Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Cultural Appropriation

As hard as I try to keep my blog from offending anyone, there are times I have to take a stand and express my thoughts. It's amazing how easily people can get offended by the smallest things these days. I'm surprised being offended is not an Olympic sport yet.

When I watch movies from the past it is obvious that our society has changed. When I think back about comedies from the 70's and 80's certain words, attitudes, and references jump out at me that would just not fly today. Blazing Saddles, Sixteen Candles, Soul Man, Airplane, and The Jerk would all offend audiences today for a variety of reasons.

I agree that there are many offensive things in those movies, especially for those looking to be offended. We've made progress as a society when it comes to being more sensitive about certain subjects but, at the same time, we are also walking on egg shells and taking ourselves too seriously.

One of the ways some people are easily offended is "cultural appropriation." They are essentially saying you should not adopt parts of other cultures you are not a member of. People now get offended by Halloween costumes, prom dresses, hairstyles, and much more.

So does this mean eating Italian, Mexican, or Chinese food can be deemed cultural appropriation for me. I'm certain if I tried to use chopsticks that would definitely be appropriation, but luckily for me I like the food too much to waste my time playing with it. I am of English/Scottish descent so should I  be eating boiled meat, Haggis, and tea? I'm pretty sure that last comment was a rude, insensitive stereotype of my ancestors but odds are they wouldn't be offended.

I certainly understand someone being upset if somebody is mocking or diminishing aspects of other people's cultures or religious beliefs. I think the Haka war dance is a cool feature to Maori culture. The BYU football team usually has a high percentage of Polynesian players each year and in the past they would perform the Haka before a game. I'm actually glad they recently stopped that pre-game tradition. Something just didn't look right seeing some of the skinny Caucasian receivers trying to perform it with their Polynesian teammates.

I've seen people express their displeasure when white people wear dreadlocks or cornrows, but they don't seem to mind if Niki Minaj or Beyonce wear their hair blond and straighten it to look like they are Swedish. For the record, I think black women with blond hair look better than most white people with cornrows but that's not the point. It's the double standard.

We have lived in Ghana for the last three years. My wife's wardrobe has changed drastically since she loves African fabric, patterns, colors and styles of dress. We've never had any Africans express displeasure when we've worn traditional African clothes, in fact they are usually pleased to see us embracing their culture.

I frequently do yoga stretches but I'm not from India. Will it trigger someone if they see me doing Child's Pose or Pigeon Stretch after I go running?

I named my daughter Carmen because it's a beautiful name, but she is not Hispanic. Lo siento.

If you drink alcohol, can only Mexicans drink Tequila, Russians Vodka, and Japanese Saki?
Speaking of drinking, Cinco de Mayo, St. Patricks Day, and Oktoberfest may have specific origins but today they are celebrated by people of all cultures (especially those looking for an excuse to get plastered.)

If you are a woke person who is super sensitive to appropriation, then maybe Che Guavera shirts should only be worn by college students if they are from Argentina. By the way, did Che appropriate that cool beret look from Europeans?

At first I thought cultural appropriation just meant using elements from someone else's culture, but the actual definition is "the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society."

That "typically more dominant" qualifier is basically code for white people. So this practice apparently is only offensive when it is done by white people. America is a melting pot of people from all around the world and from a variety of cultures. While I believe it is important to respect other cultures, we should also relax a little bit and not be so hypersensitive and ready to take offense. It is natural to utilize and celebrate the best things we enjoy and appreciate from every culture around the world.