When you ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, you usually don’t mean for them to literally wear your shoes. The idea is to experience another person’s culture to better understand them. That is the constant argument for appreciation over appropriation.
Still, despite the buffet of explanations on why appropriation is bad, disrespectful and in some cases violent, “white people” continue to do it. Why? It’s for personal gain of course not because they care about the culture itself.
When senior students at Memorial High School in Texas created “Thug Day,” it wasn’t for irony or introspection about the word ‘thug’. They were having fun. They were making fun and they were feeling cool about embodying a caricature of what the word meant to them.
The word ‘thug’ is code for POC criminal. Using the word ‘thug’ in this way is violent. It promotes a justification for brutality against those who may or may not fit the physical description of what white people think is a ‘thug’. Apparently, these white kids think a ‘thug’ looks like Lil Bow Wow circa 2001.
When called out by one of their white classmates on Twitter, they decided to threaten her with violence.
Memorial High School’s “thug” day for rising senior spirit week… yes this ACTUALLY happened TODAY at an actual high school but y’all keep saying “racism isnt a problem anymore”… right alright. pic.twitter.com/f3qHXR0B53
— Rach (@Rachellemmma) May 14, 2019
According to a Buzzfeed interview, she has not felt safe enough to return to school since the tweet went viral and death threats ensued.
One of the commentators on the post defended the students claiming that if a high-end fashion brand had done it, it would’ve been acceptable and praised.
They were joking. Come on, it’s so obvious. Playing with social meanings is completely normal. Had it been Gucci to do it, people would have considered it as a fashion statement, even as art.
— Gabriele Scalise (@ise_tan45) May 15, 2019
But they’ve learned their lesson, unlike these kids. Oh no wait, they didn’t.
Only three months after Gucci’s blackface sweater, they’ve released a $790 Turban. After outrage from the Sikh community, Nordstrom pulled the Turban from its website and apologized for their racial insensitivity.
Gucci has yet to apologize though.
We're attacked and killed for how we look, and now corporations get to profit off that same look?
Feels wrong to me. Your thoughts? https://t.co/Em9UELbkTB
— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) May 15, 2019
We’ve discussed time and again why wearing another person’s culture can be a bad idea. From disrespect to the outright promotion of violence.
Headdresses at Coachella is offensive but people still don’t get it. Attendees still show up with them despite Coachella banning Native headdresses.
Gucci keeps disrespecting cultures and using racism as a fashion statement. The designer makes money off of clothing that dehumanizes some races and ignores the violence against them.
Artists like Madonna keep mixing fragments of distinct cultures to create an outfit for events like the VMAs and uses tribal elements from various parts of an entire continent without regard to their significance.
Madonna looked like a Wakanda foreign exchange student trying to fit in #VMA
— The Nature Boy (@ThatCoolBlkNerd) August 21, 2018
Morning show anchors still wear sombreros and fake mustaches on Cinco de Mayo while actual Latinx men, women, and children get detained and tortured.
Additionally, white kids still wear cornrows and du-rags for fun at the same schools’ black kids are persecuted for the same thing.
Like Angela Davis said,
“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.”
And America is racist as hell.