Why Fox Eyes and Cultural Appropriation Should Be Celebrated
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A Slippery Slope
By living closer together, we've come to appreciate each other in ways that weren't foreseeable when we lived apart. Walls have come down.
But what all of this talk of cultural appropriation threatens is that those walls get built back up. This growing tendency to not judge based on the content of one’s character - as Martin Luther King Jr had dreamt - but to judge based on the colour of one’s skin represents a trend away from focusing on what unites us, to placing disproportionate emphasis on what divides us.
And this game of cultural appropriation quickly becomes a slippery slope.
- Should non-Asians stop training in martial arts like karate, judo, or muay thai, and stop wearing gis?
- Should people only cook their own culture’s food?
- Should Eminem say sorry for appropriating black music for the past twenty-five years?
- Should white girls stop squatting and filling their lips?
- Should Asian women in the east stop whitening their skin and getting nose jobs?
- Should Asian and black women stop dying their hair blonde? (hello Ayesha Curry!)
- Should Asian women stop using contacts to make their eyes green or blue?
- Should white dudes stop wearing Raiders caps?!
With the possible exception of white girls using filler to plump up their lips (for reasons having nothing to do with cultural appropriation and more to do with facial symmetry), the answer is a resounding “no!”.
Furthermore, when we spend ourselves in the elimination of apparent cultural appropriation, we take the spotlight off the genuine problems. As Chen tweeted, “Actual anti-Asian college admission policy isn’t the problem. Eye makeup is. Got it.” This was in reference to Harvard University’s systemic discrimination of Asian-American students in order to boost racial diversity (if Harvard judged applicants based on academic results, 43 percent of students would be Asian-American, but only 19 percent are).
Will the newfound rage against celebrating other cultures not rest until we’re completely segregated along ethnic and cultural lines?
Turns out we tried that once...and it wasn’t so great for everyone.
Metalheads and Cultural Appropriation
For an apolitical take on the subject of cultural appropriation, look no further than the heavy metal community. Often derided by the mainstream, it has today become commonplace for pop-stars as well as teenage girls to wear heavy metal t-shirts, usually with little to no knowledge of the bands they’re effectively promoting.
Phil Anselmo, frontman of the legendary Texan metallers, Pantera, told Revolver magazine that “It doesn’t bother me at all...anyone wearing a Morbid Angel shirt is okay with me!”
It has become fashionable to declare one triggered nowadays, and signal group inclusion in the process. It’s a way of fast-tracking a self-inflated sense of one's moral righteousness.
But we could all benefit from being just a little more like Anselmo, effectively nonchalant when it comes to trivial matters, and instead do as Theodore Roosevelt urged in his famous Man in the Arena monologue, and spend ourselves in a worthy cause. And as history has taught us, we stand to gain a lot more than we lose by embracing each other and each other's cultures, rather than drawing lines in the sand.