Breaking Race Down: The Sh*t You Need to Know


In this editorial, Editor Zoe A. will be covering the topics of racism and cultural appropriation.
These are her own opinions. 


Image found here
This is not the first time I have written about the horrors of racism and indifference. I will expand on said-topics; however, I will also introduce something important: cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation. 
   Everyone knows what racism is. To some, it is a thing of the past — an issue from the era of Abraham Lincoln and of Martin Luther King, but not of modern-day America.
Those people are wrong. 
   Racism manifests itself in different ways than it did a century ago, but it still corrupts our society. 


"White people don't understand what it's like to walk outside of your house and be scared," said Maya LaRosiliere. "They don't understand what it's like to be scared every time you see the police.

You do not have to look hard or long to find examples of how America has not abated racism to its full extent. (Read Baltimore and Ignorance.) After all, these events have been pasted to our television screens, glued to our newspapers, and preached about in classrooms. Ferguson, Baltimore, Cleveland, and many other cases of police brutality are the perfect examples of how America has not achieved its post-racist state.
   The deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and countless others should be all you need.

To most people, this kind of racism is simple;
it's this "reverse racism" bullshit that isn't. 

Many privileged, white people grow up in a culture where they are never met with strife. They don't know years of oppression, and most of all, they don't know what it's like to be oppressed. I, myself, do not know what it is like to be judged and looked down on because of my skin tone. However, I do know what it's like to be judged based on my religion and sex. 
   When you look racism up online, the definition appears as, "the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races."

This definition is the definition that privileged white kids use to justify the existence of reverse racism.

These white kids who have people come down on them about cultural appropriation when they have cornrows in their hair are the ones who say, "So why should I not be offended when people mock me for Starbucks? That's a stereotype! I'm a victim of racism too!Are you really so thin-skinned that those words offend you? You shouldn't be. But, if you are, the difference between someone assuming you wear yoga pants and you assuming someone has a gun in their pocket when they wear sweatpants is that this stereotype comes from a place of deeply rooted inequality and oppression. That's what makes something racist. 


Sure, white people can experience prejudices. But, we cannot experience racism because we never have been the inferior race

You have the right to be offended when someone calls you a "cracker." But never will the slang-term "cracker" compare to "n*gger." The N-word is a racial slur used to degrade and diminish black people. "Cracker" has nowhere near the same effect. Were we, as white Americans, ever enslaved by African Americans? Were we, as white Americans, never allowed to drink from a water fountain? Were we, as white Americans, forced to sit in the back of a bus? Were we, as white Americans, whipped and beaten and murdered? Were we, as white Americans, ever the inferior race?
   It doesn't matter if your family originated from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Russia, etc. Even though you yourself did not enforce racism in early America, it is your duty to end it now. 
What some people need to realize is that when you are born into a white family, you are automatically better off than most people. You won't be judged for walking down the street; you won't be thought of as "from the hood"; and you won't be thought of as a danger to society unless you prove yourself to be. 
   For black people, these stereotypes come with the skin color. These are stereotypes that white people have never known, and will most likely never know. 

And that is why reverse-racism does not exist.

It is important to talk about racism before starting on the topic of cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation isn't just Black culture — it is commonly seen in Native-American culture, Asian culture, and Indian culture as well. 
   News flash! Wearing a bindi isn't a fashion statement. Traditional Indian families do not don these out of fun — the bindi is a symbol of power and wisdom. Henna, another traditional Indian practice, has now been commercialized to the point of losing its meaning. 


"Even though it's become more of an accessory in India, like earrings, it still bothers me to see white people wearing it because it's my culture and something I feel close to," said Mahima Akula. 

The 20th century saw the birth of music genres such as jazz, R&B, and Hip-Hop, all due to African Americans. In the late 20th century, Hip-Hop culture became part of popular culture, which by extent, made black culture a part of popular culture. Soon, the world started to see white celebrities adopt black styles as "fashion statements", including corn rows, dreads, locks, and even grills. In the 21st century, white rappers adopted this culture as well (i.e. Eminem, Macklemore, Iggy Azalea). 
   With the recent police brutality and racial issues that America has faced, it was plain to see how willingly people adopted black culture, but did not want to be a part of the black issues. 
   Azalea Banks, rapper, called out Iggy Azalea for not taking any sort of stance on Ferguson. She also argued that white people taking over Hip-Hop culture was just reinforcing these secular ideas into children's minds.
   To white people, they were reminded how great they are. To black people, they were reminded, "You don't have shit. You can't have shit — not even the shit you created for yourself.
   The problem with cultural appropriation is that when it occurs, it is the action of taking a hallmark of someone's culture and trying to make it your own.

Don't white people have enough already? 

Even if you are unaware of the repercussions, or even of the fact that you are partaking in cultural appropriation, it is important to learn from this and to keep an open mind. 
   If you were of the Cherokee tribe, how thrilled would you be to see a rich white kid wearing a headdress as a fashion statement? An accessory that, to your tribe, is a symbol of power, leadership, and of great meaning? Not to mention a white kid whose ancestors could possibly have been responsible for the Indian Removal Act of 1830? 
   If you were black, how happy would you be to see a white rapper adorning cornrows and grills? Not for practical use, of course, but because it's "trendy"? This white rapper who has never known oppression or racism, but would still like to partake in the "fun side" of black culture. 
   I hope that I have been clear enough in expressing my points. Most of all, I am not really sorry to anyone who I have offended throughout this piece. 


I beg you all to watch this video, "Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows" by the brilliant Amandla Stenberg. The video is below. 


4 comments:

  1. I applaud you for your passion for this subject. However, before you make certain generalizations about white people -- and how their country of ancestry doesn't matter -- I suggest that you read this article by Global Research. It offers several statistics and unfortunately proves some of your points to be incorrect.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-irish-slave-trade-the-forgotten-white-slaves/31076
    "As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.
    African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African."
    I highly suggest that you take a look.

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    1. While I do understand the harsh treatment of Irish immigrants due to anti-Irish sentiment in the 19th century, in this situation, I don't think where your ancestors immigrated from has anything to do with this particular kind of cultural appropriation or not.
      Since your culture has known oppression, I would think it would make you all the more hesitant to offend anyone else's culture.
      I know the repercussions were unintentional, I'm just trying to make you think. Everyone makes mistakes, it's just how you learn from them.

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    2. Also I'm not saying that certain sects of white people have not experienced oppression. Your family (Irish), Jews, Mormons, etc…it's just that modern day, most white people, no matter where we come from, and if we live in America, have never experienced oppression like black people still do to this day.

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    3. "We [as white people] can experience oppression on other axes but never for being white". We will never know oppression based on skin tone.

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