I would like to preface this rant by stating that as much as I love the Black Eyed Peas, this, unfortunately, is not an ode to or recapitulation of their adored song. Rather, it is an expression of disappointment at what I have increasingly begun to see.

I’m now going to stop my imitation of a sombre head-teacher and just present to you a series of questions I’ve been asking myself: Why is everyone so sensitive? What’s wrong with that? Why is that an issue for you? What makes this so important to you? Where is the love? Of course, these questions may also be directed at myself with regard to this rant. But I’ll go into that. Also pipe down, it’s my rant and I’ll rant if I want to.

This may seem like a superficial topic but it undoubtedly plays a part in the greater issue of tolerance. There has been such an increase in sensitivity amongst people. Suddenly we can’t wear cornrows. We can’t have dreadlocks. We can’t do henna. We can’t accept humour. We can’t do things for fear of offending other people, and the above-mentioned are but a few examples of issues that I’ve seen in the news, social media and in person.

What’s wrong with wearing your hair in a style associated with a culture of which you are not a part? Why is this deemed so offensive? If anything, surely it’s an appreciative nod to a pretty, and even practical, hairstyle. Miley Cyrus twerking. Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku homage. Madonna’s ‘Voguing’. Each of these became pop culture phenomenon and yet each entertainer came under fire for the apparent indecency of representing cultures to which they did not individually belong. I can understand the idea of credit not being given where credit is due, but come on. Miley Cyrus has expressed her appreciation for hip-hop music, and never claimed to invent twerking. Harajuku was never portrayed as being American. Madonna never credited herself as inventor of ‘Voguing’. But each of these entertainers certainly popularised these concepts and gave them mainstream exposure so that all could appreciate them. It is so that everyone can discover, accept, love and share each other’s cultures.

But we have the recurring image, and I emphasise the term, ‘image’, of the rich white man exploiting the poor ethnic minority. Instead of separating the two, why not bring them together? Sure Miley Cyrus has profited substantially from the publicity brought about by her twerking, which is what seems to upset many people, but it doesn’t change the fact that twerking is associated more with, and frankly performed better by, members of the African-American community, which is where the dance style places its roots. Is this about financial recognition, then? I digress.

Why is this all an issue for me? Why is it so important to me? Because I believe equality is the way forward. Importantly, integration is the way forward. So, why are you halting progress by complaining about Kylie Jenner wearing cornrows?

 

Priyanka Makwana

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