Some Americans are steaming about the shocking incident in Salt Lake City when a young Utah white girl demonstrated her white privilege and scandalous racism, imperialism, consumerism, colonialism, narcissism, egocentrism, materialism, highbrowism, astigmatism and even touch of isomerism and dimerism, a loathsome cornucopia of vice all wrapped in one egregious act: wearing a Chinese dress, the elegant qipao. Sadly, most folks here in China don’t have the advanced education that is required to get so frothy over someone’s dress, as the Southern China Morning Post reports. Chinese mainlanders tend to think Keziah Daum’s choice of prom dress was a cool decision and don’t understand the vitriol, which is why we need more elite American tourists to come to China and help educate the natives over here. Feel free to educate me, too, when you visit. And then after your lecture, I can show you some of the better places to get nice tailored Asian clothes cheap.
You’ll need to know where those places are so you can tell Chinese people where to go after you vent about just how offended you are at their cultural misappropriation of Western dresses, pants, shoes, shirts, and suits, even down to specific Western brands like Nike and Boss. If you enjoy venting, there are bigger fish to stir fry than a Utah prom dress.
Meanwhile, another Westerner who has lived for years in China, Mark Cohen, the US government’s former liaison to China from the US Patent and Trademark Office, wrote an article on this incident that helped me realize that cultural misappropriation among Americans is far worse than I imagined.
Critics of Mormonism (another offensive -ism to stir up sensitive souls) will be pleased with the shocking news that scandalous cultural misappropriation is taking place every Sunday in almost every Mormon chapel around the United States and perhaps all over the world. See those men sitting on the stand as if they are some kind of leaders or something? How many of them are genuine Croatians? Almost none. But there they are, egregiously and ignorantly misappropriating the classical Croatian attire. Mark Cohen seems way too calm as he explains this scandal:
One need not travel far to see evidence of cultural borrowings. Whenever a man wears a tie, he is following a tradition set by Croatians
during the Napoleonic wars. Indeed, the French word cravate is a
corrupt French pronunciation of Croate. The origin of the tie is a
source of some pride to the many Croatians I have met over the years.
It’s time we stand in solidarity with Croatian pride! So next time you see some white Mormon male wearing a tie, ask him about his genealogy and see if he’s got at least 50% Croatian roots. Once he’s admitted that he doesn’t, you’ve got him! Then get on your high horse — wait, that would be misappropriating Apache and Mongolian horsemanship skills — or rather, throw down the gauntlet (totally OK if you are descended from medieval French knights), and let him know just how morally superior you are. Eat your heart out, or his — if you come from an authentic cannibal culture, that is, and if local laws and regulations permit.
Best to keep that Asian-themed tattoos covered up while you do this, just to prevent misunderstanding (especially the kind that comes from understanding, if he understands Chinese — sometimes those cool Chinese characters people get for tattoos actually say some pretty awkward things).
By the way, happy Cinco de Mayo!