Cultural Appropriation

As I was listening to the presentation about cultural appropriation, I thought back about a time that I experienced this first hand. I went to a k-12 school in Gull Lake. In my grade three year, I remember that we had a specific day of school where we were to dress up like another culture. Maybe this was for halloween, or maybe it was a “culture day” in school. Either way, the task was to dress up as someone else. Well I came to school in a traditional Chinese robe that my mother had handmade for me. I wore white face paint and put my hair in a traditional Chinese style. What I remember about that day was that I actually won a prize for best costume.

Now did I really know at the time that I was being culturally inappropriate? Probably not as I was about 8 years old. Something that I really took from the presentation, was that we are human and we make mistakes sometimes. It is so very important to own up to those mistakes and to recognize that you did something wrong. So essentially this is me saying that I recognize that by dressing up in a traditional Chinese robe was inappropriate.

When I look back on this memory, I realize that I wasn’t the only one was using cultural appropriation. When I said earlier that I won a prize for best costume, I think it goes to show that my school was participating in cultural appropriation as well. They gave me a prize for wearing this outfit that was sacred to Chinese culture. Like mentioned in the presentation, and in “Indigenous Writes,” we need to do our research and make sure we know about what is sacred or not in culture. We gave the example in class about the eagle feather. The same thing could be said about wearing a traditional Chinese robe. I think with this situation, it just takes me being aware that what I did was not okay. Yes, I was a young child and didn’t really know any better. Now as an adult, I can take this situation and what I have learned and use it towards my students or my own children in the future.

I think learning about cultural appropriation has helped guide and influence my own miskasowin a bit. I can understand and be more aware of the things that I do and say now that I know about cultural appropriation.


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