Cultural Appropriation in Fashion | Vlog Ep. 2 | The Empty Hanger

– Hi, welcome back
to behind the seams, on the empty hanger. I’m Adjuah, a correspondent
from this series, and today we’re gonna
further explore, the topic of cultural
appropriation and fashion. This one is again of
continued importance to me, because of my mixed heritage. My mom is Dutch,
my dad’s Nigerian. I’m wondering if we
walked a few lines, when it comes to this. And so we’re gonna stop
at my mom’s house first, to take a further
look at this topic. (upbeat music) – I was in Nigeria
a couple of months, when my mother in law
gave me a beautiful, very colorful outfit. And I wore it that Christmas, and I have worn it
quite a few times since. I didn’t wear it daily but
I wore it for special days, like Christmas, Easter,
maybe a birthday. – So that’s my mom Jacomina. A Dutch born woman, who fell in love
with a Nigerian man. They moved together to Nigeria, to be close to his
family and for work. So she wanted to
embrace the culture, and in doing so decided, to wear some of the
traditional clothing. Most of it was gifted to
her by other family members. And she really liked wearing it, at special occasions
and holidays. For her it symbolized
her union with my dad. So it has me wondering is
it culture appropriation, or is it really more
in that situation, like cultural exchange? – I remember going
to the village, where dads mom was born. And it was quite a big thing, everybody stopped working, and they all came
out to meet us. And the first thing they did, was take me to one of
the homes in the bedroom, and gave me a native
outfit to wear. (laughs) Because they wanted me
to be dressed like them. So that was kind
of really special. – So I think it comes
down to context, and has me wondering still, where do we fall
in this continuum? It has me thinking
we should go back, to Doctor Jeffrey Tucker, at the University of Rochester, who we spoke to in
the last episode, for some more clarification
on these definitions. – Participation suggests, a greater investment
socially, politically, intellectually in a culture, that may not be
organically ones own. And so I think of appropriation, culture appropriation being
more like a performance, something that one can put
on and take off easily. Whereas cultural
exchange suggests, again this kind of
participation and investment. And so I think the question
that one should ask, when you’re trying to make a
distinction between the two. Is where is that investment? – So some of my
fondest memories, are attending these Nigerian
community gatherings. Often we did it like for
Nigerian independence day. We’d all come together dressed
in our traditional clothing. My mom did it, and often
was wearing clothes, that had been gifted to
her by other members, of the Nigerian community. We had a great time, we danced,
we’d eat delicious food, and have a genuine
appreciation for one another, and our friendships. I think that this is
a kind of investment, Doctor Jeffrey
was talking about. – It was still kind of
special to wear the outfit, it is like a way of fitting in, of totally accepting
the culture, like eating the food, you know? Eating the Nigerian food, and also being able to
wear their clothing. So it is a way of
saying “Yeah it’s okay, it is part of my
culture too now”. – I love that my mom considers
this part of her culture too. I can’t imagine growing
up any other way. It’s been such a gift
having a blended family, with Dutch and
Nigerian cultures. Especially living
here in America. On our next episode, we’re gonna visit MansaWear, it’s a boutique here
in Rochester, New York, that features
costume-made clothing, out of African fabric. The owner Nita Brown, is gonna tell us a little
bit about her take, on cultural appropriation.

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