Queen’s clubs discuss impact of cultural appropriation at CARED panel

Queen’s Committee Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination hosts event to create safe, educational space for discussion

CARED’s panel was hosted virtually through Zoom.

For Cultural and Ethnic Awareness Month, Queen’s Committee Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination (CARED) held a panel discussing cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation on Oct. 19.

CARED is an anti-racist activist and educational committee under the AMS Social Issues Commission working to examine the ways in which racism and discrimination intersect with issues of gender, class, and sexuality and explores possible strategies for combating it.

The panel, which was hosted over video-chat platform Zoom, featured representatives from Queen’s Black Academic Society, Queen’s University Muslim Student Association, Queen’s Asian Student Association, and Queen’s Women of Colour Collective.

Each of these groups function with the intention of providing safe spaces for marginalized voices on campus and educating the community.

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The event was structured so that CARED organizers posed questions to those in attendance and allowed panelists to provide their thoughts on the topics and discuss challenges they face. 

CARED co-chairs Jade Leonard and Joseph Oladimeji posed questions to the panelists throughout the event to foster discussions about the impact of cultural appropriation on students.

“Panels like this are a great opportunity to create a space where marginalized groups on campus can talk freely and openly about the challenges they face without fear of consequence and persecution,” Leonard told The Journal.

“Folks can often feel alone when experiencing oppression, so having an open dialogue to express common feelings is healing for this community.”

Discussions focused largely on instances where certain aspects of a marginalized culture had been appropriated by Western culture, when it was okay for a member of a certain culture to allow another individual to borrow or adopt certain practices from a culture that’s not their own, and how the internet influenced cultural appreciation versus appropriation.

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The panel also discussed how the Queen’s community should be moving forward to ensure instances of cultural appropriation don’t happen and how people should be held accountable when marginalized cultures do become appropriated.

Leonard explained that events like the CARED panel also offer allies a chance to learn and educate themselves on the lived experiences of marginalized groups.

“Listening to the voices firsthand is not only a way to get informed but to visibly show your support for marginalized communities,” Leonard said. “Ultimately, having these conversations allow us to highlight the realities of the BIPOC community and reduces the perpetuation of racism when we face these issues head on.”

Leonard added CARED’s hope for white students in attendance was to recognize the impacts of cultural appropriation on marginalized communities.

“The topic of cultural appropriation is rooted in institutionalized racism. It is also enhanced through capitalist motives, where participants (Westerners) are able to profit off marginalized groups and their culture while still maintaining their privilege,” Leonard wrote.

“To be able to pick and choose what you see as desirable or digestible from one’s culture perpetuates stereotypes and ostracizes the marginalized from dominant (white) society.”

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