Cultural Appropriation vs Multiculturalism. What are we arguing about?

23 Apr

article-0-169E92DA000005DC-946_634x616If you have a Twitter or Instagram account you probably would know what Coachella is as we have been bombarded with pictures of celebrities in Native American wear, sporting a bindi or wearing Hippy style clothing over the last two weeks.

Coachella is a music festival that takes place in America every year and all types of music acts come out to perform. This year they were graced with the likes of Jhene Aiko, Solange and Beyonce Knowles and Pharrel.

The big debate that has emerged from this festival is whether it is acceptable for festival goers or anyone really to take cultural or religious symbols and styles of dress when they are not from that culture.

For example, actress and singer, Vanessa Hudgens, wore a bindi to the festival. A bindi is a symbol sacred to the Hindu religion. Some see it as a symbol of clarity of the third eye.

It is this reason she along with others who wore bindi’s to the festival were slated on social networking sites for ‘cultural appropriation’.

This topic really confuses me as a person living in the West, in a multicultural society. As a child I was always taught that I must accept all cultures, all races and all religions, which I do. If this is being taught isn’t it an amazing thing that we are sharing in one another’s culture.

Fair enough, the bindi is a religious symbol and no one should take away its religious significance to Hinduism, but to many it is also a fashion accessory. Even in South Asian countries Hindu’s and non-Hindu’s wear it as an accessory because it is a thing of beauty.

What is wrong with seeing the beauty in other cultures?

Isn’t that how intermarriage came about? Isn’t that how most of the world’s trade has come about? Isn’t that why I can walk to Woolwich town centre and eat my favourite Singapore Fried Rice and Sweet and Sour Chicken? Why now is cultural appropriation a problem when it has been practiced for generation’s way before ours?

Yes, some people do parody other people’s cultures and mock them, they should be slated. People borrowing styles from a certain culture and wearing it to largely popular festivals shouldn’t be judged.

I’m a Nigerian woman. I wear eyeliner in the style of Arabic women, because it is beautiful. I wear kimonos like Japanese women, because they look beautiful to me. I wear Peruvian weave, because I love the thickness and lustre of Peruvian hair.

When I see white women wearing Ankara (my native dress) or waist beads, which is a traditional symbol in my culture, I feel so proud, not offended. There was a time I wore Ankara on my way to church and people just stared at me and made me feel ashamed. Now other cultures appreciate the beauty of the Ankara. Someone has seen the beauty in my culture, I take no offence.

I don’t even know the exact meaning of wearing waist beads, they date so far back in history, but I wear them. Should I be slated also for cultural appropriation of my own culture?

We wanted multiculturalism. That is what we got.



Mark Duggan vs The Media

19 Jan

BeC4R8nCYAACMgXMark Duggan is a name you have heard repeatedly for the last 3 years, especially if you live in London. His death sparked the London riots in 2011, when he was shot down by police as he was suspected to be carrying a weapon, which recently we learnt is untrue.

Last week, the verdict of his inquest, whether he was lawfully killed by the police or not, ended. 8 out of 10 jury members decided he was lawfully killed after hearing all the evidence and from witnesses.

Although eyewitnesses say Mark Duggan was carrying a weapon when he was killed, this weapon has never been found. In fact we were first told he carried a gun, then we were told it was a tazer, then we were told he might have not been carrying a weapon, officers were unsure.

The story is suspicious, it definitely has holes and I don’t believe we have been told the full story. It is no wonder working class Britain stood up for once. Our brothers and sons should not be killed like dogs in the street, everyone should be allowed a fair trial in court.

As we were all affected by the killing of Mark Duggan, I think we deserve the full truth. It is unfair that we have to read contradictory reports about what supposedly happened the day Duggan was killed.

For example, after last week’s verdict, police official’s went to Duggan’s family home to apologise for his death. If he was lawfully killed, why did they feel the need to apologise?

My concerns however are not to do with whether he was lawfully killed or not, my concerns are with the media’s portrayal of Duggan. Duggan was a “senior member of a Tottenham gang called Man Dem” according to the BBC. Although his family and friends strongly denied these allegations, the media ran with this, painting Duggan as an intimidating gangster that may as well have been guilty of something.

A picture has been going around on social networks such as Twitter, showing the way the media had distorted a photograph of Duggan to make him appear intimidating. See the picture below.

It is terrible that people would try to make this dead young man seem guilty, when he can’t defend himself. The full picture shows him as a loving father by the grave of his daughter that sadly passed. Why is the media allowed to get away with demonising Duggan, especially whilst the inquest was still goin on? I think laws should be revised in light of this situation.

Media outlets should really think about the way they portray suspected criminals before they are dealt with in the courts. It is not the media’s job to decide whether someone is guilty or not, directly or indirectly.

This is more than just a race issue. This is a class issue. The breakdown of the trust between civilians and the police will only get worse. This is bigger than the stop and search issues we faced for many years. We can be shot down if we appear a threat or demonised in the media if we look guilty enough in pictures. Something must be done.

This Frank Ocean News

7 Jul

(As she listens to Pyramids) Wow. I don’t know why I am shocked to be honest. I think I’m more shocked that Tyler The Creator actually supports Frank Ocean then the fact that he’s bi-sexual.

So, last week rumors started spreading across social network sites that ‘Frank Ocean’ is gay. I saw these rumors on twitter (Follow me @WhosDatBrownin_) and automatically thought ‘Yeah. Sure. This is just another bullshit rumor going around twitter. However, something deep down inside me wondered. I started to really think about his lyrics and wonder whether they could actually be about a male as well as a woman. I watched his timeline closely for a day but he never addressed the rumor. So I wake up late one afternoon and see loads of people have retweeted a tumblr post from Frank Ocean and people expressing their disgust for homosexuality and some people tweeting about how proud they are of Frank Ocean. I though ‘Oh no. Oh my. What has he said?!’. Now when reading the tumblr post I read it with an open mind. Homosexuality is contrary to my Christian beliefs but something about the way he explained his first love being male made me understand. Understand where he was coming from. I could not judge him and this made me feel no different about him. It actually hurt me to see the malicious things people were writing about his feelings that he couldn’t control. It’s sad to admit this but I think the main reason people have been so hard on him is the fact that he is black. Because it’s not a ‘black thing’ to be gay. It’s so annoying that people think because someone lives a life contrary to your beliefs they should be bullied or ridiculed. Especially religious groups. What happened to ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’. Condemning people like you’re above sin is (excuse my french) A BUNCH OF BULLSHIT. I don’t believe in homosexuality but I hear what he is saying. It obviously was eating him up keeping the secret and now he feels like a ‘Free man’. I say good on you Frank. Nothing can take away from the fact that he is an amazing artist. One I relate to through his music. One many of people will STILL get jiggy to with his music playing in the background. The most annoying thing about news like this is that people seriously have selective hearing. For example … A conversation between 2 peers;

Peer 1: ‘OMG! Did you hear? Frank Ocean’s Bi?!’

Peer 2: ‘Fuck Outta Here! That nigga gay?!’

Peer 1: ‘ No He’s Bi.’

Peer 2: ‘Ewww. OMG! I can’t believe that nigga gay’


You catch my drift! Him having a man as his first love whilst being attracted to and have been in relationships with women makes him Bi. How comes a woman can be bi but if a man is said to be bi it’s impossible. We live in a backwards world, I think I’m just going to have to accept that. *sigh*.

Anyway, I’m wishing Frank Ocean good luck with his Channel Orange album. I will definitely have a listen. My iTunes is very very dry at the moment.