Katy Perry Continues Scaling New Heights of Cultural Appropriation

Katy Perry has once again offended a whole mess of people, to the surprise of absolutely nobody. The singer has previously come under fire for use of transphobic language and culturally appropriative lyrics, videos, and live performances — but the video for “This Is How We Do” is like the little insensitive cherry on top of a cultural appropriation layer cake.

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Shortly after responding to Rolling Stone’s questioning of her “increasingly uncool” appropriation of cultural symbols — to which she replied “I guess I’ll just stick to baseball and hot dogs, and that’s it… I know that’s a quote that’s gonna come to f–k me in the ass, but can’t you appreciate a culture? I guess, like, everybody has to stay in their lane? I don’t know,”— she released her video for “This Is How We Do.” If her definition of being f–ked in the ass is being slapped on the wrist by some independent publications and rewarded with millions of dollars by her fans, then Perry was spot on. The video features Perry wearing cornrows with cartoonishly slicked down baby hairs, a mysterious character named “Jessica Thot,” “japaneesy” fingernails, and lots of watermelon. Even if we were to accept that these things are all a coincidence, one would at the very least think Perry would take special care to ensure her audience doesn’t confuse it for blatant cultural appropriation. You’re thinking, okay, but people do this all the time and I would expect no less from Katy. So what?

I often babysit to make some extra cash or help out a family friend. These kids, between the ages of three and ten, are totally gaga for Katy Perry. They memorize her lyrics, watch all her videos, and if one of her songs comes on the radio, they are going the definition of ape-shit. I never knew what ape-shit looked like before I saw these kids listen to Katy Perry. It is wild.

The parents I work for are progressive people. They take special care to send their children to the most diverse schools. They read their kids Free to Be You and Me. They let their boys wear dresses to school as an exploration of their identity. They get their daughters super fresh alt. lifestyle haircuts. They live in Park Slope. They do not want their kids to grow up to be bigots. I am obviously not implying that listening to Katy Perry will invoke the devil, but girlfriend even had an appearance on Sesame Street! Children emulate their icons, and if those icons are donning yellowface and putting on borderline minstrel shows, this is what they will do when they play together.

Generally, I’m not the type to have an aneurism over cultural appropriation. I think it is a symptom of a much deeper and complex issue called racism. When my alma mater held a cultural appropriation conference, they promoted it by offering to buzz the dreads or Mohawk off any offending white person passing by the library. I think that is alienating, and shames people for behaviors they were socialized to see as the norm instead of educating them. But when a person makes gagillions of dollars every time she puts on a costume (one she can conveniently take off at the end of the day), flying in the face of her critics and potential fans, it gets under my skin. I think it should get under yours too. It is hurtful and rude… and racist, frankly.

So I guess the moral is don’t bring your kids to Katy Perry shows. Be the change y’all.

Avatar of Hannah Hodson

Hannah Hodson is a 22-year old Brooklyn-bred writer and actor. She graduated Hampshire College with a very valuable BA in Theatre and Black Studies. She currently resides in DUMBO, Brooklyn, where she admires the view while writing poetry about gentrification, climate change, race, class and other heavy stuff, but tries to keep a positive outlook on it all. She recently met Abbi and Ilana from Broad City (IRL), and has photos to prove it. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter, for her thoughts on Beyonce.

Hannah has written 8 articles for us.

102 Comments

  1. Thumb up 30

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    I am so so thankful for all of you amazing writers and editors and contributors and commenters and humans for bringing us things like this to read. Pretty much every single person who is in any way involved with this website changes the way I look at the world every day with (nearly) every post and every comment and that is so cool. I am generally super monogamous but I want to be in a big polyamorous relationship with everyone on this website (and I don’t really know enough about poly things so I’m sorry if I used the wrong terms or said something offensive but the great thing about this place is that someone will tell me in a nice way and I will learn things!) because you all are so smart and funny and cute and I just want to love you.
    But anyway this article and other posts like this have really helped me to understand a lot of important things, so thank you. And sorry for my rambling, this wine bottle has emptied itself rather quickly.

    And seriously, nonmonogamous/poly people, if those are correct terms, please do enlighten me!

  2. Thumb up 10

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    The question of cultural appropriation intrigues me.

    I mean, yes, the very blatant is easy to pick out – if I were to start using, say, traditional Maninka clothing and cultural symbols on a daily basis, then sure, that would be culturally appropriative, and yes, I would understand it being offensive to actual Maninka people.

    But then, what does culturally appertain to me? Canadian, sure, but what exactly is that? A somewhat diluted “British” culture, a hodgepodge of English, Scots and Irish with a dash of French thrown in? I have no ethnic connection to any of those countries, apart from having been conceived in France.

    Ethnically, I’m from a central European nation that had its original central Asian culture supplanted 1000 years ago by a nondescript European Christian culture little different from the surrounding nations by a Church that was terrified of our ancestors’ alien heathen Asian ways. That ancient culture has been almost completely eradicated; but then, if I were to try to reassert that in a way, say by adapting elements of the closest Central Asian relatives of my ancestors’ peoples (like the Khanty, the Mansi, the Tatars, the Udmurt etc) – is that also cultural appropriation? Is that acceptable, or am I condemned to being essentially culture-less?

    In more general terms, I think this problem goes much deeper than just racism. If racism is a factor, I would say in most cases it is more a latent, subconscious racism than an active racism.

    I think this is more symptomatic of globalisation, in the sense that globalisation is creating a fairly uniform and bland monolithic “culture” that is such a hodgepodge that it is in essence culture-free. The American “melting pot” idea writ on a global scale… which is leading to this universal monoculture that is just… bland and vapid, and people (not Katy Perry – more specifically on her after) I think are trying to fill a void inside, wanting or needing to feel connected to /some/ sort of “real” culture, and instead of digging into their own personal ancestry and looking for elements of their own ancestral culture, they are simply latching onto the first thing they see that strikes their fancy.

    Now to Katy Perry – I am specifically excluding her and others of her ilk from the above, because I believe she is a “manufactured icon”, and with the things she’s doing in terms of cultural appropriation she is simply serving the interests of general globalisation by helping to create that uniform global monoculture.

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      I think viewing one’s cultural background and heritage as bland and cultureless is kind of the other side of the coin of othering another ethnicity/culture. It’s like how women writers are always labelled as women writers rather than just writers, while men writers are writers. Like, saying your own culture is boring and someone else’s is interesting is close to saying your own culture is normal and the other is exotic. I’m not sure I’m explaining it well. I think it’s easy to feel culture-less when you’re in the dominant group (or some or many parts of your identity are in the dominant group) because your culture is so dominant that you’re like a fish not noticing water.

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        Oh I didn’t read your post quite closely enough, the part about your own ethnic background. Sorry. That is a head-scratcher. Still, I don’t think any one is culture-less, just like no one is accent-less.

        My family is a mix of Western European ethnic groups and we have no close identity, really with anyone, although we’ve always talk about our Irish roots the most even though we’re more German really. My Irish ancestors were pagan, but I was raised conservative evangelical Christian. If I were to get into Celtic symbols and language and neo-pagan stuff, would that be authentic of me, or appropriative?

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      Good points Xenia. I’ve often lamented my ack of an identifiable culture. Being (seemingly primarily) of Black descent, I don’t feel that I acquired anything culturally that might be associated with that identity.

      I think looking to religion may shed more light on what many in this country have in the way of culture. Celebrations of holidays and other events are also parts of the culture. Where we eat? How we shop and/or make our clothes? As Robin points out, it does appear to be easy to miss the culture we do have when comparing ourselves to those with other cultural ties.

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    “But when a person makes gagillions of dollars every time she puts on a costume (one she can conveniently take off at the end of the day), flying in the face of her critics and potential fans, it gets under my skin. I think it should get under yours too. It is hurtful and rude… and racist, frankly.”

    Word. Let’s call it what it is. If Katy thinks “cultural appropriation” is a term she can ignore, let’s pull out the bigger badder “racist” – if only to fully get her attention.

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    YES. Especially “yes” to supporting action against cultural appropriation that veers away from “alienating” and is educational first and foremost. Cornrows are one thing. Dreads, yeah. Okay, those things are normalized. But donning the costumes that Katy Perry does? That’s just ignorant…especially in light of the fact that at this point, she knows exactly what she’s doing. It’s disappointing to see yet another celebrity flippantly dismiss cultural sensitivity as too much to bother with, but as you aptly said, no one is surprised.

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    Earnest question here: is wearing dreadlocks or Mohawks considered offensive? White girl here, and I’ve worn both styles at one point or another and never thought of it from a cultural appropriation standpoint, but more as an alt. lifestyle/self expression/f*ck the man/gender-bendy/hippie-artist-queer kind of a situation, and was never challenged as such at the time. Of course I can see where the origins of those hairstyles came from, as well as the undercut “hitler youth” haircut that is favored among queers today (and which I’m also currently sporting). Side note: Tattoos? Piercings? Also appropriation?

    I guess what I’m asking is where do we draw the line between what is following one trend or another for the sake of fashion or self-expression in this age of globalization/melting pot/post-post everything, as opposed to mimicry and/or offensive misappropriation? I can agree that black-face or yellow-face, or whatever over the top nonsense of the day Katy Perry is spewing is offensive, but where should the line be drawn? Because I’d personally rather not be limited by the khakis and polo shirted uniform of the WASPS from which I was spawned. That feels even less authentic to my sense of self and how I wish to present myself to the world. Is it about context? Like it’s not ok, because Katy Perry is seen as ignorant, mainstream, “conservative”, middle-America, Pop (read: uncool), as opposed to liberal, hyper-educated, alternative, self-aware of privelege, queer (read: cool) appropriating minority cultures in a perhaps similar, albeit more subtle way. It’s ok to flame the former, but give the latter a pass? Or are we all complicit?

    I’ve seen a lot more of these kinds of debates creeping up in the last five or so years, and I can only wonder, shouldn’t we be focusing our energies on the more pressing issues relating to racism, feminism, homo- and trans- phobia? Like women’s reproductive rights, poverty and the growing economic divide, violence, abuse, the racial and cultural inbalances in the justice system, equal rights, equal pay, and all of the bigger issues still at large in our still very patriarchal and still very biased western society, not to mention the even-bigger problems for women and minorities around the world. I do agree that minority and people of color’s voices have been underrepresented for far too long in the feminist and queer communities, and I am listening, learning, absorbing that information, and continuing to check my privelege. But I find it increasingly frustrating to see so much finger-pointing, labeling, policing, and “othering” amongst those who, from my point of view, ought to share a common purpose. I don’t wish to silence anyone who’s truly offended by missteps in fashion or language or pop culture, but I feel we’re really wasting so much of our energy and strongest voices squabbling amongst ourselves, while the more aggregious offenders are continuing to pass the laws, manipulate the ignorant, and set the tone of the political and economic realities that continue to truly oppress us and others much less fortunate than ourselves.

    Maybe that’s the point of progress…that we’ve reached a point where we can sit with our multitudes of degrees, and our alternative lifestyle haircuts, and our fair-trade coffee, in relative peace, safety, and comfort, and nitpick each other on the internet about the misuse of pronouns and the cultural appropriation of Katy Perry and other pop-culture references. That we have that privelege, that we have that choice. Not such a long time ago when we didn’t. And honestly, in the grand scheme of things, we’re really a relatively few who do have that privelege. I realize the irony here, that I’m engaging in the same kind of debate that I’m critiquing, and that I’m not doing a damn thing about the real problems either, other than to hit share on Facebook, which is nothing really, it just makes me fucking sad.

    Ok, stepping off soapbox, I’m going to go bring some water to the Central American refugee children, or organize a counter-protest at Planned Parenthood, or help to unionize undocumented workers…or probably just continue to scroll through Facebook…sigh.

    • Thumb up 23

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      “That we have that privelege, that we have that choice. Not such a long time ago when we didn’t. And honestly, in the grand scheme of things, we’re really a relatively few who do have that privelege. I realize the irony here, that I’m engaging in the same kind of debate that I’m critiquing, and that I’m not doing a damn thing about the real problems either, other than to hit share on Facebook, which is nothing really, it just makes me fucking sad.”

      Before I deeply engage (I’m picking where I spend my energy/time on these matters) I need to know the following:

      1) Who is this “we?” Cis white queer people?
      2) Who is the people affected by the “bigger” issues?
      3) What is the “common purpose”?**

      **Common purpose said by a(ny) white lady for me is a red flag because I hear that too much from cis white queer women because issues that affect me (as a black gay lady) make them uncomfortable.

      I’m glad you said this though, “Ok, stepping off soapbox, I’m going to go bring some water to the Central American refugee children, or organize a counter-protest at Planned Parenthood, or help to unionize undocumented workers…or probably just continue to scroll through Facebook…sigh.”

      That is what I expect anyway, checking privileges is nice in polite conversation on the internets with nice liberal white people but it’s lip service but I rather listen to Beyonce.

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        One white person to another here…if you are asking a genuine question about hairstyles and what’s ok here, then you should just ask that question. By saying ‘we’re all the same, why can’t we work on the Real big issues?’ at the same time, you don’t really sound like you want to know the answer to your question.

        Also I can’t think of any time when the following has happened to me
        Me: hey it really bothers me when you do ____ because it feels like it’s mocking _______.
        Stranger: but isn’t it really much more important to focus on real issues? Like the ones I face? I mean we’re all part of the human race, shouldn’t we just all get along and focus on the major issues?
        Me: oh yeah. That feels great. Thanks so much for respecting my voice.

        Just saying…

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        Bra, thank you for your response.

        1. When I say “we,” I mean all historically repressed peoples of the white male patriarchy/dominant culture…i.e. women, queers, trans*, disabled, and POC who (at least in western society) currently do have the privilege of education, and public voice, and voting rights, and economic rights, and certain protections under the law, etc, that I do acknowledge are still not equal even amongst each subset. I do not mean to infer that all struggles are equal by using the empirical “we,” but these are the privileges I speak of. I also do not mean to speak for every person in these groups, or any one person but myself, really.

        2. The same subset listed above in the empirical “we.” Meaning, there are still inequalities for women, still inequalities for queers, for trans*, for POC, and still much work to be done in these areas. That while I do want to check my privilege, and continue to educate myself on issues that do not necessarily effect me directly as a white, cis woman….3)…I think there are a lot of commonalities that can be agreed upon and focused on that affect all minority groups…again, not trying to infer that all struggles are equal or should be treated as such. The “bigger issues” and “common purpose” I listed in the paragraph above the one you site: “…shouldn’t we be focusing our energies on the more pressing issues relating to racism, feminism, homo- and trans- phobia? Like women’s reproductive rights, poverty….etc”

        Yes, I do want to question youth white culture’s (alternative or mainstream, queer or straight) appropriation of hairstyles or other personal means of self-expression from POC. Yes, I am asking: where do we draw the line between what is becoming an increasingly mixed, less homogenized, more diverse, more color-ful culture, and what is an offensive cultural appropriation? Like am I a bad white liberal for wearing a mohawk? How do I know when I’ve made a misstep, or am at risk of offending? Should I just sport a nice, conservative, milktoast bob at risk of offending someone? Cuz, I think I’ll die a little inside. Like I said, I am continuing to question my privilege, but while doing so for myself, I also want to point out that there are (perhaps, possibly, allegedly) bigger fish to fry than pointing out how someone may have misused the term “we,” or offering to buzz off their dreadlocks.

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          Awesome, I just want to repeat what @N7 said which is my thoughts on this subject:

          “Also, cultural appropriation is a pressing issue and in a lot of ways ties into all the “bigger issues” you listed. Just because you can’t make the nuanced connections – doesn’t mean other POC haven’t.”

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          I mean this totally respectfully, btw. The best advice my partner ever gave me was to stop speaking in the “we” when I mean me. At first it was just because it annoyed him since why do I know what “we” think? But I also saw that it was a crutch I used when I didn’t want to just say “I think.” Maybe it’s a socialized-as-woman thing where I feel bad asserting my opinions, but the point is, I should account for my me, not try to speak for a “we.”

          The other part I got later was every time I speak as a “we,” I’m one more white, cis person speaking for him when he can speak for his tpoc selfA. Just like when he assumes what I want and acts on it, he’s one more man who makes decisions for his woman. And that’s fucked up, and it’s not a legacy I want to continue. So, the personal is political, whether we like it or not.

          This is just to say, critiques of you or anyone else for speaking in a “we” of people who didn’t consent to your “we” and very likely aren’t a part of it–they aren’t silly critiques. They are actually, imho, a very serious critique of a discourse we ought to try to stop. Please just consider that rather than dismissing it as one more “divisive” tactic. Consent to the terms of the discourse, allowing people to declare which groups they want to belong to…might these also be queer/feminist concepts you can bring to your “checking your privilege,” in these convos and others?

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          “So, ok, my question is down to this: where do we draw the line between what is becoming an increasingly mixed, less homogenized, more diverse, more color-ful culture, and what is an offensive cultural appropriation? Like am I a bad white liberal for wearing a mohawk? How do I know when I’ve made a misstep, or am at risk of offending someone?”

          You know something is appropriation if the thing in question is something that people of color catch flack for socially or systematically (be it being mixed or in this case trying to look mixed , having dreadlocks , or speaking African American Vernacular English ). If a POC doing what you’re doing would risk being passed up for jobs, being seen as ghetto, getting made fun of, etc but you (as a white person) are seen as being cool and edgy…you’re participating in a process of cultural thievery that assigns value to certain elements of POC cultures only as long as they can be repackaged with a white face and made palatable to the masses.

          Ultimately I think your question about edgy/queer/hipster fashion and appropriation comes down to this “…as free as people should be to wear whatever hair and clothing they enjoy, using someone else’s cultural symbols to satisfy a personal need for self-expression is an exercise in privilege.”

          This is where I got the quote from and it’s a pretty good article that acknowledges that the line between appropriation and appreciation is not always easy to see but also gives you guides to help learn to self asses and examine various situations.

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        “Before I deeply engage (I’m picking where I spend my energy/time on these matters) I need to know the following:”

        Tangential, but I’m just really into the way you did this, putting in some but not all of your energy. I find that takes skill.

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      “I guess what I’m asking is where do we draw the line between what is following one trend or another for the sake of fashion or self-expression in this age of globalization/melting pot/post-post everything, as opposed to mimicry and/or offensive misappropriation?”

      I don’t get what’s so hard for people to get about cultural appropriation. Like it’s not that complicated or hard of a concept???? If your means of self expression includes engaging in things that marginalized groups have been persecuted and/or mocked for doing, or engaging in practices or wearing/dressing in a manner that has a deep and profound, cultural, historical connotations in the culture. Don’t. Do. It. Just don’t. It’s not rocket science. The whole self-expression~ argument just seeks of the freedom of speech~ arguments bigots used to hide their bigotry.

      “I’ve seen a lot more of these kinds of debates creeping up in the last five or so years, and I can only wonder, shouldn’t we be focusing our energies on the more pressing issues relating to racism, feminism, homo- and trans- phobia?”

      As a white woman, you do not get to tell WOC/other POC what issues are important to them. Just because you don’t see the importance of debates on why cultural appropriation is harmful – doesn’t mean they don’t. Also, cultural appropriation is a pressing issue and in a lot of ways ties into all the “bigger issues” you listed. Just because you can’t make the nuanced connections – doesn’t mean other POC haven’t.

      I’m not even gonna comment on how problematic and smarmy the rest of your comment sounds, because like bra said, I rather listen to Beyonce.

      • Thumb up 19

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        “As a white woman, you do not get to tell WOC/other POC what issues are important to them. Just because you don’t see the importance of debates on why cultural appropriation is harmful – doesn’t mean they don’t. Also, cultural appropriation is a pressing issue and in a lot of ways ties into all the “bigger issues” you listed. Just because you can’t make the nuanced connections – doesn’t mean other POC haven’t.”

        Oh yes. And to piggy-back off this… It plays into how POC create meaning in their day-to-day lives. It annoys me when people make it seem like POC should be focusing only on these “larger issues”… Like we don’t deserve to also be able to just turn on the radio/tv, go to the movies etc etc without seeing caricatures of ourselves.

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          “Like we don’t deserve to also be able to just turn on the radio/tv, go to the movies etc etc without seeing caricatures of ourselves.”

          Right? It’s not like we’re asking for a whole lot – most of us just want our humanity to be acknowledged; but apparently that’s not a “big enough issue”

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          Totally agree with you. I had a convo about this today (I was pretty much crying because I’m so sick of it) with my white therapist who said ‘think of the bigger picture’ and I was LIVID. I didn’t understand how she couldn’t engage her brain a bit more and see that it contributes to the racism I experience. She also compared locs to doc martens and I wanted to scream. How are the two even equatable? It’s exhausting. i just want to be able to exist without having to constantly see and hear this racist bulldoodoo. I’ve got to a point where I don’t even talk about this stuff with white people who don’t get it anymore because it hurts too much and takes up too much of my mental energy.

          @Bra, how do you do that not choosing to engage thing? I love it. I end up getting really emotionally wrecked by these conversations and I’m no good to anyone afterwards.

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          I feel you so hard on that one Mikki, as I had a very similar experience with a white, male doctor. One day it just clicked that what he was telling me was probably just making me feel worse about myself and not better, so I never went back.

          But then where do we go to get help for our emotional wreckage?

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          Thank you guys. I was writing my response to Bra before refreshing and seeing these new comments. I apologize for coming off as snarky. I apologize for my tangent on the whole “bigger issues” thing, which I do realize is perhaps unrelated, and defensive, and a standard and rote crutch for white liberal guilt everywhere. I am not questioning the position of the article, the stance against Katy Perry, other than to ask about the one thing that drew my attention in the final article. I am not telling anyone how they should feel about Katy Perry or how they should feel about cultural appropriation or misguided self-expression. I agree that it’s problematic.

          So, ok, my question is down to this: where do we draw the line between what is becoming an increasingly mixed, less homogenized, more diverse, more color-ful culture, and what is an offensive cultural appropriation? Like am I a bad white liberal for wearing a mohawk? How do I know when I’ve made a misstep, or am at risk of offending someone?

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        “I don’t get what’s so hard for people to get about cultural appropriation. Like it’s not that complicated or hard of a concept???? If your means of self expression includes engaging in things that marginalized groups have been persecuted and/or mocked for doing, or engaging in practices or wearing/dressing in a manner that has a deep and profound, cultural, historical connotations in the culture. Don’t. Do. It. Just don’t. It’s not rocket science. The whole self-expression~ argument just seeks of the freedom of speech~ arguments bigots used to hide their bigotry.”

        Yes. I think people need to think about their actions a little more, and stop thinking that their ignorance is a defence:

        “Earnest question here: is wearing dreadlocks or Mohawks considered offensive? White girl here, and I’ve worn both styles at one point or another and never thought of it from a cultural appropriation standpoint, but more as an alt. lifestyle/self expression/f*ck the man/gender-bendy/hippie-artist-queer kind of a situation, and was never challenged as such at the time.”

        Just because you didn’t think it was offensive, and nobody around you found it such, doesn’t mean it was a neutral statement or action.

        And I am making some assumptions here, mainly that your peers at the time were from a similar background, and possibly shared your lack of thought and experience.

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          Carol Ann – I’m going to assume that despite a lot of what you’ve said sounding self absorbed and not really listening to the POC trying to educate you on this thread, you are well intentioned and perhaps in that first moment of Panic when for the first time you realise that something society told you was ok is actually not ok, and feeling like the rug has been ripped out from underneath you and wondering how much else in your life is not ok?

          There is no black and white answer but this is a starting point for people worried about cultural appropriation.

          Ask yourself these questions when attempting to adopt something from a culture that isn’t your own:
          -is it from a chain store?
          -Am I unsure of exactly which culture/subculture originally owned this?
          -am I unsure of the traditional name and story behind this?
          -is this really cool right now?
          - is this sacred in its original culture?
          -have the original owners of this been shamed and persecuted for it?
          - is it unlikely that anyone from this culture was involved in and profiting from the production and sale of this item/trend?
          -am I wearing this to get attention/make a statement?

          If you answer yes to at least one of these questions it’s a red flag to think long and hard before proceeding to borrow this item/tradition/thing from its original culture.
          If you answer yes to more than one, then there is a really high chance it is cultural appropriation and you should probably cease and desist.

          Read all the links people have posted with an open mind and hopefully it will make more sense to you

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      I don’t know if this will help or just raise more questions, but a friend of mine, an anthropology student, told me about a lecture she heard in which the speaker said its important to recognize appropriation versus misappropriation. Generally, when people call out others for cultural appropriation, its a bad thing, its misappropriation.

      The point was that when cultures are exposed to each other, there is some amount of appropriation, on both sides, that occurs, and it doesn’t have to right away, always, and in all cases, be a bad thing. Katy Perry, and others, who make lots of money from borrowing the symbols of that culture, reducing them to images and costumes? That sounds like misappropriation.

      But, to use some of your examples, maybe generalized tattoos (to say nothing of their content) and piercings are perhaps more general appropriation. Although, I also don’t know much about the history of those things, to be honest.

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      Carol Ann,
      Listen to what your repliers are saying.

      I understand your concern about in-fighting, but I encourage you to think about WHY this critique and disagreement makes you so uncomfortable.
      [ Is it because you are not used to people saying no to you? Is it because you feel like you have put in your time " listening, learning, absorbing that information, and continuing to check my privelege" and want to be recognized for that. Is it because you are tired, after a long day of dealing with patriarchal bullshit and maybe should be reading vapid fluff? ]
      This is really not personal. From my experience, when I am uncomfortable in discussions of intersectional issues, the problem is usually my own bias and ignorance, not other people nitpicking.

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      This really irks me.

      As a white woman, what makes you qualified to decide what the “bigger issues” of racism are? As a part of the majority, when a minority tells you “when X happens, it makes me feel shitty. Please don’t do X anymore.” Your job is to listen, own up, and stop doing X. I’ve experienced plenty of racism in my life first hand, and let me tell you, it doesn’t matter on how grand or minute of a scale the individual experience was, they all left me feeling like shit.
      So how does someone who has never been the target of racism get off telling POC what acts of racism qualify as “bad enough to care about”?

      Invalidating the every day experiences of POC is what helps to keep casual racism so casual.

  6. Thumb up 19

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    Some (regular)people don’t know when they do something that is culturally appropriating another culture. That’s fine as long as you learn from it and listen to those that are trying to explain to you why you are being offensive. Then are people like Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Iggy Azalea who KNOW they are engaging in cultural appropriation and not only do they not care that they are doing it they think they are ENTITLED to do it and give flippant responses in major publications about it. Perry and Azalea are the biggest offenders of this shit right now and we let them get away with it every time we buy their music and merchandise. They don’t give a shit because they are rich, famous popstars.

    I know this is an article about Katy Perry specifically but can we all sign some kind of petition for Iggy Azalea to rap in another accent that is not purposely trying to impersonate some black girl from New Orleans or something. Actually, I don’t even know what kind of accent she is trying to do. All I know is it as far from the small town in Australia she grew up in. Seriously, what the hell is that?

    • Thumb up 21

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      YES!

      I’m going to need white people who have a lot of visual cultural currency/capital that participate in this to stop or learn to fucking share.

      For every Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Iggy I need like 5 black comedies, more WOC in our American visual culture and legit alternatives to Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone that white girl I keep seeing on the CW but my sister keeps telling me it’s really three different white girls I am some how mixing up together, whatever.

      Sharing is caring and makes me less stabby.

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        Ohhhmygod I am so frustrated with Iggy Azalea and everything she represents and yet I can never seem to get that stupid song out of my head.

        Also, I really wish I knew of some resources to teach kids about cultural appropriation and racism, does anyone know of any good books for 2-5 year olds on those topics? A few years ago I tried to explain to my (white) 4 year old neighbor why it was okay for me to paint myself green to look like Shrek for Halloween, but not okay for her to darken her skin to be Princess Tiana. I did not succeed.
        It would be great to be prepared for when that situation arises again though, so if anyone knows anything that might be good for that please let me know!

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          From my experience, I’m not sure a child that age will understand why it’s not ok, but they can accept that it’s just not allowed. When they’re older, you could re-approach with the “why.”

          Because really–that is a tricky concept for a very young kid to get. Largely because it’s based on understanding the cultural norms around race and culture that they themselves mostly don’t understand yet. And also because from “kid logic” standpoint, your neighbor actually made a good point about Shrek being a different color :-)

  7. Thumb up 8

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    Are these boring repetitive beats and lyrics really what is considered music? Is she trying to be black in some of this? Racist? Why is she making pancakes for “her boys” “fresh as a daisy” presumably after a night of partying? Sexist? I’m just really confused and kind of disturbed. I feel so out of touch with mainstream youth culture and I’m 28. That’s not THAT old…right??

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    You know what, perhaps this isn’t terrifically erudite of me but I’m over the cultural appropriation outrage. Yes sometimes it can be annoying but “cultural appropriation” is the frickin spice of life, especially in this day and age. As far as I’m concerned its a sign of progress. It sucks when its done poorly and the majority culture should not be the only one that benefits. Aside from that though, as a POC ( with no white guilt to cramp my style,[god bless it though]),and as a creative person myself, nothing is frickin sacred to me. If we don’t explore and have fun with things even those of us that are white/rich whatever, the world would be so boring and bland and retarded–that’s right I said RE-tarded. Lets not back ourselves into a dead-end existence over superficial crap like hairstyles/headdresses n crap.We’re all human beings.

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      The “white guilt” thing is also interesting… but I also don’t quite understand it. What good does it serve?

      Okay. I will to start mention that the whole idea of the child being also guilty by association of the crimes of the parent unsettles me. It’s that mentality that (in part) brought about all the civil wars in the Balkans in the 1990s, the various civil wars in Africa, etc etc. But that is entirely secondary, and I can even accept the principle on a certain level: you can’t make Cecil Rhodes himself apologise, but sure, you can ask his descendants to do so.

      So in this Canadian context, I’m supposed to feel guilt over the mistreatment of the First Nations, the mistreatment of Chinese immigrants, things like the Komagata Maru situation 100 years ago this year… simply because to some outside group I am perceived to vaguely look like those who perpetrated these things? Yes, I sympathise with their grievances, and I am fully on side with the First Nations in these matters, and if it is within my meagre means to help, I do. Mostly by talking to people, and pointing out to whites /why/ I feel the First Nations are justified (which almost universally gets lots of resistance from those whites whose families have been here for generations).

      I mean, from my personal situation: I was born in Canada three months after my parents arrived, escaping from Russian oppression of /their/ homeland. So, I’m not sure I understand why should I feel guilty for what the British and subsequently Canadian and provincial governments did to the First Nations over the past 300 years, when over that period of time prior to 1976 the entirety of my lineage was in its homeland, being oppressed by Russians, by Germans before that, by Austrians before that, by Turks before that, etc etc.

      I wish it would be easier to just have those of British or Russian or German or Spanish or French or Portuguese or Italian or Dutch extraction (did I miss any of the European colonialist powers?), or the ones whose families have been here for generations, be the ones who have to feel the guilt.

      My more paranoid side also can’t help but feel that it was “The Man” himself who threw this ball into play, too, as yet another tool to keep the minorities (ethnic, linguistic, racial, sexual, whatever) divided amongst themselves to prevent serious union of efforts against “him”.

      This kinda brings us back to the starting point, too, of the child being held guilty of the parents’ sins… until we get over that and instead start looking at what each person is actually doing, I don’t see how we’ll ever dig ourselves out of this dungheap we’ve been tossed onto.

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        1) White guilt operates so that white people can feel redeemed for their awareness of racist institutions without relinquishing the focus away from their feelings.

        2) “I mean, from my personal situation: I was born in Canada three months after my parents arrived, escaping from Russian oppression of /their/ homeland. So, I’m not sure I understand why should I feel guilty for what the British and subsequently Canadian and provincial governments did to the First Nations over the past 300 years, when over that period of time prior to 1976 the entirety of my lineage was in its homeland, being oppressed by Russians, by Germans before that, by Austrians before that, by Turks before that, etc etc.”

        I come from a similar ethnic background/familial background as you, and the reason why WE should care is because there would be no Canada for our ancestors to flee towards if it wasn’t for the systematic annihilation of indigenous populations. Even if our grandparents didn’t actively participate in those genocides, we benefit from those genocides because we get to live in a pretty great country.

        So, yeah, it is pretty fucking important for every white person who can trace their family’s migration to still acknowledge that we have a responsibility to at the least educate ourselves and NOT continue contributing to racist ideologies that dictate most of our social norms. We don’t have to self-flagellate in remorse, but there are things we can do to make Canada (and other colonial nations) better and more equal for the people we trampled to live here.

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          @Lepidodendron – oh yes, I’m /very/ aware of that, and as I mentioned in my post, I do what I can to help, which admittedly is mostly restricted to trying to drill into other white people’s heads /why/ the First Nations are right and justified in their grievances (which far too few of them want to recognise. Every time I hear “but they don’t have to pay taxes” and similar lines, I want to slap the speaker).

          @Paper0Flowers – oh, okay, so my more cynical half gathers that white guilt is just so whites can go “I feel bad about this” and then move on with their lives.

          And yeah – I get that I’m benefitting from the past wrongs, and I’m fully in agreement with everything you’ve said. It *is* vital for every one of us to learn and do what we can.

          But no, I don’t understand why I need to (according to some, it seems) feel guilty about it.

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          “We don’t have to self-flagellate in remorse, but there are things we can do to make Canada (and other colonial nations) better and more equal for the people we trampled to live here.”

          This should be like in every colonial nations’ pledge or something.

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          Xenia – my point is that we’re not supposed to be “guilty”, we’re supposed to feel responsible. There’s a difference. With responsibility, there are expectations to learn from your mistakes and to do the right thing from now on. With guilt, it just becomes about wallowing about what you did wrong.

          One is pro-active, the other is static. In order for white people to fix the mistakes of their ancestors (or of their current governments), we need to be able to move forward. Feeling bad about ourselves is still focused on white people – being responsible means using your power to help those with less.

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          I agree with PaperOFlowers. I’m in a similar position in Australia, where my family is a recent arrival and not related to the British settlers that committed genocide against our indigenous people.
          It’s not my fault that they did that and not something that I am ‘guilty’ of. However, I’ve inherited their power structures and because of that history I have enormous privilege in today’s society that is still denied to indigenous people. Therefore I see it as my responsibility to actively work to make today and tomorrow better for indigenous people and to try to dismantle the unjust structures and systems I’ve inherited.
          I guess you could say the same thing about a lot of racist history. It’s not the fault of the oppressors descendants who are alive today, but if they don’t acknowledge that the legacy of it has benefitted them and actively make changes in their own sphere then they become complicit in what happened.

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        Vestal,
        You are totally entitled to be ‘over the cultural appropriate outrage’. However, critique is not outrage, and I think Hannah’s point is really important. Culture is monetized in ways that systematically reward those that are already privileged (white, cis, straight) and reduce culture to (often harmful) stereotypes. Celebrities like Katy Perry have a lot of influence in shaping opinions BECAUSE their products are insidious and sugary sweet. Sugar-coating oppression does not make it disappear.

        Hannah, describing the family whose children adore Katy Perry really struck me as exactly why these articles need to be written and shared. It seems that no one wants their children to be bigots, but by giving money (power) to people who knowingly misuse and appropriate culture, we show them that certain kinds of bigotry are exempt. And those exemption often give away the shit people wouldn’t say in polite conversation, but still actually believe.

        I am more familiar with appropriation of First Nations culture in Canada, such as when people wear feather head dresses. While this could be seen as a benign act, people’s motivations (wanting to look cool/trendy/whatever) reveal that Canadian society, as a whole, doesn’t actually know anything beyond the superficial about the diversity of First Nations cultures or historical trauma or colonialism (that according to the UN, was- and is- a genocide).

        Knowing more about cultural appropriation has actually made my life much less “boring and bland”. Rather, engaging with the complexity and nuance of a local First Nation’s culture has challenged me- forced me to reflect on assumptions and bias that I could have rather been complacent of- and that has been anything but boring.

        Also, this article may help to find some alternatives to ableist slurs:
        http://www.autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html

    • Thumb up 18

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      You’re not brave or edgy for saying “retarded” as a slur. Do you really want to go there and assert that ableist language isn’t a huge fucking problem that contributes to the dehumanization and devaluing of disabled people–and that they are persecuted as hell?

      The mentally ill and mentally disabled still have the least self-determination rights of almost ANYONE in this whole goddamn world. So congratulations on how edgy you are…right up there with Ann Coulter and her “retard” tweets. Great company.

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      As a thought, the difference between cultural appropriation and syncretism. Appropriation, in my mind and as defined by this article, is not something to “get over.”

      http://clairelight.typepad.com/seelight/2009/01/defining-cultural-appropriation.html

      “Cultural appropriation is a method of cultural syncretism that is specific to our primary-Other-identity, post-colonial, identity-politics era. It arises when a dominant culture, as I said above, raids a subordinate culture for cultural items that it then pulls out of context. The dominant culture — in our case, white Americans — doesn’t properly acknowledge the borrowing — or else the dominant culture makes a complete hash of the borrowing and then tries to pass it off as authentic.
      “The reason I made this distinction between cultural syncretism in general and cultural appropriation specifically is that — you guessed it — cultural appropriation is about an exploitive power dynamic, whereas not all forms of cultural sycretism are.
      “So when a new cultural item is added to that mainstream, it is done by whites deliberately, and in a manner that doesn’t acknowledge its debt to any subculture or alternate culture.”

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      You know “retarded” is a slur, right? It seems that you do know that since you emphasized the fact that you said it. That’s not okay. People with intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and other mental disabilities are people and you shouldn’t throw around a word with such a terrible history for those people. There are lots of neuro-atypical people and others who are affected by the r-word on this website and you’re making this into an unsafe space.

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      I don’t know if I have a clear judgement of that question, but I think it provokes a whole train of other questions.

      It’s something that comes up over and over again. Where is the line between artist and art? Can I watch Woody Allen films without supporting a child molester? Or read Mists of Avalon?

      If I take to heart some of Savage Love’s advice, and offer it to others, am I supporting Trans*phobia?

      In the case of Perry, the lyrics are even offensive, not just the person singing them. Where does one draw the line?

      I think consumers should take more responsibility for their purchases. Personally, she’s off my playlists, but the issue is much larger than just that.

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    This is what’s funny about being francophone, and mostly reading and surfing the web in english. Sometimes, you just feel like an idiot. :P

    I had to spend 4 minutes googling stuff, before I figured out why “Jessica Thot” was a thing. I first thought it had to do with the egyptian deity, because Perry used a lot of references to egypt in her previous video for Dark Horse.

    Urban Dictionnary brought me all the answers, though.

    Either way, trying to get my eyes to stop bleeding. That video hurts.

  10. Thumb up 0

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    Apparently I have a lot to learn, still. Other than ripping off early 90s music videos, I didn’t catch the appropriation that others are honing in on. It could be that I’m on my mid-thirties and inept about pop-culture? I just recently started researching Katy Perry… Watched that documentary on netflix a couple weeks ago, but am mostly impressed that her roots are a semi-fundamentalist Christian place, and that she had the bravery to seek her self in the music industry. You can be gifted with a voice, but few are risky enough to do what she’s done in that regard. It is safer to stay within the places we are born into (in many cases). However, the discourse, the criticism, all the new vocabulary they didn’t have in classes when I was an undergrad, I think is allowing us more ways to find fault with other humans. I want to feel informed, but with this video I’m at a loss. I just didn’t get it. For the record, I’m not shaving off my dreads, either.

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      I think the time she sang “Ur so gay” to her high school crush at an assembly at her old high school to get some sort of petty revenge against him for not liking her in high school was the start of me disliking her as a person. One of the first lyrics in the song is “I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf.” It’s hard to imagine anyone with a shred of social responsibility acting like that. I don’t consider her brave, I consider her petty, self absorbed, and entitled.

      http://gawker.com/5639763/katy-perry-sings-ur-so-gay-to-get-revenge-on-unrequited-high-school-crush

    • Thumb up 8

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      You didn’t catch the cultural appropriation because you’re not attuned to it because of…whiteness. I wouldn’t feel proud of that and I don’t think it has anything to do with the classes you took in undergrad.

      And no one cares if you shave your dreads. That was Hannah’s point in that example, in fact.

      • Thumb up 2

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        Not sure whiteness is a precondition for not noticing cultural appropriation. IMO it’s pretty blatant if one is paying attention.

        Although perhaps marginalisation *is* a factor, and being from a poor immigrant prole background one is more readily attuned to such things than someone from a more well-to-do Anglo background.

  11. Thumb up 20

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    White privilege is a bunch of white people making a bunch of POC explain to them every which way why something is racist…and then they still claim to be confused. Autostraddle fellow white people, every time some of you comment on an article about race, I cringe bracing for these comments. Please, stop it.

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    Also as a side observation, since it’s probably super easy to lump all “white people” together into one group… but this sort of thing happens inside the “big whiteness” too… I’ve been on multiple occasions derisively called a Mongol by the “more white” “true Europeans”. And I know that for decades Quebecois in Quebec had “speak white” thrown at them by Anglos for speaking French. So just pointing it out. So while to outsiders we may look like one big monolithic entity, some of us *do* understand discrimination and marginalisation.

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      Speak white, we were told, indeed. But…
      I live in Québec. Are you a quebecker as well? Where are you from?
      Lemme tell ya, while I understand that you are just pointing out that “whites can also marginalise other whites”, which is 100% true, I still don’t feel like it makes it easier for us to understand what issues POC face in their daily lives. In fact, I would not even say I know what discrimination feels like.

      Yes, I am *somewhat familiar* with how discrimination can affect a marginalised group of whites. I’ve seen what years and years of oppression can do to a group of marginalised people, because hi there, I live in that very society. We had it pretty bad, until I’d say, the 70s-80s? (Terrible salaries for the francos, while the english-speaking bosses fulled their pockets, no representation in the government despite being the majority of the citizens, being treated like dirt, etc.) These dark days left a red mark on our french-speaking flesh. And it really wasn’t that long ago either. French speaking people in Louisiana faced a very similiar issue in the same days, I’m not sure how things are doing over there nowadays.

      I consider that I live in the “aftermath”, and yep we still debate plenty over language, all the time. Our medias and governments never fail to keep the issue in the public’s eye. It is often alienating. But I’ve never once been asked, since my birth in 1989, to “speak white”. I am not saying that we should forget and move on, but that my generation is very lucky, and we should understand that.

      And most importantly, even the older francos who did live through the hard days NEVER had it as bad as the POC who also lived here with us, in Québec, during those same days. Because segragating against POC was a thing even when you were segregated against for being a white francophone. And let’s not talk about the way we treat our natives.

      Humans, we suck.

      So as much as I’d like to say “I get it” when it comes to segregation, truth is… not really. I mostly get to observe the effects this long-lived discrimination has had on my people, and to deal with some funny misconceptions/stereotypes about my province (we live with mooses, in the woods, in log cabins, and it’s winter all the time).

      I’m not comfy comparing this to the issues faced on the daily by POC all over the world.

      So yeah. I guess that the bottom line, at least how I see it, is that even marginalised whites are oppressors towards another marginalised group. We should know better, but sad truth is we don’t.

      I don’t mean to otherwise derail the topic, and I hope my comment makes any sense.

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        Also, just putting this out here, despite how poorly you were treated by other white people, you still stole copious amounts of land, genocided and raped its original inhabitants, and are continuing to live on that stolen land and shit all over its original inhabitants today. Same for Cajuns/white Creoles.
        So there’s that.

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          As I said : “And let’s not talk about the way we treat our natives.”
          Maybe you skipped that?

          I didn’t feel like adding a novel to my already long-ass reflexion, but yes, that part of our history is far from great.

          I don’t forget it, at any time.

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        No, I’m not from Québec, but I’ve learned a bit about its history from a friend from QcC.

        You’re right, humans, we suck. One group oppresses another; that second group, frustrated, passes the oppression down to the next group, and on and on and on. That’s why as long as hierarchy exists, things will suck… hierarchy prevents equality.

        Also to clarify, I wasn’t saying what I experienced is equal to what POC experience in terms of marginalisation and discrimination. What I was trying to say, perhaps not phrasing it well, is that some of us do have a direct frame of reference. Whether it’s because of ethnicity, one’s accent, or being the poor prole kid in a rich kids’ school… it may not be the same thing exactly, but I don’t think it’s any less real or valid because it’s not the same, and it is a way to relate.

        Indeed, had I not experienced it as I had, I’m honestly not sure if minority issues would concern me as they do. I’d like to think they would. But what I am sure of, is that my experience is directly what made me stop to consider that bad as I felt at the receiving end, how much worse it must be when it is systemic and constant.

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          It’s okay, I did agree with the essence of your comment the first time around, I just wanted to throw in a personnal experience. Also I was kind of excited that you might be from somewhere around, I like running into other quebeckers on the WWW. :)

          I do think that our (very diluted) experiences with discrimination gives us at least some tools in understanding how racism/segregation works. Most forms of discrimination do operate similarly. Now the work we have to do is to use the tools we already have, and to go further and push the reflexion and change the way we think/act.

          I gotta thank Autostraddle and the feminist medias I’m reading for the amazing content. AS is fantastic.

          And yeah, fuck hierarchy! Unless you’re a dog. That’s major super important for dogs.

  13. Thumb up 4

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    Ugh, gross. I don’t understand why some people have such a hard time understanding cultural appropriation and get so defensive about it. In my opinion, it seems pretty disrespectful to be seen wearing a garment that holds cultural significance to a culture that a person is not a part of, especially if that culture is oppressed by white people/colonizers.

    I also feel like Katy is trying to create caricatures based off POC stereotypes, which is pretty fucking shitty and disrespectful.

    Ugh, I find this so irksome.

    I’m not a POC, but I want to be a respectful and decent human, so I listen to folks when they tell me certain shit bothers them.

  14. Thumb up 1

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    I am so sick and disgusted by Katy perry. When I first heard her, I thought that by singing ” I kissed a girl” queer kids could just reclaim the song and it was all fine.
    But she is offensive about so many groups because she doesn’t have to care, she makes money out of marginalising us. To the people on this post who described her as “entitled” that is a perfect word to describe appropriation and oppression that is not ignorant but full knowing and exploiting the fact.

  15. Thumb up 6

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    I knew she was bad news since “Kissed A Girl”–well before I was anywhere near as… socially? aware as I like to think I am now. And what a rude-ass comment–”I guess I should stick to baseball and hot dogs”–really? Because there’s no way you could use the aesthetic aspects of other cultures, many of which are /part/ of the overall “American” culture, without being disgustingly offensive about it, is there? I mean, there are a /lot/ of nuances in the entire idea of “cultural appropriation,” and sometimes it /is/ okay, and doesn’t cross any lines, and more often then not, when the average person does cross a line, it’s a sincere mistake. But obviously, Katy is being intentionally, unignorably racist here, and in basically every one of her videos and performances.

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      I will admit that I still sometimes struggle with the line between appreciation and appropriation (though I avoid anything on the borderline, because I don’t want to accidently disrespect other cultures), but Katy Perry’s work is so blately offensive that it goes beyond cultural appropriation into caritcature. I lost respect for her after interviews made it clear that she had no desire to understand why songs like “Ur So Gay” were offensive to the LGBTQ community, and I’ve lost whatever respect I had left now that she’s demonstrated a similar lack of respect for people of color. I don’t mind people making mistakes, but when you steadfastly refuse to learn from them it becomes a problem.

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    I have no problem with being inspired by another culture, but pop music has a long history of uncredited out-and-out stealing of black and other cultures. It’s cultural imperialism. Fine, your euro-decent vanilla culture is less interesting than other cultures – you need some frigging inspiration! Borrow, but don’t steal. GIVE CREDIT. If anyone asks you what inspires you say: Much of what I do is inspired by black people and black culture. Don’t mince words. We all need to hear that white people appreciate other cultures. Don’t be like past white people and erase all non-euro history and culture.

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    It’s sad cause Katy is someone I WANT to like. She’s cute and fun, and while not a huge pop fan it is nice sometimes. Her songs/theme is something to just chill to and not think for a bit, or a little shot of cuteness to push through a long study session. But her repeated transgressions to which she seems blissfully unaware is not to be overlooked. What a waste.

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    Dear white people who are not getting it: please read this essay (which is about Madonna and Gwen Stefani’s South Asian phase in the wake of 9/11)

    http://makezine.enoughenough.org/indo.html

    Particularly:
    ” I hated, when I was small and in the South, the way my Indianness and Hinduism and darkness made me exotic and weird and ridiculed; and I hate the idea of using all that exoticism now to make myself interesting and alluring. I’m just a girl too, Gwen Stefani, and I want my cultural, religious, and social forms and choices to be normalised and respected. So, I do fucking hate that all these intricate bindi’s on non-Indian foreheads (and shoulders and necks and cheeks) around me look so interesting and delicate to people while my plain, red one on my plain brown forehead between my plain brown eyes marks me as unusual, alien, and problematic.”

    This is the reason Katy Perry’s appropriation is so gross: they are not her cultural artifacts to satirize, and they are not hers to adorn herself with and then leave behind at the end of the day.

  19. Thumb up 11

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    After reading through quite a few of these threads, I’d like to point something out to the people who seem confused about the “problem” with cultural appropriation. (This may have already been said and I lost it in the migraine that formed reading all of the ignorance, so ignore me if I’m repeating someone.)
    This is just one VERY SMALL aspect of the larger issue of appropriation:

    -”Well, I don’t understand. Perry is just bringing awareness to these other cultures, she’s not actively trying to mock them.”
    EVEN if that were true, stop!
    Perry, and artists like her who are appropriating a culture not their own, are MAKING MONEY off of this misrepresentation of culture.
    AT THE SAME TIME, people actually of those cultures are not making it in the music business, or any business, because of discrimination, are mocked at large by American society (watch an episode of Family Guy for an example), and generally erased in a multitude of ways.

    There is a serious problem with cultural appropriation. It goes far beyond the issue I’ve highlighted here.

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    I am honestly not surprised by this. She’s been a bitch and trash ever since she hit the scene. Even though her song Firework is pretty good, I’ve hated her since I Kissed A Girl. That song makes me so angry and I won’t give her the time of day because of it.

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    I don’t know man, I’m not buying it. I just see it as our cultures blending. The way I see it is: alright, she’s dressing like a geisha, big deal. So much of Japanese fashion has roots in Western cultures. Should I be offended by that? But i’m not. And if a man wore women’s dress and vice versa? also offensive? That’s also dealing with (MAJOR) instance of a lumped ‘power’ vs minority. But no, I’m still not.

    Actually, I think these things are really cool and accepting!

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      Did you read any of the other comments? Lots of people here have put in the effort to explain why what she’s doing is bad. Plus, Japanese people taking on Western (read: white?) fashion is way different than white people wearing kimonos. Japanese people were heavily pressured to take on western wear and assimilate into western culture as much as possible around WW2. White people taking Japanese fashion are just participating in the further packaging of poc cultures for white consumption. Side note: A man wearing a dress is not the same either even though there’s a power imbalance there because clothes aren’t gendered. A dress is not a “women’s dress” unless it’s owned by some women. Perhaps a nice queer lady couple?

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