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Cultural Appropriation: Where Does it Stop for Mixed-Raced Kids?

Updated on April 23, 2016

On the subject of mixed raced kids, as I am one myself, when it comes to cultural appropriation, when does it stop or begin for us?

I am of many races, my father is Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Chinese, while my mother is full Dominican; to say the least, I have a whole lot of Latino and a little bit of Asian in my blood. When does the representation of my various cultures stop, or is it based on what culture I was raised with? In other words, how exactly does it work?

Being that some people assume my various ethnicities through my appearance, am I still allowed to tie my hair up in a scarf, wear bindis or crowns even if I don't appear to be Asian to some?

As more and more information goes on about "cultural appropriation" and "cultural appreciation", it seems to me that people scream Cultural Appropriation based on appearances. Here's the problem with that, not everyone from a specific region looks the same; you have dark skin Dominicans just as much as you have light skin ones; so, saying that someone is appropriating your culture just based off appearances can be a huge mistake.


Take my Uncle; for instance, Full Blooded Puerto-Rican, and yet he has pale skin and red hair. People can very well, and probably have, looked at him and screamed cultural appropriation just by appearance alone.

Same goes for me in an instance when I put my hair in a colorfully patterned head scarf to go out and I was stopped because I was appropriating "black culture". Why is it assumed that head scarves are only for "black culture", and does it extend to only African Americans or people that appear to be "black" (i.e dark-skinned Latinos)?

That being said when I see people with Asian accessories, inspired hair styles, and clothing, I see it as appreciation instead of appropriation. And as a mixed-race child, I find that I struggle with what is "okay" for me to wear and what "isn't" because I don't appear to be ethnically who I am. It is only when I learn more information about my ancestry and their culture do I feel comfortable wearing certain styles of clothing or accessories. Should I always feel on guard for a time when I need to defend myself and my ethnicity?

FKA Twigs in concert
FKA Twigs in concert | Source
Vanessa Hudgens, Pictured with Bindi
Vanessa Hudgens, Pictured with Bindi | Source

In an article for this season's Teen Vogue, F.K.A Twigs starred in one of the articles photos saying that she was searching for a style that exemplified her "blackness". The star is both Jamaican and Spanish; although it is obvious that she is a mixture of ethnicities, why did she feel the need to exemplify solely her "blackness", and wouldn't a recent image of her wearing a bindi make it "cultural appropriation".

On the other side of the coin you have proclaimed "Coachella Queen" Vanessa Hudgens, a mixture of Irish, Filipino, and Native American, was shamed for wearing a bindi for "cultural appropriation" reasons. Why her, who has Native American and Asian ancestry, and not F.K.A Twigs who shows no sign of Asian descent?

Could it be, I wonder, because of the color of their skin?

***I am open to explanations***


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    • Tatiana Ho profile image

      Tatiana Ho 2 years ago from New York, New York

      I completely agree!

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 2 years ago from Canada

      Tatiana - Very interesting topic, and well written hub. As you know, there will always be those mentalities that like fussing over the most ridiculous things. In the distant history every European redhead was prosecuted as a witch. Then came stupid racism to the West, not to mention that some geniuses started those jokes about less than intelligent blondes.

      So, maybe the best thing to do is just ignore such people who are making a big deal of ethnicities and ancestries. They are shallow mentalities judging everyone by their looks.