It’s music festival season aka the season of cultural appropriation. For those who have never experienced the embarrassment of being teased for bringing your mom’s homemade aloo parathas to lunch at school, and then seeing the same white girls who made fun of you, wearing bindis for Coachella ten years later, it can be hard to understand cultural appropriation. First of all, let’s get this straight; cultural appropriation is not appreciating a culture’s food, music, dance, clothing, language, etc. Cultural appropriation is when a person steals a culture’s religious or cultural attire without any consideration of what the attire means and the rich history behind it. For example, I used to be teased for bringing “smelly” Indian food to school lunch (news flash, white kids, that’s what flavor smells like) and now I don’t have to scroll too far down on the Instagram explore page to find yet another makeup artist wearing a bindi to Coachella and tagging the picture with #festival #foreheadgem #gypsy. It’s one thing to appreciate something beautiful from another culture and maybe even participate in that in an appropriate situation- like when Angelina Jolie wore a hijab when she visited Pakistan. It’s an entirely different thing to take something from a culture, give yourself credit for it, and completely undermine all of the history and meaning behind it. You can’t just pick and choose what you like and dislike from a culture. You can’t just shame certain parts of a culture and appropriate other parts.
Being conditioned by euro-centric beauty standards to hate one’s own culture/religion disconnects one from their roots and strips them of their history. Then, when people go and use exactly what they had previously shamed others for doing (like the bindi, dark skin, dreads, natural hair, headdresses, etc) and taking the credit for it, it makes one feel robbed. And that’s because cultural appropriation is just that- theft. Theft of culture. Theft of credit. Theft of identity. So, this Coachella/ music festival season, reconsider wearing that Native American headdress, that bindi, those cornrows, and that blackface. Because while you may think that you’re just looking boho chic, you’re actually stealing and undermining cultures.
Post written by guest writer Amal Khateeb
Adoption is a life changing process that rescues children in need and creates families. Despite the process being so worthwhile, only few people choose to adopt children. These children do not necessarily have time on their side, by the time they reach the age of 2 their chances of being adopted decrease drastically as people tend to favor newborns. Before adopting my sister, I never realized the true nature of this issue. We’ve already identified the problem and the solution, yet the size of the problem ceases to decrease. Why is that?
The long process plays a large role in adoption’s lack of popularity. It took my family over three years to adopt my sister and there were multiple times when we almost gave up. Keeping the needed paperwork updated and trying to communicate with the various agencies can be tedious work. Not living in India made the task more difficult, as we had to fulfill the requirements of the adoption agencies in both the United States and India. Although adoption does take a substantial amount of time, the length of the procedure does not cause so much of a hindrance that people choose not to adopt. You go into the process knowing it will take time.
The even larger barrier is the social stigmas surrounding adoption. It is commonly believed that something is wrong with a family that has adopted, that they are somehow less of a family because of it. Making comments about someone’s choice to adopt rather than to have their ‘own’ child or refusing to recognize the adopted child as a valid member of the family only add the problem, as they alienate the child from their family. These types of methods are very common, showing how deeply rooted these stigmas are in our society and causing adoption to seem immoral.
The cure for such social stigmas is simple-knowledge. We need to learn to embrace adoption and no longer see adopting a child in a negative light. Adoption is not a topic that is often acknowledged and has only been tackled in mainstream media a few times through movies such as Annie and Lion. By choosing to discuss adoption rather than hide it, we can increase the rate of adoption and simultaneously decrease the social stigmas against it. The differences of the child should be celebrated, not shamed.
Over the years, the definition of what it means to be a female has evolved. However, the culture that promotes and does not prevent sexual harassment has caused women around the world to live in fear of being used for their bodies. Sexual harassment is not something that should be taken lightly for it is an all too common issue in today’s society. All around the country, and even the world, women are being used for their bodies, their rights are violated and their morality demeaned by the masculine race. History has forever repeated itself as women have always been taught that they are the inferior gender and that they must do all it takes to serve a man. However the time has come for us to teach the young girls of today what it truly means to be a woman.
As a woman, it is our duty to stand up for what we deserve. Our voices cannot be stifled by the judgement and corruption of society. The fear that resides in every woman’s heart must be transformed into endless determination for freedom from abuse. A mother should not be afraid to send her daughter to college in fear of what atrocities she might endure while pursuing an education. A helpless wife must not cower in the shadow of her drunken and abusive husband. A young girl cannot be abused by a relative when she is most vulnerable. Every female is at risk, and every female deserves protection. The fear of being sexually harassed follows a woman like plague from the days of being an innocent child to college and even to the workforce. The Huffington Post states that as of last year, at least one in three women were at risk of being sexually harassed in the workplace. One the other hand, The Crimes Against Children Research Center has estimated that 20% of young girls will become a victim of sexual abuse. However the highest number of rape and sexual harassment incidents occur in colleges where women face a 62% chance of having an abusive encounter. Many of these victims are not even allowed to share their stories because big universities are more concerned with protecting their prestige than creating a safe learning environment for its student body.
Internationally, the hindrance of rape culture is even less prominent, prompting an exponential rise in the number of women being exploited. When 7,762 Brazilian women were surveyed, 99.6% admitted to being sexually harassed at some point in their lives. In India, 80% of women claim they have been harassed on the streets of Mumbai alone. In Bangladesh, 43% of women are afraid to be caught alone in a public setting. These unsettling statistics shed a light on how little value the world has for a woman’s safety. There has never been a more desperate plea for help, for justice.
Sexual harassment has many names; rape, prostitution, cat-calling, exploitation, etc. However the severity of each remains the same. To make a woman feel uncomfortable in her own skin, for her to feel violated and victimized, is something that our society should be working tirelessly to prevent. While there are many organizations working towards a safer tomorrow, there are still drastic changes to be made. Every female must support this cause. Every female must protect her body. Every female must stand up and speak out against a world consumed with the horrors of sexual harassment.
Post written by guest writer Apurva Sriprasana