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Nice Cruise Vacation or Melting Pot for Cultural Appropriation?

“I can’t wait to buy a pink sombrero!” she cheers her face already peeling and red from her short time in the sun. I’m walking behind her, cringing, as she yells “ole!” to every passerby.

At one point I should have known that docking in Mexico with a predominantly white group would be more like Cultural Appropriation 101 than a fun day at the beach.

All I wanted was to enjoy this cruise vacation but it seems everywhere I turn there’s another white man parading around in a sombrero or a little blonde girl wearing corn rows.

It always amazes me how tourism can give so many people a ‘pass’ to appropriate others cultures.

My family and I saved up for this cruise at least 6 months before but my good time was partially ruined by the white and privileged.

Here are just 4 examples of the cultural appropriation I witnessed by tourists.

  1. Frida Kahlo’s face on… basically everything

    Photo courtesy of Pop Sugar

    Most white tourists think that by buying merchandise with Frida Kahlo’s face they’re being ‘ethnic’ or ‘cultured’ when in reality Kahlo would spit in your face if she saw your new shirt. Not only is Kahlo an important figure in Mexican culture that has been taken by Anglos but she was also fiercely against capitalism. She wouldn’t want her face or her art used to make a big company money.

  2. White girls wearing corn rows and braids

    Photo courtesy of Stock Photos

    If you are not black, you should not be appropriating black culture. This includes taking black hairstyles because you are erasing cultural differences. Especially, when black women are judged and ridiculed for their hair styles but white women are praised when they take black women’s same hair style. It made me angry to see these black women mimicking their cultures on the hair of white tourists and it should make everyone angry.

  3. Wearing sombreros to be “cultured”

    Photo courtesy of rolereboot.org

    Unless you’re Mexican don’t wear a sombrero even if you’re on vacation or ever really. I lost count of how many tourists I saw adorning big and wide sombreros. It was like the gross appropriation of  Cinco de Mayo threw up on my Disney Cruise. The sombrero has cultural struggles behind it that most people don’t understand. It’s offensive when people from other cultures try to own it, especially without at least trying to understand what it means to the people of that culture

  4. White people wearing clip in dreads in Jamaica

    Photo courtesy of horror-shop.com

    Dreads are not ok for white people or non-black POC to wear. Period. The tourists at Jamaica bought dreads to look “cool”, maybe to even look like Bob Marley (another figure appropriated by Western culture). But in reality, you’re still perpetuating white privilege and you’ve chosen to be ignorant of the significant contemporary history. Stick to your own hairstyles please and don’t appropriate others.

Sadly, these are just the most prominent examples I witnessed. To be clear there is nothing wrong with wanting to learn about a culture, but feeding off stereotypes or trying to use others culture is not appreciation it’s appropriation.

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Written By

Latina woman, aspiring journalist and film lover, trying to stomp stereotypes and the patriarchy with my large combat boots. Anais is the founder and editor in chief of Modern Girl Literary Magazine and also writes for Mental Movement Magazine. Born and raised in Miami, Florida.

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