I have read a few blog articles now that say that white girls should not do ________. I am a white girl and I do ________. The basic argument in these articles comes down to the idea that white girls who wear the clothes or do the dance are being disrespectful of the culture which started _______. Usually they point to women who do not know about the culture they are imitating, who only do __________ because it is in style, or who use the tradition inappropriately.
This is where I get offended. I am a scholar, I do learn about cultures and do my best to use their traditions well. Just because I am a white girl does not mean I am making light of a culture. I would argue that the real problem these writers are struggling with is people disrespecting their culture. I will be the first to admit that white folks have a long history of at best disrespecting, and at worst annihilating other cultures. I abhor that. I want to get as far away from that as possible.
On the flip side, it is not only white girls who do trivialize culture. Today many Indian women use the Bindi, a traditional symbol of marriage, simply to accessorize, African Americans have taken their music of the streets and into the platinum records, even some Middle Eastern women belly dance for tips like a stripper.
What if ballet never left France? Christianity stayed a local religion? Or gunpowder stayed a Chinese secret? If no-one was ever allowed to appropriate another culture, we would never grow. History is full of examples of how differing ideas coming together changed the world. Many of these clashes had violent results, but some did not. I believe that if we all keep an open mind, we can learn a great deal.
All I ask is that people who have an issue with how people are treating their culture poorly direct their anger appropriately. Do not blame it on any race, culture, or people, it only aggravates the problem. The world is getting smaller, and we need to learn to get along. I promise to see you for who you are inside. I hope I can expect the same from you.
* I am using ________ just as a placeholder because so many things could fit this argument.