Cultural Appropriation

Reader Stringer Bell asks:

What do you think about cultural appropriation? The blogger at womanist musings is strongly against it. Stuff like wearing native american garb at halloween, using sacred or otherwise meaningful ethnic symbols to sell cute tshirts, and so on.

This is a traditional Ukrainian head dress

I wouldn’t mind it in the least if people wore (ate, sang, drank or used in any way) the paraphernalia of my cultures. I don’t see a problem with people who are not Jewish wearing yarmulkes because they like the look or want to cover a bald spot. Neither would I mind non-Ukrainians wearing the Ukrainian ribbons on their heads. The ribbons are beautiful, and it would make me happy to see people who want to promote this great tradition.

I also love it when people try to learn how to make borscht even though I know that unless you were born with borscht in your blood stream, you will never make it as good as mine.

I know, however, that many people are, indeed, bothered by cultural appropriation, and who am I to argue that their feelings are wrong? I would love to be able to wear saris, for example. I think saris are beautiful and they would suit me perfectly. But I don’t want the Indian women who live in my street and who wear saris every day to be offended. Maybe one day we will develop a friendship and I could ask them how they feel about people from other cultures wearing saris. In the meanwhile, I will ask my readers. How do you feel about symbols of your culture being appropriated by other people?

Growing Pains

Yes, I know that my writing has become angrier recently. I’m going through a complicated time and it’s accompanied by growing pains, I guess. The blog exists to let me vent and I need to do more venting than usual these days. Bear with me, people. I will emerge as a result of this transformation as a much more complex and interesting human being.

Charter Schools

You live, you learn. And sometimes what you learn is not very heartening. I heard people mention charter schools here and there but I never had the time to research what the concept meant. Reader Kyle, however, shared the following definition of a charter school:

Charter schools are not privately-owned. Charter schools are essentially a hybrid between public schools and private schools. They allow the freedom in teaching and curriculum a private school provides, but are publicly-funded and owned.

I can only hope that Kyle made a mistake at this late hour of the night or confused charter schools with something else because the idea – the way it is formulated here – sounds appalling. Does this mean that I, as a taxpayer who pays quite a lot in federal and state taxes, am supposed to pay for something like this? Why should the public pay for anything – and I mean, absolutely anything – but state-provided education with a uniform set of curricula? Does this mean that any freak can start a “school” where any sort of idiocy is being peddled as learning (say, dinosaurs living by the side of humans or the US winning WWII and spreading endless joy all over the world) and I have to pay for this with my taxes as long as this freak show can get its dummies to pass some standardized multiple-choice idiocy of a test?

Reader Z kindly left the link to this article on charter schools but it didn’t explain much to me. For obvious reasons, I don’t care who gets accepted where. I care whether taxpayer money goes to fund schools that are privately owned and that choose their own curricula. To put it bluntly, is there a chance I pay for children being taught about people riding dinosaurs?

I prefer to hope that this is not happening.