Two of my son’s children, and soon-to-be three, attend the Chinese immersion public school in Cottonwood Heights; we love this school. Our first grader speaks more Chinese words and writes more Chinese characters than I ever did. At the school’s recent Chinese New Year program, several white girls wore Chinese outfits. Whew — sure glad no one accused them of “cultural appropriation.”
Frankly, every culture is guilty of cultural appropriation. For instance, the White House was designed by Irish architect James Hoban, his inspiration being the Leinster House, Ireland’s Parliament buildings. The exterior of our own Utah Capitol has many details from the Corinthian style, its roots coming from Greek and Roman architecture.
Although for decades I’ve encountered racial taunting and discrimination in Utah, most recently at a large sporting goods store in Sandy, I don’t mind when people ask where I’m from, or where my parents were born, or if I speak Chinese.
But others may be offended. Chill out, people. We’re well-intentioned. While “well-intentioned” is criticized, at times justified, I want to err on the side of giving people some slack. Questions can help narrow the divide between differences, teach about our backgrounds, including white backgrounds, and start new friendships.
Growing up with prejudice, I wanted to be white to fit in better. So I wonder if I would have been as intrepid and immovable as Daum is, as she so eloquently defends her choice. Hang in there, girl. You are teaching us a lesson where a dress is not just a dress.
Sarah Smith, Salt Lake City