…Committing the Heinous Crime Of Cultural Appropriation!

The race wars have come down to a battle over jewelry. White women are not allowed to wear hoops in their ears say Latinas at the Claremont Colleges, according to a report by the Claremont Independent. I’ll give you this Greek “white girl’s” response below.

A wall on the side of a dormitory at Pitzer College devoted to unmoderated free speech through art (colloquially named “the free wall”), was recently painted by a group of Latino students who wrote the message, “White Girl, take off your [hoop earrings]!!!”

When one white student expressed confusion about the message, Alegria Martinez (PZ ’18) – a Pitzer College Resident Assistant (RA) and active member of the “Latinx Student Union” – responded in an email thread sent to the entire student body:

For those unfamiliar with the latest PC lingo, Latinx is the new “gender neutral [way] to include the transgender, gender-fluid and gender non-conforming people” instead of writing the traditional male/female Latino/Latina.

“[T]he art was created by myself and a few other WOC [women of color] after being tired and annoyed with the reoccuring [sic] theme of white women appropriating styles … that belong to the black and brown folks who created the culture. The culture actually comes from a historical background of oppression and exclusion. The black and brown bodies who typically wear hooped earrings, (and other accessories like winged eyeliner, gold name plate necklaces, etc) are typically viewed as ghetto, and are not taken seriously by others in their daily lives.

First of all, what is “the culture,” that you speak of? And “black and brown bodies?” Why not call them people? How dehumanizing! About that “winged eyeliner,” you better talk to Cleopatra. And I’m sure there are other reasons you’re not taken seriously, like saying “Latinx” or demanding racist dress codes.

Because of this, I see our winged eyeliner, lined lips, and big hoop earrings serving as symbols [and] as an everyday act of resistance, especially here at the Claremont Colleges. Meanwhile we wonder, why should white girls be able to take part in this culture (wearing hoop earrings just being one case of it) and be seen as cute/aesthetic/ethnic. White people have actually exploited the culture and made it into fashion.”

Ever occur to you that maybe some people wear the earrings for different reasons? White – and any other color – girls should be able to wear whatever earrings they want because this is America and women can wear what they want to feel good about themselves without being earring-shamed (how’s that for feminism?!) How they’re seen is in the eye of the beholder, maybe some don’t look cute or ethnic – I don’t think “aesthetic” is used properly here. Also, are you saying wearing jewelry and makeup isn’t fashion until “white people” make it so?

One defense of this email says that they were talking about the appropriation of “chola style,” but, as Urban Dictionary confirms my recollection of when I first heard the term in the 90s, dramatic thin, dark, drawn-in eyebrows and dark lip liner are the most recognizable hallmarks of a chola. Hoops aren’t mentioned in the UD definitions, although most of the girls pictured in an image search wear large hoops earrings, along with bandanas, heavy eye makeup, and flannel shirts. And make no mistake, hoops are the main focus here – and the most bizarre because they’ve been worn across continents across history.

Jacquelyn Aguilera (PZ ’19), another student claiming credit for the spray-painted message, responded to the school-wide email thread, “If you didn’t create the culture as a coping mechanism for marginalization, take off those hoops, if your feminism isn’t intersectional take off those hoops, if you try to wear mi cultura when the creators can no longer afford it, take off those hoops, if you are incapable of using a search engine and expect other people to educate you, take off those hoops …

Seriously? YOU created the culture of wearing hoop earrings? Get over yourself, you are a tiny speck on the timeline of humanity.

Ah, yes, learning via search engine – because we all know the Internet is never wrong or contradictory. (Why are the students at this school even paying the $66,192 yearly tuition when they could be learning from Professor Google for free?) And why waste time talking to and interacting with other cultures in the intellectual environment of a university when you can lecture people about their privilege then tell them to Google things when challenged by skeptics or even engaged by sympathizers?

if you can’t pronounce my name or spell it … take off those hoops / I use “those” instead of “your” because hoops were never “yours” to begin with.” Aguilera attached an image of herself and the others who spray-painted the wall exposing their own hoop earrings.

Your name is Jacquelyn Aguilera – that’s not really all that an unusual name in America. The first name Jacquelyn is French, so you can’t call racism on anybody not familiar with your particular way of spelling it, and there’s a pretty famous singer named Christina Aguilera who’s made the whole world familiar with the spelling and pronunciation of your last name. In fact, as I write your full name in a Word doc, no red squiggly lines appear under it to indicate it’s spelled wrong, unlike my own. Now THAT’S privilege. Try having a first name everyone thinks is Alexis and a Greek last name if you want to talk about mispronunciation and spelling, sweetie. Sure, it can be annoying that nobody gets my name right, but it’s not evidence of the hatred of Greeks or a freaking micro-aggression!

And “those hoops” were never YOURS to begin with. In fact, because you care so much, you should know they are mine. The ancient Greeks were one of the first peoples to wear hoop earrings around 2000 BC.

Now, I could go around to different buildings with Greek columns and scream cultural appropriation. I could rant about every design that features the Greek Key. But instead, I love that I can see the culture of my ancestors used everywhere. We Greeks are a prideful people who embrace how our civilization has been “appropriated” – cue Mr. Portokalos in My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding bragging about finding the Greek root in every word. Oh, and that slogan you leftists love to chant at protests? You know who can tell you “what democracy looks like?” The Greeks. We invented it. You’re welcome.

And before you try to say I’m “privileged” because my “white” culture has lasted so many millennia, I’d educate you, but you’re perfectly capable of using a search engine to find out about the fall of the Greek Empire, the marginalization and persecution of the Greeks under Ottoman rule and the Greek Genocide.

So, yeah, the hoops are mine. But since I’m not a vindictive, self-absorbed, small-minded person who thinks the world began the minute I was born and my people are the only ones who have ever been victims of man’s inhumanity to man, I will share them with you and anyone else to enjoy.

What do you think of these Latina students telling white girls to take off their hoop earrings? Tell us in the comments below!

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