Pop Culture Call Outs!

From Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Icebreaker Activity:

Cultural Appropriation: Headdress to Coachella

Cultural Assimilation: Black women perming their hair straight

Cultural Appreciation: Non-latinx taking a salsa class

  • Intro: Think about cultural groups that you identify with.
  • Halloween!
    • What are some Halloween costumes that you have seen to be culturally appropriative? Why do you consider them to be appropriative?
    • Kimonos
      •   During World War II, America found itself at war with the nations of Japan, Italy, and Germany. It was during this period that internment camps were established throughout the United States in order to isolate the Japanese American citizens from the rest of society, due to them being viewed as a possible threat to national security. The present day trend of Halloween celebrators wearing kimonos is an act that recognizes a culture without necessarily appreciating the individuals who are apart of it.
    • Dia de los Muertos face masks/sugar skulls
      • Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican celebration during which families gather together in order to pay their respects to their deceased family members, and help to support them in their spiritual afterlife. A popular symbol that is used in celebration of Dia de los Muertos is the sugar skull. The sugar skull has become a frequent choice of costume for American Halloween celebrators. However, the use of the sugar skull as a costume is disrespectful to Mexican culture, as it takes away from the solemnity of honoring the deceased, and once again, serves as a way to display a culture without necessarily respecting the individuals who are apart of it.
    • Turbans
      • Following the events of September 11th, individuals who wear turbans have been inappropriately associated with the members of the terrorist group (Al-Qaeda) that was held responsible for the plane hi-jackings and subsequent destruction of the Twin Towers. However, it has been during the recent decade that America has seen an increase in non-Arab, non-Muslim, and non-Sikh individuals wearing turbans as a part of their Halloween costumes.
      • https://www.aclu.org/blog/judge-sikh-man-remove-rag
        • In January of 2013, Mr. Jagjeet Singh, a commercial truck driver, was pulled over by the police as he was passing through Mississippi. The police then called him a “terrorist” and harassed and humiliated him because of his appearance. He is a sikh. For those of you that are unfamiliar, sikhs wear turbans. Mr. Singh was also wearing a kirpan, a religious article that is comparable to a cross that a Christian would wear. This incident ended with Mr. Singh’s wrongful detainment. Flash forward to the court case to appeal this incident, Mr. Singh was dismissed from court “until he removed that rag on his head.”
        • As an observant Sikh, Mr. Singh wears a turban at all times as a reminder and public declaration of his connection to God. For him, the turban is an inseparable part of his Sikh religious identity: Like all Sikhs, Mr. Singh believes that a man cannot be considered a Sikh if he does not wear the turban and that unwrapping his turban and exposing his “naked” head in public is sacrilegious and shameful.
      • http://www.civilrights.org/publications/hatecrimes/arab-americans.html (numbers)
        • Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the number of hate crimes directed against Arab Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs escalated dramatically. In 2001, Arab Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs were victimized in nearly five percent of the total number of hate crimes reported that year (481 out of 9,730), a seventeen-fold increase over the prior year. While the number of reported hate crimes against Arab Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs has declined from the peak of 2001, it remains substantially above pre-2001 levels. In 2007, for example, 115 hate crimes were reported — more than four times as many as were reported in 2000.
    • http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/11/anti-muslim-hate-crimes-are-still-five-times-more-common-today-than-before-911/
      • If the incident does turn out to be motivated by anti-Islamic sentiment, it would be one of dozens of such events that happen each year, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports program. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, the program typically recorded between 20 and 30 anti-Muslim hate crimes per year. But in 2001 that number rose more than tenfold to nearly 500. In the years since, annual hate crimes against Muslims have consistently hovered in the 100-150 range, roughly five times higher than the pre-9/11 rate.
  • Celebrities
    • Miley Cyrus wearing dreadlocks
      • At the 2015 VMA’s awards show, musician Miley Cyrus wore dreadlocks as a part of her many wardrobe changes. Historically, dreadlocks are a hairstyle that have been reserved for individuals of African descent, by virtue of a shared hair texture. The tightly curled follicle structure that is had by these individuals allows for the hair to be styled into locs without altering the texture of the hair. Although dreadlocks have long been a part of the cultures of individuals of African descent, there has been a significant number of instances where people who wear dreadlocks have been negatively stereotyped, and subsequently faced discrimination because of it. While Miley Cyrus – a non-Black celebrity – has been celebrated for wearing a hairstyle that has been deemed as “unique” and “trendy”, individuals of African descent – both famous and non-famous – have faced negative consequences. Miley Cyrus donning dreadlocks as a trend is an act that overshadows the discrimination that individuals of African descent have to combat, as well as fails to give credit to an entire group of people who have been wearing dreadlocks long before her.
      • http://www.rawstory.com/2014/08/louisiana-school-hits-rastafarian-teen-with-unlimited-suspension-over-his-dreadlocks/
        • In August 2014, a Rastafarian teen in Louisiana was sent home for having dreadlocks that extended beyond the collar of his shirt. He returned the following week with his hair pinned back. (No one make a Mean Girls’ reference.) School officials maintained that his dreadlocks were in violation of the dress code. Why not just cut them? Rastafarians believe according to Leviticus 21:5 forbids them to cut their hair, and dreadlocks are central to their religious beliefs. Just as in Mr. Singh’s case, his hair is directly related to his religion. This is blatant discrimination and although the school has not formally suspended the student, he has missed 10 of the first 11 days of the school year over his dreadlocks.
      • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2969329/Giuliana-Rancic-Zendaya-hair-remark-THREE-times-Fashion-Police-taping-despite-Kelly-Osbourne-warning-not-say-it.html
      • http://blackgirllonghair.com/2014/12/dreadlocks-get-mba-student-banned-from-academic-conference/
        • In late December 2014, Tamon George, an MBA student and President of the Graduate Student Government Association at the University District of Columbia, was informed that his dreadlocks were not a permissible hairstyle Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute. He wears them in commitment to his Caribbean heritage. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is a non-profit that supports students attending HBCUs.
    • Iggy Azalea wears traditional Indian garb in “Bounce” music video
      • Similar to Miley Cyrus’s use of dreadlocks as an attempt to appear “trendy” and “innovative”, Iggy Azalea uses aspects of Indian culture in order to give her video a creative twist. The bindi, sari, and henna that Iggy is adorned with are all apart of Indian traditions. Iggy, not being Indian or having any direct ties to these cultural elements, is doing nothing more than giving representation to Indian culture, without giving proper respect to the people who are apart of it. Her lack of respect for the Indian community (as well as, more generally, the Asian community) is made apparent in the above Tweet that she wrote.
  • Cultural Appreciation
    • Taking advantages of opportunities to learn specific truths about cultures i.e. cooking classes, language-learning classes, dance classes

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