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CDI clarifies line separating appropriation, appreciation

CDI welcomed all UH students and faculty to the event. |The Cougar/Ajani Stewart

CDI welcomed all UH students and faculty to the event. | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

Students and faculty got the chance to dissect issues of cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation to help promote the Center for Diversity and Inclusion as a safe space Tuesday afternoon through a student-led dialogue discussion.

CDI graduate assistant and English doctoral candidate Jamie Gonzales organized the event while  psychology senior and CDI Ambassador William Hunter led the event. The event was part of a series called Cultural Conversations occurring twice a semester.

“Cultural conversations allow students with differing opinions to come together and be able to exchange them in a respectful way -something that is really important when you’re in a diverse atmosphere,” Gonzales said.

The discussion began on cultural appropriation at large, delving into more specific topics ranging from Miley Cyrus and Kylie Jenner appropriating black culture to Coldplay taking from Indian culture on their music video for “Hymn for the Weekend”.

“We wanted to create a space that’s very inclusive and make sure that everyone who comes is able to speak, learn and engage in what they feel is important,” Hunter said.  “I feel that we were able to do that today.  We helped start a dialogue and raised the awareness of sensitive topics such as appreciation and appropriation.”

Some of the students in attendance found the event to be just as educational as it was thought-provoking.

“I hadn’t heard the terms appropriation and appreciation before,” said Kunal Parmar, a graduate student studying computer science. “This was the sort of conversation where I didn’t participate a lot because it was more of a learning experience for me.”

Other students hoped that the event would increase the visibility of CDI and raise its profile with the student body.

“Because of all these diversity workshops I have developed as a person and learned so much about other cultures,” said Shadman Qaisar, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering.  “They have helped me so much.  I just want to see the Center have a greater reach across the campus because I know they can impact others just as they have impacted me.”

This idea was echoed by many of the people at the CDI.

“If you want to come somewhere where you’ll feel supported, safe and open to learning new things this center is for you,” Hunter said.  “We want to create a campus culture that is inclusive and I’d love for people who are interested to stop by and take part.”

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