Cultural Appropriation and Oversensitivity

Yesterday, I was browsing the internet and came across this little video clip of a college student. He was a white individual who had dreadlocks and the video shows him being verbally assaulted by an African American woman. Through her frantic screams at him of “Where’s Egypt” (why the hell is that so important, girl?), I thought to myself, wow, this is where people take it way too far.

Things that were once seen as innocent become triggers for bigger things. The culture of acceptance turns into oversensitivity and people just start to look for trouble, or begin to make a big deal over something that shouldn’t really be a problem.

We’ve come to the day and age where someone can post a picture of their hair braided and others can become offended by it, saying this is cultural appropriation.

I am a firm believer in accepting how others want to identify themselves or even how they want to dress. If it makes them happy, if they are passionate about something, you should at least acknowledge that and abide by their wishes.

But when it gets to the point that someone decides that having corn rows or dreadlocks is stealing someone’s culture, that’s where I draw the line.

Because, let’s be honest, isn’t that what America is about? We don’t have a culture really. We have a mix of so many different ones. Who are you to decide what cultural appropriation is? Sure, if you wear a hijab even though you don’t practice the religion, it’s a bit of a touchy subject. But wearing your hair in a certain fashion can’t even be cultural appropriation or else Iggy Azalea is in trouble.

America is a mix of everything. We go to the store every day and maybe buy our favorite kind of curry, use chopsticks for noodles, and even watch anime (yes, I’m a nerd). But these are specific parts of other cultures that we have implemented into our lives.

They aren’t truly part of the American culture but they are part of our world. If using chopsticks isn’t cultural appropriation, then how is wearing dreads? These are innocent actions, and attempts at sharing cultures, not bastardizing them and taking what isn’t theirs.

We took democracy from the Ancient Greeks, does that mean democracy is a cultural appropriation? I believe that when it comes to religion, we shouldn’t be so ready to adopt things like that but if they are just fashion statements or foods, things like that should be shared between cultures.

Cultural appropriation isn’t when a kid has a certain hairstyle, it’s when someone takes a religious practice or a deep-rooted cultural activity and bastardizes it for style and for their own gain, at least that’s what I believe it is.  I agree that some things are off-limits but I also believe that there is too much going on in the world for us to always be worried about if someone is “taking another’s culture” when they really aren’t.

Of course, this one woman who screamed at the guy could have just been making a big deal about it. Not everyone gets this crazy about something and it certainly isn’t an argument against cultural appropriation. This is something that exists. It just becomes a matter of taking things like this too far.

While dreads have not been a religious symbol in Africa for hundreds of years, like the hijab has been. IF someone wears a hijab who is not a part of that religion, then I think it is completely justified to make a stint about it. I can understand cultural appropriation in that instance.

What I’m trying to say here is that it’s great to push for equal rights, it’s great to want to preserve your own culture. But when it comes down to you verbally assaulting a person because they have a hairstyle that was originally started in Jamaica (which isn’t even actually your culture), don’t go freaking out about it. This generation has become too oversensitive about things like this.

Cultural appropriation is real but not everything is taken from another culture. Sometimes things just need to be shared.