The Controversial Issue of Cultural Appropriation

Khadija Ceesay, Opinion Editor

Throughout the years cultural appropriation has been an issue that people have seemed to sweep under the rug time and time again.
In the past 3 years or so, there have been more signs of appropriating cultures in media, society, and even in communities around me that I have observed.
Even the smallest things can be perceived as offensive and disrespectful to a persons’ culture and things like dressing up in a sombrero and mustache or Native American headdress for Halloween.
Words like “savage” and “rat” to name a few have also become controversial because of the context they were used in during the period of intense racism towards Natives and Asian-Americans.
Because of these claims, people have also been critical of the actual use of the words and have challenged the depth of the appropriation.
Blackface, which was used in the early 20th century by non-black performers as caricatures of African-Americans, has also been called out by several celebrities.
There have been pictures surfacing of actors and performers mocking the racist tradition instead of bringing light to the awful issue.
Recently, a Florida senator has resigned after pictures of him at a party surfaced of him in black face attire.
Even after years of change and progression, it seems some people have not learned from others mistakes.
Cultural appropriation is not the only issue we face as people though. Derogative slurs and comments that even children as young as ten have used against people of color has also become a growing issue.
I can recall several times I have overheard students use the n word when singing a song or referring to their friends without knowing how offensive it is to black people.
Braids and dreads have also been used by non-blacks to “make a statement” but is seen as a heavy form of cultural appropriation.
People have questioned that statement and the reason it is so touchy is because many people have seen blacks as “dirty”, “lazy”, and “lowly” because of these hairstyle choices. But when a white person uses them, they are suddenly seen as “fashionable” and “innovative”.
Why praise someone for appropriating another culture? There is a fine line between appreciation and appropriation and some people don’t understand where that line is.
With the rise of immigrant controversy, there has also been a rise in blatant racism towards Hispanics and people who cannot speak fluent English.
I have seen more than enough videos of whites bashing people of color and telling them to speak English because “this is America and you have to speak English to be here”.
It makes me question how accepting and free this country really is and if we are making moves forward or backward.