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I'm sure that cultural appropriation is a term you have heard thrown about recently and I'm sure you think that this is political correctness gone mad and that we should lighten up. You also probably think you're admiring our culture and celebrating our beauty, which can only be a good thing right? Cultural appropriation typically involves members of a dominant group exploiting the culture of less privileged groups.
There was an event hosted on campus and there were dozens of white people wearing saris, bindis, Native American headwear and even a few dashikis and kimonos which has nothing to do with Bollywood. Typically people who do this don't understand our history. You don't understand you're taking our culture without our permission. You are taking from a minority oppressed group. You don't understand that you're taking our strength but ignoring our struggle. By taking our saris, bindis and holi you are glorifying the best aspects of our culture and you are ignoring the women who are struggling in slums who also wear saris, just not the ones you are. You are ignoring the women who cannot support her children, who walk the streets in India naked.
This is about the western world taking what they want and refusing to help us.
We understand that we are colourful, we love blue, red and white. We understand that we are interesting, you are interesting to us. We understand you are intrigued and perplexed by our culture but please respect ours as we have respected yours.
But until you stop asking me if I've thought about lightening the hair on my arms you cannot wear my bindi.
Ananna Zaman is YUSU's co-Women's Officer