Let's Appreciate, Not Appropriate

People of colour are tired of watching others profit off of the same aspects of their culture that they grew up being embarrassed about or harassed for. The things that I felt alienated for as a child was viewed as exotic on white people. The Cambridge Dictionary defines cultural appropriation as ‘the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.’ Imitation without understanding is not the highest form of flattery. Let’s appreciate, not appropriate.

When my grandma wears a sari in the UK, she is told to ‘go back to where she came from’. When a white person wears a sari, it is seen as an ‘ethnic’ dress. When she wears a red bindi (a symbol of her marriage), she is CHASED down the street. When a white person wears a bindi, it is a cool accessory.

Countless celebrities are guilty of this. Beyoncé wore a traditional Indian dress at an Indian wedding: appropriate and expected. However many believe in a Coldplay music video, they portray India as an exotic playground. Iggy Azalea and Major Lazer are also guilty of using parts of Indian culture as props and profiting from it. Cultural appropriation does not make you a bad person, but it is important that we learn.

Don’t forget tanning. Some will say ‘I’m almost as dark as you are’ as though brownness is something you can try on without ever having to experience the discrimination that comes with it. Melanin is not an accessory. You cannot just ‘take off’ Asian skin culture and skin colour.

Next time you get henna, spray tan or wear clothes from another culture, instead of using it as just an accessory, understand the beauty, history and significance of it. It is important that you are genuinely open to learning about other cultures. Our multiculturalism is what makes the world beautiful.

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Source: Unsplash- Mehndi Training Center

Originally titled ‘It’s Only Right if it’s White’ on https://intersectnews.wixsite.com

Written by me

Originally published at https://intersectnews.wixsite.com on July 4, 2020.