A residential advisor at Pitzer College sent a campus-wide email informing students—white women, in particular—that they should stop wearing hoop earrings.
Hooped earrings "actually come from a historical background of oppression and exclusion," wrote Alegria Martinez, according to The Claremont Independent. "Why should white girls be able to take part in this culture?"
The email was intended to serve as an explanation for the appearance of a message, "White girl take off your hoops!!!" on Pitzer's free speech wall. In her email to campus, Martinez identified herself as one of the authors of the message.
It's great that Pitzer has a free speech wall, and it's great that Martinez exercised her right to contribute an offensive, racist statement to the wall. Free speech means letting people say offensive, racists things. Which, to be clear, is exactly what Martinez did. If racist has any meaning at all, it must describe the belief that people should be disallowed from participating in certain facets of modern life because of the color of their skin. The doctrine of cultural appropriation—that marginalized people should keep to their own customs, and white people to theirs—is just old-fashioned racism given a fancy name for the purposes of ensnaring liberals.
Another student, Jacquelyn Aguilera, also took credit for the message, and sent her own email:
"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, 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."
Ah, the old it's not my job to educate you. A favorite of the campus left, it is deployed by someone who realizes their argument will not stand up to scrutiny.
In any case, now that Pitzer's white girls are being derided for how they dress—and here I was thinking fashion-shaming was a microaggression—perhaps they will actually share in the sense of feeling collectively oppressed? I have to imagine being told by your RA that you have to change your clothes because there's something inherently wrong with you is a fairly marginalizing experience.
Over at National Review, Katherine Timpf lays out the obvious case against the doctrine of cultural appropriation:
I can admit that I did not invent hoop earrings. Hell, I can even admit that I've never done any research on the history of hoop earrings. But does this mean that I can't wear them? Hell no, because it is literally a piece of metal twisted into a circle, and if you are going to try to tell me that I cannot wear a piece of metal because that piece of metal has been twisted into a circle, then I am going to tell you to shut up. It does not matter who started it, nobody owns circles, and you really, really need to calm down.
Spoiler alert: The people on this earth right now are not the first people to ever have existed . . . and at this point, every single style of anything ultimately goes back to someone else's idea. Truly, I would challenge you to think of even one modern "original" idea that cannot be traced back to inspiration from someone or something else. What's more, we live in a country where people from many different cultures are interacting with each other, which means that some elements from one culture are inevitably going to influence the people of another. And do you know what? That's not bad. In fact, some might even say that it's one of the things that makes this place so special.
Of all the weird things the campus left believes, this one probably takes the cake. If cultural appropriation were enforced evenly, it would spell the end of progress, cosmopolitanism, and the entire liberal project.
For more on this subject, read Katherine Mangu-Ward's interview with British author—and unapologetic wearer of sombreros—Lionel Shriver.
Photo Credit: William Moss / Dreamstime