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Monday, October 31, 2016

Racism? Cultural Appropriation? WTH?

I'm ashamed of the hours I spend living online but that's how I get the latest news. Anyway, I stumbled upon a story that made it plain to me that we, as a people, are regressing to the way of life that we have tried for a long time to abolish. All I see these days are, "it's a white thing" and "it's a black thing." An individual cannot live freely without someone pointing out that, that person is stealing something that belongs to another culture. When did it get so bad that someone cannot appreciate another culture by donning their styles or singing and dancing their way without causing an uproar?

Chenise Bensen went to school with this waist-length box braids hairstyle and got in trouble for it. Her parents are okay with the hairstyle and they spent a lot of money for it. Chenise likes Beyonce and we all know that Beyonce rocks braids like a champ. When I look at Chenise's photo, the only questionable things that jump out to me are that the color and length may not be appropriate for a school hairstyle. Mind you, this is coming from a girl (me) who has been braiding her hair all her life. Africans know that there are kid-appropriate braids and grown-up braids. Chenise's parents may not know that.

Next point. Her father points out that the school allowed a black girl to wear the same hairstyle but his daughter is picked on. This still goes back to how appropriate the color of the hair is for a school child. I wonder if Chenise would have been sent home if her braids were all black or any other 'natural hair color.' That said, if her parents are okay with her braiding her hair, I say it is fine. But all braids are not created equally. It may not be their culture, but who is to say that a person should not try hairstyles that appeal to them just because they aren't from that culture? As some people have commented, black people straighten their hair and wear blond wigs. To those people, let's not forget that not all black people have coarse and dark hair. When they're mixed race, anything can happen.

It's quite sad that issues like this are escalated and become a case of racism and cultural appropriation when it should just be a matter of school policy. And a girl who admires Beyonce has become a target for unfair insults. Why is it hard to applaud people who admire your culture? Of course, it is different when that person is doing it to insult you, like those who think it is okay to wear blackface. I hope that we will become patient enough to see the difference between admiration and insults in order to compliment those who admire and educate those who are ignorant.

(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor)

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