Listen up y’all! Because when it comes to this topic:
I have had it with people saying you can’t enjoy something that doesn’t ‘belong’ to your culture. Apparently you’re racist if you’re a white girl dressing up as Tiana for comic con. Or if you’re wanting to adapt a story from China into a blockbuster movie. Or if you’re trying to cook an ethnic meal even if you have no experience. Because according to Tumblr (and alarmingly a lot of colleges) it’s ‘culture appropriation’ to even be curious about another country. Seriously. I had to write a paper to explain that you can still enjoy Mexican food even if you’re not from Mexico. And people argued with me. My professor argued with me! They all claimed that if you enjoy food from other cultures that you were stealing from that culture! Really?
I see this kind of attitude all the time about media too. Like, people flip out when they see a black girl playing Eponine from Les Miserables. Or when a predominately white school is performing The Wiz. People just jump into blind hate and claim that these performers are racists… but most of the time these performers are doing a role or a show because they love it. Because they connect with it in some way.
Here’s a quote we all need to read:
“You don’t need to be the same ethnicity as the story you’re watching in order to identify with it. If the story is told well. It [a good story] is about relating to people that you may not necessarily think you’re going to relate to in the beginning, but by the end you’re going ‘That’s me.’ ”
The guy who wrote In The Heights and Hamilton, which did WONDERS in including people of all different ethnicities in mainstream musicals. AND in the interview he said that he was inspired from when he saw Fiddler on the Roof when he was six years old. Even though he was Puerto Rican and the show was about Jews and Russia- he related to the story about the sacrifices you make for your family. Because that’s something that everyone can relate to.
In other words, a good story can speak to anyone regardless of culture and that’sokay!
It’s okay for a Japanese cast to perform In The Heights. It’s okay for an African American to play Éponine in Les Miserables. It’s okay for people to adapt a J-Pop song into English. And it’s okay for a predominately white school to perform Hamilton or The Wiz.
If people are doing something because they genuinely love it, then there is nothing wrong with that. And this applies to everything!!!
If you’re a white girl wanting to wear dreads in your hair because you think it looks cool- GO FOR IT!If you’re a Korean man who loves listening to Latin music-GREAT! If you’re an Irish kid obsessed with learning Japanese- AWESOME! If you’re British and want to try out for Hamilton- NICE! If you’re an African American who jams out to K-Dramas- SWEET!If you’re an American who has moved to South Africa because you want to learn more about local tribes- THAT’S SO COOL!
People shouldn’t be guilt tripped into staying in their own cultural norms. I hate it when people say “you can’t enjoy this thing because it belongs to another culture.”
Doesn’t that sound a bit racist? Scratch that. IT SOUNDSA LOT RACIST!
Yo, I can kinda see where the anger comes from. I know there are people who claim to know a lot about a different culture… when they obviously don’t by their actions or mistreatment to those who actually belong to that culture. But there is a HUGE difference between those who are being “entitled” and those who just haven’t learned enough yet. Learning about a different culture takes time! Man, it takes several years just to learn a different language. Much more to learn about social norms and values.
And if they get a few things wrong… for crying out loud, show some mercy! No one is perfect. Stop with the “all or nothing” mentality. Show some compassion for those who genuinely want to know more about your amazing heritage/culture.
Because most of the time these people are trying their best to learn! In fact, 99% of the time, they’re self conscious because they know they are an outsider to your thing. But you can teach them. Share your culture. Let it thrive! Give people a chance! If you treat outsiders harshly for learning and enjoying your culture, then you’re harming your own representation.