By Rebecca Banks
Texas State University’s organization, Feminists United, dissected multiple issues this week including the importance of bringing awareness to what cultural appropriation is and what the negative affects are for not just students, but everyone.
Cultural appropriation is defined as members of a dominant group exploiting or “borrowing” ideas from the culture of a minority group. This includes things like a culture’s dress, dance, music, language, religious symbols and cuisine.
Pattie McChesney, FEMU former president and biology senior, said the Texas State faculty demographic doesn’t represent the student population.
“It tends to be more white than our student population and because of that I think the students of color’s needs don’t get met as much as they could be if we had a more diverse faculty,” McChesney said.
Last fall semester the student demographic had an estimated 49 percent of white students, 33 percent of hispanic students, 10 percent were African American students and 2.5 percent were Asian students.
According to Institutional Research department at the university, minority enrollment has increased over five years. Hispanic and African-American students account for 43 percent of enrollment at the university.
However, there has been minimal increase in full-time faculty and staff at the university. Last semester the demographic for full-time faculty had a majority of 1,199 of white members in the overall faculty. In addition there were 691 Hispanics and there were 106 African-American faculty.
McChesney said it’s important for people to understand cultural appropriation and the people around you.
“The most important things is just listen to what people are telling you,” McChesney said. “If somebody says to you that was hurtful or that makes them feel like less than a person then apply that.”
People looking to understand more on the issue of cultural appropriation should watch youtube channels from people of color that address the problem, McChesney said. Natasha Sundheim, Feminist United member and integrated studies junior, said cultural appropriation is an extension of colonization.
“So even though the America is not being colonized by the British anymore, things like cultural appropriation of specific indigenous American things is an extension of colonization,” Sundheim said.
For example, Sundheim said people cross the line when they decide to wear a culture’s clothing because it looks cool or trendy without understanding its purpose.
The fashion industry has become a problem for minority groups to receive credit or revenue from the designs that are taken from minority groups.
Eva Perez, FEMU member and political science senior, said the traditional clothing from a city in Mexico was taken by a French fashion designer that created copied designs from their cultural clothes.
Sundheim said it has inhibited the low income city from selling their clothing to tourists because of the copyright from the French designer.
In addition, halloween costumes are always an issue and the one time of the year that appropriation comes in one place, Sundheim said.