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    • Zac Ephron made a stink this week by going public with his dreadlock do. He’s being accused of cultural appropriation.

      This feels to me like an example of PC gone mad. 

      Cultural appropriation — the real thing — makes sense. It can be hard for a minority population to keep its identity (although racism certainly helps racial minorities by forcefully reminding them that they don’t belong.) 

      When the majority adopts some facet of a minority’s culture, typically out of context and therefore misrepresenting it, the minority can feel a portion of its identity slipping away. 

      But dreadlocks? Exactly whose culture is it that’s being appropriated? It’s not Rastafarians. It’s not African-Americans. Maybe it’s ancient Egyptians, or Indian followers of Shiva? Or perhaps Vikings, or Northern Europe’s Germanic tribes?

      As we humans seem to do, a good idea has been taken too far. #metoo is badly needed and took far too long to emerge. But some men are being felled unfairly (I’m still not convinced about Al Franken, for example.) We know that even though racism is virulent, prevalent and awful in US society, the accusation of it is sometime used cynically, with ulterior motives, thus trivializing the accusation.

      So it is with cultural appropriation, it seems to me. Let Zephron play the Viking. Everyone needs a hobby.

      By the way, I’d like to introduce the idea of counter-cultural appropriation. Sitting beside me is a hipster. He has the whole thing going on — the flannel shirt (in 80-degree weather), the beard, the top knot, the keys dangling from his belt. 

      He’s black. This outrage must not stand! 

    • About 25 years ago my younger brother came home to the US sporting dredlocks after a stint in Zimbabwe as a whitewaterriver guide. We walked into a restaurant and he asked my wife and I, "Hey, did you see that chick checking me out?" I responded, "Get over yourself. Everyone in this place is checking out your lilly white dred wearing ass. You look ridiculous."

    • Tom Chamberlain

      Dreds at this point are fashion. That's it. Not some political statement, nor is it appropriation. I feel like I have a liberal belief system. And these hyper-sensitive liberals are killing me. Ugh.

    • As you get further along in years you get to see the various 'appropriations' come around several times in your life.

    • I can't get worked up over it. Seems like there are so many more important issues to worry about. Culture is complex and organic and nobody owns it, other than Disney Corp owning Mickey Mouse. Which is also stupid at this point, IMO.

    • Cultural appropriation is difficult to pin down, but one of the recurring arguments I hear for when it's harmful is when the fashion/practice/whatever is being borrowed to acclaim by people from a powerful group, but the people in the 'lending' marginalized group are still penalized for it. So in this case: Zac Efron can wear dreadlocks to seem edgy 'just for fun', but many workplaces across the U.S. forbid employees to wear dreadlocks, even if they're quite tidy and clean. There are a dozen ways to look at cultural appropriation, and plenty of conversations to have, but I think that context makes uproar over something 'trivial' more understandable to those outside the culture. There is a real injury, in this case even an economic one, for black people, to which this insult is being added: he can do it 'just for fun' but they can't do it for practicality, simplicity, or self-expression without losing employment or opportunities.

    • When dreads are more than just a hairstyle, and these are White middleclass kids who smoke a lot of "spliffs" of "ganja", listen to a lot of Reggae, reference concepts like "Jah" and "Babylon" and work as baristas, etc. while their parents pay their tuition, rent etc.., around here we sometimes lovingly refer to those kids as "Waspafarians" or "Trustafarians".

    • There is a real injury, in this case even an economic one, for black
      people, to which this insult is being added: he can do it 'just for fun'
      but they can't do it for practicality, simplicity, or self-expression
      without losing employment or opportunities.

      Fair enough, but isn't the more important problem the arbitrary discrimination people face, not that others can do the same thing just for fun? The discrimination precedes the appropriation. The appropriators aren't causing the discrimination, but mostly are just being ridiculous.

    • Can you define "harmful"? In what way, specifically, is some guy Jamaica harmed by a celebrity sporting dreds? Does it effect his ability to make a living? Has anyone polled Jamaicans to ask them if they've been harmed or this outrage limited to a small segment of rich Americans who've never met a Jamaican?

    • Dirty and matted is mankind's original hairstyle. I imagine a bunch of Jamaicans sitting around saying, "you mean to tell me those guys can afford shampoo and combs but actually choose to look like that?"

    • Seems to me that humans have borrowed from other cultures probably since the Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals, Denisovans and whatever other hominids were around then discovered each other and started sharing living spaces. I understand the part about taking something meaningful, historic or sacred to a culture and using it in a mocking or frivolous way (Indian Headdresses for Halloween, native american team mascots, etc). But adopting other cultures food, style of dress or hair and incorporating it into your own seems to be very different. I see no disrespect or harm in something like that. The dreds, to me, fall into that category.