Saturday, February 6, 2016

Is Cultural Appropriation Really an Issue?

Alright, we need to talk about an issue that has blown up this year: cultural appropriation. The media has reported a few examples such as Selena Gomez wearing a bindi and Miley Cyrus wearing dreadlocks; but, almost in a state of fury, people are voicing their opinions on these latest events. The most notable being Amanda Sternberg's video and the Reclaim the Bindi movement, accusing celebrities of cultural appropriation.

So my next question was what exactly is cultural appropriation? The text book definition of cultural appropriation is to adopt elements of one culture into another. Yet others, including people I have talked to, have said that cultural appropriation is seen as the western world 'stealing' aspects of different cultures and calling it as their own.

Being an Indian American, you would think that I would be offended by Selena wearing a bindi or Coldplay's new music video, but I'm not. In fact, I think it's wonderful that the western world is finally noticing and appreciating my culture.


Indians, like any other culture, have had their share of oppression. After the end of British control in India, the country was in a disarray about politics, land,  and religion. That's when an influx of Indian immigrants came to America, hoping to escape the chaos in India and searching for better lives. While some states welcomed Indian immigrants, many were irked with the recent growth. In fact, a group called the Dotbusters, who originated in New Jersey, targeted the Indian community because they felt that Indian's 'had it easy' while citizens of New Jersey had to work hard to get where they were at. After years of mocking and ridiculing, people finally think bindi's are cool.

Even growing up, I would have to face numerous questions about my culture. Such as "Why are you wearing those clothes?", "What's that brown stuff on your hands? It looks like a disease!," and my least favorite question about my mother's bindi, "Why does your mom wear that? It looks like she's bleeding between her eyebrows."

Even today, it still hurts when I get these questions; but, I will not change nor apologize for my statement. If someone from India told me that my opinion was wrong, then I would respond with the fact that people from India have adopted to wearing 'western' clothing such as jeans and shirts styled by American Eagle, Abercrombie, etc. The fact of the matter is that every culture has adopted certain aspects within their own culture, and that the western world is actually making an effort to understand my culture is the best news I will ever hear in my life.

But here's what I'm not okay with: the mocking and ridicule of the people or symbols that emanate from that culture. Most Indian Americans I have spoke too resonate with this as well. Some others have included that as long as people are trying to understand the culture and know the significant meanings behind them, that'll be fine. For example, the Ganesha flip flops back in 2003, when American Eagle Outfitters apologized for their placing the deity Ganesha on flip flops, the dirtiest place agreed upon in Indian culture.

In actuality, is cultural appropriation an issue? I personally don't think so, but this post is for those who believe it is. My goal was to try and bring a new perspective because I know where you're coming from; I've been there, believe me. There's a thin line between appropriation and cultural appreciation, and it's very easy to cross from one to the other. While the western world can adopt aspects of culture, people shouldn't act like they have created a new fashion statement. Vice versa, people affected by the appropriation should NOT lash out. I cannot stress this enough. People should express their opinions (like what I'm doing), but lashing out leads to more conflict and leads to more despair.

So if you get anything out of this post it would be to respect the culture, respect the people, and most importantly respect the opinions.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The next Uglies?

Perfect Summer by Karen King

Set in the future in a society obsessed with perfection, 15 year old Morgan can't help being a bit envious of her best friend, Summer. Summer is beautiful, rich and seems to have an effortlessly perfect life. Whereas Morgan isn't so rich, or beautiful and her younger brother Josh has Down's syndrome, which according to the government, and society in general, is a crime. 

Then Josh is kidnapped and the authorities aren't interested, so Morgan and Summer decide to investigate. They, along with another teenager Jamie whose sister, Holly, has also been kidnapped, uncover a sinister plot involving the kidnapping of disabled children and find themselves in terrible danger. Can they find Josh and Holly before it’s too late?

Cover: I had ambivalent feelings toward the cover. You know the old saying, "Don't judge a book by it's cover?"; yeah, I did just that. At first, I didn't get it: it had nothing to do with the blurb except the futurisitic look of it. Then as I read the book, the cover made more sense; especially toward the end of the novel. Either way, it's a mysterious cover, which is a-okay in my book.

The Story: When I started reading Perfect Summer, I fell in love with Morgan. She was very relatable, and I could see the actual events through her voice. King did such a great job with Morgan's character that I flipped with joy. Despite the few character flaws, Morgan was a great character. When I first met Summer, I was like:


But she turned out okay... I guess. Despite Summer being beautiful and having THE perfect life, she was always there for Morgan even after she had found out that Morgan had a brother with Down's. Yet, I feel like her true colors were shown at the end when she blew up about what her dad did to Summer's family. I guess we all have our flaws. 

Then, Jamie comes along. He's like the geek with an edge, especially since he has a kickass motorcycle. He and Morgan share the common pain of their kidnapped siblings and bond over it. When I first saw the interactions between Jamie and Morgan, I SHIPPED it! I just think they would have made the perfect couple.

The plot of Perfect Summer was actually pretty interesting. Though the novel had nothing to do with perfection, King does an amazing job of writing about the discrimination children with disabilities face. I don't know about you, but this is still pretty evident in the world. Just this year a girl with Down's was voted as Homecoming queen for a senior class as a joke. In the novel King writes about the hardships families endured when they had RADs (Recorded Abnormality Details), the disdain people hoarded as they looked at RADs, and the injustice RADs experienced; yet, King wrote about the everlasting love RADs had. This book definitely gave me a lasting impression that imperfections are what makes a person perfect.

I enjoyed every minute of King's work. To be honest, I thought this novel was a mix between The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (both awesome books by the way).

I would rate this book a 4 out of 5 and would would recommend it to people 12+ because there are a few scenes that may make a reader queasy. If you feel sensitive about Down's and any other birth defect like Down's, I suggest you read with caution toward the end of the book as it is a little gruesome of how they treat the RADs.

You can buy Karen King's Perfect Summer in paperback and ebook at these links:

Till then!

Monday, June 16, 2014

My first post!

Hey guys! So this is my first post on my new blog. Yay! Okay so a few things about me: I love reading. It's one of my passions, and I feel strongly about it. My favorite authors include Marissa Meyers, Quinn Loftis, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and many more! I also love to write.

In fact, I'm writing a couple of stories on a website called Wattpad. If you've ever heard of it and want to give my stories a go, just look me up. The username is the same. I am also a big movie geek. I love action, romance, comedy, and most importantly Bollywood. Gah, if I had one wish, I'd probably wish to be on the set of a Bollywood movie with Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwariya Rai. *sigh*


On this blog I plan to do reviews on books that I read and the elements that go along with the books. Most of the books I read are young adult. So if you're into that, check my reviews out! I've got one review in the works right now and hopefully will get to upload it tomorrow.

Till then!