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Cultural appropriation or: Why Can’t I Have It? | by Għajjejt u Xbajt

May 9 2021 Share

Oh, the comment wars these two words start. It’s not hard to find countless examples of people of colour¹ mentioning the words cultural appropriation only to be met with defensive reactions and angry retorts saying that people of colour should, in that case, “stop wearing Western² clothes” & “stop eating Western food”. It might be easy to think that telling people of colour to thus “stop doing [insert thing here] is a witty or apt response when confronted about cultural appropriation, but no – a person of colour wearing suits or straightening their hair does not count as cultural appropriation.

 

If you’re wondering why that is, have a look at the definition of cultural appropriation found in The Oxford Dictionaries:

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There are a few key words to focus on here, the words being “unacknowledged”, “inappropriate” and “dominant”. The power dynamic aspect in particular requires attention: that the dominant culture is taking elements from the culture of people they systematically oppress is a really important point here. The marginalised group doesn’t get to have a say in how their culture is used – instead it is seized by the dominant culture to do with as they please. In fact, that’s something that’s often said by the people who engage in cultural appropriation: “I’m allowed to do what I want or to pick what I want [from other people’s culture].” And from that place of privilege, the culture that was unacknowledged, ridiculed or vilified suddenly gains worth when placed in the hands of the dominant culture.

 

That is why, to take one example, Indigenous peoples (be it in North America or in Australia) wearing a suit is not cultural appropriation – in fact the very reason they would wear a suit in the first place is because they were colonised and made to wear the same clothes as the colonisers. Moreover, an Indigenous person is very likely to be ridiculed or discriminated against for wearing their own traditional clothes in Western society.

On the other hand, crediting Marc Jacobs for coming up with a “new and cool” “mini buns” hairstyle when Black people have been wearing that style for centuries (they’re called Bantu Knots by the way) is cultural appropriation. Black people have had so much taken away from them – their rights, their humanity, and their lives. Imagine how it feels to have so much taken away from you, but then even what you do have left – a culture that you are fighting to hold on to, because it is either not accepted or is looked down upon – gets taken away from you too and, to make things worse, is glorified in the hands of a group of people who are not only outside of your culture but also both historically and currently involved in that systemic oppression.

 

A Black person leaving their natural Afro-textured hair out gets deemed “unprofessional” while people who are not Black get to “experiment” with “afro wigs“. White people wearing a kimono, a hanbok or other traditional Asian clothing for Halloween is considered fun while a Korean American congresswoman is called unpatriotic for wearing a hanbok at her swearing-in ceremony. A Native American headdress is seen as a cool mascot for a sports team but conjures the “noble savage” imagery when seen on Indigenous peoples.

Black women like Zendaya get called drug users for wearing locs, a style that’s a part of her culture and heritage, while Kylie Jenner gets called “edgy” for wearing the same hairstyle.

That something that’s an important part of your culture is simply an outfit for someone else; that your culture is only valued when it is placed on someone else; that you don’t even get credit for the ideas, customs or practices that came from your culture – that is what cultural appropriation looks like. The appropriation of other cultures is often little more than an expression of race privilege and imbalance of power. It is not up to those from the dominant culture (speaking in terms of power dynamics here) to decide what to do with a marginalised group’s culture or to force them to “share” their culture because the dominant group feels that it is being left out.

 

Instead of taking elements of other people’s cultures at will (and against their will), people from the dominant culture should listen, be considerate of and respect the culture and wishes of those from marginalised groups. Think about it – is it truly respect and “appreciation” if, when you take something from someone, they are angered and upset by it?

I think the following words from Jarune Uwujaren at Everyday Feminism are good words to end on:

“As free as people should be to wear whatever hair and clothing they enjoy, using someone else’s cultural symbols to satisfy a personal need for self-expression is an exercise in privilege. Because for those of us who have felt forced and pressured to change the way we look, behave, and speak just to earn enough respect to stay employed and safe, our modes of self-expression are still limited.”

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¹ Reminder: the terms people of colour and coloured (a word that comes with a lot of historical baggage – none of it good) are not the same. The term people of colour was used here as this phrase is referring to the shared experiences of people who are not white, but it is not a substitute for saying Black, Asian, etc. when referring to the distinct and separate experiences of particular marginalised groups.

² “Western” is a term that can and probably should be deconstructed, but it is used here for ease of writing to refer to predominantly white countries/countries in Europe or linked to European immigration.

 

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OPINION: Malta – A Vaccinated Island

May 8 2021 Share

With Malta performing incredibly well with our vaccine roll out, possibly even being marketed overseas as Malta… the vaccinated and safe island, shouldn’t it then make more sense if we only had to only allow fully vaccinated tourists from 1st June?

Furthermore, yesterday Malta did not make it on the United Kingdom’s initial green list for safe travel, despite initial suggestions it would have been included.  Thus, one would say a change in strategy might be required and opting to attract ONLY vaccinated and safe tourists should be an easier task for islands.

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Whilst we all agree that tourism is a major economic contributor to our economy, attracting vaccinated tourists this summer will install more confidence both locally and also to our international guests who will feel extremely more comfortable to choose Malta as this summers destination.

By using this sensible and more cautious approach we might be able to minimise the risk of a possible influx of disease later on in summer, whilst allowing our vital tourism industry to kickstart.

Obviously essential and urgent travel will be allowed in also with a negative PCR test.

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6 COVID-19 cases registered overnight with 11 recoveries

115,333 people fully vaccinated in Malta
May 8 2021 Share

Malta has registered 6 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours from 2,022 swab tests, while 11 patients have recovered. This information was announced by the official Facebook page of Malta’s Ministry for Health.

As of Friday 7th April 2021, 372,620 vaccine doses were administered of which 118,209 were 2nd doses.

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To date, Malta has registered 30,438 COVID-19 cases in total, of which: 29,774 have recovered, 416 died and 247 are still active.

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Floyd Mayweather calls out Jake Paul after scuffle during press conference

Floyd Mayweather calls out Jake Paul after scuffle during press conference
May 8 2021 Share

Superstar boxer Floyd Mayweather broke his silence after his impromptu brawl with YouTuber Jake Paul after he allegedly ‘disrespected him’ during a recent press conference with brother Logan Paul.

The scuffle took place after the conference when Jake Paul came face to face with Mayweather, grabbed his hat and ran off with it, where Paul came out of the scrap with a black eye and busted tooth.

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Mayweather eventually stated that while it may be one thing to sell a fight and fighters can say what they want in that instance but one thing that no one is going to do is disrespect him.

24-year-old Paul ended up tattooing ‘gotcha hat’ on his leg to allude to the incident and further disrespect the 44-year-old sports icon.

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Photo Source: SportsNet.ca / Sky Sports

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