Drawing the line on cultural appropriation

Courtney Luciana – Special to the Southern News

For some individuals, culture appropriation is disregarded as a concept of perception, said Rasheed Duke Pierre.

“It is alarming how the media has easily succeeded at elevating the tension of various occurrences,” said Pierre. “It’s gotten to the point where the public ends up being misled about where the anger of the issue derived from in the first place.”

The freshman, a film and television major, said he has grown concerned about how widespread controversies like cultural appropriation are being responded to by several universities and through society as a whole.

“Protests have arisen throughout communities to a degree where issues are not communicated as forms of passion, but instead activism has been put on a pedestal of anger,” said Pierre.

The mound of tension sets a negative image on the country, which has not served as a productive form of problem solving, said Pierre. He said that these often occurrences are a dangerous matter because a wave of desensitization has molded over the cries of activists.  

Since the repetitive discussion of cultural appropriation has appeared all through society, competition has contiguously emerged among groups over who is being associated with the most oppression, said Polly Beals, Dr., SCSU history professor.

“I’ve suggested to my students and peers that the significance of the presidential election has led to inflammatory rhetoric of these topics this year,” said Beals, “indeed activism has led to a big debate not only among SCSU’s campus, but other colleges where there has been a questioning of where to draw the line between free expression and hate speech.”

Beals said she thinks that individuals often forget that humanity isn’t a case of being politically correct. She said it’s about acknowledging respect.

“Students are going to transform into future leaders, so they should be aware of the importance of nurturing communities,” said Beals.

Regardless, students like Berthania Boursiquot, senior, think that the issue of culture appropriation is being misinterpreted for disrespect when in actuality it is a form of flattery.

“I think embracing another individual’s culture should be encouraged, not shamed,” said Boursiquot. “I think the media is making the topic an openly acknowledgeable issue, but it also overworks the problem to where individuals have grown overly infatuated with one another’s choices.”

The psychology major said that she understands how cultural appropriation has set standards towards African American and Native American communities, but thinks a person should be entitled to do what makes them embrace their own self through the aspects of another culture.

Still, a 2015 Pew Research study found that 73 percent of African Americans now characterize racism as a big problem, along with 58 percent of Hispanics. Although whites are far less likely to say racism is a big problem (44 percent), the share of whites holding the same views as other minority groups has risen by 17 percentage points since 2010.

Cultural appropriation hasn’t been necessarily been an occurring issue on SCSU’s campus said Desiree Rondeau, public health major; nevertheless, the sophomore said she doesn’t think that makes it justifiable for students to become less concerned the consequences of discrimination.

“One should keep in mind of respecting another’s culture over attempting to justify it simply as a fashion statement or a part of what is trending,” said Roundeau. “Whether culture appropriation is considered as a big deal to someone else or not, it’s still a hateful act to cut through another individual’s identity if one can’t at least hold an understanding of what they are representing.” 


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