Literally all they had to do was go on their blog and see their about where they said they’re black. If you’re white and are going to call someone out for cultural appropriation, check their fucking blog or ask them their race first. White people suck at telling when someone is white vs light skinned/conditionally white passing.

I’ve had a number of people be shitty on here to me because they couldn’t be fucking bothered to go to my profile and read my about where one of the first things I state is I’m mulatto. I’ve had people tell me I’m lying, tell me I have no claim to identifying as black/biracial/mulatto because on a few pictures on the internet. Tell me I can’t talk about racism or take part in any aspects of black culture. Like, I get being conditionally white passing I’m privileged as hell, but I get all my struggles erased by strangers. All the slurs, all the racist shit, all the racist jokes, all the invalidation, the fact I’ve only ever gotten a job when I made an effort to pass, the struggles I had accepting and loving my African features, the internalized racism, all the people telling me I’m ugly because X African feature, the violent threats, being dismissed as a fucking ~tragic mulatto~ when I try to vent about this, etc. 

One experience I have a lot that perfectly describes what being white passing is like: I’m black enough to be the butt of people’s racist jokes, but too white to be allowed to be rightfully offended by it. 

Here’s a better picture of what I look like when I don’t try to pass: [Link] (My hair is wet in this pic, it’s usually much more curly.)


White people appropriating our culture by profiting from buying goods from other White people who ripped off hard working people in which they then turn said goods into tacky fashion statements for other gringas to wear while simultaneously spewing racist shit about us. Please report their accounts and/or let em’ know how you feel. “We can’t even have the attire they stereotype and us in.”

This read goes out to Lily Allen, Miley Cyrus, Iggy Azaelia and all you other ivory motherfuckers building your careers on the broken self esteem of black people. I am sick of you bitches thinking that you can have fun at the expense of black culture. That you’re treating being black like it’s a coat you put on at the beginning of the day and take off at the end. That you see something that we’ve created out of pride and use to make yourself look edgy or hip. That the same thing you translucent looking Motherfuckers are mocking is the same thing that is getting us killed or profiled. I know being a suburban white kid must be so boring with your bake sales and your healthy home lives and your constant need to buy everything organic, but please fucking stop.

And this is a special fuck you to Lily Allen who says that she doesn’t shake her ass because she has a brain but proceeds to use black dancers in her videos. Apparently you’re not smart enough to realize that my GPA or IQ is not contingent on the amount of times I can make my ass clap. Trust and believe I will be twerkin my ass to graduation. So my self esteem you cannot have cause like the great Maya Angelou said “and still I rise” and I’d be careful if I was you because one day black people are gonna rise up take over this country. Electing a black president wad just phase one.

Last but not least this is a shout out to white people who knows what I mean when I say “fuck white people” but fuck you too because I don’t want you motherfuckers getting too comfortable and thinking that you can just idle sit by and watch your people fuck shit up. It’s your job as well to fix the damage that has been done.

Yours truly,
—  My “Pass the Read”