Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

Elaborating on the Issue of Cultural Appropriation

Alexandria Montgomery, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Judging from the comments on my article, the subtweets (and mentions) on twitter, and the reluctance of some of my peers to make eye contact with me in the hall (or if they do, it is a glare, a sneer, a blank stare, or an eye roll), I can conclude that my views on cultural appropriation and my articulation of my views on cultural appropriation rubbed many people here at Northmont the wrong way.

After reading through the comments under my article (some well said, some ridiculous, some pure dislike for me and not the article or my opinions), I have read and re-read my article. After much contemplation and mental revision, I have decided there are points I neglected to strengthen in my previous article I would like to more clearly articulate in this sequel of sorts.

Many have confused my disdain for cultural appropriation with a desire within me to segregate races, to isolate cultures, and to confine all elements of a culture from the natural process of cultural diffusion. This inference is partially my fault, as I apparently did not clearly express my qualms with cultural appropriation.

“The term cultural appropriation refers to the process by which elements of a marginalized culture are borrowed, or appropriated, by a non-marginalized, privileged group.”

To put the definition in simpler terms:

Cultural appropriation is when elements that distinguish one culture from another are taken by a member of another culture.

What makes cultural appropriation so bad? What makes it wrong? Why does it irritate me so? Well, when cultural appropriation occurs, those partaking in the appropriation are free of the stigma pushed on those whose culture they appropriated. For example, Iggy Azalea (some, thanks to Azealia Banks, may know Iggy better as Igloo Australia) raps in this ridiculous blaccent. Many black people talk in the same voice she uses to rap, and are resultantly deemed as ‘ghetto’ or ‘uneducated’. Yet Iggy, Igloo, whoever, is touted as a favorite female ‘hip hop artist” (???), and has been nominated for best urban album. Since when did ‘urban’ become a trend? A style to be awarded? A title to be deemed? An accessory to awful artistry? Iggy has appropriated an element of black culture, and consequently walks free of the stigma blacks face for behaving in the same manner.

Many celebrities wear the bindi as an accessory without acknowledging, understanding, or even being aware of it’s immense spiritual significance in Hinduism. Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Selena Gomez, Katy Perry, Vanessa Hudgens, and Miley Cyrus are a small collection of the many celebrities who wear the bindi as a fashion statement rather than a religious statement. Religion is not an accessory or a trend. The bindi is a significant element of Hindu and, in the bigger picture, Indian culture. It represents the Ajna (or, sometimes Agnya) chakra. Chakra is Sanskrit for ‘wheel’. In Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern and esoteric dogma, the chakra is a spinning wheel of energy within the body, influencing emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual areas of our lives. The Ajna, or third eye chakra, operates in conjunction with the pineal gland. It relates to intuition and spiritual insight. This is where non-Hindus wearing the bindi becomes problematic: In wearing the bindi, you are disregarding a history and a significance in exchange for an accessory.

Headdresses are another big issue when it comes to appropriation. This article clearly explains why wearing Native headdresses are appropriation.

To those who think I am for segregation of races and for the confinement of cultures from cultural diffusion, I definitely am not. In fact, I am all for cultural diffusion. Cultural diffusion is what makes America the great melting pot, not cultural appropriation. Cultural diffusion occurs when “cultural beliefs and social activities are spread through different ethnicities, religions, nationalities, etc.” Diffusion is immensely different from appropriation. An example of this benign exchange is the proliferation of McDonalds in foreign countries.

The difference between diffusion and appropriation? One is benevolent, a peaceful exchange. The other is not.

 

Print Friendly

16 Comments

16 Responses to “Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up”

  1. Albus Severus potter on December 11th, 2014 10:18 am

    I feel that if Hindus or other religious groups were worried about this, wouldn’t they be writing articles about it?

    [Reply]

    Helena Jenkins Reply:

    They are. Many minorities have written about cultural appropriation. I suggest you go and research the plethora of articles that have been written on this subject.

    [Reply]

  2. Fed on December 11th, 2014 10:33 am

    You have strengthened some points that were not expanded upon in the previous article. However, it’s hard to see these things that have been appropriated as anything but subjective. The “blaccent” that you’ve mentioned in both is one example. A dialect can come from multiple factors. From hearing it from others constantly, from popular slang terms of the era, to even mimicking another. To be able to use this dialect as an example, one must understand the roots behind it. If the roots were specified in either of the article, it would’ve been easier to understand why it is cultural appropriation.

    The reason why I said it’s subjective is because maybe you take offense to it, but someone else of a similar cultural background as yourself might not. You may be taking offense to the usage of slang terms used by African Americans, but to another, it might not make any difference.

    You also have to think about the audience Iggy is trying to sell her music to. Hip-hop music has strong roots in African American culture and to appeal to people who like this genre, she uses familiar dialect.

    [Reply]

  3. Fortress Maximus Topspin Groove on December 11th, 2014 10:39 am

    I can’t say I see cultural appropriation as a problem honestly.

    [Reply]

    Helena Jenkins Reply:

    I am interested to know why you don’t believe in cultural appropriation. (Please note that this is real curiosity, not a snide comment on your opinion. I would actually very much like to know why you think this. Let’s make this a legitimate debate!)

    [Reply]

  4. Helena Jenkins on December 11th, 2014 6:05 pm

    An excellent and much needed follow-up to your previous article. I am sorry so many fellow students have been acting so horribly to you. Your focus on strong religious examples really helped your arguement. I hope that these comments will be a forum for polite discussion and debate once again.

    [Reply]

    Fortress Maximus Topspin Groove Reply:

    Argument*

    [Reply]

    Helena Jenkins Reply:

    Yes, thank you for pointing out my misspelling.

    [Reply]

  5. Jesse Beinkampen on December 11th, 2014 8:16 pm

    Ok

    [Reply]

  6. Jane Doe on December 11th, 2014 8:26 pm

    Since when is “Urban” a term used to describe African American culture? Urban means relating to a city or town. Many people of every race live in cites all over the world. Also are you implying that because I can not like K Pop because I am not from South Korea? I believe that I can like, write, or sing any type of music I like. I also would like to believe that if I grew up in a city I would be urban. Because I am not rural, if I grow up ina city what am I then? I do believe that yes cultural appropriation is a thing. And yes in a lot of ways many people who comment to insult you or say you are wrong are mistaken, however I do believe some of your points are mistaken also. I do appreciate that your article has brought up an issue that many people haven’t really realized is an issue though.

    [Reply]

  7. Anonymous on December 11th, 2014 8:47 pm

    In your original story, your arguments involved Miley and iggy, and specifically I am quoting “Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea, get out of hip hop and ditch your poor ‘blaccents.”. Hip hop is not in any form sacred to a certain culture, and although it started in Africa, it is not part of their culture. And the term “blaccent” is racist, and if me being a white person were to use it, I would be called racist. If you’re going to say that iggy and Miley need to get out of hip hop, I can go ahead and say that Darius Rucker, an African American country singer, needs to get out of country music. Country music started with white poeple in America, therefore black people are not allowed to be in it. Yeah, that’s how ridiculous your argument was. In no way is the iggy music video making fun of or disgracing the culture she used. I could understand if they did something such as burn the Indian clothing, or make fun of it. They didn’t. She simply wore it. Your points are very minor in these arguments, and are no problem. And what you are saying is supporting that every culture or race should keep to themselves. By saying that white people aren’t allowed to do something that a black person does, or that a white artist can’t be in rap is supporting this. If people can’t intermix culture, belifes, race, that’s true racism. And you saying that black people can’t be racist is complete and udder bull crap. You say that they can’t hold the same power as white people but guess what, who knew that the most powerful person currently in America right now is, gasp, a black man. And up there with him is his Black wife. Everyday, white poeple are made fun of or killed for being white. You can say all you want “it’s not as bad because you weren’t oppressed” but it can be just as bad or even worse. Everyday, there is racist stuff said towards me. If you go to Dayton or trotwood, places that are prodominamtely black, you get looked at funny, made fun, evil stares, everything that happens towards black people. Black people can be and are racist. And it’s all races that can be and are racist. Many people’s views are that all white people are racist. Although the some are, not all are. Same with black people. Myself and a lot of people would say that you wrote this to be racist, and to just get your racist points on the school website. Although some points were valid, most weren’t. If you are going to do so,etching over a topic like this, at least use good examples. Thank you

    [Reply]

    Helena Jenkins Reply:

    Disliking a specific ethnic group= prejudice
    Prejudice+ actions that harm those you are prejudiced against= discrimination
    Discrimination+ institutionalization of this discrimination in society and perpetuation by society = racism. Black people can be prejudiced or discriminatory against white people based on their individual history of negative interactions, but they cannot be racist against white people, because there is no history/ institution of racism supporting their discrimination. There is a history of discrimination in society against other PoC, so black people can be racist against them. And even if you refuse to consider the author’s perspective or its validity, then please consider the interactions she must have had to feel prejudiced against white people, since you seem to believe that she is prejudiced. What negative reinforcement of her opinion must the white people she has known provided that she has such a negative opinion?

    [Reply]

  8. Cody Shuster on December 12th, 2014 8:16 am

    While we do appreciate all of the readers commenting, on behalf of the Surge, we would like to ask all readers not to personally attack the writer. While you may comment and speak your opinion, you absolutely may not attack a writer, another student. Thank you in advance.

    [Reply]

    Fortress Maximus Topspin Groove Reply:

    K

    [Reply]

  9. Tanner on December 17th, 2014 8:39 am

    Dear Alex,
    I have taken a great interest in your writing the past couple weeks, and you have made some very curious. I would like to request that you post an opinion article about your views on gun control. Thanks, and keep up the good work.
    Sincerely,
    Tanner

    [Reply]

    Tanner Reply:

    some very good points. sorry, i was multitasking

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

    Northmont News

    Record-Setting Game

  • Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

    Life

    Giraffe Takes World By Storm

  • Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

    Northmont News

    Time to Shine!

  • Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

    Opinion

    A Never-Ending Pain

  • Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

    Opinion

    The Problem with Syria

  • Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

    Northmont News

    Star-Spangled Catalyst

  • Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

    Northmont News

    Winning Winter Guard

  • Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

    Northmont News

    Journey Through Space

  • Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

    Northmont News

    In a State of Winning

  • Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up

    Northmont News

    Right on Track

The student news site of Northmont High School
Aggravated by Appropriation: The Follow Up