Friendship through Understanding

Why Cultural Blending is a Must

The Cultural Appropriation Cat is a fun-loving meme found on blogs.

The Cultural Appropriation Cat is a fun-loving meme found on blogs.

Cody Shuster and Enzo Libertini

Discussions about cultural appropriation, as well as discussions about race in general, have become an extremely hot topic recently. We have kept quiet for a while and have watched as the discussion has grown. We have heard the different voices speaking out, and we have all learned a lot.

The point of any piece of writing is to pose questions and to get people to think. In fact, you could say that’s the point of everything we do. We have a freedom of speech in this country, and it is because of this that questions like the ones posed on this site recently may be asked. I am proud that people commented and discussed these topics, hearing student feedback and getting everyone’s opinion has been one of the Surge’s goals from the beginning. I know the opinions on these topics vary, and that both sides of the scale are weighed down by dense collections of strong stances going back quite a long time.

These are sensitive subjects, and are often controversial, but the discussion of them is necessary in order for us, as a generation of students, to decide what kind of world we want ours to be when the responsibility of running it falls to us. If we want to better ourselves now and in the future, then the discussion of cultural appropriation, what it is, and how we can stop it, is necessary.

We don’t think the mixing or blending of cultures is wrong, and we do think the freedom of expression and speech is necessary. These freedoms can sometimes give people the chance to do something that may be taken as offensive by other people. Does this mean those people are racist or bigoted? Sometimes it does, but most of the time it just means that they are ignorant. The majority of people who wear bindis, kimonos, or rosaries who aren’t of the cultures or religions that those items originated in, don’t know everything about them. Instead of having the significance of these items explained to them, these people are simply ridiculed, called racist, or just overlooked and left alone. All of those outcomes are very irrational and very bad.

These steps have never worked. No one ever stopped being racist or was cured of their un-evolved prejudice by being repeatedly told how awful they are for the offensive things they may or may not have even realized they did. We cannot ignore the disrespectful misappropriations of certain cultural things, just as we cannot expect cultures to never be changed or taken on by other people. America is a complicated country full of thousands of drastically different people. Some could say it is this diversity that hurts us the most, but we think it’s our greatest strength of all. The thing about culture that’s so cool is that it is spread and shared across the world, especially today.

One of our personal favorite comments from the appropriation articles was from senior Kevin Tran who said, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.” I love this quote because nothing is more correct. When I see someone wearing a rosary like it’s jewelry, yeah it’s kind of annoying, but I still think “Oh well, at least people know about it, at least it’s relevant.” Just because someone mis-appropriates something, even in a way that could be considered disrespectful, doesn’t mean it’s okay to lash out with hate, this being said, it is also not okay to just stand back and watch them do it without saying anything. If we approached this issue with more kindness and understanding, then maybe it could actually get resolved. If we took the time to try to understand each other on both sides and helped each other to see things more appropriately, then maybe we could find a way for all of us different people to live peacefully together. The solution is not to point out those who are wrong or have mis-appropriated things, and tell them how horrible and stupid they are, just as the solution also isn’t to just be okay with everyone doing disrespectful things. It’s how we deal with the problem that needs to be changed. We can’t just keep getting offended and expecting apologies, this is an expectation that has never been fulfilled. The apologies usually don’t mean anything anyway, and both people in the discussion usually end up scarred in some way or another. We can’t do anything about the past, that’s not an opportunity we have.

What we can do is decide right now, as students and as citizens of the ‘Melting Pot,’ is to take on the world as people who explain the proper context to wear a bindi or a rosary. People who help each other understand the proper season to wear that kimono. People who are kind to their fellow person and choose to explain and help them rather than get offended and ridicule. We all are very different. Everyone has different struggles because of where they come from. Everyone has a part of themselves they get from their families past, but we’re so much more than that. We get so wrapped up in the past these days that sometimes we forget who we are in the present and how we can make things better for ourselves not only right now, but in the future as well. It’s too late for the past, we can’t go back and explain to people how the oppression of a civilization is wrong because it’s already happened. What we can do is work hard today to make our children’s past one they look back on and find happy memories instead of page after page of tragedy.

We are all from different places historically, but we have much more in common than we think. We all live under the same sky, feel the heat from the same sun, and desire a lot of the same things. We share the same planet and even the same school. Yes bad things happen and yes people’s prejudice has caused tragic things to happen in the past and the present, but we have to move beyond that as a generation. Let’s be the era of humans that finds respect for each others differences, let’s be the ones who share who we are with one another and find understanding through friendship. We are more than just where we come from. We are humanity, we are Northmont, and we are the future. Let’s stop being so caught up on how we’re different and let’s learn to treat all people with the respect they deserve. If we could all just treat each other how we would want to be treated then we could emerge from any conflict as friends instead of lifelong enemies. Why should we wait to do this? Let’s start making these changes today. Let’s stop waiting around for someone to make the changes for us. It’s our future, let’s start improving it now.