Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Cultural Appropriation

According to a piece by Katherine Timpf at National Review unless you invented something or someone of your particular racial identity invented it, you're not allowed to wear it, or do it, or whatever. To do so is cultural appropriation and that's a serious microaggression.

Timpf gives us some background:
A resident assistant at Pitzer College sent out an email to the entire school about how upset she was seeing white girls in hoop earrings because it’s culturally offensive to “[t]he black and brown bodies who typically wear hooped earrings.” According to an article in The Claremont Independent, the whole thing started when a group of Latino students spray painted “White Girl, take off your hoops!” on a dormitory wall that’s devoted to free speech.

Then, after one white girl said she was confused by the message, one of the spray-painters – a resident assistant named Alegria Martinez — felt the need to fire off a school-wide email expressing her disgust. ““[T]he art was created by myself and a few other WOC [women of color] after being tired and annoyed with the reoccuring [sic] theme of white women appropriating styles … that belong to the black and brown folks who created the culture,” Martinez wrote. Martinez explained that “[t]he black and brown bodies who typically wear hooped earrings, (and other accessories like winged eyeliner, gold name plate necklaces, etc) are typically viewed as ghetto, and are not taken seriously by others in their daily lives,” and that she sees “winged eyeliner, lined lips, and big hoop earrings … as symbols [and] as an everyday act of resistance, especially here at the Claremont Colleges.”

“We wonder, why should white girls be able to take part in this culture (wearing hoop earrings just being one case of it) and be seen as cute/aesthetic/ethnic,” Martinez continued. “White people have actually exploited the culture and made it into fashion.” Then, because just one of these emails was apparently not enough, another student replied to the thread with an email demanding that all white girls remove their hoops immediately: “If you didn’t create the culture as a coping mechanism for marginalization, take off those hoops, if your feminism isn’t intersectional take off those hoops, if you try to wear mi cultura when the creators can no longer afford it, take off those hoops, if you are incapable of using a search engine and expect other people to educate you, take off those hoops, if you can’t pronounce my name or spell it … take off those hoops / I use ‘those’ instead of ‘your’ because hoops were never ‘yours’ to begin with,” Jacquelyn Aguilera wrote.
Well, okay, it's good to know that college students are fired up about life's most profound questions and important problems, but let's think about this one for a minute. Who invented the cell phones Ms Martinez and Ms Aguilera use, or the cars they drive, or the airplanes they travel in, or the English language they speak, or their televisions, air conditioners, microwaves, computers ...? You get the idea. The list of stuff these students appropriate for their own use is no doubt extensive, and I'm fairly confident that most of it was developed by a bunch of unwoke geeky white guys.

There's lots of "cultural appropriation" going on out there, but if this troubles Ms Martinez and Ms Aguilera, they need to understand that white girls wearing hoop earrings hardly comprises the bulk of it. Maybe they should take an inventory of their own apartments and ask themselves how much "appropriation" they themselves are responsible for.