The 'grown-ish' Cultural Appropriation Debate Showed That Differing Perspectives Can Be Super Personal

Just how fine is the line between appropriation and
appreciation? The tricky
grown-ish cultural appropriation debate
from the Freeform
series’ July 10 episode, titled Strictly 4 My , shows that lines
can easily be blurred. And, as things tend to go on the show,
everyone in the Cal U crew had their own unique and super personal
take on the subject.

The conversation began when a classmate affectionately called
Vivek the n-word and Doug pointed out to Aaron that their friend
may be getting “too comfortable” at Hawkins Hall. Aaron argued that
it’s not exactly Vivek’s fault what someone else calls him. But
Doug’s issue was clearly more deep-seated, as he went so far as to
contend that Vivek’s behavior shows he’s “appropriating our
culture.”

What exactly is cultural appropriation? Aaron had that
explanation covered: “By definition, it means taking the elements
of someone else’s culture, not knowing anything about it or having
any respect for it.” His stance was that, especially given that
Vivek himself is a minority, he couldn’t possibly be guilty of
appropriation.

Doug, however, was unconvinced, listing Vivek’s perceived
offenses: brushing his hair with a little wooden brush, using the
Black thumbs up emoji (aka the “Wesley Snipes thumb,” as he called
it), and choosing a 2 Chainz lookalike video game avatar. His point
was that, just because Vivek isn’t white, it doesn’t mean that he
gets an “all-access pass,” but should, instead stay in his
lane.

“But how can you tell which lane is which, when everyone’s
trying to be us?” Aaron asked, suggesting a “limited access pass”
is warranted. “Black culture is pop culture. It’s not Vivek’s fault
the lines are so blurred.”

After the women got pulled into the back and forth, Ana asserted
that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Why doesn’t that
argument hold water here? Jazz gave her own enlightening
breakdown:

“There is nothing flattering about picking and choosing
elements of my life that you want to take: my body, my music, my
hairstyles. All of a sudden, all these white girls are rocking
cornrows and want to call them boxer braids and everyone’s acting
like they’re making a brand new trend or something.”

And, as Sky pointed out, they’re “the ones who get penalized for
it.” The show displayed a made-up publication with the headline,
“Twin Sisters Punished At Massachusetts School For Wearing Braids.”
The graphic may have been a fabrication, but that story is very
real. In 2017, 15 year olds Deanna and Mya Cook received a
uniform infraction for wearing long braids to school
and were
instructed to remove them at the risk of greater punishment.

Sometimes, even when someone believes they’re educated on the
matter, they could be very wrong. Enter Nomi, who’s unwilling to
excuse Vivek’s behavior. “We have to stay woke,” she preached to
the group. “I mean, knowing the deep history of the fetishization
of Black culture, and especially Black women, as an ally of the
struggle, I find it deeply problematic to excuse Vivek’s
behavior.”

Sky’s response? “OK, Nomi, as an ally of the struggle, would you
consider your own behavior problematic? Because I would,” she said.
“Some would say you’re very similar to Vivek. I mean, you hang out
with a mostly Black crew, you’re rockin’ bamboo earrings…”

Added Jazz, “And apparently now you give lectures to Black
people on how to stay woke.”

For her part, Ana believed that their focus on “trivial” things
like cornrows and unlaced sneakers “minimized the culture.” Aaron
had a valid response: “It’s not trivial to us at all because it’s
all we got. This is a culture we’ve been forced to create because
the first one was robbed from us and now it feels like we’re at
risk of losing it again.”

Ultimately, after some hurt feelings, Doug reconciled his views
in a heart-to-heart with Vivek, whom he realized meant no harm. His
point with which Vivek agreed was that, while Vivek is very much a
part of their community, there are some things he should recognize
need to be exclusive to the culture that created them.

Towing the line can be difficult, but, as grown-ish proved, a
little bit of listening to someone else’s perspective can go a long
way.

Source: FS – All – Entertainment – News 2
The 'grown-ish' Cultural Appropriation Debate Showed That Differing Perspectives Can Be Super Personal