Cultural Appropriation v. Appreciation Pt.3


To represent the cultures that are talked about in this series, senior, Mariam Alashmawi painted hand-prints. Pink representing Southeast Asian people, the rainbow representing LGBTQ+ people, and yellow representing disabled people.

Culture is such a beautiful thing. Culture in many ethnicities have lasted for centuries. However, culture doesn’t always  have to come from a certain ethnicity or race. A culture can be a practice or tradition that is shared in a certain community. People today still unfortunately discriminate towards someone’s beliefs and practices by insulting them or inappropriately abusing their privilege by taking a piece of their cultures. This is often seen in the entertainment industry when celebrities personal fashion preferences or costumes in music videos, TV shows and movies are inspired by various cultures. Somebody else’s culture isn’t yours to take for the convenience of a good TikTok video or Instagram photo.

Our society is becoming more aware of cultural appropriation, which is helping us reduce and potentially eliminate the racism in our country.”

— Mariam Alashmawi

Southeast Asia is widely known for it’s amazing beaches, delicious food, and it’s deeply rooted ancient customs and traditions. Despite the tourist attractions and the savory dishes served, people tend to take more than what is given. People tend to appropriate the Hindu religion (the third largest religion) without even realizing it in America. Let me give you an example of a common practice in Western society today, yoga. Historically, yoga came from the Hindu religion, but it also stems from Buddhism and Jainism. The idea of meditation, manifestation, and laws of attraction all came from the Hindu religion. We have been diluting religious customs by not giving the people who are Hindu their credit. In India, yoga was a banned practice under the British rule for hundreds of years which caused them to lose connection to their 4,000 year old traditions. We have been misinforming people about the Hindu religion by appropriating it to meet our standards. We see cultural appropriation way too often in the fashion industry, which is saddening. Lizzo, an American singer, rapper, and flutist made the cover of a Rolling Stones Magazine; however, the picture seemed to be a bit controversial. In the picture, she wears a head piece known as a Chada (which is worn in Cambodia, Thailand, and other Southeast Asian countries) and accessories that you would usually only see in Southeast Asian culture during a ceremonial dance. Although she did get millions of likes on her photo, her comment section was filled with people calling her out for misappropriating Southeast Asian culture. Our society is becoming more aware of cultural appropriation, which is helping us reduce and potentially eliminate the racism in our country.

Despite people not believing this group has a culture because it isn’t a certain race or ethnicity, the LGBTQ+ community has developed an amazing culture of their own. Not to mention, culture is a custom shared by a certain social group, it doesn’t always have to be a certain race. Over years of discrimination that they have had to endure, today they still fight to have equal rights. Although, same-sex marriage is legal in America, they are still being killed by homophobic people. Throughout all the pain the LGBTQ+ community has had to suffer, they still fight for equality and justice. Pride Month, is celebrated every June to honor the Stonewall riots in Manhattan. In 1969, that was the turning point of the Gay Liberal Movement. The purpose of this celebration is to recognize the impact the LGBTQ+ community has had on our nation and society. Although this is considered to be a great idea and celebration, some people have thought that it’s unfair to not have a Straight Pride Month. The problem with that idea is that it’s stupid. Straight Pride cannot be a thing because heterosexuals aren’t oppressed. Straight people don’t get killed for being straight. In many countries, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community or even supporting them will get you in prison or dead. People that are a part of the LGBTQ+ community get discriminated against at schools, jobs, on the streets, they can’t go to certain places without fearing for lives; they can’t even escape the homophobic talk when they go on social media. At the end of the day, straight people’s rights aren’t up for debate, the LGBTQ+ communities’ rights are. Some other things that that have been taken by the LGBTQ+ community is some of their slang. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “shade” thrown around once or twice before. For some, the slang word has become an everyday term. A lot of the slang terms used today was started by the queer culture. However, not many people know about its roots and it shows.

It is absolutely terrible that today we are still having political debate on somebodies existence.”

— Mariam Alashmawi

Learning a language takes a lot of time and commitment. It looks good on your college resume and job applications, but most importantly, you get to connect with different people in certain cultures. Since the successful rise in social media, people from all over the world have connected with each other. The rise in social media has also encouraged people to learn about different cultures. For example, many people on TikTok from the deaf community are have made their names well known for spreading their culture and talking about issues going on in their community. People that aren’t familiar with ASL (American Sign Language) or PSE (Pidgin Signed English) even go as far as to as closed captions to their videos so they’re able to understand their videos. However, some people have taken their language to boost their amount of likes on TikTok. The terrible thing about that is when they took the language, they would sign almost all the words wrong according to the deaf community. The deaf community has openly stated that they are glad that people are interested in learning their language, however it becomes a mockery when people aren’t willing to listen to the deaf community when they point out something wrong with their signing. Not only is it confusing for audio-impaired people to understand what they’re signing, they’re also misinforming people that aren’t familiar with sign language. When learning a language, people need to put in the dedication and effort because broadcasting the wrong information about a culture could potentially put you under some hot water.

Dressing up and acting like a culture actually does more harm than good because it is a mockery to the people and their ancestors. ”

— Mariam Alashmawi

I’ve heard many say they liked a way a culture looked or acted so they wanted to do the same. That’s great that you like the culture, however, you need to know why they dress like that or act like that. You can’t just jump right into a culture, that’s somebodies history. Instead, you could take the time to learn about the culture and it’s traditions because it isn’t always what they wear. Dressing up and acting like a culture actually does more harm than good because it is a mockery to the people and their ancestors.

To sum up all of these series, the point of cultural appreciation is understanding, supporting, learning, and accepting. When you remember these four words, it’s easy to establish when somebody is culturally appropriating something that isn’t theirs. Cultural appropriation is built on racism and arrogance and in this day and age, people will not be tolerating that behavior. It is time to listen to the minorities and it is time to treat them equally.