I repeat: Racism isn’t dead. Instead we have its slicker cousin, cultural appropriation.
Now let me preface by saying this; I understand that racism as whole is a complicated concept that stems from slavery, Western culture & in my opinion a lack of human respect.
Racism is an emotive issue, it is largely ingrained in Western society, & it is felt by people of colour. It does get broken down further though, as the experience of people of different backrounds and ethnicities feel it very differently. As a POC, specifically a cis-gender black woman, I feel marginalised & ignored at times. I feel as though expressing myself comes with a danger of being labelled an “angry black woman”. (I admit experience may not be as bad as those that aren’t cis, i can admit my slight privilege there). I feel as though my passion and humour is often denoted as “sassy”.
Why? Because it’s far easier to lump me in with all the other POC women that express themselves using the same reductive and frankly not descriptive word, “sassy”. What does “sassy” even mean?
I digress… Everyone knows what racism is. If you don’t, you’ve been living under a rock. Cultural appropriation, the slicker cousin is rife and very topical. All I need to say is Boxer Braids and Jerk Rice, and I’ll leave it there.
As POC, our cultures and traditions are not a costume. It’s a history, hereditary, our birth right. When you appropriate us on your non-POC bodies you snub us. You trivialise the experience of those that live in the so-called costumes you don for a day.
When you colour your skin to look like us, either in blackface or yellowface, you tell us we are caricatures, characters and not really people. You reduce us to our skin colour, which cannot be easily copied as the melanin is rich and the depth of pigment is complicated.
ELLE recently did an excellent documentary on the Cultural Appropriation of braids:
As we approach the Halloween month, I urge you to rethink your face paint and cultural dress. I understand you are curious, & want to experience something new. Dressing up for the day is not the way to do it. Why not speak to someone who comes from the culture you are interested in? Why not ask them about their home life, and then after being informed, why not visit? Or if you don’t want to make the trip, why not go to a multi-cultural night? The latter is achievable for everyone.