POCs are called too sensitive yet if you even utter the phrase “racism” white folks come running like they heard a dog whistle and start shoving their One Black Friend and great-great-great-Cherokee grandmother all up in your face while screaming “there’s no race but the human race”
Like moths to a flame.
In response to the Huffington Post article about bindis not being a form of cultural appropriation, may I just say the Indian writer has no idea what she’s talking about.
First, she gave us this super pithy, super witty point:
“Cultural appropriation is the adoption of a specific part of one culture by another cultural group. As I (an Indian) sit here, eating my sushi dinner (Japanese) and drinking tea (Chinese), wearing denim jeans (American), and overhearing Brahm’s Lullaby (German) from the baby’s room, I can’t help but think what’s the big deal?”
None of what she has mentioned is cultural appropriation, it’s all what we term appreciation - enjoying the food and music of a culture does not remove them from their cultural context or further the oppression of the people, especially because none of these items mentioned have any overt cultural significance (remember, being a part of the culture and having cultural significance are two different things). Also there’s no such thing as cultural appropriation of American items since every country in the world has faced cultural imperialism from the West and has been pressured to emulate Western traditions, including blue jeans.
Then she speaks as some sort of Indian moral authority saying that she and 50 other Indian women have no idea what the cultural significance of the bindi is and she had to google it. Well that’s straight BS because there is such thing as regional and religious tradition - what the bindi means to one community is different than what it means to another so there is no single be-all-end-all definition for what a bindi means. And just because she and her friends don’t know what a bindi is doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t as well.
Then she says she can buy bindis anywhere and a bindi is different in significance level from a Native war bonnet or Samoan tattoos. Just because an item is readily available doesn’t mean that it’s not significant. You can buy tikaa at any Indian grocery store (just like bindis) yet no one would deny its significant. Also there is no way to compare oppression, so she shouldn’t even be trying to claim there’s a difference - like, of course there’s a difference, but that doesn’t mean there’s a hierarchy.
Finally she says the bindi has evolved from the traditional red circle to be more glitzy. She says this is cultural evolution, much like what is happening when non-Desis wear bindis. Um, wrong. People wearing bindis to Coachella don’t mean anything, they aren’t changing the item within its culture (like the glitzy bindi) they’re just changing what it means for non-Desis. You have people who will fawn over the bindi and then be incredibly racist in the same breath (like this chick). They’ve managed to separate it from Desi culture so it’s just a fashion item and has NO cultural significance. Non-Desis who wear the bindi seem to care more about the fashion than the people who created it.
The writer, Anjali Joshi, claims that anyone can wear a bindi because 1) she wears blue jeans, 2) she and her friends don’t know what a bindi really means, 3) non-Desis wearing bindis is cultural evolution. She’s pandering to a white audience and leaving the rest of us to deal with the fallout.
So, I’m gonna make it clear: Just because she’s Indian and she says you can wear a bindi for all the above reasons DOES NOT MEAN you can. Check your privilege, be aware of the feelings of others, and don’t be the oppressor.