Be Green Challenge
Week 2 of the Green Challenge went by quickly and largely unnoticed because my week was pretty busy. I have not made a purchase outside the guidelines of the challenge but have still been browsing online shops. One of the sites I stumbled upon sold shirts with pop culture references and that got me to think about the impression people give when choosing to wear certain items of clothing. Wearing a shirt with a reference can illustrate a person’s love for a certain television show or movie, this for the most part is harmless, but when a person decides to wear something from another culture without knowledge or respect it becomes cultural appropriation. Some may argue that wearing a piece of ethnic clothing is a form of appreciating the culture but cultural exchange and cultural appropriation are not the same. For there to be cultural exchange, there has to be mutual respect and understanding between the different cultures. A more in-depth explanation on the subject can be found at http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/09/cultural-exchange-and-cultural-appropriation/ .
This week in class we discussed the importance of textiles in Hmong culture. The article “Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Arts,” explains how the Hmong story cloth is used to tell stories and the significant of embroidery in the culture. The use of textiles to tell stories of the sufferings faced by the Hmong and the tradition of embroidery allows the Hmong people to pass on culture to newer generations. Not only does embroidery act as a cultural bridge between generations, it was also a method for economic survival when the Hmong people were in the refugee camps of Thailand after escaping Laos. Because of the meaning and care put into the creation of these textiles, there should be appreciation in the craftsmanship and history of Hmong textiles. Many people do not know the history of marginalized communities let alone the specific meanings behind certain items of cultural significance. The history and meaning of traditional clothing and cultural symbols should be known instead of commodified; appropriating a marginalized culture’s traditions illustrates and perpetuates the one sided taking on the part of the West. Treating the clothing of other cultures as costumes is not acceptable. Cultural appropriation is an act of ignorance and privilege, “because it demonstrates the imbalance of power that still remains between cultures that have been colonized and the ex-colonizers” (Uwujaren).
|Source: Jen Mussari|
Uwujaren, Jarune. "The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation." Everyday Feminism. N.p., 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.
McCall, Ava L.. Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Arts.” Reader.