Most media we are exposed to today is westernised. From Hollywood blockbusters to the iTunes top 100, it is no surprise that most of this is predominantly influenced by white culture. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking these things – no one is going to condemn you for listening to Adele. However, when we express a hint of enjoyment towards K-pop, Bollywood films, or any other form of media that is outside the realm of white culture, we are shamed for doing so.
The same pressure is also placed on the way we dress and the way we wear our hair, especially for our youth today. It’s 2016 and teenagers are still receiving side-glances and judgement for wearing a bindi, a qipao, or any other type of clothing that represents a part of their culture. It’s the murmurs from ignorant and narrow-minded people that make PoC feel like they should be ashamed of whom they are, who their parents are, and who their ancestors were. It angers me so much to see kids being ridiculed for wearing their hair a particular way or dressing in clothing that happens to look “odd” to others. It’s no wonder teenagers become reserved and introverted when asked about their culture.
An anecdote for you: I’m Timorese (an Asian country above Australia), and a boy in my class, throughout the year, would make racist remarks towards me. To entertain you with a few, some of them were along the lines of, “Do your parents beat you when you don’t get an A+?”, “What does dog taste like?”, and a plethora of others. BUT, what he would also occasionally do is compliment (I use that term very loosely) my culture on the cuisine we offered him and his privileged behind. He never failed to express his love for dumplings and fried rice because, you know, those are the only foods Asians can cook.
This leads me onto another major aspect of a culture: food. This, it seems, is what society is more open to. I mean, there is a huge market for it after all. What people fail to realize, however, is that a culture goes way beyond what is digested in someone's stomach. You cannot appreciate one part of a culture but completely ignore the rest. It baffles me when people say they enjoy Chinese cuisine, yet are oblivious to the rest of the culture. They say they like Mexican food but are so detached from the struggles they face. They say they fancy Indian food, yet ridicule them for wearing a sari or a turban. Please do not identify a culture solely for the food they “offer” you and ignore or make fun of the rest.
Every part of a culture, whether it is food, language, hair, or clothing, is unique and beautiful. Embrace your culture; be proud of who you are.