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  1. OP, I’m sorry if it seems like overtaking your thread. This was addressed to me so I intend to answer it. Bluegoat, are we talking about the Dartmouth play? If so, I actually can see why some people said it was cultural appropriation. I don’t know the context of his play because it never came to fruition but I did see one promo photo of an actress dressed in full make up and costume. Minorities who are mainly POC, are largely underrepresented in American film and acting. I understand why some people felt compelled to speak up and ask why he still proceeded with casting a play about Chinese people with no Chinese actors, and then have them look the way he presented them. Some may not have been bothered by it but some were. He could have ignored the outraged and carried on with production. Or he could still continue to seek out actors of Chinese descent and come to a middle ground (he can still do this, unless there is something truly in play that would make him hesitate). He chose instead to just put the play on the shelf. Why do you think it was so important for Disney to specifically seek out actors of Polynesian descent to voice over characters for Moana? Or for them to seek out Hispanic and Latinx descended actors for Elena? Was this just a way to a way to deprive white actors of a job? After all, we don’t see the real person voicing an animation so their race shouldn’t matter right? No. They recognized that they wanted to share specific cultural stories from demographic gaps that had yet to be fulfilled. And they asked people from said demographic groups to be representatives to tell the stories. It’s like Disney saying, “We want to share YOUR cultural story AND we want YOU to be able to tell it.†And it was presented in a digestible way that many people across a broad spectrum of races have been able to appreciate and adore it. The minority culture gets exposure, the minority group gets to represent themselves, and other groups get to enjoy and emulate them. Here, I offer this example. A long time ago, women were not allowed to be actors in European theatre. All female roles were performed by boys and young men. Any woman who actually was associated with the theatre was considered promiscuous or had negative connotations. Women were the minorities and men were in power in this dynamic. And this wasn’t a matter of a separate boys and girls club. Women weren’t allowed to act in theatre period. After all, young men and boys could already play all the female roles, who needs the actual women. After the play was over, the male actors could just wash off their makeup and remove their costumes and resume having privileges of being a male (reading, voting, etc.). Meanwhile, women still were not allowed to read, vote, act, etc. Was it wrong for women to want to be represented in theatre? Was it wrong for women to want to be the actual actors portraying themselves? Was it unfair to the men to only be limited to playing male roles and not female once women were allowed to act? Was it a deprivation to men to allow women to enter the theatrical ring? Ideally, you (Generally speaking) would want that men and women could play either female or male roles interchangeably just like kids of all racial backgrounds could dress up in any costume, no? Yes, cultural appropriation is fluidly changing. There are no rules set in stone. There are fuzzy areas and there is always going to be someone who is offended or someone who absolutely doesn’t care. It is exhausting to try to be socially correct at all times. But that doesn’t mean to remove all decency off the table. You can still pause to be thoughtful and respectful if and when people ask it of you.
  2. I was talking about cultural appropriation in the specific context of Halloween. A dominant culture takes symbols or elements of a minority culture to use for their own benefit of a costume. This can apply to anyone, regardless of race. I do admit, there are no hard and fast rules here because the line being crossed is always changing as social norms change. I’ll just try to be cognizant as much as I can. I also agree with you that it’s wonderful to embrace other cultures. This is more of cultural appreciation. Distinctly different. You take the time to learn about a different culture, you experience it yourself, and then integrate or express it into your own culture. It just seems more thoughtful and beyond a costume. I think you can be respectful about not overstepping cultural appropriation boundaries and at the same time be able to show and enjoy elements from another culture. It is inevitable that we get a cultural mish mash when such a diverse group of people are living together (hello, Tex-Mex! Hello, Korean tacos!). We should enjoy each other’s company.
  3. Please don’t. You may want to reconsider wearing make up to darken your skin tone. That can still be construed as “wearing black skin is a part of a costume.†I think it’s great to be Katherine Johnson. Or Bruno Mars or Prince or Tiana or Moana or any other character or idol of whom you look up to. But do not costume up and purposely change the color of your skin or facial features like slanted eyes to be that person. People deal with grievances that are directly related to their skin color or racial features so it’s kind of insulting when they see people casually wear makeup to mimic their skin tones but get to wash it off the next day and not have to deal with the social repercussions that they would normally otherwise face.
  4. We did talk about Pocahontas. And she didn’t think it was worth pursuing wearing the costume for her own reasons after that discussion. If she wants to be Pocahontas to tell her story like Queen Victoria or Joan of Arc, then we would not choose the Disney version.
  5. I understand. Kids pick whatever that they love at the moment. And I completely understand not wanting to dash their hopes or ruin their fun. I also agree that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But I am an adult who has been well made aware that Disney Pocahontas is quite different than actual real Pocahontas. Powhatan natives and historians have disputed Disney’s glamorous love story, name, her age, etc. I don’t want to misrepresent who she was by wearing her Disney costume. Moana is a little different because she became this fictional character amalgamation of different cultures (same with Elena) and Disney hired a group of people to culture check the movie. They tried harder with this one. If you want to dress up as Moana, please do go ahead. We love Moana too. I’m not trying to shun anyone’s choice in thoughtful costuming. I am just saying why I think I or DD wouldn’t wear certain things or why I would take pause to think about it if someone called me out for being culturally insensitive. Use Moana as a springboard to learn more about Polynesian cultures (there are so many different groups!). Take a sailing trip, learn Hula or Tahitian or Samoan or Tonga, etc. DD fell in love with so many aspects of Moana that we get to explore cultures beyond just her costume.
  6. In my case, DD asked specifically why she couldn’t have blue eyes and that she wanted me to get her blue eyes. I had to explain to her that she was born with brown eyes and that she could still be Cinderella (or whatever character) she wanted. I don’t refute that’s Disney Cinderella has blue eyes. I was bothered because she was asking to change something she was born with to, in her mind, fit an ideal.
  7. I don’t think anyone should dress like Pochontas for Halloween, regardless of race. I know I mentioned earlier I was ok with the Disney princesses but I should have excluded Pocahontas. Some of the Native American community have spoken out against this and even if not all people are bothered by it, one complaint is enough for me to not ever pursue it. Same would apply for Maui and his tattoos. The tattoos have significant value and it would be wrong for me to exploit them for a superficial costume. If someone else complained about other costumes I would listen. There are a million other costume ideas to choose from. I can look at Native American history of genocide and realize it is not too much to relent in giving some of their dignity back when they ask for it. African Americans too have a pretty painful history here in America. Their ancestors were kidnapped, beaten, raped, enslaved and stripped of their heritage and language. They lost their original family cultures in a brutal and forced way and that is very sad. I do not think it is unreasonable at all for people to respect their wishes of not wearing blackface or dressing up like a “thug†or “hip hop gangster†or any other stereotype of being black. Doing so perpetuates the systemic racial imbalance that we still have and marginalizes minority groups. Going to Morocco and wearing kaftan or wearing sari because you were gifted them have a different context. You were invited into the culture by the community to participate and you’re not wearing it in a way to mock the culture (like say, for Halloween). Most different cultures would probably warmly welcome “foreigners†who are sincere in learning more. I know some people who would be thrilled to dress them up and feed them all kinds of their specialty foods. I highly encourage that actually. Learn about someone else’s culture, their ethnic background, someone not of your own race. This is very different than slapping on a feather headdress and claiming to be “Indian†for one night of partying. As for having partial ties or bloodlines to the community, I don’t know exactly what to say to this. Nixpix5 mentioned earlier that as a white female she identified with Hispanic heritage since that is what she grew up with. I empathize because all too often I have heard in my own experience and in others that we were “too X race to belong in Y group†but at the same time “too Y race to be X group.†And it hurts. You don’t know quite where to fit in because your skin color or your upbringing are different from another group’s experience. I do hope that because the population is becoming more multiracial that we won’t have to check any more boxes because we don’t fit in just one box anymore.
  8. Uhh...how do you explain blackface then? White kids didn’t want to dress up like black people but theatrical actors did anyway? People were imitating black skin for theatrical relief since the 1830s. And the blackface characters were always portrayed in comedic or subhuman tropes, never as the “strong, beautiful, and wonderful princesses.†And also, you don’t need slavery to exist today to be able to recognize that systemic racism still exists. Slavery may have been abolished but there is still a huge power imbalance between majority and minority race.
  9. You can do it LMD! And it’s a great way for you to bond with your daughter. She will be cheering you on too. Simplify chords and melody if you’re comfortable changing arrangements. This way, you’re not overtaking your daughter.
  10. Agreed with listening to audio when not actively practicing piano. When you memorize the song by ear you can correct your playing faster. Listen over and over and over again. Also, do you know the keys of the pieces you are playing? If you know what scale is used you can just focus on playing the chord progressions and inversions to warm up your fingers and build muscle recall of the chords for each song. Is the violinist in your family or someone you can practice together with? It is one thing to learn the pieces, another to accompany. Practice at least once or twice together if you can arrange it. Good luck! You’re phenomenal to step up to play like this.
  11. Personally, I don’t have a problem as any kid dressing up as a Disney princess et al because it’s a very specific character with specific storylines and props. They are being marketed across all multicultural lines. My DD loves Moana (as do I) and Elena. When she was younger she was enamored with the Disney version of Cinderella and I once saw her pretending to “put in her blue eyes†in order to complete her being Cinderella. It kind of broke my heart that she thought she equated having blue eyes meant being a true princess. Representation matters. I think it’s great that so many girls of different races get to emulate their favorite characters regardless, whether it’s Cinderella or Tiana or Moana. I do, however, remind my DD that there is more to a culture than just the face of one princess.
  12. If someone approached me and told me my costume was offensive, I would be super embarrassed and make sure to rectify it as much as possible. I would want to be as respectful as possible and try to widen my knowledge about a culture I don’t fully understand. If I showed up to a mosque in Istanbul with my hair uncovered while wearing muddy shoes and someone chastised me, I wouldn’t say, “How dare you?! You’re wrong!†Sometimes costumes have a cultural and/or racial aspect that have been mocked over time for the sake of Halloween or disregarded and their significance gets watered down. I wouldn’t be upset if someone asked me to refrain from wearing such costumes. I don’t think that is unreasonable. And I don’t think people are looking to be offended here. If you look at a lot of Halloween stores, so many of their costumes are caricatures of stereotypes. It’s probably just a time when people are getting their voice to pipe up and say, “Hey, this isn’t so cool after all.â€
  13. SKL, if your daughter wants to be a ninja aka mercenary, go right on ahead. Do your thing! If you want to learn some of the context behind the costume: Japanese kimono and martial arts uniforms including ninja were/are worn a very specific way. The way the lapels are arranged and even the way the knots of the belts are tied if done in the opposite way usually signify that the person wearing it is dead. Would I bat an eye if I saw a kid wearing a generic ninja costume on Halloween...probably not. Would I take pause if I were dressing my own kid in ninja uniform...absolutely. I wouldn’t want my kid walking around wearing the wrong cultural symbol saying she was dead because I am aware that there is a cultural significance to it. Of course, not many people would realize there was so much meaning in these details. On Halloween, it’s just a costume meant for fun. Some people might care and some people won’t care. It would be up to you if you wanted to learn the history behind your costume.
  14. The wig looks fine. Feel free to style it by pin tucking the length up accordingly since Katherine’s true hair is usually styled shorter. :)
  15. Please do not forget her glasses! They are a signature of Katherine’s look. Extra points if they are 50s style. And because she did mathematical calculations by hand, please also do not forget #2 pencils and stacks of paper with the trajectories and calculations of orbital flight path. I think it’s wonderful for your DD to dress up as Katherine Johnson (I am biased though because I did research on women in STEM fields). The only thing I would carefully consider with thought would be the selection of the wig. Some African American women do find it offensive when their hair is imitated through stereotypes like “Afros†or dreadlocks, so please choose carefully.
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