Cultural appropriation isn’t appropriate

Ayesha Abbasi, Social Media Editor/Columnist

Cultural appropriation “I’m appreciating your cultural dresses! You should be proud!” This exact phrase can be heard from the mouths of those who partake in cultural appropriation. What is that one might ask, well the most common definition of cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. It describes acculturation or assimilation, but can imply a negative view towards acculturation from a minority culture by a dominant culture.
The commonality of cultural appropriation has been significant in the past few months with different major music festivals, one of which being Coachella. A perfect example of a celebrity attending Coachella is Vannessa Hudgens. Hudgens has become infamous for her outfits to the music festival, especially with painting of hindu gods on her fingers.
May I just remind us all that in order to embody someone else’s culture one must respect it. Doesn’t seem as if Hudgens would be respecting the culture very much with the gods painted on her fingers while wiping herself clean in the restroom.
In any case (not just Hudgens) cultural appropriation is harmful, offensive, and disrespectful. The majority of those who partake in cultural appropriation treat cultures like a product with zero knowledge of what the marginalized history represents.
Cultural appropriation invalidates the given people. It commodifies our cultures our histories and traditions that we are penalized for having. On any given day a Pakistani woman wearing a traditional dress would be labeled as a F.O.B. or a terrorist.
Just going to show that cultural appropriation comes out to be a form of oppression, thanks to years of imperialism, casual racism, orientalism, capitalism and of course white entitlement. They won’t take the ugly parts of who we are. Our dehumanization or our oppression but they’ll take the bindi’s, the clothes, the pretty jewelry. Cultural appropriation is a product of  racism, exoticism, colonization, privilege, oppression and power all reinforcing oppression.
Halloween is its epitome. Westerners with Native American headwear, ‘terrorists’ with kuffiyas cultural appropriations is colonialist. Those who do it have no idea of what they are projecting.
Years of other marginalized peoples history. What cultural appropriation does is it invalidates the given people. It commodifies our cultures, our traditions which have ancient meanings. It’s a very colonialist act. Forced assimilation does not equal the appropriation and the commodification of another person’s culture.
Furthermore, forced assimilation does not have to be a white girl putting a bindi on her head, but it can also be an epistemic and ideologically forced assimilation such as how business suits are a necessary uniform to gain access into the white collar workforce, therefore, in turn, what this also produces is the idea that the “native dress” of someone else’s culture is devalued. It conveys the idea that in order for a person of color to have a white collar job, they must then wear a business suit. We have the social and cultural understanding that business suits means employment but we never interrogate where that comes from and what that means. Its time to take a stand against the cultural fallacies tossed around by the dominant cultures.
One must make a choice to either completely value and respect the culture or not assimilate to it in any way at all. Don’t oppress other’s into assimilating to your own cultural values either. Each to his own.