Division Creates Unity
In every instance of a metropolitan area, New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, there lives small isolated districts, engorged with the cultural, historical, and religious phenomenon that define each section. Within these brick and mortar establishments, ethnicities flock together to create strongholds of their own cultural identity. These shops today are tourist attractions and museum displays of how their homelands operated; as if you were transported back to the land of the people. But the creation of these segregated areas come with a mist of racism. With the immigration of low-skilled workers, many of these communities came into popular cities looking for work. The upper echelon of the cities had the power to lobby their local government and create borders and police these settlements just like Chinatown in Honolulu. This attack on their people based on a shared attribute banded and cemented these communities to stand together and endure during the tough times. Many of these societies did not adapt and homogenize with the local populous. They kept their language, traditions, and values that came from overseas. From those from the past, these havens of culture help define their people and remember who their ancestors were. I myself had no recollection of Japan being born in the United States. The amount of Japanese culture that I had was only my last name. However, as a child, my family went to the annual Japanese summer festival help at Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. There, I was bombarded with fixtures of paper lanterns, traditional garb was worn by the people, special taiko and instrumental entertainment played as we walked around. Different aspects of the culture I never knew help create a semblance of my cultural identity. Even though I was a second generational immigrant, I felt that connecting to my culture was made simpler thanks to Little Tokyo.
Yet, we now live in an age where world borders are defined by a good internet connection. Becoming engrossed in another culture can easily be done with a click of a button and a night of fun light reading. Music from the globe can be distributed to non-native speakers and some audiences are targeted more because the demographic is more susceptible to purchase the media. With the ease of access to various cultures around the world, some nuance is lost in translation when taken from these types of sources. In the political climate of today, it seems that cultural appropriation is a hot topic that is creating discourse within today’s society. The catalyst to this event was when a high school student went to prom wearing a Chinese style dress to prom. She was not Chinese and had been attacked on Twitter for appropriating the culture. This cascaded into a long line about what is acceptable to do with another person's culture. That the cultures that have been ostracized and discouraged in mainstream society, now seem to be the new hot commodity that everyone wants to represent and explore. Now the lines between being part of the community and exploring someone else culture are being defined and separated. These minorities are now having their culture being represented by the ones who have oppressed them. The outcry these communities have is appropriate, but people who gravitate to these cultures and truly want to emulate them are being disciplined not to. Walls are being created on both sides of the fence, with guards waiting on each side, waiting for the first shot.