Liberation Network – What’s Wrong with Events Like Bollywood D

Image: Derwent JCRC

Image: Derwent JCRC

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.

Get educated.

Ananna Zaman is YUSU’s co-Women’s Officer

19 comments

  1. This is the single worst thing I’ve read on Nouse. I’m a British Pakistani, and everytime I put a pair of jeans on (the same jeans worn bhomeless/under-privelleged to the fabulously wealthy) I don’t think, ‘better ask permission from the poor white people’. You’re basically saying don’t enjoy Indian food either unless your Indian. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, I (like the majority, and probably those in Indian slums) don’t give a shit if some white personal wants to wear a bindi, in fact I encourage it.

    Reply Report

  2. Just like the whites did to everyone else, this girl won’t be happy until every white person is enslaved, only then (if then) will she be in peace.

    Reply Report

  3. 12 Jan ’16 at 5:22 pm

    Isadore of Seville

    If Anana focused all the hate she has towards the white, male, middle-class, right wing, good looking, slim, non-trans, heterosexual groups of people into the gym..the results would be amazing! It’s hard not to attack her personally when everything she does the exact same. Everytime you attack me for being white, you are attacking me personally.

    Reply Report

  4. Did the author of this article really just speak for the whole of south Asia?

    Reply Report

  5. Great article. Same with circus themes at parties! They don’t know the struggle we clowns face when we dress up, trying to provide for our family. We are a minority career, unlike lawyers and bankers, we are an oppressed group of workers who have been robbed of our identity. So, please, next time you want to dress like a clown ring and ask your local circus so you have permission. *sighs*

    Reply Report

  6. If we’re truly upset by what we perceive to be ‘cherry picking the best bits of a culture’, than surely that’s down to the way said culture is presented more widely. Figuratively speaking, If we’re pissed off that this event doesn’t acknowledge the issues of India, maybe the onus is on India to actually bring those issues into the mainstream? Aamir Khan certainly attempted it and was widely lauded for his efforts internationally, yet the election of Modi seems to have put social issues on the backburner once more. So why should we angry that a group of English students didn’t fulfil moral expectations that aren’t even an afterthought in the origin of said culture

    Reply Report

  7. Bizarre article. How far does cultural appropriation even go? Was my Indian meal the other night at Akbars an example of a white westerner taking what he wants and refusing to help? Or taking from a minority oppressed group? Stop being so self-indulgent. Thank you.

    Reply Report

  8. This article just gave me Ebola.

    “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.” – That is exactly what this is and you have just further proven yourself to be an absolute fraud Zaman.

    – Edwards 2016, Fuck your feelings.

    Reply Report

  9. I seriously can’t believe so called educated people are willing to put their name to this rubbish.

    Reply Report

  10. On behalf of all sensible people from India, I can only apologise to the white/British readers for this unashamedly racist article. Most of us aren’t like this.

    Reply Report

  11. I’m sorry but as a ‘white person’ I a, offended by this. You are suggesting that because I am white I am unable to engage with other cultures and unable to embrace other culture’s celebrations? This is cultural integration and it is something that is bringing various cultures together to understand the differences and put them aside to embrace each other’s cultures. Only you could find the negative in such a positive entity. Disgusting.

    – Sam

    Reply Report

  12. To all the human beings out there,
    I don’t really care if you’re white or brown, come from the west or the east, were brought up with privileges or not- I’m going to address you all as human beings, because well, that’s all that matters, doesn’t it?

    If this increases my credibility to comment then I should probably state that I’m Indian too, and personally, I don’t agree with this article. I think it’s absolutely wonderful that people want to share different cultures, learn and experience new things. It’s all pretty great. To the girls that wore bindis and sarees, etc, I’m glad you enjoyed dressing up accordingly, and to the guy wearing a cow onesie, I know you didn’t mean to offend. At the end of the day, it really is the intention that matters, and unless you really had the intention to mock Indian people and their culture, I don’t think most of us would even glance twice at the whole thing.

    Having said that, I’m not going to apologise “on behalf of the sensible people of India”, because a) this article was never stated as written on the behalf of the people of India. b) there surely may have been people who were minorly offended, but got over it pretty quickly and without a fuss- that’s an individual’s prerogative as to how they feel. Getting offended doesn’t make them “less sensible”, and while Ananna can’t write for the whole of South Asia, you can’t apologise for them either.

    Finally, I think this article definitely goes a little overboard too and fails to look at the situation as a whole. I don’t know Ananna Zaman personally, and calling her out as a journalist is more than fair. However, resorting to commenting on her appearance or her personality in a manner as harsh as some people here have done is not particularly cool at all. She may have been influenced by her background to write this article, but critique that influence that may have caused a lack of judgment or whatever. Don’t critique who she is. Calling her a racist and judgmental person, followed by judging her appearance as equivalent to “the size of South Asia”, just doesn’t add up or help your point! It’s unnecessary and rude. Besides, it transcends culture, as you’re attacking the individual.

    Let’s just all calm down and move on so that we can continue engaging with each other’s diverse backgrounds and have a fun time while doing so. :D Because all we need is fun. And a couple of pints. And chocolate. Ok, almost 3 a.m. me is now rambling. Time to move on to bed myself.

    Peace :)

    Reply Report

  13. 14 Jan ’16 at 6:20 pm

    Boycott the Beatles

    Good article, let’s all boycott the Beatles too for their insidious use of Indian instruments and harmonies in some of their later music. Cultural appropriation at its worst :((((

    Reply Report

  14. 15 Jan ’16 at 3:46 pm

    A British Asian

    This is an insult to my heritage. Anana Zaman is an insult to my heritage. Anyone who supports this article is insulting my heritage. Don’t you dare think you have the right to tell anyone who can and can’t enjoy the best my culture has to offer. Don’t you dare think you are entitled to enjoy the benefits of other cultures without offering yours too. Stop trying to be a martyr and stop using my heritage as a tool to do so. Overcome your insecurities in another way.

    Reply Report

  15. ‘Bollywood’ is not a culture it is a film industry.

    I personally went dressed as my favourite Bollywood actress. Not a random indian lady.

    Reply Report

Leave a comment