Cultural appropriation sweeping the nation

PC: Whitney Jani Pull quote from the article.

By Whitney Jani ’18

Please note that these articles ONLY reflect the viewpoints of those who wrote the article. These articles do not reflect of the views of the newspaper advisor, The Pritzker Press, Pritzker College Prep, or the Noble Network.

Cultural appropriation can best be defined as taking elements of one’s cultural and attempting to make it trendy without proper recognition of the style’s originator. Cultural appropriation also entails taking away the value of certain aspects of a culture by trying to make it fashionable and mainstream.

In today’s society, social media makes cultural appropriation very easy to take place. On events like Halloween, social media displays wide varieties of cultural appropriation. This can range in someone wearing what they believe to be Native American clothing or dressing up as a Geisha from Japan. If you don’t understand the significance of what you are wearing and you are only wearing the items to be “cute”, you are definitely cultural appropriation.

Within the last year, various members of the Kardashian/Jenner clan have been accused of cultural appropriation. For example, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, and Khloe Kardashian have been seen sporting cornrows on many occasions. Cornrows are a braided hairstyle that flow from the front of the head to the back. Hairstyles like these were pioneered by people of African descent for special occasions and tribal purposes. In more recent history, African Americans lean towards braided hairstyles because it is an easy way to maintain the coarse, curly texture of natural African American hair. Kylie Jenner, especially, received a lot of flack for her decision to wear cornrows. One of the more vocal dissenters was Amandla Stenberg who starred in “The Hunger Games” movie as Rue. She stated, “When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.” One of Stenberg’s issue with Jenner’s decision to wear cornrows was the fact that her social media influence was making the style more “mainstream”.

In our society, we see women of color being bashed for wearing wigs, weaves, and braided hairstyles because they are considered “ratchet” or “ghetto”. These styles are meant to preserve African American hair and are a significant part of African American culture today, yet when someone who is famous and white decides to wear that style, it becomes cool and trendy.

Culture should not become a trend. It should be respected and understood. This goes for all cultures. This is not meant to say that just because you are apart of one culture, you can not partake in aspects of another culture. Culture should be shared and learned from. The most important part of cultural exchange is making sure that you are appreciating it and not trying to make it your own.