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Cultural Appropriation, Beauty, & Ratchet Culture; Women of

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Deonna Smith

on 26 April 2014

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Transcript of Cultural Appropriation, Beauty, & Ratchet Culture; Women of

Cultural Appropriation, Beauty, & Ratchet Culture: Women of Color in the Media
Understanding of the meaning and possible negative repercussions of cultural appropriation
What is Cultural Appropriation?
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. It can imply a negative view towards acculturation from a minority culture by a dominant culture

An unauthorized use of another culture's dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc. It's most likely to be harmful when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive, e.g. sacred objects
Beauty According to Who?
Critique of the largely unvaried representation of women of color in the media
Investigation of the role of the media in the construction of what we perceive as beauty
Explanation of Ratchet Culture & its implications
In the 24 years of People's Most Beautiful Woman only three people of color have been featured.
Why It's Not Okay
Privilege & Appropriation- The ability to pick and choose what aspects of a culture you would like to enjoy and dismiss is a privilege

Dehumanization & Mascots- Mascots are typically extinct civilizations and animals; what does that say about Native Americans?

The Issues With Your "Indian" Costume- You cannot pick an outfit and become a culture

When Cultures Become Trends
Commercialization, Exoticism
Reinforcement of Stereotypes/ Caricatures

Using someone else’s cultural symbols to satisfy a personal need for self-expression is an exercise in privilege

Appropriation: Trivializing an entire way of life...& turning it into an accessory
In the 28 years of People's Sexiest Man Alive only one person of color has been featured.
Unfortunately, most, if not all, images of beauty celebrated are Eurocentric.
Up & Coming Stars of Hollywood
Apparently there were no talented People of Color in 2011.
When in Doubt, DO NOT go in Blackface!
More Appropriation!
Asian Exoticism
The light complex- pale skin, straight hair, thin frame, blonde hair, blue eyes, and everything that is NOT a person of color.
But Wait...There's More!
Miss. Cultural Appropriation 2013
But What If I Just Really Like Wanna Dress Like The Cool Kids?
Not EVERYTHING Is Appropriation
Multiculturalism is possible when both cultures are in a mutual relationship of respect and understanding
There is nothing wrong with exploring other cultures; as long as it is for the right reasons

Reverse Appropriation?
Appropriation & Privilege

Intent vs. Impact
Sometimes even your most innocent intentions can be offensive
Magazines and all things that are meant to be measures of beauty put people of color through a treatment to make them more European.
Ratchet Culture
Although the term ratchet just became popular now, it has been in use for about 20 years.
It became popular within these last two years after artists such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and most infamously by Miley Cyrus.
Where it was once considered an insult used specifically in rap from Louisiana, it has now become a new "it" term in pop culture.
If people of color are portrayed it is usually in a very stereotypical and/or negative light.
All women of color who were warped to fit or are naturally the European standard of beauty.
Why is it a big deal???
People of color are conditioned to believe that they are the "other" and ultimately "wrong."
They are the exotic and called upon to fit certain roles.
Internalized hatred becomes a huge part of the minority experience
So...Where Are People of Color?
- Girls
-Where did you find four white people in Brooklyn?
- Black Republicans?

- Modern Family
-Over-sexualized Latinas

- Orange Is The New Black
-PoCs...in jail

-Black & Asian People Need Love Too

- Bad Girls Club & Real Housewives
- Because If You Do Include Black People; They Must Be Ratchet


Grey's Anatomy

Walking Dead

Mindy Project
You May Be Familiar With....
Some common and problematic archetypes in television; as explained by Glee

Santana: Angry yet sexy "barrio" Latina with attitude & an accent

Brittany: Dumb White blond

Tina: Shy, Intelligent Asian

Mercedes: "Curvy" Sassy -Oh no you didn't!- Black woman

Arty: Disabled kid with a "heart of gold"

Curt: Hyper-effeminate gay man
Women of Color in the Media
Women of color, if not totally absent, are hired to represent the most outrageous and stereotypical roles.
But We Like Being Ratchet!
Commercialization of Black Culture

The Reality of Ratchet

Who is Ratchet?
What does Ratchet look like?
How does one become Ratchet?

Black People as Entertainment; A Historical Context
Black- Loud, sassy, big butt, aggressive, mothering Mammy, great cook, and a little too honest....
Latina(o)- Feisty, "spicy," overtly sexual, combative, and argumentative
Asian- smart, anxious in social settings, weird, shy, quiet, and well-behaved
All other minorities- NOT MENTIONED!!!!
A Little Thing Called Context
People of color are surrounded by images that are all White.
And the only times in which they actually see themselves are in ways that convey a European standard of beauty. Ergo everything that they are is bad.
There are subtle reminders EVERYWHERE that continue to say that people of color are not wanted and/or are ugly.
Understand Your Actions Aren't In A Social Vacuum

The History of the United States is unfortunately largely based on racism; therefore, we must be especially cautious in our actions

It’s about a centuries’ old pattern of taking, stealing, exploiting, and misunderstanding the history and symbols that are meaningful to people of marginalized cultures.
In 2012, Huffington Post conducted a study on magazines focused towards women in order to see the amount of times that women of color were featured on the covers of magazines. From September 2012-September 2013 it was found that only 18% featured women of color.
-Cultural Appropriation is an expansive subject, we're not experts; just very curious students

- There is considerably more representation of women of color in the media today, however there is still a disproportionate amount of representation from the majority culture

- We are operating on the assumption that although Pop Culture seems trivial, it is integral in the contemporary human experience and all images either explicitly or tacitly sending a message
Further Reading:
bell hooks
"Eating the Other"

Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law,

Blacking Up: Hip Hop's Remix of Race & Identity

When In Doubt- Guidelines
Consider the 3 S's: source, significance (or sacredness), and similarity:

-Has the
community either tacitly or directly invited you to share this particular bit of its culture, and does the community as a whole have a history of harmful exploitation?

-What's the cultural
of the item — is it just an everyday object or image, or is it a religious artifact that requires greater respect?

-And how
is the appropriated element to the original — a literal knockoff, or just a nod to a color scheme or silhouette?"
Over-Sexualized Appropriation
Reinforcement of Mexican Stereotypes
Religious Appropriation
-Accessorizing with PoC
-"Ratchet" Credibility
Appropriation & Lack of Sensitivity
Inappropriate in any context
At all times of the day, we are being bombarded by ideas and images of beauty.
Radio, TV, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and even our peers all show us what beauty is.
SO....what does this mean for women of color?
"The Others"
What this means for people of color
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