Tag Archives: cultural appropriation

I Am Not a Mascot

by Amber Roberts, ’16

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Indian Wedding

by Nimrah Khan, ’13

As immigrants, my parents struggled to provide the essentials for my family: a good education, a safe neighborhood, a shot at the American dream. They also gave me something much richer: their Pakistani culture. I found belonging as my mother taught me how to make roti or as my dad sang songs that his mother had sung to him. My parents often impressed upon me that, even though they had come to this country for the opportunities, their hearts were still in Pakistan. They wanted to make sure we grew up with that culture and did not forget where we came from.

While I loved growing up surrounded by bright colors, spices, and the pounding rhythm of the dhol drum, I realized early on that sometimes my culture was not appreciated by others. What made me feel safe at home made me a target for ridicule outside of it. As a first generation student, kids would ridicule me, for anything from not having a “dot” on my forehead to the sound of my name. Because of my culture, I was singled out as “the other,” and the kids never let me forget it. They singled my parents out too, because they worked jobs associated with South Asian people and because they couldn’t speak English properly. I was made to feel alienated for the very aspects of my identity and community that once made me feel so safe. Continue reading

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Why Indian Mascots and Costumes Are Never Okay

by Holly Fetter, ’13

From “Stanford Indians” sweatshirts to Indian-themed parties to reunion weekend paraphernalia featuring Indians skinning wildcats, it seems that we all need a little reminder of why it’s absolutely never okay to use Native American culture and people as costumes or mascots. Full disclosure: I’m a White girl who dressed up as Pocahontas for Halloween when I was 4, but I’ve since come to appreciate why it’s not okay to use an ethnic group to make parties and games more interesting. Here are just a few reasons why appropriation is inappropriate:

  • By using a caricature of an “Indian” to represent a team, you’re reducing an entire group of people to a mascot. That’s entirely dehumanizing, and offensive. It also speaks to the level of oppression and invisibility of Native people in U.S. culture: we would never use any other ethnic group as a team mascot, as it would be seen as blatantly racist, and yet a debate about whether or not to use the “Indian” image persists. Continue reading
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