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Cultural Appreciation Or Appropriation?

Cultural Appreciation Or Appropriation?

May 15, 2010
Gori Girl

Is a gori's adoption of Indian clothing a form of admiration, or is it just rude?



My recent purchase of two saris got my restless mind squirming. I began to wonder what people of Indian descent would really think of a white Westerner that would dare to wear a sari. Since I don’t have a huge circle of Desi friends to ask, I was forced to resort to Googling “white woman sari” and various similar combinations of keywords so that I could get an idea of what people actually think of such a thing.

Naturally, it is naïve to expect one clear answer on the subject. The opinions were fairly equally divided between the “of course you can wear one!” and “don’t be ridiculous!” camps, which didn’t really help answer my question.

I decided to wear the cotton brocade out to the shoe store as my black Birkenstocks ruined the look and I needed something nicer, and to the grocery store. Just to see what would happen. Sadly, no Indian folk were to be seen during my excursion and I had to settle for the delighted smiles and compliments of fellow whites.

It was actually kind of nerve-wracking, having all eyes on me like that. I had no choice but to hold my head high, square my shoulders, and walk proudly like I hadn’t a care in the world. One thing I know about wearing a sari: you can’t pull it off if you’re walking hunched over like you want to be invisible. So I didn’t bother trying.

I did learn two valuable things though: for one, saris are really comfortable on a hot sunny day, and two, that I can drive while wearing one.

After I got home, I did a little more Googling. A common complaint of the “white women shouldn’t wear saris” camp was that a Westerner that tries to wear Indian (or any other ethnic clothing) is being rude by appropriating culture that doesn’t belong to them, as if clothing can be insulted or demeaned by some sort of fashion-specific manifest destiny.

This didn’t sit well with me. I live in a city where whites are not a majority. We have an equal number of blacks, as well as large populations of Hispanic and various Asian nations. My city is one of the more violent ones in the US, having a murder rate in the triple digits nearly every year. I have experienced a great deal of what the popular media likes to refer to as “reverse racism.” As if any racism is OK; as if it’s excusable because whites in the recent past used to commit racism, so let’s just go for an eye for an eye and not evolve and do better than our forefathers did.

I’ve never oppressed anyone. I have never called anyone a racial slur – though when I have confrontations in my city (as is inevitable from time to time) I’m almost always called some derogatory name such as cracker or worse. My mother’s side of the family has always been “trailer trash.” We’ve never had the money to own real homes, let alone slaves. I don’t condone racism, I don’t condone racial slurs, I believe in equal opportunities for everyone based on merit and not ethnicity. 60,000 years ago we all had a common ancestor, so in my own scientifically-minded opinion, we’re all the same. The devil, as usual, is in the details – in this case, the details of skin color, ancestral origin, culture.

So when I read that a Westerner in a sari is committing the sin of cultural appropriation, I got more than a little offended, if I’m being honest. Isn’t the intent more important than outside opinion? Sure, I know it’s not realistic to expect people to be reasonable about some things. But how is my admiration and love of the sari an insult to anyone? How is something so positive turned by some people into a negative?

All that aside, this sort of statement seems rather hypocritical. As people all over the world turn aside from their traditional wear in favor of the Western uniform of jeans and t-shirts, shouldn’t it be an occasion of joy to see that their cultural heritage is treasured by people on the outside of the culture? How exactly is it that a non-Westerner can go between the different styles of dress, but a Westerner cannot? Is this not a double standard, and is this truly acceptable?

As a Westerner of my generation, and from a liberal state to boot, I have a generous portion of Western Guilt ingrained in me. We’re taught to be guilty about what we have, and what we are. The imperialistic activities of our ancestors, as well as the rampant greed and corruption of the corporations and the corporate-directed government are a heavy burden on those of us who know better and who regret what has been done in the past, and even in the present, by people that we do not appreciate or admire.

I spent three weeks in Thailand a decade or so ago. Even though haggling was expected and to not haggle was considered rather rude, I felt terribly guilty trying to argue down what I felt was already a ridiculously low price. This need of mine to find that Indians will accept my wearing of the sari is another manifestation of this Western Guilt.

I’m not appropriating the culture, I’m celebrating it! And yet because of the color of my skin, some people consider me to be continuing the abhorrent practices of imperialism simply by choosing to dress in something beautiful from another land.

The power structure of the world is shifting. By my grandchildren’s time, I fully expect India and China to be the world’s leaders in most of the places America leads now. My embracing of the sari, rather than being seen as a confiscation of something that does not belong to me, should perhaps be seen as my acceptance of future world leadership.

I would like to feel proud to wear a sari, but there will always be that little voice that has been instilled in my heart, that because I’m a white woman from America, I don’t have the right to enjoy the clothing and culture from other lands as if they were my own. And I find this to be a sad state of affairs.

Yes, Europeans and Americans have done a lot of damage in the world, and still do. But not all of us support what goes on. Some of us are disgusted by past and present imperialistic acts. Holding all of us responsible for the actions of people long dead, or unsupported by us in the present, is unfair. And bearing resentment against us because of where we were born, or the color of our skin and hair, is just continuing the age-old evil of xenophobia and acts of murder and destruction in its service.

The world gets smaller every day. We all have to live in it. We should all be allowed to celebrate whichever parts of it that we love, no matter if it is something native to our lands or not.

Even if something is not native to one’s homeland, it can become native to one’s heart.

232 Comments

  • Niara
    By
    Niara
    26.08.14 05:59 AM
    I think what (us) westerners and, to be honest, everyone who desires an interaction with another culture, needs to keep in mind is that western culture is not an exclusive culture. We, as westerners are the conglomeration of several cultures and peoples. We are not 'open to everyone' we are a part of or an imitation of several.

    What I believe white people specifically need to understand is that cultural appropriation is real and there is a reason why non-whites don't 'appropriate' weatern culture as some would think. Weaterners may be raised with 'Western Guilt' but it comes from a real place. Other cultures including those present in America, are often purposefully opressed and mocked. This causes people to try to supress their culture in favor of western culture.

    To put it simple: Other cultures are not appropriating yours; yours is a conglomeration of others. Also, you are bot being told that your culture isn't sufficient or acceptable. You have no reason to try to conform to another culture because yours has the priviledge of being praised even in other countries. (White priviledge)

    Please consider how ignorant you may sound.
  • Adi
    By
    Adi
    19.07.14 08:05 PM
    If U go into any big Mumbai shopping center You will mostly see Western outfits to be sold or some kind of fusion Indian-Western clothes which partially look quite odd. I love sarees as a non Indian and I wear them occasionally, though less and less lately since I stumble upon the opinion I am looked as "ridiculous" by the Indian fellows who forget I myself am married one. My husband is proud of me if I wear Indian clothing but I somehow got fed up with that kind of "thinking" that their clothes are theirs and ours belong everyone. All right, do I have to be French to wear French perfumes? And yes, if this is the case, then well, I lived in Mumbai for quite a while and saw how they wear their sarees:
    1. The blouse is sleeveless or deep cut front and behind. Me as a westerner don't wear such a showy top ever.
    2. Same blouse is as short as it goes done so the skin between the saree and the top is properly visible.
    3. The paloo is short and with a little attitude, the saree starts below the navel.
    And where were we? Aha, in a decent conservative kind of a polemic right?
    When I wanted to wear my sober lovely evening gown in an Indian function all my associate Indian ladies were telling me Indian clothing is must. Huh? Where were we again?
    They don't mind displaying their clothes amongst us nicely but when we are amongst them should behave conformist?
    I still love India and keep my best friends around there, especially one of them who always tells me to wear what I please and send the rest away, but always failed to understand this matter and some other few which don't bother me as much.
  • Catie
    By
    Catie
    12.08.13 04:28 AM
    I was concern about wearing my saris at my workplace. The dress code is lax though I have three Indian women as coworkers and there are others I see in the hall. So I asked my coworkers about it, testing the waters and then came in wearing one.

    So far all the responses at the office have been positive. I even had an Indian woman who I did not know walk up to me and say that she appreciated seeing me in my saris.

    The only negative response I received was from an Indian woman who saw me on the bus and she gave me a bit of a stink eye. I'm assuming she did not like my tribal drape.

    I think part of it is whether or not it's a costume versus clothing. If you're not comfortable, it makes the clothes seem like a costume and that you're playing at something. While if you're comfortable, it's just clothing that you're wearing. Though people do make assumptions as to the why. I've gotten asked a few times if I have an Indian fiancee.
  • Ann
    By
    Ann
    28.04.13 01:06 PM
    Whitey should leave America as America belongs to the indigenous peoples that Whitey's ancestors colonized. He should also enroll in some college classes as his English is atrocious.

    I won't address any of Whitey's arguments as he is obviously a racist fool. Don't worry, Whitey, the day is coming when the POC of the world are going to drown out your ass with their accomplishments, talents, and intelligence. It's already happening. I spent a year teaching in American schools, and I taught abroad as well. If that is an indication of the future, well, I fear for Whitey's pasty ass.

    Oh, I'm sorry, was I an angry POC, Whitey? Fuck you. POC who've been enslaved, colonized, brutalized by white people and who to this day are institutionally treated as lesser, who are droned on and treated as collateral damage in neocolonialist wars, who have to listen to white people talk hilariously about post-racism and colorblindness don't need to listen to your garbage nor do they do need to speak politely for the White Man's sake.
  • Ann
    By
    Ann
    28.04.13 12:55 PM
    I stopped reading when I got to the part where the author talked about reverse racism, like there is such a thing, like racism doesn't require institutional power which only the hegemonic ruling class that is white people have. No, white girl, it is not okay for to wear a sari. The only time I don't mind it is the person in question, though of a different cultural background, is intregated and socialized into Indian culture by family and friends. Otherwise, no. It is not okay and you should stop. There are great posts on tumblr about cultural appropriation that white people do and you should really read up on it. Also, perhaps read up on racism as well.
  • Sandra Hansen
    By
    Sandra Hansen
    05.04.13 11:54 PM
    I am a Caucasian woman and have been to India nine times since 1983. I have worn saris every time I went and spent more time wearing sari on each trip. Now I wear them well, comfortably, and receive many compliments. When I do not wear a sari in India, I may or may not be treated with respect. However, whenever I wear a sari, I am always treated with respect. I always receive compliments every time. It is not the sari that they are complimenting me on since I like the cheaper block print saris and rarely wear or buy expensive ones. In all these trips, not one person has suggested that I should not wear it. When I was still learning to wear it people still complimented me and straightened my pleats. My view is that when in Rome, do as the Romans. I feel like people respect me in India for wearing the sari because I appreciate the beauty of India and the sari and I am not trying to be some imperialist missionary telling them how to dress or wearing clothes that are offensive to their society. When I have worn a sari here in the states and acted as if it is as ordinary as wearing blue jeans, no one even batted an eye. It is when I wore it in the states and was uncomfortable in it that everyone looked. But I don't wear it hear since it seems out of place in Michigan.
  • Akasha
    By
    Akasha
    08.03.13 07:18 PM
    I stumbled upon this page and would like to chime in. I too am a Gori, and though my experience is with salwar kameez more than saris, I have some personal experience on the matter of westerners wearing Indian attire and how Indians perceive it.

    You see, I follow the Sikh faith. I regularly go to the Gurdwara and participatew as an active member of the sangat. I started wearing salwar kameez to the Gurdwara because well... thats what ALL the women wear there! Plus it's more comfortable sitting on the floor with loose salwar than jeans or even khakis etc.

    When I first started to wear them, the aunties all commented how beautiful I looked! I started to get a few in my collection and then aome aunties actually started giving me suits - then jewelry too! Now I have a pretty good collection of punjabi suits - some cotton and mostly plain for the Gurdwara, some with more elaborate embroidery for dinners / dances and other Indian events that I inevitibly attend because of my being Sikh, and I even own 2 beautiful Anarkali suits that I love!!!! I wear them only for very special occasions.

    I am very fair... and I think I look good with bright colourful Indian clothes. I do know what colours suit me though and which ones wash my complexion out. I also have very dark hair and eyes though, which seem to help me actually look at least part Punjabi when I am dressed in Indian attire.

    My experience has always been hugely positive and nobody has taken offense to me wearing Indian clothing.... at all. I also make sure to always help with langar and do seva at the Gurdwara, and to engage the other members of the sangat in conversation. I am deeply into my chosen religion and they all know it and respect me for that so I have been accepted fully. And I can't thank them enough!!!

    p.s. here is a pic of me in one of the Anarkali suits and wearing full Indian jewelry too including a tikka. Try saying that white girls can't look good in Indian clothing after seeing it!!!

    Link to pic:
    http://img689.imageshack.us/img689/5356/indianme.jpg
  • Rufus Brent
    By
    Rufus Brent
    13.01.13 03:21 PM
    "I began to wonder what people of Indian descent would really think of a white Westerner that would dare to wear a sari." Depends on the individual person really, and you can't please everyone.

    Honestly I don't see the panic over 'cultural appropriation'. The people of india did not invent the sari, the oldest person in india must be no more than 120 years old and the sari's been around long before then. All of the people of india today were born and it already existed, none of them can say they made it (it's also not an exclusively indian garment but that's beside the point).

    The individual parties responsible for actually inventing the sari are long dead and I very much doubt they decreed "This is the exclusive property of all indians/pakistanis/etc and nobody else". Instead their creation has been appropriated by others for generations and given different meanings to get to the role it has in indian society today. Nobody can rightfully claim they own it. The comment above me mentioned the kilt, seen as an example of scottish culture. Originally it was exclusively a highlands thing however, people in other parts of scotland never used to wear them. The rest of scotland appropriated it as their own, and I'm sure one could find evidence of highlanders as a whole appropriating it from some smaller community.

    There is a difference between what you describe as 'cultural appropriation' and outright mocking another culture, the latter of which is certainly unacceptable. But for the former I don't see how anybody can legitimately claim they "own" a certain cultural item and nobody else is allowed it. Everything that exists is human culture, an example of something humans created, why shouldn't all humans be allowed to do with it as they please? Certainly some people may be offended that others don't recognise the same importance they do of some things but is that really such a tragedy? Being offended isn't particularly taxing.

    Another thing is one shouldn't really jump to conclusions and start tutting "cultural appropriation" upon seeing a white woman in a sari. You don't know that woman, for all you know she could be indian herself (having maybe grown up in india or having indian ancestry) and have just as much right as any other indian person to wear it as she pleases.
  • Kara
    By
    Kara
    04.01.13 03:49 AM
    Frankly, I am a white girl. I have a love of beautiful things and the sari is one of those things. I understand that it is steeped in tradition, but doesn't the kilt and tartan hold great meaning for the Scottish? Noone gets in a snit when I wear plaid.

    I know this is a rather simplistic view, but I feel that women should wear what makes them feel beautiful, whether or not it comes from their culture.
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    30.11.12 11:16 PM
    The transparent Blouse she is wearing is cute too.
  • rajeev
    By
    rajeev
    30.11.12 10:26 PM
    you are looking beautiful. I always fascinates western girl in Indian satire. only they have to choose smartly. don't choose anything bluntly. it is just a costume just like other garment. I think everyone from all race looks pretty. just choose smartly which look beautiful on you.
  • Chia1
    By
    Chia1
    24.11.12 08:33 PM
    Wow! I can't wait to tell my Nepali friend about this discussion. I think all attire should be worn based on the occasion. A white woman in a saree at a basketball game out of place. But a nice dinner date or something why not. Sarees look very fancy with the beading and sequence so for me it would depend on the style and the event weather i would wear one. But i totally get why a white woman would want to wear a saree they are BEAUTIFUL.
  • Lesha
    By
    Lesha
    15.11.12 11:05 PM
    Hey, im black and wear indian clothes sometimes. Get many compliements because I look beautiful in it.
    People even mistake me for an indian. If you saw me you'd see I dont have black facial features.

    But anyway im not being rude since I support people being themself.
    But I dont think indian clothes suit white skin (mostly in sarees)
    Try a different colour :) like black and gold.
    But I think you should stay away from indian clothes for life

    I wasnt being rude but being honest.
    Anyway good luck in life.
    Take care
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    14.10.12 07:45 AM
    I'm actually surprised that so many people have commented since I apologized about a week ago. I would like to provide a link that goes to a page of resources about white privilege and cultural appropriation. I found them invaluable in deconstructing a lot of my assumptions, should anyone else be interested.

    http://vasundharaa.tumblr.com/post/31917466176/this-is-a-resource-post-for-all-the-good-white
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    11.10.12 11:44 PM
    @ E

    Bindi is not a sign of marriage. Other thing is weather cloths are made by kids or not what different does it make? When you are poor you have few choice work for your living or die of starvation. The question is which one us good? none, but you choose what you think it's just at the time.
  • Dianne Sharma Winter
    By
    Dianne Sharma Winter
    11.10.12 11:21 PM
    Hi E, when I carried on googling sari, I came across a whole lot of stuff. One was the same pic with this article with NO written across the image and then there were a few posting from Indians about how western women should probably not try to wear a sari and then just read the comments here!
    For myself it's not an issue at all since a sari is not for me but as an indigenous woman myself I do appreciate that correct behaviour around someone else's culture is vital. Maori philosophy is that of when in Rome do as the Romans do.
    http://desicritics.org/2008/03/01/094830.php
    What I find interesting is that most women are concerned that they don't offend anyone by wearing a sari and my experience is that Indians will either appreciate it or not, you will either get the pleats wrong or not.
    AT the end of the day I think what the Indians may find offensive is the way in which western women justify their right to wear a sari! Who knew it was such a minefield?
    Maori are a bit the same regarding gori use of our culture, its probably something to do with colonial angst. For hundreds of years our culture was trashed and now its revived for fashion etc and then when we complain we get the same colonial justification that saw our lands taken, our men killed etc.
  • E
    By
    E
    11.10.12 08:04 PM
    I'm curious about how sari are political, Dianne.

    I also googled "sari caucasian" because I was curious about attitudes towards non-Indian women wearing a sari. It's interesting for me because... well, this is my fashion research. I think it's inappropriate for someone to wear something without research. But if I wear it, nobody can tell what thought (or lack of thought) went into the choice. It's all about the instant look, isn't it?

    Recently there was also a big discussion about the Native American patterns and designs showing up in designer clothes. I read a lot of long and very intelligent debate (on xojane, I think it was). A lot of points I think can be used across cultures. For example, it's fine to wear a Native American design necklace, but buy from a reputable Native craft-person. Don't wear a thing with great or sacred cultural or religious significance. So, if I wore a sari, I wouldn't be wearing a bindi, because I am not married. And even if I was married, a bindi is not how a white person communicates married status, so I wouldn't wear it.

    The same discussion happened among people who love kimono. They add, you must wear it correctly. A kimono has rules, how you wear it sends a message, the fabrics and colors have meaning, so please keep that in mind. It's not a costume, it's clothing.

    Does that apply to something that is still "alive"? I say a sari is "alive" because it is a common clothing in daily life. A kimono is no longer the traditional daily wear, it is old-lady clothes, or special occasion. Most Japanese people cannot put it on by themselves, and it is not as much a communication/social indicator anymore. If something is in daily life, its cultural or political message is still changing, and the meaning of wearing one is hard to know.

    I own four sari. One purchased from an fair-labor shop in southern India, two gauzy ones from a street shop northern India, and a cotton one from an Indian seller in Japan. I can dress myself and I have worn them in public, but not in America. I would like to, someday. Just in my daily life. I think they are beautiful, comfortable, and look well on me. But until I understand the meaning of sari more, I can't.

    (even looking at a salwaar kameez shopping site, I'm overwhelmed. What matters between a Pakistani or a Churidar suit? If I buy a Kancheepuram silk one, how can I know it wasn't made by child labor weavers? And so on.)
  • Dianne Sharma Winter
    By
    Dianne Sharma Winter
    11.10.12 02:15 PM
    Gori Girl I just came across this article as I am writing a story on How To Wear a Sari in India and wow! what a reaction to your story!! As a colonised Maori woman its not appropriate for me to wear a sari because Maori women do not ever show their puku (midriff) to the world and I have never felt comfortable wearing them. But I do have to admit that whenever I have seen a gori wearing a sari in India, I shake my head and wonder about culture vulturism! Its enough to appreciate and respect Indian culture, salwaar kameez are so much less political!
  • Jerry
    By
    Jerry
    09.10.12 03:44 PM
    @ Harry agree with all that you have said.

    @ Karthik G:

    Just becos u have done some lame assed research does not change my opinion one bit .. You nor those resistent to the idea of ppl of other cultures adopting our dressing style is AGAIN NOT representative of everyone.

    And let me help calrify what i mean when i say "we", i am referring to those who are NOT holding views such as yours.

    End of the day how long are we going to discriminate ppl on the bases of caste. religion, history etc...

    I think far too often people read to far too much into finding reasons to hold prejudices against one another!!

    Rather than encourage ppl to say you know what you like some about me, my culture or I like something about ur culture, appreciate the other, respect it and move on...

    I have friends in Australia, France, Germany and Finland... and you know what all of them visited India and have tried on a saree... and tried their best to carry it off... they were more comfortable in Kurta's and Salwars though... and one wore ghaghra choli to my frnds wedding ...

    Everyone appreciated them and we went shopping so that they cud gift their frnds and families back home...

    Some ppl really need to get a life and quit hating... i guess haters will be haters...

    And i can only imagine that Gori-Girls only mistake was having to raise the question, which must have lead to certain PPL suddenly making a hue & cry over it...

    And there will be endless justifications... its a freaking DRESS for crying out loud...

    Yes there might be some who think or thanks to the bubbles they live in consciously or unconscionably may speak out of terms with regards to the privilege they have come to experience...

    Often though ppl just mean well... they are things we can learn from another and most importantly learn to appreciate and understand one another...
  • Ellen
    By
    Ellen
    05.10.12 07:40 AM
    It's wonderful to hear such inspiring news, Gori Girl. It's a tough thing to learn for everyone. Understanding colonialism and patriarchy made me rethink my white privilege as well. It would be a great message to get out to more people.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    03.10.12 10:07 PM
    @ Karthick G.

    You are only representing group of minority from Indian origin not all of India Or Indians. So these are your views not everybody elses, because I don't share your view despite what you are saying.

    There are few words of wisdom my mother told me before she died " WHAT GOOD IS A MAN IF HE IS NOT GOOD ". Her definition of a good man was that, he would be able to do right when the time comes. Sides with the right side / person leaving race religion gender cast and creed aside and do the right thing when time comes.

    From what you are trying to say and do most don't share your opinion on this forum and I am one of them.

    I don't think anybody owns the right to clothing for wearing one as far as I know.

    All your arguments comes to one point where you are saying anybody who is white should not be allowed to have the same privilege as the rest of the Indian women on the basis that her ancestors or people looking like her ( same skin colour ) have enslaved brown and black people. So my question is, how is this faire in what you are saying. The people who did this have died and the people who they did it to have also died. So the question is where do you draw the line?

    Because somebody is white you can't hold this against them for what has happened in the world. It's past. Period.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    03.10.12 08:57 PM
    Gori Girl, Thank you so much for this. In many ways it confirms a lot of what some of the more resistant people on this board have been saying.

    Jerry and others, you're welcome to your own thoughts, but please stop using words like "we" to represent all South Asians. Also, you have a right to think we're spewing hatred and are nut jobs, but then again, that's just your opinion. If the author of this work herself has come to this realization, then perhaps you should take a second look at your own assumptions.

    It's easy to ignore research and critical thought on post-colonialism, and it's your choice, but until you have done the research and seen the results, you don't have the right to judge those who are resistant.
  • Jerry
    By
    Jerry
    03.10.12 08:23 PM
    @Gori Girl...

    I had to go through your article again as i was wondering if there was anything offensive at all in ur article... and honestly i didnt find...

    And briefly scanned thru the comments section and didnt find anything there either.

    I do see a a few heated arguments. BUT as an I would tell you, so long as you know how to wear a saree properly and carry yourself, I believe YOU have no reason to feel guilty in anyway...

    i know for a fact most indian men and women will be proud that you appreciate our traditional wear... I mean c'mon nearlly every other Indian purchases western attire from various stores / fashion labels/ brands all over the country.

    Wherever you go however there will be haters and nut jobs spewing nonsense... so long as you are proud of how u carry urself we are too...

    tk care n cheers
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    03.10.12 05:09 AM
    I've lost my login info for this page and I don't have my old email address any longer to use as a login.

    This is "Gori Girl" - the writer of this article.

    Since I was last on this site, I have been deeply involved with radical politics here in Oakland. I have learned a lot about colonialism, patriarchy, white supremacy.

    In the past weeks I have been trying to explain to people involved in my local movement where they are using their own privilege and hitting brick walls. It made me think back to this article and some of the stupid, privileged, defensive things I said to people commenting on this post regarding my own white privilege and cultural appropriation.

    I would like at this time to deeply and humbly apologize to anyone I may have offended by being an oppressive, white, appropriating, obtuse person. I really regret how stupid I was being and just wanted everyone to know that I have learned better and am working hard on making the world a better place.
  • Jerry
    By
    Jerry
    05.09.12 02:41 PM
    @ Goru Girl. i felt that it was well written.
    I would say go for it, go flaunt a saree or any Indian Ethnic where that catches you fancy, just a fair warning though, if you are not so sure how to dress up in an Indian attire feel free to ask an Indian girl or someone from the store u are purchasing from.

    One think I can tell u SADLY is there will be a lot of Indian Men who spew rubbish and honestly it has nothing to do with you.

    If anything I would be proud that ppl take a fancy to my tradition and culture. I think its awesome that they love our Indian attire.

    Stay safe, have fun. We sane Indians are with you... Cheers :)
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    23.08.12 04:07 AM
    @ Karthik

    I agree with your concept and the logic but not with your anger.

    What you are really trying to say is that, if you give an inch then they are more likely to take a yard. Is this what you are saying?

    One thing I will say to you is this that the women on this forum are the ones who appreciate our culture. So why object against them? Or do you think that if you agree to give a go ahead then there are others who will appropriate? Is this your main concern when it comes to wearing a sari. I just want to know your real reasons.

    HARRY
  • Karthik
    By
    Karthik
    23.08.12 03:57 AM
    Yo, Whitey, first of all, the spelling of my name is Karthik (with a "k").

    Secondly,it's pretty obvious that you have a problem with other races because of all the "they" people are -- surprise surprise -- of color. What about the Russian immigrant community or any of the other Eastern bloc nation's immigrants and how they monopolize your system? Funny how they don't rub you the wrong way -- just the Arabs at the local store.

    The whole idea of "go back where you came from" is pretty convenient thing to say and screams bigot. Guess what? Many of us were born and raised here. So what happens when a white person spews sh*t? You ask him to go back to Ireland or Italy? No, you didn't think of that because it never crossed your mind that whites could be every bit as bad as anyone else.

    Look at your language -- it's all "we" and "them," like you couldn't imagine that "them" are citizens -- just like you (and me).

    Oh, and anyone who has strong issues with the power structure has to be a low-income earner? Why? Because all high-income earners have assimilated and think the same way as you?

    Sorry, whitey, but you are a bigot. It's okay, we all have prejudices, just don't pretend to be anything you're not. It's what you don't say that says the most about you.
  • whitey
    By
    whitey
    23.08.12 03:40 AM
    I'm not a troll, although my name was a snide joke. My point was hate begets hate.

    Amusing that out of how many comments? Karthic latches onto the one that "proves his point" while all of the others here seem to be much more tolerant of douche-bags than me.

    BTW I dont hate all minorities, in fact, I dont hate any of them. However, I DO hate people like Karthic, who are just a canker on our society. Also, many people do assume that because people like Karthic are so vocal and OBVIOUS in hate, that all people from that country hate us. No one likes to be hated. It, not surprisingly, makes people angry, and react badly *shocked face here*

    People can tell when someone hates them. Karthic just puts out pure hate, and I bet he is more than obvious around white people. And I was serious about people like him getting the f out if they dont have anything to contribute other than hate, and I have MET IN PERSON and gotten people like him FIRED. In my old neighborhood there were people that were middle-easterners that WERE selling our local teenagers booze and smokes out of the gas-station...hence that example. They were laughing about it because they hate whites, and were enjoying hurting our youth in a tangible way.

    I can't really think that somebody with as much obvious hate as Karthic is going to be anything other than a low-paying, crap job, because people who are smart dont hate the way the stupid/ignorant do.

    I'm not going to go to India, China, Japan, Pakistan, Iraq, etc for what seems to be the sole purpose of living off of that economy, and reaping the benefits of that civilization, while decrying how badly people react to me because I show my hatred that obviously.

    Hate it? Hate us? Then leave.

    Don't want to leave? Then grow up and stop spreading your hatred around like herpes. If you hate us that much and are still here, you are a leech, and people WILL treat you like crap, and I personally feel that you deserve it if you are going to act that way.

    All of us Americans started as people from other countries. I have NO issue with people who want to enjoy what we have to offer, and I dont care what color your skin is. I dont walk down the street and see a person and go "oh wow, gtfo mexican/indian/chinese/african/etc.

    The second you starting spewing pure sh*t is when I want your POS attitude gone.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    23.08.12 03:36 AM
    @ whitey

    You are saying........................
    …we have enough racist gas-station attendants selling alcohol and poison to our youth.

    Are you for real, because when I was young and I bought stuff cos I wanted it not because they were selling it.

    You are also saying...................
    If you are living here? Why the f*** are you here if you hate whites so much? You are obviously getting something you cant get in your own country. So go back!

    Firstly they are not there for white people and this forum / post is not about hating white people but it's about culture appropriation, and secondly they are not obviously getting anything for free living in USA because there is nothing free in USA, last time I looked. You also have to work for your money and things and then you pay tax on top of this. So what is free apart from fresh air and h*ll-b*lly abuse.

    They ( Indians) are also there for the same reasons the whole white community went there too less then 200 years ago from different countries of the Europe.
    If you don't know the history look it up.

    So, what you are saying from your last statement is that, you only like other ethnicities if they are kiss a**. I exactly know what you mean.
  • The_Cuddler
    By
    The_Cuddler
    23.08.12 03:24 AM
    My apologies ahead of time, if I did something stupid and made this post twice - please delete the duplicate post if it appears and I don't catch it first


    I was just putting a couple of simple examples that came to mind right away - I was just at Ren Faire recently and thought about the people there - I don't have to sit here and think of every example I was ever exposed to do I - sure it's a bit of a silly one, but if say, you want to try something, but are nervous about offending someone. Perhaps you might be worried about drawing a lot of attention to yourself in regular situations, something like Renn Faire would be one place to do it and express your interest in something else. I am also in certain types of dance, so some of those events call for certain types of clothing - there's another possibility for trying something else.

    My point about America being a melting pot was that in general this place is made up of many different groups and those groups are exposed to and influenced by others, especially in a metro area. Unfortunately there are idiots out there who insist on doing stupid shxt and creating more problems - what happened with that black couple is horrendous and embarrassing to them and this country.

    I have heard the saying that a way into the hearts of others and to experience a part of their culture is through the sharing of food. Maybe you think whoever came up with that is stupid. I don't know. But it was just another simple example. I don't hate Chinese people for one. I don't "hate" anybody - I don't know that I am able to really *hate* - those feelings are poison - the intense anger, sadness, and hurt that I've been feeling personally lately has become poisonous to me and is literally affecting my health - I mean like really making me physically sick - so *hate* is something I hope won't come from me ever...

    Look radiation poisoning, biological warfare, zombies, pandemics, and any other disaster caused by homo sapiens are not fun - if humans don't get it together in some way or another, we might as well pack it up right now and start hiding ourselves away in our holes - don't talk to anyone, don't help anyone, just plain stay away from everyone period b/c you know, they might be the devil and they are going to put shackles on someone and make him/her dig more holes for their kids. And watch out closely b/c the shackled slave might just push that person out of their hole and just move right on in. *cue chimpanzee and gorilla grunts* I mean is that what we should all do then? Seriously? Would everyone separating themselves entirely from one another be the absolute solution to the problem? Well then why not just blow this whole shxt up then? What's the point of humans even existing at all then? If we're just going to stay like this and we're all gonna be mad and hate on each other and cut each other down, then why not just eradicate everyone on the planet right now and be done with it?? Hey NASA stop searching for "Earth-Like" planets b/c you know, what's the point in continuing the human plague elsewhere? I'm quite certain that the vast, ever expanding universe is very very concerned with our petty differences. We should ask SETI if they made sure to include in our "welcome from Earth" message that whoever possibly receives it knows the importance and cultural significance behind the garments we have chosen for ourselves and also knows that the following groups of humans are most definitely 100% responsible for all the suffering in the world and it is important that every last one of them and their descendants be held accountable until the end of time. That is just the way it has to be dammit! All the while not considering the possibility that if in fact there are other intelligent forms of life out there, they might be hostile - and if they are hostile - shxt you think they care about our issues or do you think they just want our damn water?? Yeah I'm gonna bet on they prolly just want the water - we all look funny to them and are obnoxious, primitive beings.

    Yeah that all might sound like some str8 up goofy stuff right there, like downright weird and oddball - the talk of a complete loony wackjob - BUT maybe JUST maybe, there are things out there we couldn't possibly fathom in our current technological state. Perhaps those things might just happen to be bigger and more significant that we could ever possibly conceive in our tiny, underdeveloped minds... Go ahead criticize and ridicule all you want to. Opinions are like a$$holes - everyone's got one right?

    omg whitey wtf - I think whitey = troll
  • Karthik
    By
    Karthik
    23.08.12 01:21 AM
    Thank you, Whitey, for making my point much better than I ever could.

    To all the peace and love folks, welcome to my America...
  • Karthik
    By
    Karthik
    23.08.12 01:12 AM
    Dharma: my hostility is not towards you in particular, but nothing of what you said responds in any way to the points I raised. Yep, I am bitter and angry, or maybe I am just this way around this topic. Either way, the fact that you carry on in your life the way you always have is of no consequence to me as I have no wish to ruin your day, just to make you think. And yes, racism exists in many cultures, but you will notice that it is always light skin vs. dark skin no matter what the locale or nation or ethnic group (yes, even caste)and that is because of a colonial hangover from lighter-skinned invading forces that suggested superiority through appearance.

    Anon: a dictionary definition is empty and sterile because it lacks context, so don't use that to say racism is racism. In the broadest terms it may be but at the heart of it, it's about being considered "lower" or sub-human or incapable of intellect or progress. Even those who dislike white people don't consider them stupid or a lower life form. They hate white people based on experience which is fact, whereas there is no factual evidence to prove that people of color are any weaker or more feeble-minded. So, no, racism is NOT racism.

    Everyone: All this talk of "love and acceptance" amidst the cultural and ethnic turmoil found in every nation in the world is the blindness I am raging against, and if that makes me an angry person, so be it. America is a "melting pot?" Um, no, it isn't, because every day there are instances of racism and violence (just look at how our President is treated -- likening him to a monkey or witch doctor). You keep preaching the same thing about peace and understanding and all that but the world is getting more racist, not less, so I guess your preaching doesn't work. What does work is awareness, but it seems that is considered being "angry."

    Cuddler: You are a prime example of the disconnect between the real world and the one you live in. I think you have good intentions but seriously -- Rennfair? You are comparing what happens in a commercial, make-believe world with the reality of life? America is a melting pot? Is that why a black couple was refused a wedding in a white church just weeks back?

    And food? Seriously? Guess what -- you can hate Chinese people and still like Chinese food, but you're probably not going to wear a cheongsam if you hate Chinese people. THAT is the difference between culture and superficiality.

    Yes, I'm angry, and yes, you all probably hate me, but your vision of the world doesn't work anywhere but in your little hamlets. You can spout all of the rhetoric that you like but in the real world, the opposite happens. But go ahead, by all means enjoy your breakfast because we're not asking you to fight for us, we would just like it if you kept out of our deeper cultural issues.
  • whitey
    By
    whitey
    23.08.12 12:56 AM
    I hope those racist Indian guys dont live in the US...we have enough racist gas-station attendants selling alcohol and poison to our youth.

    If you are living here? Why the f*** are you here if you hate whites so much? You are obviously getting something you cant get in your own country. So go back!

    If you were born here and hate us? Go back to the "good old country". See why your parents came here in the first place.

    Its people like you, Kartic, that make us white people really dislike you people. I have no problem with most ethnicities on their own, but when poeople like you come to OUR country and HATE ON US thats when the lines are drawn, and you get searched at the airport. You are making life so much worse for your fellow Indians by being like you are. I'm glad I'm not Indian, because I'd hate to be associated with an a** like you.
  • The_Cuddler
    By
    The_Cuddler
    23.08.12 12:32 AM
    So I found KG's statement at the end of his one post to be quite interesting:
    "You can’t do something shitty to someone and then blame them for hating you."

    See, I know exactly what that feels like b/c it's an argument that I've had quite a bit with my husband. I would say to him, "look how the hell are you gonna get mad at me for being angry with you?? wtf sense does that make??" He did some terrible things and when I say terrible, I mean there isn't even a word I can come up with - but anyway, I've been really struggling with the fact that he would act with such resentment and mean attitude all the while knowing the things HE did and lied about. Also the one side of his family has been extremely rude to me and have said awful things even before they knew what I looked like. Like for one small example the "green prairie n*gg*r" jokes and comments have gotten way past being annoying. So not really sure what I'm to do with all this stuff, BUT see the thing is I'm not going to hate all Polish Jews because of stuff he did and the way the one side of his family have been to me. I'm angry with those specific individuals because THEY did those things.

    No matter who the person is, they are not going to understand random anger towards them coming out of nowhere - and most likely the logical reaction would be something like "hey what the hell did I do to YOU??" and if the response to it was something like "your people are responsible for 8 billion years of suffering and oppression to my people so now I'm gonna whoop upon your ass!" You don't think the logical reaction to that might be "umm hey I don't know you I'm just trying to get to point b..." or neither individual speaks the same language? No matter what way you slice and dice it, all people of this planet are a drain to the planet's resources - the extinction of various species of plants and organisms is not discriminating. So you can argue who did what all day long, but once this planet buckles at 50 billion ppl we're all done. Or say if the zombie apocalypse happens before then - you thing they are going to care if the brains come from yellow, red, white, black, brown, green etc., ppl?? You think at that point people then will be actually free of all discriminatory elements because, well, they're all zombies and they're all looking for brains. Or the remaining living ppl will have to band together regardless of where or what they come from because if they don't they will certainly meet their end as a species right then and there?? lol yes I did in fact go there.... But point is, people will band together in certain types of strife regardless of background simply because the immediate need is there. Then perhaps after that, they might say hmm we were able to do this and that and it didn't matter whatsoever what the person was. It's like this, "omg this walking dead guy is grabbing my leg and he's about to bite my foot - please help pull me through this opening in the gate so I can get free from him!!" Will either of them hesitate because of their backgrounds at that point??

    America really is a melting pot - so I don't know how much very specific American cultural things there are. Everything in America is and has been influenced in one way or another by different cultures. Also it is very common for many Americans to be of 2 or ethnicities or races. Therefore, it would not be unheard of to consider that Americans would like to be able to identify with their originating groups and explore other groups because they are accustomed to be exposed to others - like in large metro areas for example. In order to break up the negative attitudes towards certain groups, it will have to start with the kids - if you don't act or talk as if anything or anyone is different, they won't think to do so, therefore could it be one possible way to break this vicious cycle? It has to start somewhere...

    And as far as other groups in ethnic tattoos and kilts or whatnot - Actually, since I used to be involved quite heavily in the music scene, pretty much anything was a go there. An Asian friend used to like wearing a shirt that said "everyone loves and Irish girl" and ghillie brogues. Also see alot of people of all different groups donning Northwest Coast Native American, Samoan, Maori, etc., and yes, even Celtic tattoos to name just a few. I don't remember anyone ever calling them out or acting all weird about it - so yeah if you wanna wear a kilt - why not? I don't think you'd look stupid just because you belong to a certain group - there's Renn Faire too and you could certainly do it there. I've seen black guys wearing them and dressing up all pirate and such and no one cared - in fact this last event I was at this guy had one on and everyone kept complementing him - his getup was really nice actually. Now about the Lederhosen - that I have yet to see, but c'mon how many people actually like the way those look - they look funny no matter what the person is - maybe old fokes at Oktoberfest - that's where I usually see those at and I always think of "Pinnochio".... I think most ppl regardless of background are going to find the Sari to be a much prettier, soft, feminine garment compared to the Dirndl too - and most it's the old fokes donning the Dirndl as well - but hey if a lady likes a Dirndl, then why the hell not - it just looks like it may be a bit binding and uncomfortable? The clogs or whatever the shoes definitely look like they'd hurt pretty bad after a while...

    So does the same thing go for cuisine? Should people of one group not venture into the cuisine of another? I dunno I would certainly not want to give up eating food of different cultures. For me it's got to the point where I can't even bear the thought of eating hamburgers - gross. And people here practically live on bratwurst - oh man and that's really fackin' gross *gag* I happen to prefer eating different Indian and Middle Eastern recipes - those are my favorite and are what I prefer to cook and eat over anything else - especially if we have to be out to eat - I hate places that have only what's listed as the typical "American" style fare, which might usually be minnie cheeseburgers, mini pizzas, some type of iceburg lettuce crap labeled as "salad", something fried in some kind of batter or on a stick piled with 20,000 pounds of meat and some onion rings, steamed overcooked vegetables, and hmm what else ....mayonnaise. lmao it's true though...
  • anon
    By
    anon
    23.08.12 12:15 AM
    Karthik, racism IS racism, there are not different kinds of racism.

    rac·ism/?r??siz?m/
    Noun:
    The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as...
    Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief.

    Guess what? I dont see any particular color listed here as the proponent of racism, no one owns it. You are definitely racist against non-Indians, just as some asians are against non-asians, some whites are against non-whites, and some blacks agaisnt non-blacks, etc etc etc.

    I never said suck it up, and everything is great now! I said stop blaming others for YOUR problems. I also said we should learn from our pasts.

    Hate-mongering is NOT helpful. Find a way to spread your heritage around in a positive way, help other Indians be proud of what they are if they are ashamed for some reason. There are so many POSITIVE ways to "fight the white system" as you practically call it.

    Dharma is right. You are a very unhealthy angry person. I feel sorry for you. I will never be ashamed of who I am, or bring up what color I am just to shove it in someone elses face.

    You say that one person cant change things for the better? You'd be surprised. However, for positive changes, unless something drastically changes...it sure won't be you Karthik. Hate and anger do not produce love and acceptance, which is some of what we ALL need these days.

    I'm done talking to you, and no, not because your "witty repartee" has gone and made me cry in my breakfast. :)
  • Dharma
    By
    Dharma
    22.08.12 01:11 PM
    How can you expect anyone to respect your argument when you just use bullying tactics?

    Again, I haven't done anything to you or to Indian people. I treat no one unfairly. You just like to fight and I'm sure that you reread your posts and pat yourself on the back for every comment you type. You should seek professional help. That much hatred isn't good for you.

    You missed my point completely and were clearly only looking for something to argue about. Some things aren't only American. Again, you missed it. Why don't you take that hostile energy of yours and apply it to something positive?

    Racism did not start with white people. It was practiced by every culture on the planet. Don't throw stones there. In many places in India people still use their caste system for free labor and come dangerously close to that very thing you accuse me of. You might want to go back to school and learn to read subtext. The second thing you should study is world history. A subject that holds no familiarity for you.

    Keep typing Karthik. You just make yourself look more and more small minded and ignorant with every post. Thinking like yours belongs in the past.

    In the morning I'm going to get up, have a breakfast, exercise, go to work, make a difference helping people to heal, have a productive day, come home to my family and have dinner. I might play a game or read a book and go for a walk. I'll be happy. I won't think about you or your anger issues. You on the other hand, will wake up and still be mean and small and miserable.

    Your opinions on western women wearing a sari might have had a valid point but got lost in your tirades about how unfair the world is to you.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    22.08.12 12:39 PM
    Brilliant comeback.

    So, basically you just echoed what everyone else said, "I'm white, I'm not racist, get over it." The fact that you can't see the inherent problem there is at the heart of the issue. Get over it? Why? Because society sure as hell hasn't gotten over us. For the last time, drop your "I was raised to be blah blah blah" talk. We don't care how you were raised to be and no, the world is not a better place just because you are.

    1. How many Indians have you seen with Celtic tattoos? Show me one and I will show you a confused moron. It amazes me that whites have no issue with taking Japanese or CHinese or other Asian characters for tattoos without realizing how stupid they look. This shows how comfortable you are with cultural appropriation.

    2. Every thing you listed as "American" really holds no deep cultural relevance. Slang? Apple pie? Baseball? Hollywood movies? For god's sake -- did you really say tailgate parties? You're comparing this with the cultural significance of something like a sari or the related cultural symbolism?

    3. What does an electrical grid or hot water have to do with culture? By the way, neither thermal energy nor electricity were "American" inventions. This argument makes no sense. By the way, we have those "luxuries" in other countries, too. Voting also!

    And no, racism is not just racism. That's what white people like to think, but there is racism and then a reaction to racism. NO People of color ever EVER looked at whites and considered them subhuman or brutes fit only for menial labor or slavery or colonization. White people, however, whether they were from Europe or the U.S. did that to people of color.

    Racism started with whites. Most anti-white people are those who have been damaged by this overt racism and so do not trust nor like whites. What whites did is proactive, what people of color do is reactive. You can't do something shitty to someone and then blame them for hating you.
  • Dharma
    By
    Dharma
    22.08.12 12:13 PM
    Let me get this straight. Some people think that engaging in any other culture's identifier is a gross display of entitlement and should be stopped immediately. I'm a henna artist too. Are you going to also say that that's not acceptable? My ancestors, the Celts, used woading for thousands of years so does that in turn mean that Indians shouldn't use color (especially blue) in their body beatification? Should I stop eating Indian food and never again cook lemon rice or palak paneer?

    I'm white and American, get over it. I didn't go into a store and buy it with my millions of dollars of entitlement money, I was born this way. I was taught to be kind, tolerant and considerate to everyone. As an adult, I choose to live my life this way. Even when someone hates the way you do.

    I'm not offended when a non-American watches Hollywood movies or music videos, collects Barbie dolls, celebrates Mardi Gras (complete with beads and funny hats), has tailgate parties, oohs and ahhs or laughs at our uniquely American road art. I don't mind if a non-American makes/eats apple pie or funnel cakes, uses American slang, goes to a baseball game wearing a team jersey and eats hotdogs. I don't care if a non-American engages in the free market system or avails themselves of the kinds of opportunity not so easily found anywhere else in the world, or anything else that's American. I don't want to be Indian, I'm fine being myself.

    @Karthik ~ while you're verbalizing your extreme disgust at non-Indians wearing saris or identifying with anything Indian, I hope you aren't using anything America. For starters, an electrical grid that doesn't fail, hot water whenever you want it or living in a house built with broadly available quality. How about the ability to travel where you wish or the privilege of voting and complaining. I'm sure that no matter where you live you are enjoying something that's at the very least, positively influenced by America. I most certainly wonder (if you live in America), if you're enjoying all the rights and freedoms we have as a direct result of the people who protect us and our way of life. You are so angry that it makes me believe that you were an angry person way before you commented on this thread.

    I'll never say that the USA is perfect, we're far from it. But we are always working to make it better. Are you jealous of white people? Yeah, it's so much fun being hated by everyone for things I've never done to people I've never met. And bonus, being accused of having ulterior motives all the time and for being privy to some sort of "privileged white agenda". Yep, that party just never ends...

    One last thing about what Blue brought up: racism. There is no such thing as "reverse racism". There is only racism. It doesn't matter which group is hating which other group. Racist is racist and it's all ignorant.

    Gori Girl, what do you make of all these replies? Have any of the comments given you pause? Have any of them changed how you think about wearing Saris? What have you gotten out of your thread?
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    22.08.12 09:30 AM
    Wow, anon, that really opened my eyes. You know, I just want all of us now to hold hands and sing kumbaya. Afterwards, we'll make couscous and curry and braid each other's hair.

    You don't have to say what race you are because it's obvious that you're white or were socialized around white people. Why else would you say ridiculous things like "the past is the past?" The present is the way it is because of the past. Oh, and ethnicity doesn't matter to you? Lovely, let's make you King of the United Nations. Guess what? No one cares that you don't care about ethnicity because the real world does.

    And while I'm sure you're just so disgusted by my negativity, I'll say this: do you see what is going on all over the world in regards to race? The rise of nationalist sentiment in Scandinavia and Europe and the attitudes manifested against Barack Obama here? You can wish for a color-blind society all you want, buddy, but it's not happening anywhere but in that little commune in your head.

    Malcolm X was once asked by a white person what white people could do to help the black cause. His answer was a single word: "nothing." Stop preaching your peace-and-love nonsense because you will never understand.

    And please, don't now come back with a "Hey! I'm actually not white! I got you!" Even if you're not white (which is unlikely) you have a privileged mindset of a white person, and that's just as bad.
  • anon
    By
    anon
    22.08.12 04:50 AM
    wow Blue and everyone like you...a few people who are offended are by no means the majority. I cant stand hate groups like the US's KKK, but guess what? There are people who love them.

    No matter what one does, there will ALWAYS be those who love it, those who are indifferent to it, and those who hate it.

    I personally think that if a person is wearing things from another culture to mock, it is totally inappropriate. I think that if a person is wearing religious items of another religion that is not theirs...it is totally inappropriate.

    However, I do NOT think that wearing items to show love or appreciation for another culture, if worn correctly and with understanding of what meanings are behind them, should be insulting. If the OP decided to throw on a Saree in whatever way she wanted and it was incorrect and sloppy...yes, I could see where that would definitely be offensive.

    However, like earlier stated, one cant please everyone. There will always be nay-sayers and people who complain/ react negatively.

    Oh, and hey! Guess what? I didnt mention my ethnicity, because IT DOESNT MATTER! People want racism to vanish? Then stop waving around your color where no one can see it (here on the internet), like you are better or worse than other colors!

    Racism will only vanish when we can all accept those around us with love. Rabid hate speech and conspiracy talk is NOT helping.

    The past is the past. We should learn from it, and grow from it. I have never personally owned slaves, or killed Jews, or stolen land, or participated in a Caste system...and I never will. My actions are my own, and just like I dont judge others for actions their race(s) have committed, it is truly disgusting when people pin other, usually dead peoples, crimes on me.
  • blue
    By
    blue
    06.08.12 01:37 AM
    Also, there is a reason that alot of Indian women jeans and 'western' clothing it's because they are harassed when they wear their native clothing in western countries while white women (and I am one, so don't start complaining about 'reverse racism') are seen as cute and soooo unique when they wear things like sarees.
  • blue
    By
    blue
    06.08.12 01:31 AM
    jesus Christ, fellow white women you have INDIAN people telling you that what you are doing is offensive and you are contributing to the white dominate culture which disenfranchises people of color all over the world. And yet you choose to ignore them. THIS IS WHITE PRIVILEGE. People of color don't have the luxury to ignore such things. Tamilachi and Karthik G. made some very good points, y'all should get your heads out of your asses and THINK about what they said. Gori girl, you said you looked up weither or not it was racist or cultural appropriation and yet you decided to ignore what you learned and disrespect Indian people's wishes and wear it any way. WEll, now there is more Indian people telling you to stop and you don't. YEah, you are really respecting their culture.
  • Sarah
    By
    Sarah
    12.07.12 06:27 PM
    Hi Gori Girl!
    I think it is so great that you want to appreciate Indian culture by wearing a sari. I joined the Hare Krsna movement several years ago and was pleased to discover several other white-skinned girls such as myself who had taken up the traditional dress. You would be very surprised to learn how many Western girls wear saris in order to more fully practice their faith by exhibiting chastity.
    I actually felt really left out NOT wearing a sari in my temple for the first month or so I started going! But gradually, several Indian women in my faith community just started giving me saris; because of the generosity of my community I acquired about 10 saris in a month without purchasing any! Now, of course, it is all I wear (with pride!).
    In summation, if any persons of Indian descent make derogatory comments toward you while wearing a sari (which I doubt they will), just give them a hearty "Hare Krsna!" and they won't say anything more. Also, if you really enjoy Indian culture and beliefs, I encourage you to check out www.krishna.com
    Hari bol!
  • Jennifer
    By
    Jennifer
    10.07.12 01:29 AM
    I received several lovely salwar kameez and a sari from a friend. I have only worn the sari(very ornate silk) one time- to the wedding of my friend's sister. The casual cotton salwar kameez seem so wearable, yet a hesitate to wear them on a causal work day.
    I am part Native American and part Irish descent, but I just look white. I never wear the traditional clothing of my grandmother's tribe eventhough I attend some Native American cultural events. The clothing is uncomfortable and I feel foolish. Mind you, I come from Boston and my family made it clear I should be relieved that the Irish finally considered white.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    09.07.12 09:57 PM
    @ empress

    You sound as a very angry individual from your post. You are trying to fight a battle, when there is no battle to fight.

    Culture is a very heavy baggage, one carries for no reasons. The only post I agree with is written by Nasira. Even tho culture is a baggage, we still have to respect it, and that's the only thing we can do, but as far as snatching it off people for wearing it is we cannot do, because at this stage we cross the point of being civil. As soon as you do as you said, then everything means nothing after that. This is same as water in the sieve.

    HARRY
  • Nasira
    By
    Nasira
    09.07.12 09:02 PM
    Just to provides some insight here.
    I am actually from native american decent and in the United States it is obvious to see the people misuse our culture. Mascots, clothing, and some of our practices are used. Now, I am not against anyone who wants to learn the traditions, but do so properly. And don't make it into fashion, because when you do that to a culture, it is very much of an insult. I think that is the same of the sari. As a practicing Muslim, I wear the hijab as well as the chador and other clothing. While there are different headscarves that are worn in different cultures, we are united in belief by covering ourselves, which is usually why certain coverings such as the burqa and niqab have no specific nationality. I personally wouldn't wear a sari because it reveals a bit in my opinion, however, I think that before wearing any clothing or cultural attire, it is crucial to be educated, and ask questions, especially to those who you are afraid of insulting. I also wouldn't wear a sari unless it was a gift from someone of that culture. In short, culture is a beautiful thing. It really is. And I don't think race should play a part in it. But you have to consider when you wear culture, you are also at risk representing that culture. To westerners, the sari can mean just an outfit, as it can mean the same to east, but it can mean more to them as well. They might see wearing a sari something different, so it is important to be educated and conscious of those around you. I ask this from my own experience of being a native american, such as when I see people who want to dance in our pow wows, but refuse to cover or they insult our culture by having no respect to our customs. The mascot issue is something different. I don't appreciate it because America has a history with native americans regarding violence and unforgettably it still continues. And I don't think we should exclude the fact we are the only ethnic group that is used and not considered racist amongst all the other ones out there. Culture is special and I think that it needs to be represented in a positive manner. If you appreciate the sari, that is nice. But it isn't just a piece of clothing, it is a part of a culture that is distinct. The best way to go about it is to be educated and discuss the topic with people from that culture who can give you a deeper insight. Take care and best of wishes with your journey.
  • empress
    By
    empress
    09.07.12 07:11 PM
    i agree with karthik. you white woman are ignorant. you white woman need to
    check your privilege. u keep going on and on as to why why why. but a indian
    person is telling u they dont want to see u wearing their cultural clothing. and
    yes i am part east indian and west indian. i dont want to see u white woman
    wearing my cultural clothes. u dont even know what the clothes mean. all u know
    is that u like it and they are pretty and u want to wear it. what does it take
    for us to walk up to u and rip the clothes from ur body.would that be the force that makes u have respect for people and their culture. we have to be violent with u to get it ?!?! so u can call the cops and cry some pathetic accusations. u are doing cultural appropriation. and u are
    trying to ignore the fact that indians said they dont like it. why dont u have
    some pride in ur own culture and ur own clothes. u whites always want to be everything under the sun but white. wear ur own cultural clothes. get a life then u wouldnt want to wear our clothes. its that simple. if u had a life and respect for other people and their culture u wouldnt be doing what u are doing.. woman like u broads sicken the crap out of me. like annoying flies.
  • empress
    By
    empress
    09.07.12 07:07 PM
    and yes to the other broad it is also cultural appropiation when u wear
    dreadlocks. all u whites say is the greek plait. a plait is a braid.
    read a book ok. africans and indians are the first to wear dreadlocks.
    not u . dont try that it with oh if u dont comb ur hair ur hair will
    locs. no u whites back comb ur hair which is tease ur hair or u dont ever
    wash ur hair or u put shit in it. wake up that isnt dreadlocks. u have just
    dirt pasting ur hair together and trying to be a part of someones elses culture.
    like i said before u whites need to seek a life. and yes i have
    dreadlocks and no we dont want u wearing them either.
  • The NRI
    By
    The NRI
    08.07.12 03:25 PM
    @empress - I have deleted your previous comments as it appears that you are unable to articulate yourself without the use of extreme profanity. As you can see this is an issue that has considerably divided opinion. However, if you are unable to state your views in a more intelligent manner, you don't get to play.

    I have left in your last comment where you managed to string a sentence together without expletives.
  • empress
    By
    empress
    08.07.12 10:38 AM
    i have afrikaneers in my family . and they dont have dreadlocks. so try again. cultural appropriation at its best . smh
  • Natalie
    By
    Natalie
    07.07.12 12:14 PM
    Great post :)
    I'm like you - a total Indophile and i have one sari and one beautiful salwaar kameez but i'm sad to say i haven't worn them out in public yet.
    I'm originally from the UK but currently living in India (to learn hindi and watch Bollywood films!) and i have started wearing bindis when i am outside. I receive nothing but compliments from locals - although i did worry that people might have thought i was being inappropriate.
    However, with that small step, i will continue with the bindis when i return to the UK and maybe even wear the Sari for a night out :)
  • Rose
    By
    Rose
    30.06.12 06:31 PM
    Yes .. I know where COTTON originated Karthik G. and I also know that Denim was created as work attire such as in overalls etc.. However, When jeans became a fashion item it was in the Western world, before the Eastern world. Yes you are right in your words, and I quote ...
    just because something doesn’t bother you, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t bother any one...

    Just why DOES it bother you ? Let's have the real reason huh? How small minded your appear to be KG ! You are clearly full of vidictiveness and unhappiness ... it'e eating away at you. How sad ! Perhaps you are too overly indulged in life that you have no experience of real life issues that should bother your empty head more so than a persons attire ! Climb out of the pit of the past and move forward like many of your fellow men and give peace and care for one another a chance why don't you? Even go help some charitable cause rather than be on here spewing relative rubbish. Harry ... thank heavens for folk like you, your comments show more than a little intelligence and modern day thinking as do some others on here who thankfully don't want to create racial issues when there is no need for them .
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    28.06.12 03:24 PM
    @Harry,

    Yes! You are right. I wasn’t certainly going to waste my time anyway. I am in a profession that provides me my bread, butter and my good life. I sell my knowledge to everyone who comes to me without looking at his or her skin color or where he or she comes from. My customers decide if my knowledge is only superficial. My services have been always well paid for Americans, British and Germans to name a few.

    There are Indian restaurant owners whose work I take
    because they are Indians and often take little or no payment because their business is not that lucrative and refuse free food offered by them.

    There is no hard and fast rule to forbid anyone wearing a Saree. If the cap suits just put it on. I am never for preaching hatred and neither is NRI. I can’t stop those who do.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    28.06.12 02:39 PM
    @ Rajpriya

    You are wasting your time talking to Karthik G. who seem to be hell bent on his ways and picking on people who's done no wrong to him or his family direct. I think this dude is stuck in history.

    Every 100 Years and the entire earth's population dies and new generation with new concept rules this world but him and his chums seem to think that we have been white washed, and we can't seem to think for our selves and are siding with the whites.

    Let me say one thing, the one who committed this crimes against people have died, and the one who were the victims of this, have also died, and the only thing we can do is learn from this and move forward, because if you hold on to history and old ways, then you can not progress as a good human being.

    I will say one thing to Karthik G, you get good and bad in every race, because we are individuals on this planet ( not same as another person from past or present ). What you do with your life is up to you not the white person next to you.

    Tamilachi, you need help, you appear as very angry individual, as an Indian I can think for my self, and I DON'T SHARE YOUR VIEWS. From what you have written in your post, you are not far from KKK and their views but in opposite end.

    HARRY
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    28.06.12 11:04 AM
    Well! I don’t think I would provide the conflict you are looking for. I am not suffering from any type of inferior or superiority complexes. No one has whitewashed or brainwashed me. If running me down satisfies your ego I would let it be so.

    I feel I am not educated enough in dealing with conflicts like the one you chose to carry on endlessly by laying down your own theories on who should wear what. I am blind and refuse to see what you want me to.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    28.06.12 10:11 AM
    Funny that you use Rudyard Kipling to illustrate your point since he actually disproves your point. You asked if Kipling could have foreseen this racial strain? Absolutely, because he held very prejudicial views of Indians and dark-skinned people. At best he considered them somewhat lesser in all matters than a white man. To be fair, these views were common for the time. Kipling believed that Indians were incapable of self-rule and an undisciplined and brutish people.

    This is a big part of what I have been talking about here, and that is that people who consider themselves "educated" like you are complacent with the superficial knowledge that you have. This is the case with many Indians as well -- who are to some extent more whitewashed than even their white counterparts. When someone digs deeper into the roots, you react in shock.

    And finally, making idealistic remarks about mankind and how we are all one race, etc. etc. is really patronizing. Recognize also that kind of talk comes from privilege. I have no wish to be "one" with others because anyone with a basic degree in ethnic anthropology or sociology will tell you that there is no singular culture -- there is a dominant and a recessive.
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    28.06.12 09:36 AM
    Climate is what we expect but weather is what we get. It was a long time ago some one said this. Was it Mark Twain? Right. The NRI forum is one to establish healthy conversations and a healthy climate for the East to get on with the West so I believed. But people providing extremely stormy weather only proves that the East is east, and West is west, and twain shall never meet.

    Did Rudyard Kipling forecast that a huge gap of understanding would exist between the British and now the Americans, Black skinned and white skinned until doomsday? How can we stop hurting each other with nonsensical arguments instead of sensible debates?

    If education helped us understand we need clothes to look decent in public why do we become so obsessed with anyone wearing whatever he or she likes and hurl abuse at them? Americans like our Dosas and Indians like Burghers and living in Germany I eat German food often and crossing the border often to Holland I don’t carry my Dosas with me but eat Dutch food.

    Let us show tolerance towards mankind and make NRI forum one for respectable people by respectable people and who prove we have had good education. Mark Twain also said “A man's character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation".
  • The_Cuddler
    By
    The_Cuddler
    28.06.12 12:15 AM
    Seriously...there are some people on here in need of help - like this "Talamachi" - you know, you might benefit from seeing a counselor or perhaps some medication, maybe a tea, hell I dunno... As long as people place others into groups and categories and ostracize them based on some outfit, hair color, shoes, they choose to wear, we will never EVER progress and that is a FACT. As long as people see others as "different" and punish them in some way, we will never EVER progress and that too is a FACT. People, individuals like the person I mentioned, are doing no better and are not improving anything by also grouping ALL white people into a single category - which is also RACIST and IGNORANT. Say, are the Eastern European and Ukrainian Jews, Polish, Bosnians and such guilty too for everything bad in the world because they are considered to be "white?" What about the Irish? Have you actually sat down with every single one of these women you bash and knew from their lives and their specific personalities that they are evil, malicious, and plotting against the rest of the world? Why don't you give some specific examples - list some names, since you are so bold to persecute them. For example I know some of those women and not a single one of them would do anything to harm anyone else. Everyone is guilty of doing something hurtful in their lives - no one is immune to that, but it is a matter of learning from it and bettering themselves - it is up to that specific individual to decide if they wish to be a better person and do every thing possible to either atone, or strive to never hurt others again to the very best of their abilities. It's all a matter of what type of individual you want to be. Being angry, lashing out, will NEVER solve anything - you can argue that all you want, but that's how it is. Really think about that. Don't be quick to argue with me, just think about it. And please before you get all high and mighty on me, I'm only half-white, so don't put me in any group. That very fact alone has made it difficult to fit in anywhere, so perhaps that's why I try to look all around - I try my very best to anyway - I can always continue to learn and try to get better - we all can. But, if you want to be ultra-technical here, even though this is a more negative way of looking at things, which I really don't like to do: Bottom line is this, ALL humans are a parasite on this planet regardless of race, sex, origin, etc.
  • Dharma
    By
    Dharma
    27.06.12 10:48 PM
    Tamilachi, That was quite the hate fueled tirade and you clearly have issues other than what can be discussed in this forum. You call me a racist (and several other nasty things)? Bestiality, really? That's quite a stretch. As for Malcolm X, he also said "I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color."

    I've grown up all over the world, without privilege. I've had the opportunity to live and learn with all kinds of people. Sadly, even people like you. From those experiences, I've learned tolerance and respect. You sound reasonably intelligent. I'm sorry you had experiences that shaped you to accept hatred this way. I wish you the very best.
  • Justice
    By
    Justice
    27.06.12 01:43 PM
    Karthik, thanks for your views and support of the Indian people. I had contacted you regarding these cultural appropriation issues back in November. Had recently sent you an email about this issue as well. Are you still checking your e-mail account, the anonymous one?
  • Tamilachi
    By
    Tamilachi
    27.06.12 01:15 PM
    Indian men like Karthik are rare and have superior intuition as to what's going on than most brainwashed Indian men, which is why people like him should be praised in the nonwhite community rather than character assassinated in a random board of racist white females. Problem is that on a blog like this which on the surface encourages all views and opinions, he is outnumbered by people who simply want nothing more than to destroy our culture and people and replace it with their filth, just as they've been doing for centuries. And YOU "dharma" come across as a nutcase. Which for you as a white woman, is totally expected. This "dharma" character is typical of a white "new agey" pale and pasty female. So much so, that she's almost like a cartoon character. The reason why Indian women come up to her when she mockingly and arrogantly wears saris to her "appropriate events" (which doesn't exist) is because she looks obnoxious, racist, and absurd wearing our clothing. White people have redefined the word "racist" to mean what THEY want it to mean, so that they don't have to be exposed for their crimes against humanity. Indians feel the need to explain to her thick brain that colonialism forced people to wear their western clothing over time as part of their evil hierarchy of white supremacy that they try to gain any sort of benefit from. So her comparison of "oh OUR USA invented YOUR jeans that you're wearing but I don't complain about it." She probably "doesn't get" why indigenous or dark skinned races bleach their skin either and just giggles it off when she sees nonwhite men drooling at white women's skin (not for their natural beauty, but from being brainwashed to think that their own is inferior and that albinos are superior to them). These new agey white "liberal" women are the most despicable and destructive characters on the planet. Why? It's the same reason why a white conservative is better than a white liberal. Both of them have the same motives, and both are equally racist-white supremacist, but the conservative is honest, and the liberal is a liar, a deceiver, pretending to be a friend and lover of the indigenous people, while using that "love" as a weapon to destroy them. At the very least, white women are not graceful or feminine enough to carry a sari, and she comes across as a hobo trying to be chic. Indian women don't know how else to express their disgust for these people, so they ask them politely why they chose that attire to which this creature spews out her new agey "namaste is the most amazing word ever" white woman "I love yoga pants" bullshit. Seriously, these people need to stop with the "namaste" crap- different symptom of the same overall problem of cultural appropriation. Indian men like Karthik who have retained their natural instinct for what is going on underneath this white liberal facade of "love makes the world go around", are rare. Oftentimes Indian men (just like black men) are successfully brainwashed by white global mass media propaganda to "think" melanin deficient white females are somehow superior or more beautiful other races, which is why you get less resistance from them, but generally indigenous women have a little better intuition and memory of things like slavery, colonialism, and the white race's past and continued oppression of all indigenous races on this planet. So conscious nonwhite men like Karthik are quite refreshing when they come up and express their views. He only makes one grave mistake though. He is using too much of his time and energy to try to convince white people of their own racism. When you are a royal deceiver, would you admit your mistake? No. You would do anything possible to paint the person who speaks truth as the enemy and as the wrong one himself. This kind of energy wasting is the trap that most young, conscious indigenous people fall into. The constant battle and trickery with the deceptive nature of white folks is a royal waste of time and energy that could be used quite productively with our own people. Would you waste your time trying to convince a them of their own racism? The racist would find a thousand ways to justify himself and do everything possible to project the oppressor as the oppressed and vice versa. White people are MASTERS at deception and this sort of trickery which exhausts the energy of conscious folk. So Karthik, my fellow Indian. White women have gotten away with culturally appropriating everything on this planet and pretending to be lovers of those cultures while whites mass murder us and throw our countries into poverty (Africa and India have the most natural resources in the world, but why are the people the poorest in the world? White people have stolen from us from the beginning of their existence!), while deceiving those native people and taking everything from them. What YOU need to do as a conscious Indian is to stop talking to these white people about their racism, and instead focus your energy on our own people about these issues. Convince OUR people that these whites are doing wrong. THAT'S where you can make a difference. Our people lack unity (white people's way of destroying us through divide and rule has worked quite well), and we NEED to wake up our own people as to what is going on here. You see, white conservatives turn off people these days because the way they craft their message is too brazen, but the white liberal is successful at switching off the nonwhite person's critical thinking ability, to feed the exact same message. These people are much more dangerous which is what you need to fight and convey to our people. So please use your energy to awaken OUR people to the truth and their trickery. Whites are the kinds who turn Malcolm X into a racist and MLK into some kind of saint through propaganda. When in reality the truth is flipped. But white people know what the truth is. They know everything that the Isis Papers are about. They know their reason for wanting worldwide domination because of their fear of genetic annihilation. But their constant need for control will never be satisfied, because God created them as deficient in many ways from melanin deficiency to calcified pineal glands to a predisposition to bestiality (http://cynicalafrikan.wordpress.com/category/anti-sexual/bestiality/). These are things that white people would never admit to you, and will find a 1001 ways to dismiss, mock, and bury the truth about themselves. They can hide themselves in a sari, kimono or whatever the hell other outfit, but the truth will always remain about them. They have blood on their hands and benefit from past and current genocide of nonwhites throughout history and throughout the world. But do not turn to them for the truth. After all, why would a deceiver admit that THEY are the joke themselves? Karthik, do me a favor, have a listen to what Malcolm X spoke about the white liberal and white conservative. He explained truth back in the 1960's which still applies today. Then, check out the COWS radio program. Trust me, you don't want to waste your time on these loons. If you do and if you give them a small amount of leeway, you'll be questioning your own sanity soon.
  • Dharma
    By
    Dharma
    27.06.12 09:50 AM
    Wow Karthik G., you really come across as being angry. I'm a pretty global person, I'm a massage therapist and a redhead. I've been military for most of my life and have friends all over the world. I currently reside in Dallas, Texas where there is an enormous Middle Eastern population.

    In the summer, I often wear Salwar Suits, especially to work. I wear them properly. They're the most comfortable thing I can wear that covers me from head to toe without suffocating me. I occasionally wear saris and again, I wear them properly. Usually to an appropriate function, dinner with friends and sometimes just because that's how I want to dress that day.

    I don't garden in them, I don't wear silk saris to the grocery store or a heavily beaded sari to a ball game.

    Whenever I wear a salwar suit or a sari, I always get comments from all sorts of people. Every shade of skin and many countries. Sometimes, Indian women are curious as to why I chose to wear "that" and as they are polite in the way they approach me, I am equally polite in my responses and without being obsequious, I explain my reasons for these articles of clothing being my choice on that day. I have never seen an angry look or been made aware that I had offended anyone with my choice of clothing. I have received advice on other colours that might look better with my very light skin. Women the world over, feel good when they see someone else liking something they themselves like.

    I'm of Irish and Welsh decent. Designs known as "endless knots" are very popular and I've even seen them as design elements in saris and dupattas. Blue jeans, as we wear them today, were "invented" in America in 1873 (denim was invented earlier of course,in Genoa Italy and was used primarily to make peasant clothing) but are multicultural. However, art is certainly cultural. I see ancient Irish art everywhere just as I see art from many countries shared the world over. I'm not offended, no sane person would be. I celebrate the world becoming a tiny place because we have the opportunity to know people who are different from ourselves, learn from them and share with them.

    Yes, I'm getting to my point. If ONE person where I live were to tell me that they were uncomfortable with me wearing Salwar Kameez or Saris and why they felt that way, I would invite them to discuss this with me. I would want them to help me understand their position and I would want to explain why I wear them. If after that respectful conversation they still felt that I was in err then I would fold my things away rather than make someone else feel badly because of my actions.

    Clothing can be an artistic expression of a culture just as sculpture, painting, music and a myriad of other mediums. I do view saris as that kind of expression. After all, they've been around for at least 5000 years. I don't know any European (or person of European decent)who would be offended by anyone wearing a kilt or lederhosen. This life is far too short to be angry and you don't know what is inside a person that makes them do, speak, wear, or act the way they do. I respect your right to disagree.

    Namaste'
  • Joy
    By
    Joy
    27.06.12 12:19 AM
    My vieew is that those from ANY country who dress like those from another country are doing so because they find the style attractive personally. They say "emulation is the sincerest form of flattery" and if that is true, then dressing in the style of another culture would be considered a compliment to that race/culture as attractive and an embracing of their unique differences/acceptance of what is found good and admirable. I see NOTHING to find offensive in anyone sharing and showing their interests in likes of others unique choices in food or clothing with respect to cultural or racial background.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    25.06.12 08:54 PM
    Rose -- reread what I said about CULTURAL attire. There is nothing cultural about jeans. Jeans were created for working prospectors and not for anything else. And if you are ignorant enough to use the "we did it first" argument, then note that cotton was first used by non-western countries -which is why westerners set up colonies to harvest it. And just because something doesn't bother you, it doesn't mean it shouldn't bother any one.
  • Rose
    By
    Rose
    25.06.12 08:33 PM
    Yes agreed... there is one heck of a lot of ignorance in this room and not least the fact escapes some folks notice that jeans and Denim et al were invented firstly and worn by Westerners ! Think Franc and America and you will have it right ! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denim Why is there so much intolerance ? As for K G saying ' think of my brown ass in lederhosen,' that is utterly rediculous ! Many arses of all colours can be far too thin to wear jeans but this at least is a free country to look as we wish to . As for kilts .. have you never heard of a mixed raced person born to Scotland ? Yes .. I have seen an Asian mixed race person in a kilt and does it bother me ???? NO ! Why not bother your little head with real issues such as the mass starving and needy instead of being so bitter and nasty !!!
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    23.06.12 12:35 PM
    Geez, the ignorance in this room continues to grow. Once and for all, white people, listen up -- jeans and skirts and blouses aren't CULTURAL western attire, so no, we wouldn't feel silly or uncomfortable wearing them. Let's put this into a context that you all can understand: can you imagine an Indian person wearing a full Scottish kilt and regalia? Or how about an Indian person wearing German lederhosen? How out of place and ridiculous would that be? Fortunately, you don't see us doing that, but because you have privilege, maybe you don't realize that you look equally ridiculous wearing a saree.

    So remember, next time you put on a saree, think of my brown ass in lederhosen, ok?
  • Helen
    By
    Helen
    23.06.12 06:54 AM
    I wonder if Indian women wearing Western clothing go through the emotional turmoil we go through when we consider wearing a sari or SK's. They do not consider it dishonoring Westerners when they wear our clothing. I love the beauty of the sari, and have recently purchased a sari and one SK. I am looking forward to wearing these items, particularly during these summer months.
  • Alright
    By
    Alright
    19.06.12 05:33 PM
    Well first of all, technically americans are europeans, they're just all immigrants or basically the white people in america are europeans.

    Now if you enjoy wearing sarees that's nice to know, but I agree with Ellen by saying that it's nice you appreciate the clothing but you also have to understand the culture.

    Ethnical and tribal themes are getting back in fashion nowadays and none of the people who buy these kinds of clothing understand the culture. So if the only reason you wear the saree is because of it's fashion I would consider it as ignorant.

    I am half indian and half white and I only wear sarees on special occaisons. Not because I'm ashamed of wearing a saree, but only because it is meant more for special occaisons or a tradition..

    Oh and by the way, the jeans and t-shirt combo is not necessarily western - it has developed into an international fashion. The saree though is still a cultural clothing from India.

    Now dear Gori Girl
    If you really like wearing sarees, don't be to worried about offending people, unless you are intentionally trying to being offensive. The worst kind of people are those who actually try to prove they're not racist by repeating and trying to prove themselves constantly to non-white humans and also those who putting themself in a good light are obnoxious!

    Just stop it now and do what you want to do, but don't keep on asking yourself if it's offensive if you know that you aren't trying to mock indians.
  • Ellen
    By
    Ellen
    10.05.12 09:04 AM
    I've read all the comments for this posting, and as a white woman who admires saris, I have to say that I don't think it's appropriate for a person such as myself to wear one. White privilege is very real, and I am not entitled to act on it by taking whatever I want from another culture.

    It's not wrong of anyone to admire or want to wear an item such as a sari, but I think we should educate ourselves about the culture it comes from (and our historical relationship with that culture) before we risk being insensitive to anyone.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    02.05.12 08:06 PM
    Hey, daughter -- there are tons of Indian people and others of South Asian heritage who had a problem with whites wearing sarees. You may want to refer back to the previous 160+ messages. Also, recognize the difference between appreciation and appropriation.
  • Daughter
    By
    Daughter
    02.05.12 12:51 PM
    I find it interesting that the only person who said you're in desperate need of a privilege check is an apparently white woman (judging by the name). Yes, we have privlage. I'm not denying that. But isn't part of 'privilage' having your dress and style favored (or even required) by the general culture? Yes, it is unfortunately 'easier' being white in many ways, as it is 'easier' being male. However, if we want to change that, if we want to truly become accepting of other cultures and lifestyles, shouldn't we be accepting of their dress? I consider it a complement when someone appreciates my clothing or style. I greatly admire Indian clothing and would love to own a saree. Like I said, I find it telling (if the names are indicative of the nationality of the individuals posting) that no one of Indian background objected to the idea of you wearing a saree.
  • Anna
    By
    Anna
    22.04.12 11:05 PM
    You are in desperate need of a privilege check.
  • Bhadra
    By
    Bhadra
    22.02.12 05:12 PM
    I don't think it's rude! I think it's lovely and really sweet. Although I don't see that many young women wear saris except for functions. Most prefer the salwar.
  • Grainne Gillespie
    By
    Grainne Gillespie
    19.02.12 07:42 PM
    Maybe you should go to an Indian/Desi forum and inquire there?

    Some cultures frown upon people not of that culture wearing their traditional clothes and other people take that to mean that it's not OK for people to wear anything not of their culture in any circumstance.

    It would be inappropriate for a person of Indian descent to say that it's unacceptable for a non-Japanese person to wear kimono for example.
  • anand
    By
    anand
    28.01.12 08:28 PM
    Hello
    Read your post and it is an old one but I do not think any Indian would be offended by a foreigner, white or otherwise wearing clothing that is Indian.
    I think it takes a lot of courage to wear Indian clothes (or just any other culturual symbolism) and walk around. :-)
    More power to you and if there is a 'white women shouldn’t wear saris' camp i am actually surprised. Seen a lot of white women in Sari, and it looks awesome
  • rajpriya
    By
    rajpriya
    23.01.12 04:29 AM
    @Catherine Hi,

    To get taste of how you would look in a Saree or Salwar Kameez Google search for the following. You will see hundreds of pictures to go by.

    Indian Saree designs 2011

    Salwar Kameez designs 2011 for women
  • Tree
    By
    Tree
    23.01.12 03:08 AM
    Wow! I've had many of the same thoughts. I'm black and I love wearing Indian clothing..but I've also loved Chinese silk tunics & dresses, African clothing incl. headwraps, Gothic/Victorian dresses. I go through phases like that. If I like it I want to wear too. But I imagine some might question why. Am I being friend or foe? I mean I've seen white women wearing braids which is a very common hairstyle among black women. I've even wondered myself if they found the style beautiful on black women, and decided to wear it also? Or are they wearing that style because they love black people? (I often doubt it). Esp. since its been my experience that the women or little girls I've seen have not exactly embraced the black culture, just the hairdo. It's just not always the case of it being because of a love or kinship with that culture that a person is wearing their style of dress. I mean how many of us have probably worn a Hawaiian shirt w/o any regard or knowledge of Hawaiian culture?

    Also, it's almost like being black or asian and choosing to go blond. Sure you may get stared at like you're strange...and people will likely guess you weren't born with your hair that texture or that color...but it's the style you chose. As long as you feel good about you, and you're kind and respectful to those you claim to admire...I say wear it proudly!

    But you also have to realize that not everyone is gonna like the choices you make...and further, no culture wants to see itself viewed as a negative or mocked by eccentric behavior by another culture. That could be perceived as rude and kinda odd.

    ...and just as you realized, judging from the title of this article...Cultural differences can be very delicate issues to address. In this country, you have the right to dress the way you want. However, sometimes we have to know when it's appropriate and when it's not. Will the way I dress bring me attention in the wrong way? If so, then maybe I should reconsider my style. The clothes I wear are not that important if I'm uncomfortable in them, or they put out a message I don't want to convey. There are greater issues in my life that I'm concerned about, besides what I'm wearing.

    Lastly..When I was a young rebel I used to wear a t-shirt that had some pretty vulgar language printed on it. Some folks found it funny, others offensive. In my mind, the offended ones had the problem. I was certainly free to wear whatever I wanted! Well, needless to say, I grew up and these days I wouldn't be caught dead wearing a t-shirt like that, b/c I wouldn't want to offend anyone.

    To my amazement, when I wear my indian clothing, the people of India that I cross paths with are friendly and seem to be honored that I enjoy wearing the clothing they wear. I've been treated with much kindness. I believe that's because I truly love the people of India. Among non-indian people, I'm thought to be a bit weird. I say that's alright as long as the Indian people I meet don't have a problem with it.

    I think you look beautiful. If you had not told me you were a white women and I saw that picture of you, I'd just say "awww, she's pretty". There's nothing wrong with fully embracing another culture. You have every right to fall in love with the food, clothing, music, religion, people, customs, etc. of any nation you want.

    It's a nice feeling to find people out there who secretly admire a woman willing to think outside the box. That's all it takes to make a difference in this world.
  • D.A.
    By
    D.A.
    22.01.12 11:31 PM
    I suggest that instead of wearing sarees everyday you wear salwar kameez, especially in a cold climate, and save the sarees for special occasions or in the summer. I live in NYC and wear SKs to work daily(I work at a college with a casual dress code). In cold weather I wear a cardigan over and a down coat over everything and long johns under the salwar. I always wear dark colors in the winter which coordinate better with winter coats and shoes. I save the light, bright colors for the summer after I have gotten a little tan. They don't look bad with covered winter shoes(I usually wear clogs with them) but maybe not boots. I wouldn't wear churidar in the winter because I don't think they look good with heavier shoes and don't think long johns would fit under. I do see Indian women with down coats over a saree but it doesn't look as good imho. I think salwar are more adaptable to western life, easier to clean(I always wash mine in cold water by hand with gentle soap and hang dry) and it's not so much a stretch from a western pant suit. I am a little shy to say how many SKs I own(it's in the hundreds );) but I have been wearing them for 10 years now and rarely get a second look - sometimes desi ladies ask where I got my salwars.
  • rajpriya
    By
    rajpriya
    22.01.12 10:29 PM
    @Catherine Hi,

    I think you should wear Sarees if you like them. The simple reason why most Indian women don’t wear Sarees in western countries is because of the old weather and secondly because it is not the normal thing to be seen in Sarees in those countries.

    Generally Sarees are not washed in machines depending on the type of Saree where colors may run. Washing and drying them may be a problem in cold countries and dry cleaning may be expensive.

    Why should there be anything wrong in an American woman wearing a Saree?
    If you wear dark colored Sarees with your fair skin you should be looking cute.

    Over a period of time people would get used to seeing you in a Saree. My Indian born wife living in Germany for 35 years has only worn Sarees in all the years. Even though my sons have wanted her to wear jeans or trousers many times for her own convenience she never wanted to wear anything other than Sarees.

    She wears a thick long Flannel over coat over her Saree when she goes out to keep her warm in winter. All our German friends admire the Saree as a dress.
  • Catherine
    By
    Catherine
    22.01.12 08:52 PM
    Hi, my name is Catherine and I'm addicted to buying sarees! I love this post! I too have been Googling things like "american women in saree/sari" and "ok for non-Indian to wear saree" etc. also with mixed results. I believe I have about 5 or 6 sarees and I just bought two more this morning. Have I worn them out and about? Well I live in a medium-sized New England town without much diversity. I live near the border of another state that has a bit more cultural diversity than mine and there are two Indian people at my workplace. I wore a pink and blue saree for the Halloween party at my workplace and all day I worried that I had insulted my Indian coworker. Later he complimented me up and down for doing a super job with my "Bollywood Princess" costume. I told him I loved sarees and that I had a bunch and he seemed both pleased and somewhat dumfounded as well. (Like, what would a western chick want with a bunch of sarees when my Indian-born wife doesn't wear them?)

    Anyhow, I came moments away from wearing one of my more "casual" sarees to work one day this past summer. Then I chickened out. I couldn't see myself sashaying around the workplace in a saree, no matter how casual. (Most sarees look hopelessly formal to me no matter how "casual" they are supposed to be.) I just didn't want my coworkers to think I was "weird" or crazy. And I didn't want to get weird looks from that Indian guy either. Halloween is one thing where you can "get away with it." But as much as I love them, sarees for everyday wear scares me! I want to wear them, really but...ya know?

    I did wear a beautiful purple and orange saree on a formal night on a cruise I took. The people at my dinner table kind of didn't say anything at first. Then one woman turned to me and said she liked my "dress". I told her it was a saree and that was kind of the end of the conversation. Sigh. It was a "casual" saree as well because anything more fancy and I would have stuck out like some kind of sore thumb (sorer thumb that is).

    So why do I keep spending my hard-earned cash on stuff I feel I can't wear except in the privacy of my own house or for a very special occasion? I do love the fabrics. I love the designs (most of them, though some of them give me kind of a headache). I love how you can take 6 yards of fabric, drape it just so, and suddenly you have a flattering dress! Whee! I do think the saree is very flattering to many body types as well. It hides unmentionable jiggly parts and emphasizes womanly grace and poise. It can be draped, tied, or wrapped in a myriad of ways so that you never have to wear it the same exact way twice. Sarees come in colors and prints that just aren't found in western ready-made clothing these days. You can have your blouse and petticoat tailored to fit you just right.

    The drawback to living in a region with a fairly long and cold winter is that I really can only wear a saree for about half the year. Once the cold weather blows in and settles, no more saree until springtime.

    I just wish more western women would add a saree or two to their wardrobes. They're fun to wear (though challenging) and so very beautiful. I know some movie stars have worn them for functions but not enough to spark a trend.

    I guess I'm rambling here but someone really needs to bring some western women together for a saree club or something. I'm tired of hiding my beautiful sarees in the closet!
  • Jeevan
    By
    Jeevan
    11.01.12 04:33 AM
    Wow, such courage...
  • Ladii
    By
    Ladii
    11.01.12 02:54 AM
    well forget about whoever said what they said about us westerners. I dont know the entire culture, but i do respect it just as much as the rest of them. I have decided, now that the new year came in, that I will step outside my shell and wear the sarees, lehengas and salwars that ive been stuffing in my closet because society doesn't accept it. OH WELL! it's 2012, get out there and do your thing. tell me i haven't worn one yet but isn't it so comfortable to just be free in a dress, and still have impecible style. viola!
  • connie nelson
    By
    connie nelson
    11.01.12 12:40 AM
    So, I am 46 years old, and from midwest..I just think saris are so pretty and want too get one..to wear on a vacation..that would be alright? Appreciation not appropriation.
  • Marc Almond
    By
    Marc Almond
    01.12.11 08:14 PM
    Hmm... nobody seems to have noticed that you are wearing your saree without a blouse. Reminds me of Liz Hurley when she "forgot" to wear a blouse to a dinnerparty. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/23/elizabeth-hurley-dons-she_n_474257.html)
  • Bhavna
    By
    Bhavna
    28.11.11 12:35 AM
    Karthik G- Would you be interested in sharing your views not just on this sari issue, but on a larger cultural appropriation piece I am doing? It is rare that one finds an Indian who is not zombified by white worship, and can articulate himself clearly on that front. If you are interested in contributing your views, send me an email at ambalab@gmail.com.
  • Rose
    By
    Rose
    28.11.11 12:08 AM
    I welcome TheCuddler with open arms !

    SOMEONE said and I quote ... (notice how it’s always Indian husbands with White wives — rarely the other way around) or whatever .... well if that person is typical of the Indian females on offer then I can understand totally why this could be the case ! However, the fact is wholly untrue as I also have among my friends lovely Asian women who have met and married very Western white men. So we have yet another ill researched fact and subsequent misunderstandings . I am pleased to say that I have never had a problem with race or culture of another person but on this forum there is a some who seems to want to be victims of such problems and won't be happy until they can 'prove' there is racial hatred from all whites.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    23.11.11 09:03 PM
    @ Kathik G. I thought you were a sensible individual from your argument point of view and you have right to a point of view. This part I don't have problem with . The part I don't like is say for example, you say no to somebody, when it comes to wearing saree, and they don't listen , what are you going to do? are you going to do what Duriodhan did to Dravpadi ?
    You know what happened to Duriodhan.

    I have Gandhian sense of world, but don't forget this was a man who changed our country forever, who created new benchmark for the way we conduct our self. Every body remembers him but no body else.

    I am a proud traditional indian by heart saree means a lot more then a garmet for me, because it changed my inner core when my daughter came to an age.

    If a women of any race, caste, creed wants to wear a saree, She has a right under ishtri dharama. We as men don't have any saying when it comes to this and it's not culture issuse and also it's nothing to do with free passage through any one's culture. This is the only thing I am going to say to you.

    HARRY
  • TheCuddler
    By
    TheCuddler
    22.11.11 11:34 PM
    yep yer intellectual.
  • Kathik G.
    By
    Kathik G.
    22.11.11 11:25 PM
    @Harry

    I respect your stance, but I believe that women are equals to men and can take and give insults just as well as men can. Your over-protective stance suggests a patronizing tone that suggests women are weaker and need to be treated differently.

    You have a Gandhian sense of the world, which is admirable, but I'm afraid it's also unrealistic. To be a passive presence that allows others free passage through one's culture is not in my makeup. Remember that for all that was done, non-violence ultimately failed us.
  • Al H.
    By
    Al H.
    22.11.11 11:10 PM
    I've been enjoying the show from the sidelines tremendously! Cuddler, I think Karthik is a pissed-off guy who may or may not have a foundation for his rhetoric, but I think you have missed the point -- he sees what you say as emblematic of a larger issue. You see what he says as a personal attack. It really doesn't have anything to do with you. No offense, but you seem to want to list the injustices committed against you at every juncture, but I don't think that's really relevant.

    But really, the "bad apple" comment is just a bit unfair, I think. I mean, from what I've seen, Karthik was on a warpath but you attacked him first.

    And finally, you'll have no shortage of South Asian men who'll say that it's wonderful that whites wear saris and all that, but they aren't looking at the debate on an intellectual level. This sounds awful but I have to say it -- those men can't even spell basic English words nor do they have a grasp of basic grammar. This is not to offend them, but just to say that this argument is operating on two levels: a personal/superficial level and an intellectual/esoteric level. There will never be a resolution of any sort with such an impasse. One side will never understand the other.

    But please, please, please, stop making the point about how Asians wearing jeans and t-shirts are not offensive to westerners. This is a painfully reductionist argument that disregards far too much cultural and colonial luggage.

    FInally, my bias, I side with the intellectual argument. I'm not saying I'm right, only that that is where my sentiments are.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    22.11.11 10:57 PM
    @ Karthik G

    This does not suit an indian man to insult a woman on this forum / post because of your personal views.

    We as indian have collective cultural resposibility the way we conduct our self and this does not suit you because you broke one of the most important code of conduct of traditional indian.
    Respect every form of life. This does't only applies to a human being but also every living thing on the face of this planet.

    I know you are educated and cultured but this is like wearing a Armani suit and walking through a mud field.

    From a tone of your voice and your language I can tell you are young and you don't like people who makes a mokery of your culture and origin . Wearing a saree is not this and you don't need to defend it. If people who are willing to embrace this then this is not a mokery.

    My argument to you is this for example we have a indian girl who is living aborad and never wears a saree and one day she decides to wear it for fun does it give her right to do so. YES not because she is indian but because the word ISHTRI DHARMA also applies to her which gives her a free rain to do what she like.

    I am not trying to insult you, but advising you to leave this alone. You and Vivek and all the other need to accept this because there will be time when our own young indian will not support our own culture but some body else will, and for this we will have to make it acceptance.

    HARRY
  • TheCuddler
    By
    TheCuddler
    22.11.11 10:44 PM
    Thanks, Harry =)

    You know, there's just always gotta be a bad apple on every blog to try and spoil it for others - some people just like to get on these things and try and cause trouble!
  • TheCuddler
    By
    TheCuddler
    22.11.11 10:37 PM
    Karthik...

    I did not make my own argument - my workplace situation does not equal rental sales criteria. Don't like that answer? Would you like to talk to my husband perhaps? Maybe some of the other tenants that lived in the building? Another employee from the office? I don't know what else to tell you, but that's the way it went down whether you like or not.

    You work with the housing dept. b/c that is YOUR JOB. What I asked was, what is it that you do ON YOUR OWN to help others - not what your job position requirements were. Many of us could go on about how we helped others in our JOBS. I've taken in people that had no where to go and nothing to eat until they could do for themselves into my own home for ONE EXAMPLE (make sure you understand that so you don't take it out of context) - granted I've been burned a couple of times, but I've gained good friendships from people out of the other times. I don't have much and I'm certainly not wealthy, but would you do the same? And no, please don't try the "oh then aren't you miss fancy pants and everyone should bow down to you" nonsense - b/c you will find that I NEVER ask for anything in return other than for a person's friendship - you could talk to ANYONE about that.

    Know my social meme's, eh? The 1/8 Cherokee statement wasn't about me was it? Here let's look at your original statement to me then shall we and tell me that you weren't talking to me:

    YOU WROTE:
    "Um, you're no puzzle,just a confused person. And for the record, we're all mixed. But since you apparently pride yourself on your so-called "native" inheritance, let's use an analogy. Do you know what drives American Indians (yes, that is the term they prefer)like Sherman Alexie and members of AIM mad? People who appropriate American Indian philosophy and mythos into mainstream -- even going so far as to set up sweat lodges and wear Indian jewelry. Wannabes and posers (Ward Churchill -- look him up) like you with your "I'm 1/8 Cherokee! Oh, I know the pain of my people" crap. Babe, I know just where to put you -- with the 1001 other confused whites who think they know something because they have Indian blood -- like almost everyone in the U.S."

    Sounds you were directing that right at me - trying to tell me I'm one of the other 1001 whites huh? If you're of mixed race and have gone through any of the bigotry that I have, you would not make such a statement - the next time people ask you "just what the hell are you anyway - I mean you're not white or Euro, but you're some kinda spic or gook or something right?" and then do things like get into a group and hold you down, beat you bloody, take your boots and make you walk home on the ice barefoot, and say your a "Puerto Rican Eskimo you can handle it ha ha ha" - or spray paint you all over one day and take a hose to you the next and throw rocks at you and tell you day in day out you don't look like everybody else and you don't fit in here or there - you just let me know, Okay? These brutal violent attacks on me were made by whites and do I get offended if another white person wants to wear moccassin boots or bone chokers - nope - because that person personally didn't do any of those attacks on me. That's another individual with their own thoughts, their own beliefs, their own heritage, their own history, their own individuality - so for me to hate them or be angry to them for something they had nothing to do with simply b/c they are white would not be fair to that person.

    So there you go - as far as me rambling, well I don't respond to blogs too often...Looks like you enjoy rambling yourself - look at how many posts you've made and the course of time you've made them!
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    22.11.11 10:04 PM
    @ The Cuddler

    You are a great women and you have respect for others and their culture and you don't need to get in the mud slinging match with KG. At the same time you don't need to prove or justify your self to any body on this forum / post .

    If you like wearing saree you have every right to wear one you don't need a approval from any body esspecialy from some body like KG or any others, like I said in my post.

    This is gone out of focus and it's turned in to personal insult and this is not needed or required to make a point. All I am going to say is this you don't need to explain your self because the two word I uesd in the post applies to you that gives you the altimate right to do what you like, when it comes to wearing a saree.

    My best wishes to you and take care.

    HARRY
  • melissa
    By
    melissa
    22.11.11 11:44 AM
    I'm not just white, I'm a redhead and live in Dallas, Texas. There's a large Asian population here and in almost every neighborhood.

    I love saris! They are beautiful and so cool on a hot day and I have worn them out, running errands. I have hand loomed cottons and butter-soft silks. I almost collect them and see each sari as a work of art that can be worn.

    I also wear salwar suits and get them made for me. What I've found is that Indians, Pakistanis, etc. don't mind the salwar suit and will even occasionally comment on it. They'll ask "Do you know that it is Indian?" or they'll say I look beautiful and ask why I chose to wear it.

    I tell them why, I love the clothing but it also is very practical for me. Being a redhead, I have to cover from head to toe. Indian cottons are so light and breathable and the cut of the salwar suit keeps me cool. This is something I don't get with jeans and a t-shirt. It's just too hot here.

    I'm also a massage therapist and I wear salwar suits to work instead of scrubs. They're prettier and so much more comfortable. Many of my clients are Indian, Pakistani, etc. and like to see me in Salwar.

    I have never heard anything derogatory from someone concerning their traditional dress on me, a very white, red-headed, 46 year old woman.

    Thank you for writing this. I think It may depend on where you live. Just be respectful and wear it properly.

    As for Indian dress,their culture is rich and beautiful. I'm not trying to be something I'm not. It's clothing that suits me very well (no pun intended)and I hope noone feels insulted because of what I wear. I don't feel insulted when I see a non-westerner wearing Levis and a t-shirt.
  • Kathik G.
    By
    Kathik G.
    22.11.11 07:52 AM
    You opened the door with rudeness and meanness, cuddles -- your first sentence was about me being ignorant and you went on from there. I hadn't even spoken to you at that juncture so you could have taken a lighter tone, but no, you went on the attack, so you really have no right to go on about me being angry and negative.

    Your diatribe about race and prejudice argues the very point you made about how housing would not be withheld because of race. You ramble on with an extended list of clearly illegal and unethical measures taken against you in the workplace and yet have full confidence in saying "For one, color, pre-homeless status, HIV status, or any other factor will ABSOLUTELY NOT play any part into getting an apartment EVER". So you're saying that what is painfully obvious and excessive in one sector is absolutely not even present in another? You just provided your own best argument.

    I work with the dept. of housing to locate living quarters for the dispossessed and marginalized -- that counts as service. Of couse, I could be making it all up, which is why I don't go into details.

    Finally, know your social memes. The 1/8 Cherokee statement was not about you -- it is the joke comment made about all people who claim some American Indian ancestry -- it's a cultural stereotype and has nothing to do with whatever you come from and what lineage. (Google the phrase, genius).

    There is no good or positive in what I do, that much is correct. But I don't believe in bright-sided and ignorant happiness at the expense of the truth. I don't do this for the positive, only to limit the negative.

    And if white women wore sarees on Halloween only, I'd be fine with that.

    Please stop rambling on and on. Make your point and be done with it. Look at how much space you wasted based on a non-sequitur.
  • TheCuddler
    By
    TheCuddler
    22.11.11 07:28 AM
    Actually I did the job of the property manager most of the time too, because she didn't like to do her job, she would literally even hide behind her desk at times - it was totally ridiculous! I was the only one who also happened to live in the building - so most of the work was pushed onto me - plus I processed all the apps and did most of the lease work, and renewals amongst a billion other things - so yes I had meetings and such frequently with the management company and owners of the building - so yeah you don't know the entire specifics, nor do I need to explain in complete details of what my position were - or do I really? You worked with building owners? Doing what? I mean the maintenance supervisor works with the building owners quite frequently, but I doubt that person really knows the specifics of the rental process and the laws associated with it. Yeah there's this thing called "Housing Court." Property Managers, apartment building owners and management companies would just about rather die than get taken there by a tenant - especially one that happens to be on any type of housing assistance for instance.

    I gave you one out of many examples, and that one happened to be one from the past, but does a person need to list every current OR historical atrocity - is that necessary? Or is it more the point that bad stuff happens and has happened all over - to what degree do YOU know SPECIFICALLY about EVERY SINGLE REGION ON THE PLANET to which there is suffering??? And again what do you do to help others? You do something of service you said - well don't alot of job positions require some sort of service? How about what you do on YOUR OWN - since you like to keep pointing out that your country suffers more than anyone else in the world - oh and you still didn't answer whether or not you currently reside in your country of origin or do you live in the U.S.?

    And do you know for an absolute fact the the person you were being cold to was lying as you like to insinuate or do you tell yourself that they're like to make yourself feel more justified?

    And no I am not confused at all. Where did I say that I'm 1/8 Cherokee or my mom was??? Oh that's right I didn't. Do you actually read, or do you like to pick a few words and say what you want just to be nasty? I am more Native than I am Irish just for your info - do I have to send you my DNA RESULTS, or my FEDERAL BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS ID CARD? My FATHER'S entire family had only 1 white ANCESTOR - ONE - that is hardly equal to 1/8 CHEROKEE - they are COMANCHE and North West Coast completely different regions. My MOTHER'S PARENTS were HALF AND HALF - that also is hardly equal to 1/8 - perhaps you're not very good at math, eh? And if I'm constantly mistaken for being Hispanic, usually Mexican, but the last 2 times, I was asked if I was Chilean, and the other time from Honduras - weird... Whatever, I suppose that would mean that I probably don't fall into the fair-haired, European featured stereotype that you seem to want to shove me into to make yourself appear more justified in your rudeness. My so-called heritage, huh - yeah it was so-called that I actually LOST A JOB OVER IT in the past - I was told that "you people aren't in a protected class and aren't I supposed to be on a reservation." Also my black co-worker lost his job too because he was gay - and prior to losing his job, he happened to be in on one of the meetings of the staff and the VP stated plainly that she and the rest of the company felt that a "blue-eyed, light skinned, light haired white person would be better suited to the job." Many times I was asked to cut my "ethnic" hair to a more "modern" look - or put highlights or lighten it because my hair was so "black" or another supervisor asked if they could dump light hair dye on my hair and light contacts so that I'd blend in better and appear more "professional" - and yeah that wasn't the only job that did that to me either. That and the "yeah I figured you were one of those" comments - or how about the fact that my husband's family didn't particularly care for my ethnic-ness and actually had his grandmother express concern that I might want to put a casino on her friggin' land because I'm "one of them people" or how about "my mom looks Chinese or Japanese or Korean or what kind of gook/chink is she anyway" comments I was constantly getting - because if you go on appearance alone and want to be really stereotypical, my mom looked as though she could be put behind a dry cleaning counter or a manicure booth and feel right at home! She definitely did not look caucasian - neither does my dad. Hence why my dad ran with Mexicans in his youth in Cali and yeah I mean hydraulics, suicide knobs, dingle balls, the whole 9 yards - he even had a turntable he installed in his car for awhile - sounds like a damn movie, but you could ask him about it (I'll forward you his email if you like or whatever ridiculous "proof" you'd require). So then, you could also get why I obviously must've taken more after my dad's appearance and not my mom's! Yep - the white has been pretty diluted in us! In fact I've never once been asked anything about being white - all through school I was picked on for it too! I was "dirty" and not "regular" and those are just 2 very very mild examples - there are far worse. One of them involving a bigot and a chainsaw would show that I'm very lucky to be alive today - yeah racism is mean, hurtful, and terrifying!

    As far as some idiot wearing a head dress - well some do during Halloween. Would me going up to them and telling them so do anyone any good? Would it be a positive act to be angry and act angry to them? And how many Native Americans wear formal tribal head dresses and how often and what type of head dress worn by which member of the tribe and which tribe? How many Indians wear sarees and how often? I think you will find a significant difference. Whatever the case may be, what good or positive is going to come from you caring so much about what the lady down the street is wearing?? What's it supposed to solve? What benefit comes from it? I don't know how else to word the questions as you seem to just not want to answer anything having to do with the fact that you just like being angry and mean for the sake of being angry and mean...

    As for me being "The Cuddler" - well if my pets or other people's pets could talk... I've had pets come to be around me and sit with me that I've been told would never go around anyone even their owners except at food time! My husband gave me that nickname...
  • Karthik G
    By
    Karthik G
    22.11.11 05:58 AM
    Dear Cuddler,

    Your tone is not very cuddly, is it?

    Do you really believe that race or status has no weight in getting an apartment? Just because it is against the law, it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. If that were the case, women shouldn't be facing any difficulties int he workplace right? Oh, wait, you worked as a leasing consultant? That's the admin assistant job of rental offices and doesn't give you any knowledge of the mechanics.I've worked with building owners and know differently.

    Your second point -- yes there is injustice and starvation everywhere but your example is one rooted in history -- and yes, it is in every history book out there, but that is not happening on the same scale to this day as it is in South Asia. And I wasn't cold to someone with cancer, I was cold to someone who claimed to be friends with someone with cancer -- big difference. And actually, how do you know what I do for work? I know that I do plenty for others, in fact, my job is that of service.

    Um, you're no puzzle,just a confused person. And for the record, we're all mixed. But since you apparently pride yourself on your so-called "native" inheritance, let's use an analogy. Do you know what drives American Indians (yes, that is the term they prefer)like Sherman Alexie and members of AIM mad? People who appropriate American Indian philosophy and mythos into mainstream -- even going so far as to set up sweat lodges and wear Indian jewelry. Wannabes and posers (Ward Churchill -- look him up) like you with your "I'm 1/8 Cherokee! Oh, I know the pain of my people" crap. Babe, I know just where to put you -- with the 1001 other confused whites who think they know something because they have Indian blood -- like almost everyone in the U.S.

    And just like American Indians, I hate it when my culture is appropriated for superficial reasons. Why is this so hard for people to understand? What do you think American Indians would feel if some idiot walked in wearing tribal head-dress and feathers who is not one of them?
  • TheCuddler
    By
    TheCuddler
    22.11.11 05:29 AM
    Oh and to this "Karthik G" - you make many specific claims about things, but you are pretty ignorant. For one, color, pre-homeless status, HIV status, or any other factor will ABSOLUTELY NOT play any part into getting an apartment EVER. Apartment rental applications are approved specifically based on certain credit factors ONLY - that is the only type of criteria that would be allowed to be considered and even then, with certain specials and such, certain bad credit history things can be overlooked. How do I know? Because I worked in property management as a leasing consultant in a large apartment building (249 units). It's so illegal it's not even funny to even try to show favor to one group over another as far as apartment rental is concerned - if a prospective even suspects or accuses management of anything, they could be shut down entirely. I had people on section-8 and other forms of housing assistance and attorneys making a crapload of money per year all in the same building - and some of the housing assistance people had way bigger and better apartments than the wealthier ones - it's completely based on what's available at the time. As far as whether or not a person has a certain disease - ever heard of HIPAA - yeah you might want to read that - a person's illness/disability is strictly confidential and is absolutely not a determining factor for anything.

    As far as your subcontinent having people dieing of disease and starvation - yeah there's plenty of that going on everywhere. Many groups have terrible suffering in their histories - for one, out of many, there's a constant reminder that someone deemed as a great American hero (George Washington) literally tried to eliminate the ENTIRE Native population - not just move them out but completely wipe them from existence - sounds pretty "Hitlerish" doesn't it? Only you won't find that tidbit of info in most of your history books. Being cold and cruel towards that individual with cancer - you should be ashamed of yourself - what positive is going to come from that? Your negative behavior is going to gain what? Do you live in the U.S. or in your country of origin? Are you personally seeing to the betterment of your people? What did you do today or yesterday to help a sick, starving child from your country since you wanted to be sure and try to instill feelings of guilt from posters of the strife occurring there. What specific crime or wrongdoing did you personally endure from any of these people on here?

    And life is short - 10 years went by in a flash for me and I didn't even realize it. Yyou should consider this for yourself and how you could you be living your life positively. As for the you're sick of hearing "I don't care about color" remark - what about those of mixed groups like myself? Which color should I concern myself with? My "prairie nigga" side or the "green nigga" one? Oh wait what if I'm all kindsa mixed up because my dad had only one Irish ancestor in his entire family history while the rest was completely Native and both of my mother's parent's happened to have mixed Native and Irish, and to confuse even more and be completely technical - there's not just Commanche! There's at least 4 different tribes total in my entire makeup and one of them all we know is a NorthWest Coast tribe - are they Haida, Salish, Tliget? I don't know!! Omg Wow what a mess huh? I'm like the puzzle where you were able to piece all the edges but now you're stuck with a bunch of weird ones that you can't figure out where to put them!

    It seems like you have a lot of growing up to do and research.
  • TheCuddler
    By
    TheCuddler
    22.11.11 04:35 AM
    There's some interesting comments on here. I have been wanting to purchase a saree for quite some time. Basically, what I was looking for what the general feeling was towards someone of another culture wearing this garment. (I'm Commanche/Cheyenne and Irish). I always like to try and research certain things as I never wish to offend anyone - I simply find this particular garment to be quite beautiful and elegant - so I would not be wearing this to run errands, but rather to certain outings that call for dressing up in some manner. I'd certainly refrain from wearing anything if it was specifically meant for a certain religious reason - for example, I won't wear jewelry or shirts with Buddha just because I don't feel it's appropriate to run around with anything depicting a religious figure unless you belong to that religion - Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, etc., are not meant to be cool fashion statements - and I am certain it's even forbidden in certain sects of those religions. However, I have yet to find that the general fashion Saree is a specific, sacred religious garment to be worn only during certain religious ceremonies. It is always a good thing to research and learn of cultures other than your own and respect them. I think that if you're going to wear what seems to be a garment used mostly for more formal events, then one should do so with dignity and in good taste - make sure it is being worn properly. I don't think someone should get bent out of shape because a person wishes to wear something that's associated with another country - and please don't tell me about oppression of your culture from hundreds of years of this and that - you're preaching to the choir (I'm Native American and Irish - pretty rough history for those 2 groups). Try to consider that you too are being ignorant, because you're generalizing based on someone's appearance alone - you do not know a person's background unless you talk to them and learn about them - what if they're Polish or Jewish? Hello - Holocaust? I don't think those people were having fun - but you're going to be hateful towards them and tell them they shouldn't wear something from your country because you see that they are white or light-skinned? I don't get upset when I see non-natives wearing moccasins or non-Irish wearing Celtic items. And if I had a damn nickle for every time I've been told I look Mexican... People really need to learn to become more tolerant of each other - if anything, a person should consider this a nod, or compliment to a part of their culture - someone likes something from your land so much, they wish to adorn themselves with it too. There are really other things to worry about and protest - think about it - a garment should be the least of these concerns. Jane Doe down the street and her family weren't personally responsible for the problems in your country just as you don't want to be singled out at an airport, and just as I don't want to be asked continuously to demonstrate a rain dance or if me and my relatives run around going "woo woo woo" (yes this actually does happen to me quite a bit) - correct? If people want to become enlightened in any way, they need to get past certain things - choose to be the better person, that's the only way things in the world are ever going to improve - petty things are just that - petty. Don't worry about if some one individual or even a group is behaving ignorantly, have the strength within yourself not to give into being ignorant in return. Do I live by my standards - yep and don't find it difficult either - being of a mixed ethnicity and spending a lifetime trying to learn of other people and their cultures, I have found that learning to overlook another persons differences and behave towards them as simply another person is key to making things better all around. And no, I'm not some yuppie, rich, know-it-all either - I'm someone who is just a musician, dance student, person who likes to live simply - my plates and such don't need to match, so I'm not the materialistic type by any means - one should learn to stop trying to keep up with the "Jonses" and learn that without family, friends, or the comfort of having others around period, what else is there really? None of these "things" are going to be there for you when yer layin' on yer death bed. So hell with it, wear what you want, you live once, well maybe several times (depending on what your personal beliefs are - but are you aware of those other lives is the question) - point is it's clothes man...
  • Adele
    By
    Adele
    09.11.11 09:16 PM
    I live in Leeds in the UK and we have a significant South Asian community as well as nearby Bradford. Until about fiteen years ago it was almost unheard of for white woman to wear saris but now I have noticed that quite a few do and the response they henerally get from Asians is "nothing". By that I mean that Asians do not even bat an eyelid and treat these white women exactly the same as any other woman.
    I had Asian friends at school and I was always intrigued by their "normal" clothes. So much so that I now feel confident enough to go shopping wearing a sari and I agree with you that they are very comfortable. I am also slowly becoming a fan of Bollywood movies and one thing I have seen is that their dance acts quite often include what appear to be several white women in saris, so it is not something that even Asians in India mind.
    One last thing - you look absolutely gorgeous in that sari above.
  • Rose
    By
    Rose
    09.11.11 06:20 PM
    thank you Harry, Joanna and garland it was a joy to read your well blanced comments and so encouraging they were too. One day I would love to travel and visit many parts of Asia including India and to know there are people who are kindly and approachable in this world makes me realise perhaps that as a westerner I will not feel intimidated there. My best wishes to you all. Take care. Rose
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    08.11.11 02:28 AM
    I was never going to write in this discussion when I first show this article few month's ago because all the comment's in this post is gone out of focus.

    The writer GORIGIRL has ended up stiring the hornet's nest accidently, by asking this question frankly, weather it is ok for a white woman to wear saree in other country.

    In my personal opinion YES without feeling guilty. I have seen lots of white women wear saree, and they do look buitiful in it as well, just like our desi women. Saree is not exclusive for indian women. It is a garment for ANY womon, who chooses to wear it at any time, or the country, or any occasion. The race, colour or nationality has nothing to do with wearer.

    All the comment's made so far has missed the main element and important of the saree it self and wearer. What does this garment means to most traditional indian's . If you are an individual who's going to be offended then it's time you stop reading beyond this point.

    When my daughter turned 15 few years ago, and Diwali was around the corner, and she said to my wife, that she wants to wear a saree for Diwali celebration.
    At this point she was my little girl I used to tell her off and tease her, and she was treated like a child and to my understading she was. The day of Diwali she greeted me in the saree . This was first time I show her in saree and this changed my entire world. I never knew this will have a such a powerful and profound effect on me.

    This was the garment that changed her from girl to a woman. I knew this will happen one day but I never knew it will be so soon. It changed our relationship from that point . This was pivital point in my life, the way I call her and talk to her.

    Saree is garment that addresses certain kind of code of conduct by traditional indian men towards a woman.
    The way he talks to her and address her and a kind of language to use and not to and behaviour is most important part even when it involve one's own wife.

    Saree is also a garment that requires a wearer resposibility the way she conducts her self in the eyes of others and society ( ISHTREE DHARMA ). It is not only nine yard of fabric that some people who think it is. This nine yard of fabric not only require respect it self but also change in your attitude, language, behaviour, modesty and other code of conduct by the wearer.

    I will not explain what those two words mean at this stage.

    I will say few words to MAGGIE who has pointed out to us all the bad point of our culture and society, but it has nothing to do with wearing a saree. This is not an insult to you and your knowledge in understanding of our culture. Every culture and society has their problems, and we still have ours and I hope they will be solved one day.

    ALL THE BEST TO ALL THE SAREE WEARER IN THIS WORLD AND THANKYOU FOR SUPPORTING A GREAT CULTURE REGARDLESS OF YOUR COLOUR, CREED, NATIONALITY, ORIGIN AND ANY OTHER DIFFRENCE.

    HARRY.
  • Joanna
    By
    Joanna
    07.11.11 01:35 PM
    I'm an Indian living in India and all I can say is that Indians living in the West seem to have forgotten their culture because over here in India we have absolutely no problem with anyone wearing anything. Okay, we are a bit on the conservative side but we actually find it complimentary and appropriate when people who come to India take the trouble to dress like us. My Mom loves Michelle Obama because of how tastefully she was dressed when she came to India. She won our hearts, we would have probably erected a monument to her if she wore a sari!
  • garland
    By
    garland
    31.10.11 10:29 AM
    My boyfriend tells me sarees look better on all body shapes then just jeans and t-shirt do. I don't think I've seen many people wearing their sarees around town, but if you like indian clothing, maybe try churidars or salwars too? I don't think you should concern yourself with your own skin color as much, unless you are hoping for people to challenge you on it, racism is a state of mind. However, if skin color is a concern try sarees with a lighter color, like pastels, which compliment a lighter skin tone better than the darker reds and greens, etc.
  • Rose
    By
    Rose
    18.10.11 04:55 PM
    Thank goodness for some open minded comments on here . When I made comments many months ago supporting the wearing of any clothes anyone wants to wear I was faced up to by one un-enlightened lady hitting back with such venom I stayed away from this forum and concentrated on nursing my husband who subsequently died on July 6th this year. (That info is for the doubting Thomas) However.... as I said earlier... thank heavens for some well thought out comments . I do agree that petite women look great in Sari's but don't they in any clothing hence such rediculously slim models these days ? I have to say I know of one or two large ladied who are Asian and they too look very elegant and feminine. Anyone who squeezes themselves into ANY attire will look dreadful. I have a friend who owns a ladies clothing shop and the ampount of women who will deliberately buy sizes too small in order to avoid having (?) to cut out size labels !!??! Fortunately and wisely the Asian lady (or of any culture) doesn't have to nor want to put such silly pressures upon themselves as Sari's appear to fit one and all. As my late husband said once ... 'Enjoy life, spread love and laughter as you are a long time dead' ! Profound and so true.
  • Michelle
    By
    Michelle
    09.10.11 09:39 AM
    Yo Maggie,

    I just want to point out that you missed one major thing in your attempts to enlighten us- the Romans weren't white. Lighter skinned, possibly. However, both the Greeks and Romans would look something closer to modern day Greeks and Italians- olive skin, darker hair, and so on.

    I'd be interested to hear if you do have any other examples though.
  • Arka Roy
    By
    Arka Roy
    19.09.11 10:42 AM
    I'm an Indo-Canadian, living 20 years in Japan.

    I don't want to sound un-enlightened but I've seen white Western women in saris, and in some cases, to be perfectly honest, it does look a bit incongruous. Of course it depends on the person. I think this may have to do with height and hair colour. It helps if they are petite and dark-haired.

    My Japanese wife is really cute in a sari. Her sister and mother also wore them at our (Hindu) wedding in Canada and it suited them. Japanese girls are similar in size to Indian girls (although a bit skinnier), and have dark hair and eyes.

    As for the political aspects ("cultural appropriation" etc.) that is just unnecessary political correctness. We live in a big exciting world with lots of stuff, have fun with whatever floats your boat! Indian businessmen wear suits... is that an "appropriation" of Western culture?
  • tys
    By
    tys
    28.08.11 02:51 PM
    indians are also blacks? I thought we are the brownies...sheesh...i wonder if the blacks agrees...i hate not knowing which side of the race card i belong too...

    as for wearing saris...man, its just a comfortable clothing for our indian climate...i feel its very flattering when other nationalities wear the same...personally i have a thing about the kilt..it all started with Braveheart and moreover it does look like our mallu lungies and that scottish sing song accent is almost like a mallu one..

    so there u have it, the scots are actually mallus...u heard it here first
  • Annemarie
    By
    Annemarie
    28.08.11 01:08 PM
    P.s; I'm okay when blacks do wear western stuff. I only get a problem with it when they start to attack me when I wear THEIR ethnic clothes. Racism is also done by blacks!
  • Annemarie
    By
    Annemarie
    28.08.11 01:05 PM
    Hi all of you!

    I do so agree with the story of Maggie. I'm white and Dutch and I simply do love the Indian sari and fashion. Indian fashion is so much more elegant and comfortable than any western cloting! Why should a white person cannot wear ethnic clothing? When black people think I should keep my hands of their culture....well, if that's the truth; please black people - keep your hands off MY western culture!!!!! I do wear the sari and the salwar kameez and I don't give a damn what other people think! No matter what the reason is - I guess a white person is always wrong in the eyes of the blacks. Get a life - when you expect me to tae of the sari, then please take of the jeans, shirts and other western stuff!
    I love India, I love and respect the habits and I love the clothing. That's enough.
  • Anita
    By
    Anita
    27.08.11 05:39 AM
    I understand your point of view, but if you're going to defend your fashion choices you should wear a more flattering color. Sari or plain t-shirt; pale, blonde people should not be wearing yellow except in very specific shades.
  • Georgette
    By
    Georgette
    12.05.11 12:29 AM
    I found this discussion because (like others) I was searching for guidance. I fell in love with saris when I briefly stayed with a Hare Krishna group as a journalist. I spent time in a Bangladeshi neighborhood in London and bought about 10 saris (is it proper to pluralize it so?) and swore I'd wear them proudly when I returned home to the US, because they are so comfortable in the hot, humid summers (which last around 8 months here in Texas.)

    Sadly, I chickened out.. but recently was given two Western-style wrap skirts made of recycled sari fabric, and remembered how comfortable my saris were. So I am considering perhaps wearing some of mine to work.

    I do not want to offend anyone. I am not attending an Indian wedding, my husband is Filipino, and I have no other apparent "excuse" other than the love of the attire.

    Thanks for all the helpful analysis, folks :)
  • Adrian
    By
    Adrian
    24.04.11 11:11 AM
    Wow, Maggie! You really do know a lot. A lot more than me. And I used to think I'm quite Indian! At least more than my brown pals.
    I couldn't be arsed to read every single comment but I did read every single line of yours. Your knowledge amazes me and impresses me, and at the same time makes me feel embarrassed on how little I know on the same subjects.
    The caste thing - being dark and lowly, is true, though I feel it's diminishing. And it's true that the brown people are obsessed with becoming as gora as possible. My brown friend, not Indian though, just every moment wishes he was white. I don't blame him though. We live in a multicultural yet superficial society, where racism is prevalent, though not explicit, where the dark colour is looked down on - brown, black, whatever, and the fair skin is looked up with respect. Don't wanna get into too much detail with that. Funny thing is he is not even brown. He is a fair looking South Asian and when I mention that to him he replies, "At the end of the day, I'm still brown. Brown people just come in different shades." It makes me laugh but at the same time sad.
    Anyway, I like white women in sarees. Some of them really look hot. :P
  • Maggie
    By
    Maggie
    22.04.11 02:53 PM
    After reading some more of the comments I just needed to add to the argument that indeed "whites" and "Africans" have worn saris. Of course they have different names but for those of you who seem to have missed it there is such thing as a Sudanese Thoub. It is very much like a sari worn Gujarati style with the pallu pulled over the head. "Whites" namely the Romans had togas which if any of you have noticed it looks ALOT like the "popular" (aka Nivi) style. Even stranger the Nivi style sari actually has no traceable history inside of India so it is thought that perhaps it was brought in from an outside source. Of course several regions argue that their local style helped form the Nivi but they don't have much proof.

    It's also very important to mention that a book that is considered one of the best researched books on the topic of saris (Saris: An illustrated Guide to the Indian art of draping) was written by a white woman. She spent years going through various artforms throughout Indian history to discover sari styles that are extinct. She stopped little old women on the street to ask them how they wrap their saris, she even found one little old woman who seemed to be the very last of her people who knew how to drape and wore that particular village (possibly caste) style of sari. She told the author the please take all the instructions and tell the world. When was the last time an Indian woman went through that much work to save her "own" culture?

    I know many of you will have problems with me or my attitude towards this subject but I have problems with the attitudes I've seen voiced here already. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I really don't think that one or two Indians on this board voice the opinion of the entire Indian population NRI or otherwise.

    I once had a guy tell me that "Indians wouldn't give me the finger" after I flipped in the bird for harassing me, I thought to myself that A) he was pretty off base and B) it's a pretty broad generalization of 1.3 + billion people.
  • Maggie
    By
    Maggie
    22.04.11 02:11 PM
    **Correction, we are both Aryan not Caucasian.
  • Maggie
    By
    Maggie
    22.04.11 02:07 PM
    Wow I just came across this site so I am real late to the discussion. I am a fellow WGiS (white girl in sari) I have a collection over 100 saris to be exact. I've been wearing them for 7yrs this year and I apologize to no one! If you don't like it then don't look. I have every right to wear a sari or salwar kameez if I want just as Indians have every right to wear jeans and t-shirts. I am in London, Ontario Canada a fairly conservative city with a decent desi population and yes I got questions often when I was first out in my saris but I think people have for the most part have gotten used to me. You know who I have the most problem with?? Other white people! I have had cheeseburgers thrown at me from cars, I get harassed by ignorant gori and honestly it can be hard to square those shoulders and walk tall but you know what helps? When an Indian man or woman actually thanks me (has happened several times) for preserving THEIR culture. I teach sari workshops to teach not just white women but also desi how to wrap saris in multiple ways. Incase none of you knew this, the sari is dying out young Indian women are going more towards Western wear, salwar kameez and ghagra choli for special occasions. I personally would like to know exactly how some of the other posters consider us gori's to not have the right body shape? You mean we're fat? Sorry bhai but that isn't going to be a good excuse because India is on it's way to be a very overweight nation and currently is one of the top countries for new diabetes diagnosis in the WORLD. You also can't claim we're a different race because both Indians and gori (as you like to call us) are both considered Caucasian regardless of skin tone. As for you who are telling us to wear the sari "right" maybe you should considerate on the Indian girls who are buying "automatic saree", they can't even wrap them, themselves!!

    For the African American posters I will give you the truth that I doubt any of our Indian guests will tell you. The reason you'll have more stares and comments about wearing Indian clothes is because no matter what the government of India claims the caste system still exists and is still in full force culturally. Unfortunately the "untouchables" were dark/black Indians and those of us with low caste jobs such as myself (I am a mehandi walla aka henna artist and since I touch feet I am considered low caste). It's an unfortunate and WRONG part of Indian history/present that few Indians will talk about let alone admit. So yes you will face extra criticism. I once heard of an African American Hindu convert going to her local Mandir (temple) and over hearing some of the women there talking about her and they used a racist slang for "black".

    So where does this leave us, lovers of Indian clothing/music/culture/food/movies?? It leaves us as lovers of all things Indian (except perhaps the caste system and the dowries and bride burning and sati etc) I no longer give a crap whether or not an Indian or Pakistani for that matter likes/cares that I am wearing something Indian. I have educated myself fairly in-depth about everything I represent. I was once quizzed on the street by an older Indian woman (who became my "Auntie")on the Indian names of what I was wearing and I was able to answer every single question right, I take pride in that because many of the young desis have no clue and they don't want to know. For many of the youth they see their roots and their background only as beggers and the poor they don't see the beautiful things from India either way they don't want to learn so it's got to be saved by someone.

    I am being thanked by Indians and I am being told by many that I am more Indian then they are. I even had parents of a bride try to figure out a term for me since they were "coconuts" brown on the outside, white on the inside. I guess I am an inside out coconut.

    BTW the reason older Indians only wear sari for special occasion is because when they immigrated they were expected to blend in, it made it easier to live in US and Canada. They started to wear "normal" clothes and they've held on to that. And as I said younger desis don't want to or don't know how to wear Indian clothes. Up until the 90's Indians and Pakistanis wouldn't even have henna done because it lead to what is now known as "Paki bashing", it wasn't until Madonna came out in her "Frozen" video that henna really took off and was seen as "ok" to wear.

    I wear my saris to walk the dog, I wear my saris to go grocery shopping, I wear my saris to my Mandir all that really matters is that you don't wear a "Bollywood" type sari to walk the dog, that would just be over dressed.
  • Bhavna
    By
    Bhavna
    06.04.11 04:56 PM
    Wow, Jeevan and/or Karthik, I haven't heard too many headstrong Indian guys who have the guts to even harbor such an opinion as you guys. As you can see on this forum, if you dare have an opinion on that anything a white woman her majesty chooses to do, you'll get a smack down of the century. I'm not going to get too much into the reasoning behind my and these two Indian guys' opinions (because I think Jeevan's done a great job explaining and unfortunately from the responses I can see most of it went way over your heads), but I'd just like to say that most Indians are not courageous enough to have an opinion and stand up for themselves, as they harbor a deep rooted self hatred. Tell me, how many people at the wedding would gush over a black woman wearing a sari as much as they would over the white woman? The conclusion here is that India as a country is white supremacist, always has been since colonization and the caste system ruled by Hindu Brahmin Aryans who deny the Aryan invasion, and always will be from their continuous worship of white people. The British guy on here was right- in most parts of India, a white person walks up to them, and it's just too easy.. they'll wet their pants in worship. Do you guys think that's normal? Happens with most Indians around the world and they don't like to admit that they're white supremacist and white worshippers, but that is the case. Gori girl, I really don't think you're great or not great for wearing a sari. You seem to be obsessed with yourself to the point where you're gushing over your "perfect color coordinated" sari fashion choices at a funeral. Get over yourself. Make up your mind- are you wearing the sari for the approval of others? In which case, everyone has a different opinion so I'd advise that your self esteem in a sari shouldn't go up or down based on individual comments. Not everyone will love you for your choices, but not everyone will hate you either. Make up your mind and live your own life and get to know more Indian people and why they think the way they do and understand more context behind them as human beings, as a people rather than just hugging a lifeless embroidered piece of cloth. Are you trying to make a fashion statement with your sari or are you trying to understand the Indian culture? Unfortunately as a white person on a throne (in the Indian mind), the truth is that you'll never understand the Indian culture in its true nature because most of them will just suck up to you no matter what you do. That's the result of Indian self hatred. That's the reward you reap from your ancestors' evils. You needn't do anything now- your great grandfathers (I mean this in a figurative sense, don't go looking up your family tree and starting another useless blog about your life) did all the hard work, the bloodsheding, and white supremacist brainwashing on my people. I call it, the installation of the "white chip." At this time, I have to say that most Indians are fully functioning with this chip in their head, and the few who have taken it out are getting silenced or insulted by both whites and their own people.

    Jeevan, Karthik- you guys are my heroes!
  • phr
    By
    phr
    04.04.11 02:45 AM
    Speak for yourself.....I decided to put on one today, wore it out of the house and am wearing it as I type this.I'm not white, so *shrug*

    Not sure where the "let's not fool ourselves, please!" is meant but it sounds a tad snarky. I'm bowing out of the discussion now. Have a great day.
  • Julia
    By
    Julia
    03.04.11 06:23 PM
    It looks like I'm coming to the discussion a little late, but I still wanted to add my two cents. I'm a white American and currently studying Sanskrit in South India. I wear shalwar kameez every day, they're pretty, comfortable and most importantly cool. I occasionally wear sarees for special events. I have only ever gotten compliments on these clothes from people in India.

    That being said, I'm not sure if I would wear them in the US. Adopting Indian dress in India seems respectful and practical. Wearing it in the US does strike me as an appropriation. I have white friends (men and women) who wear kurtas over jeans in the US and that's probably as far as I would go.

    And yes white privilege totally exists. Let's not fool ourselves please!
  • phr
    By
    phr
    15.03.11 08:21 AM
    ^ Totally agree with your post!
  • KVenkatesh
    By
    KVenkatesh
    22.02.11 05:43 AM
    I am a white American married to an Indian man so I get to wear sarees fairly often. In India, the saree is common as daily dress but here in the USA, it is often worn only for special occasions. This is why you don't see many of the younger ladies wearing them while out and about. Still, if you want to wear one, a few stares shouldn't stop you. But make sure you are wearing fabric appropriate to the task, have it draped properly and can move comfortably and gracefully. The lack of grace is what makes many new wearers of sarees stick out and look awkward.
  • phr
    By
    phr
    17.02.11 11:00 PM
    I left this out in my other post....

    I agree with you--it's the same here; only older Indian women around 60 and older wear the sari when out and about, just as you observed. I still can't believe you get all the questions, though...wow!
  • phr
    By
    phr
    17.02.11 10:39 PM
    @Keri:

    I find it a little odd that people would actually stop you and ask questions...I live in the American South (Richmond, VA to be exact) and I don't think I've EVER had anyone actually approach me verbally.

    Every once in a blue moon, a Black woman here will wear a salwar kameez....very rarely though. In fact I myself have never seen any, but my husband spotted one.

    BUT....when I went to The Festival Of India this past fall, there were TONS of Black women buying salwar kameez at the various clothing booths there. Some were even volunteering at at the booths. So they're wearing them, even though I never see them. I saw tons of non-Indians there, wearing both salwar kameez AND sari.

    I guess I'm surprised at the queries because SK looks like a lot of the loose, flowy, "ethnic-y" WESTERN outfits that Westerners wear....and when I wear them, I think that's what they look like to most people.

    I would've thought that most people would simply assume you're Muslim...or in native African dress...and keep it moving. I identify as Black but am mixed-race, and I look sort of "ethnically ambiguous"....but at the same time, I think most people around here just assume it's 1) just another boho-style pantsuit; 2) just another Muslim person out and about.

    I'm a lot more shy when wearing the saree, though...although I HAVE worn them out in public. I've gotten a lot less stares than I expected....again, this might be because of my "ethno-ambiguous" physical appearance.

    I try to make it work by wearing "casual" sarees with little embellishment, and saving the gold-bordered, ornate ones for more formal occasions. For everyday wear, I try to wear ones with prints/patterns/colors that are similar to Western-style dresses/fabrics.

    And instead of Indian-inspired jewelry, when I'm out and about in a saree I usually wear a pair of simple hoops and maybe one or two simple bracelets. Of course, if somebody's gonna stare, they're gonna stare....but at least *I* feel more comfortable.

    I love sarees too much to give them up and stop wearing them...some days I just say "eff it" and just put one on and ignore the stares. I'm proud to say that I can put one on almost w/my eyes closed, and I can now keep one on all day long w/out any safety pins, although when I leave the house I pin a couple.

    There was a Black lady on Youtube who, from what I could see of her incredible collection, pretty much wore them 24/7. I've looked and looked for her channel and can't find it now, unfortunately.

    Thumbs up to another Black woman who loves sarees and salwar kameez!
  • Hersh
    By
    Hersh
    03.02.11 08:13 PM
    All women look nice in sarees. One just needs to wear it right, (on appropriate occasions etc)
  • Gwenn
    By
    Gwenn
    01.02.11 04:03 PM
    It is a bit ridiculous to read this discussion. According to this logic, white people should consider as "thieves" the whole of the world. Millions wear our clothing, use our achievements in science and art and... go under the knife to look like white people. That's what appropriation is.
  • Megg
    By
    Megg
    22.01.11 07:09 AM
    Id just like to add, I'm not just some white girl who things its dead cool to smoke weed and pretend to be Rastafarian! Many many people just assume that of anyone who is white with dreadlocks. I was born in South Africa and raised there, alot of white south africans are very privileged however I was not, I came from a working class family, lived in a one bed flat with my parents and went to a standard local school where i was a minority. The african culture, style ect is all a part of who i am, i had African friends from a very young age and therefore i am socialised into both a strong African culture as well as the traditional "western" one and my style, dress sense, hair reflects this, as a child i never saw race as an issue because i wasnt raised to, my parents were both strongly against the apartheid. But it became apparent when i immigrated to britain as a teenager that it clearly is an issue, I got told i actually wasnt South African at all and got treated like I was British despite not identifying with British culture at all. So yes i have dreadlocks and i lean towards a more South African dress sense but its a part of who i am as person and where my heart is and this is why it deeply offends me when i get told I am stealing black culture.
  • Megg
    By
    Megg
    22.01.11 06:43 AM
    I'm so glad I came across this, I get the same "cultural appropriation" dress down for having dreadlocks despite because I'm white and it both makes you doubt yourself and offends you! Its a difficult situation but i stick with my view of sharing of cultures and not having clothes and hair ect divide people! But yes i feel your pain!!
  • ravi swami
    By
    ravi swami
    18.12.10 09:22 PM
    I have no qualms about a white Westerners wearing a sari - the usual jibes centre on the fact that Westerners figures don't suit it (or vice versa ?) - it hangs all wrong, and subsequently can look silly / ungainly.

    Fix that, and you're fine IMHO...
  • Shwetika
    By
    Shwetika
    17.12.10 11:25 PM
    Hello thank you for your fantasic post. As a White girl totally obsessed with sarees I took have the evil wispers in my head. I have slot of support from my blog and twitter but there is always a nagging feeling that I am doing somthing wrong. I wish it would go away! Thanks again, I'm not alone!
  • Keri
    By
    Keri
    22.11.10 11:51 PM
    Hi, I really wish that I knew about this site a few months ago, as I would have had so much to comment on during this thread. But since I'm late to the table, I just have a couple of thoughts to give.

    To GoriGirl and Barbara: I think it's great that you like to wear Indian dress. I like it too and have worn it several times. However, unlike you, I wouldn't wear a saree unless I was going to a wedding or a festival. The reason being is that, unlike you again, I live in an area that has a very high South Asian population (Jackson Heights, NY), and the only women who wear sarees in the area are much older women, like in their 60s and 70s. For me to wear a saree to run errands in the neighborhood would just look ridiculous because no Indian women my age are walking around wearing sarees. Now, if I choose to wear a salwar kameez, that's a different story. Being that you're in an area where there are not many Indian people though, I would say wear them, and enjoy them, as everyone will love your "exoticness".

    It's interesting though, in my personal observation, I've found that, as a Black woman, when I wear the suits, I get alot of stares but I also get alot of people asking me WHY I'm wearing the suit. I like them because they're quite comfortable and convenient, but I don't wear them nearly as often anymore because I'm just really tired of all of the questions. However, from what I've seen, if a white woman wears them, while people still stare (they love to stare even in a multicultural place like New York City LOL), they don't seem to ask them questions, which I presume is because they presume that the woman is married to an Indian guy and that's why she's dressed that way. So I say, as long as people are complimenting you on them, keep wearing them.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    15.11.10 06:57 AM
    Oh, no, whatever shall we do now that an entire subcontinent is removed of its resources because of the actions of one, anonymous South Asian? Your charitable actions were so completely anonymous and unbeknown and yet you lord it over some random stranger on a public forum?

    What are you, a self-obsessed teenager?

    Sorry, not buying the whole cancer story either -- just too contrived. I have known the ordeal of knowing someone with cancer and also know that sensible people don't trot that line out to defend themselves against something that has nothing to do with their friend's illness.

    I use your language because I was forced to. It was called colonial rule.

    And which God should I pray to?
  • Rose
    By
    Rose
    15.11.10 06:40 AM
    Actually, I am not the Kumbaya type and as for 'holding hands' etc.. I am just about to go to bed after sitting and holding the hand of this dying 'friend' until he slept PEACEFULLY, finally, but I saw your reply Karthik and decided to respond. I have personally sent financial aid to many of the poverty and tradgedy struck people in Asia ... yes .. including INDIA . I have also, unbeknown to most people, organised many charity events for these purposes and in order that the 'awful' and the 'wicked, boring rich ' Westerners can part with some of their wealth to assist such causes . However, I shall now be withdrawing my services since you clearly speak for one and all in your culture and let YOU do it all instead. You know nothing of me nor my circumstances and to say you assume to much is the biggest understatemnet possible. I note you use my language ... I wonder why . Surely it must be anethma to you. People like you make me sick .. go and get real you silly little person .. grow up ! Me ? I am off to give my dying 'friend' who I love and adore and married some years ago some more medication for his very real and enduring pain. May your God be with you Karthik G. .... I think you need him . Night .
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    15.11.10 06:05 AM
    Rose, I have tried to stop myself from posting again on this because of all the nonsense people have been putting up here, but this latest is just too much. For the last time, the fact that you have a friend or husband (notice how it's always Indian husbands with White wives -- rarely the other way around) or whatever has nothing to do with the issue. I am so sick of this so-called entitled nonsense of "Life is short and I don't care about color," stuff. Your liberal views are entirely theoretical and not based on any reality. You have a friend who is dying of cancer? Tragic. I have a subcontinent of millions dying of poverty. Recognize that many of us like being separate and having our own culture and not having a bunch of liberal white people telling us to hold hands with them and sing kumbaya. You live in a wonderful world of your own creation and that is your prerogative but please stop telling others to do likewise.

    I have to say, I started writing in this column with a pretty even temperament and more than a slight measure of understanding. Now, I think I know why Jeevan was so ticked off. The more I read, the more I realize how...oh, forget it.

    Gori, thanks for the forum to voice thoughts. However, I think I'm done.
  • Rose
    By
    Rose
    15.11.10 04:58 AM
    I am utterly speechless at what I am reading in some of the comments on here. I am white with many Asian friends and other races too, and I have never seen a problem with them wearing Western clothing . Hells Bells ... what an outcry if we objected to that ?? Princess Diana of the UK wore clothes indigenous to ladies of certain Asian countries and I don't recall an outcry then . Does money and titles speak ... is that why ? Where does this all stop ... are we now to refuse to wear anything made by Asian countries ? Are we to stop eating the cuisine ? Should we not cover our heads if invited to any religious buildings nor remove our shoes since we could be accused of 'mimicking' or appropriating . I particularly find offensive such comments as, and I quote: ... 'I myself as an Indian woman cannot stand white people who appropriate Asian cultures. I find it offensive on many levels, especially when they act like a know-it-all or try to make a quick buck off of it!' .. Also may I suggest to the lady who thinks the British own Ireland, that she takes another look at her facts. Only PART of Ireland is under their rule . Maybe our 'friends' on here would like to tell me what to do with the very kind and well intentioned gifts of ladies clothes given to me by friends of foreign lands .. such as Malaysia, Africa, and Pakistan ? Since these clothes are not Western do I ceremoniously dump them in the nearest trash can ? Do I ask all my lovely kind friends to come to a dumping of gifts party ?? I THINK NOT !! I love my friends and I know they love me but then they are like me ... forward thinking with open, honest, non racist love in their hearts. Life really IS too short to be full of jealousies , hatred and intolerance for and by ANY colour or race. I know only too well how short life is since someone VERY close and dear to me is young and dying of cancer ... so let's get our priorities right huh ??
  • D Adhikari
    By
    D Adhikari
    04.11.10 04:23 AM
    @Monique: I said I rarely get a second look but when I do get the 'stink eye' it is generally from Indian women wearing tight jeans - go figure... Generally the desis I meet/see on the street, subway, mandir etc. are either complimentary or curious but not disrespectful - the 'stink eyes' are fortunately rare. My husband and family in Nepal love to see me in SK or sari and really their opinion is all that matters to me.
  • D Adhikari
    By
    D Adhikari
    04.11.10 04:14 AM
    I am a 'white' American woman married to a Nepali man and wear salwar kameez daily. Fortunately I work in an academic environment where diversity(of all types) is emphasized and get nothing but compliments on my outfits. I live in Queens NY where lots of women dress in SKs and rarely get a second look, maybe because my hair is dark brown and I am 5'3". I feel more comfortable in SK because they suit my short, pear shaped 'healthy' figure much better than Western clothing does, also find the dreary palette of most Western clothing depressing. The vertical lines are flattering to shorter women like me. Also they are suitable for women of all ages, no question as an over-40 woman of 'age appropriate dress'. As to the question of whether it is appropriate for a Western woman to wear it, consider the SK was introduced during the Mughal period(so it is by nature 'bideshi';) and similar attire is/was worn by Muslims in Turkey, Afghanistan, etc. Knowing this historical background I found it very amusing when someone at Kathmandu airport asked me why I was wearing 'Nepali dress' - LOL. Sari is a whole other issue. I think it is difficult to do it justice unless you grew up wearing it or have constant help from aunties and inlaws and lots of practice walking in a sari. I only wore one at my wedding and can only imagine how difficult it would be to wear on a daily basis - SKs are colorful, graceful and practical at the same time.
  • Monique
    By
    Monique
    17.10.10 11:52 AM
    To tge woman wanting to wear a sari u wear it n enjoy it instead of listening to ignorant people who most likely don't wear traditional Indian clothing such as the sari , kameez , lehnga.
  • Monique
    By
    Monique
    17.10.10 11:49 AM
    N if u didn't understand me why the he'll did u respond . ..... Trying to be a smart ass much ????
  • Monique
    By
    Monique
    17.10.10 11:47 AM
    I also wear saris n so do many African , black even hispanic woman . Racism is never ok n I never said it was . Try putting words in someone elses mouth . Btw I was also addressing more than one person.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    16.10.10 03:25 PM
    Um, Monique, no clue what you're trying to say here. Try it again without the text-speak.

    No one is disputing that Arabs and Africans wear "Indian style clothes." But they do not wear sarees, which is what is being discussed here.

    Oh, and Ireland has been free of British rule since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, so I guess it's okay to be racist now?
  • Monique
    By
    Monique
    16.10.10 02:54 PM
    This so called black woman wears saris n salawar and many styles of Indian clothing. I am annoyed by the comments of black woman . Many black woman in ny wear saris n kameez. Stop assuming things about us . All of u sicken me. N I'm west n east Indian with a bit of Irish. Yes I'm mixed and I celebrate all of me . But because I'm dark-skinned u assume crap. Just like when i go in some desi clothing stores they go oh u like Indian clothes. I look at them n say I am India as my grandmother is gujurati. Most Indians are racist. And I have experienced it . U don't own indian style clothes. Arabs n Africans wear it as well open a book or get a plane ticket n see the world. I am tired of u Indians with Ur black stereotypes n also whites have been oppressed. When British doesn't own Ireland anymore let me know . Until then keep ur racist assumptions to yourself.
  • Kiiks
    By
    Kiiks
    14.10.10 02:02 AM
    Jeans, pizza, pajamas. They all originally came from different parts of the world. So in a first argument, if we're all going to share, then we all should share. This means in all directions.

    ------
    I believe that wearing clothing of a different culture brings awareness to that culture more than anything.

    As it is with languages, would I be infringing upon or exploiting a culture if I learned Afrikaans? Perhaps I'm just interested in the culture and that is just one step involved in learning about it!

    Growing up, my family tried to expose me to many different cultures, including languages, foods, clothing, customs, religions. My parents believe in traveling because they feel that it helps you develop an appreciation for a culture and to see the people native to that culture as human beings, just like yourself. I'm very glad my parents had such a philosophy.


    I have been attending school for the past 3 years in the Midwestern United States where the population is definitely mostly white. My -now- group of white friends unfortunately does not share the same love of different cultures as I do. The only foods they like are western European foods (guess America "exploited" other cultures for their foods, including corn and buffalo jerky). But some people complain when the cafe serves "El Salvadorian food" which consists of pupusas and other enjoyable things. But for others of us, enjoying the food of a different culture leads us to appreciate the differences in the world and the accomplishments of everyone.


    And as for not understanding the meaning of symbols "tossed around" or worn: Something such as a necklace with the yin yang on it-- who is to say that the wearer is unaware of the symbol's meaning or what it stands for? Unless you know that person individually and have talked to them about it, it's probably not very wise to assume that they are completely ignorant. You know what, even if all they know is that it's based in Chinese philosophy--heck, that's a step in the right direction--a direction toward cultural awareness and appreciation. If you are quick to assume that they don't know what any of it is about, then how much better is that than assuming non-whites are less intelligent? If you have actually talked to the person and they doesn't know, then why not inform them and give them a reason to appreciate the cultural artifact they are displaying! (Instead of striking fear in them to ever display something of a different culture ever again, for fear of being reprimanded).
    ------
    During my travels, I have seen the ignorant tourists complaining about anything that's different from their comfort zone. Let's say a tourist visits India and hates it because things aren't done like they're used to, but the ONE thing they allowed a sheltered mind to fall in love with was a sari. So they buy one. Even if they know NOTHING about India (except for their own sheltered complaints), is it not better that they could at least find beauty in one cultural artifact? Isn't it better that they can wear the sari back in their home country and be able to smile and say "Yes, it is beautiful--it came from India"?

    Even to be able to wear a sari--surely you know something because you certainly had to do some research or get help to learn how to put it on!

    Upon a trip to Guatemala, I bought a Guatemalan skirt in a local shop. I wear it to school on occasion here in the Midwestern US, and even though I'm not Guatemalan, I enjoy the reminder that it gives me of the beautiful country I got to experience and the people I got to meet. I also am wearing the clothing to "represent" Guatemala, here in a place where few people can point to it on a map. No, I'm not trying to be Guatemalan. I am engaged in an honest effort to celebrate and bring awareness to a culture and to help others hopefully develop interest in that culture and it's inherent value.

    I believe in the validity of my parents' thinking: experiencing cultures helps you to understand the people as human beings. And I believe we should be open to giving people the freedom to experience these cultures in ways that help them express their appreciation in the best way they can.
  • sripurna
    By
    sripurna
    11.10.10 04:11 PM
    there's no reason why you cant wear a sari. I think its cool when non Indians want to try our culture. I have been to a few mixed weddings where white guests decided to wear sari. They all looked great. I have always wanted to wear a Chinese costume, love kimonos and would love to try african head dresses.

    BTW dont forget to get back to me about Asian woman.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    17.09.10 02:14 AM
    Thank you for the link which I read with great interest. I think perhaps that I should clarify:

    1. Having white privilege does not automatically make white people oppressors.

    2. Not being white doesn't automatically make brown-skinned people the victims of oppression.

    And the examples I gave may not always be true, but the fact is that many times they are if you are of color. They're actually one in a list of fifty that you can find anywhere on the web.

    I admire and respect your bravery in coming forward with your HIV status, former homelessness, and people not knowing of your own suffering and history, but that is not an issue here. When you were able to get off the streets and apply to rent an apartment, imagine if another women, black this time, also HIV positive and formerly homeless, had also applied for the same apartment. The chances are more than good that you would have the advantage over the black woman.

    I am not trying to trivialize your life lessons nor tell you that you don't know about suffering. You're white and you've probably suffered more than I have -- and I'm brown and black. But that's not the point. When someone sees you and me applying for the same job, they don't know your HIV status, they don't know you were formerly homeless or married to a sociopath. All they do know is that you're white, and I'm not.

    Society operates on a purely superficial level, as does privilege.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    17.09.10 01:40 AM
    If you click on my picture, it should take you right to my blog. If not, http://www.syzygykthxbai.com.

    Some of the examples you put here are poor ones and don't apply in the area I live in -- like the going shopping thing.

    Anyway, I've been followed around high-class stores for being dressed as a poor person so I don't buy into that one.

    As far as your other points, I will reserve comment as I have to go pick up my children soon and I wish to be in a place I have time to address them properly.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    16.09.10 10:55 PM
    There was no link, so I couldn't read this post you recommended.

    GG, I hate to harp on this, but even if no one knows anything about you or your life, it doesn't mean you don't have privilege. Unless your youth was like Kaspar Hauser's, you did have privilege. Privilege, like compounded interest, grows of its own volition without you having to do a thing. White privilege has nothing to do with you, personally. It has everything to do with how others react to you.

    I do agree that Political Correctness has set in motion some rather extreme views and I'm no fan of affirmative action, but let's examine some everyday situations that differ between you and people of color -- especially black people:

    1.You can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that you will not be followed or harassed. (I have yet to meet a single black person who has not had this happen to them.)

    2. You can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented (and not in a negative way).

    3. You can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals,the poverty, or the illiteracy of your race.

    4. You can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to your race.

    5. You can criticize our government and talk about how much you fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider, racist, or terrorist.

    6. You can be pretty sure that if you ask to talk to “the person in charge,” you will be facing a person of your race.

    7. You notice how there are 1001 hair straighteners and how dark-skinned women of all ethnicities straighten their hair by pouring the most damaging, acidic gunk on their head so that they can straighten their hair? How often do you see products for "instant-fro!" How do you think that makes young Black girls think of their self-worth? Have you heard the phrase "good hair?"Guess who has "good hair."

    8. Look in advertisements, media, almost everywhere, and you'll notice that the people of color when featured have very western (white) features and lighter skin. How often do you see a dark-skinned woman or kinky hair or a flatter, broader nose? What message do you think that sends to people? Whiter is better is the message.

    9. And my favorite: You can choose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh color" and have them more or less match your skin. Little things like that make a difference.

    It's not about you specifically, but it's about how others treat you. I don't think you can say what is and is not white privilege when you have never been anything but white.

    Your final statements are aspirational but not realistic. Transcending the biological is not in our programming (I tell you this as a biologist) and it's rather simplistic. Also, the wrongs of the past are still here in the present, they've just transformed into other versions. They are not illusions just because you don't see them.

    I appreciate that you are able to debate this immensely and hope I don't send your blood boiling over the top.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    16.09.10 09:49 PM
    Karthik, of course I am taking the comments personally as they are written in a personal manner and I am only human.

    I do understand that there is a perception by people in post-colonial societies of there being such a thing as white privilege. However, to state again that you know for a fact that my white skin has opened doors for me when you don't know anything of my life beyond what I've offered here is an incorrect assumption.

    I wrote an essay about the myth of white privilege that I had intended to be published here, but it didn't quite work for the format and I will be re-writing it so that it ties in with this article and fits better here.

    However, at the risk of opening myself up for a rapid increase in blood pressure from inadvertently heated comments, I invite you to read the original piece as written at my blog. The post is called, fittingly enough, "The Myth of White Privilege."

    I think that the world is changing and that old paradigms are being replaced by new ones and that we see something from the past overlaid on top of a different reality, because reality is in large part subjective to the individual.

    I think that it is human nature to look to label and to blame rather than looking at things that are part of our evolutionary makeup in order to understand and then overcome them with our rational brains.

    This is our challenge as human beings; to transcend our biological hard wiring and stop blaming one another for wrongs of the past and illusions of the present.
  • A Singh
    By
    A Singh
    15.09.10 03:05 PM
    @Caretaker - my advice is to stick with your plan and wear your sari daily during your trip. Regardless of the various arguments put forward here, I can almost guarantee no-one will pass a negative comment at you, though I am pretty sure you will get a lot of compliments.
  • Caretaker
    By
    Caretaker
    15.09.10 08:27 AM
    Well this is not quite what I expected to find when searching for saris...a heated discussion regarding whether or not a "white" woman should be able to wear a Sari in India. I wanted to express my thoughts on the matter. My child is suffering from several life threatening infections. My father has been diagnosed with cancer. We will be traveling to India for medical care and will reside there for up to one year. I have been a caretaker 24/7 for years now. I too am now falling ill. I've studied India and Indian culture for more than a decade. I've become quite the chef of Indian Cuisine. My favorite in the world. As I began to reflect on our upcoming journey to India, I wondered what would help me to get out of bed in the morning. What would help me to keep going, to find the strength to continue to care for my ailing child and father as I am now beyond exhausted. I suddenly had an image of the simply gorgeous Indian women, with skin of all different shades, walking down the streets and paths of India in saris of varied styles and colors. I thought, if I could wear a sari everyday while in India, I just might survive this nightmare that has befallen our lives. If I could simply don a lovely feminine brightly colored sari, it would help me to press on...to continue to put one foot infront of the other. I have shared my wish with some of my dearest Indian friends and their eyes sparkled in approval as they suggested sites regarding where to purchase and advice on what styles to wear when and where. A Sari reminds us that there are women left in the world. That femininity did not die with the bra burning of the 70's. Life is not perfect. India is not perfect. But the Sari is indeed perfect. There is not a garment in the world as lovely and feminine as the Indian Sari. And so I am going to wear a Sari every day that I am in India and those Saris are going to keep me alive and enable me to continue to care for my family. May all the women of India and the women of all nations be blessed with continued beauty, strength and voice. kindest regards to all.
  • Janell
    By
    Janell
    10.09.10 09:08 AM
    I always wanted to wear a beautiful green sari...For me a sari now seems like that fabulous dream you wake up in the middle of...it's there and you see it, you remember it, but you can't have it. (A lot of things are like that haha) I'm mature enough to decide against a sari now that I've seen such vehement opposition to Westerners wearing them...after all, there are other beautiful clothes out there.

    But I would just like to say...the only thing I understand about people of different cultures...is that we both have two eyes, two ears, a mouth and nose, a heart, a bellybutton, clothes we like, jobs, loved ones like mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, husbands and wives, friends goals, dreams, wishes, fears, opinions, ideas, mistakes, accidents, injustices, celebrations, mourning, beliefs, we both like good food and good company, we all want to be loved by someone, we all have to earn a living (or rely on someone earning a living for us), and everyone hurts after a lot of exercise. Basically, we are all people. Humans. I always thought that was enough common ground for me to be able to connect with anyone of any nationality, to appreciate their culture, but I guess it's hard to get caught up in details...
  • TheGoriWife
    By
    TheGoriWife
    01.09.10 10:04 AM
    Saying you have "white privilege" isn't saying that "because you are white, you are privileged." In fact, you can be in the poor house and still be the recipient of unearned white privilege. This "white privilege" they're talking about is all the little things you and I could just take for granted. We live an easier life in the world because our skin opens doors for us. Recognizing that is different than feeling guilty or apologizing for being white. If regards to cultural appropriation, because we are white we can pick up almost any part of any culture and do what we want to with it mostly without repercussions. I do actually wear saris and shalwar kameez occassionally in my life, but I still recognize the validity of these points brought up by Jeevan, Karthik, and IndusBlood. For some of their points, I have no adequate answers, but they are still important questions.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    01.09.10 12:03 AM
    Gori Girl, I think you may be taking this personally and I doubt that was Indus' intention. I am sorry, but to deny that you have privileges because you're White, regardless of your story or background, is not racist, and I am a little surprised that you would take such an absolute stance given how aware you are of the realities of the world (so much so that you even wrote this blog entry which many others would have stayed away from).

    There is nothing wrong with having privilege, it's only wrong when you use the privilege for gain. I know that I have certain privileges because I am a man -- I don't feel guilty about it since I cannot help but have been born a man, but I certainly acknowledge that it has given me an edge in life. But if you seriously think that your white skin has not (in many cases without even your knowledge) given you an edge, I'm afraid there'll be many that don't agree. This is not a personal attack and no one is asking you to feel guilty for having privilege, but I think many people don't realize that racism is not about not getting a home loan or something like that, it's about everyday things that you notice about how people react to you.

    Like I said, I feel that racism is an active force, whereas privilege exists whether you act on it or not. Louis C.K. had a great joke about why there aren't any brown-skinned time travelers: because the chances were good that wherever you ended up, if you were brown, you were likely going to get your ass kicked!
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    31.08.10 11:50 PM
    Saying I'm privileged because I'm white is also racist. As I have repeatedly told you, you do not know me or my life to say that.

    And anyway, my grandparents also had lots of justifications for saying racist things that were perfectly acceptable in their eyes. And of course, it was all the other's fault that they didn't like them, not their own prejudices.

    While I am happy to have a debate of any kind about any subject, I do object strenuously to ad hominem and personal attacks. That is what puts an argument off track and distracts from the true points. Rather than attacking my opinion or viewpoint, you are attacking me personally. And that will not accomplish anything except creating more division instead of approaching some sort of mutual understanding.
  • IndusBlood
    By
    IndusBlood
    31.08.10 12:27 AM
    @GG

    Racist, no. Protective of my heritage, yes. It’s not your white skin that I was addressing, it’s your white privilege (that you still have not addressed). I don’t judge who you are (your character), just what you choose to do with MY culture.

    Karthik spoke it more eloquently than ever I could. Very well put.

    You say that I’m the exception but if you read above there are others who have similar viewpoints as me, as do many Indians. That’s a fact not an assumption. You can keep throwing the ball back at me (a reflection of myself you repeat) but you refuse to consider that you may have issues too. Of course it must be the other person with the problem, not you! So just continue to dismiss opposing concerns as invalid (sarcasm).

    There are many things about being Indian that you will never understand. I’m going to leave it at this because I don’t think your interested in considering a different take and seeing how this is your blog it’s going to remain biased in your favor. That to me isn’t a discussion or a debate, that’s you expecting to hear what you want to hear. No opposition, just accolades for holding an interest in another culture. Many white people are enamored by the “exoticness” of Eastern cultures (sari, bindi, glittery bangles, bollywood) but not much else and mistakenly believe that’s all there is to it.

    And you can write an article about the subject but can you handle opposing opinions? I doubt that it will be any thing more than you just venting...
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    31.08.10 12:09 AM
    @ Karthik -- As I said, I'm not denying people's experiences or perceptions in the world regarding racism in their own lives.

    What I am saying is that making fine differences between what is and is not acceptable to say about another race is just a way to justify continuing the problem.

    There can be no justification for racism, no matter why or where it originates.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    30.08.10 10:30 PM
    LOL @ Jayanth. It's a requirement because of my skin color. :P
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    30.08.10 10:26 PM
    @Gori Girl: The last thing we want is an article on racism trying to be politically correct!
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    30.08.10 10:23 PM
    What can I say, Gori Girl, except that we have to agree to disagree.

    I don't believe that racism is racism regardless of context. You have faced only reactionary racism, whereas others have faced colonial and reactionary racism. There is a difference.

    I do believe that as a White person, you have limitations on how much you can understand and feel about non-whites. As a South Asian, I have limitations how on how much I can understand of the Black experience in America -- and no matter how hard I try, I will never fully understand it because I do not live as a Black person in America. That is why I will never wear a Dashiki -- because it's nice and colorful and I do like them, but they're also emblematic of a deeper understanding that I do not and cannot have.

    Your comments about ancestral luggage and backwards thinking again presumes that racism and colonialism no longer exists. It does, and this is a point many have made repeatedly. You tend to see these things as vestiges of the past but they are very much a part of the present.

    That said, write the article the way you want to write it. Sure, you'll catch some flack, but that's how discussions and debates get started.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    30.08.10 09:44 PM
    i see your points, Karthik, but most of the people who support my wearing of saris are women. IndusBlood is one of the exceptions to the rule in this debate.

    I disagree with your assessment of racism being by whites and other people just reacting to racism by whites in the past. Racism is racism no matter who is pointing the finger, and no matter for what reason.

    I do agree that a lot of the anger at whites by South Asians today is caused by the legacy of British colonialism. I will not deny that. But if you will forgive the intentional pun, it is the pot calling the kettle black to treat whites differently because of the past actions of people who looked like them, just as it's wrong to treat people of other colors differently because of inherited backwards mindsets by our own white ancestors.

    Saying there is a difference between types of exclusion is splitting hairs unnecessarily.

    I have noticed during the discussion of this story that my statements are being rejected because of people's perceptions of who I am as a white person, never having known me or my life. People are assuming they know who I am and why I say what I say and do what I do simply because I am white. This is getting in the way of really discussing this matter, because until people can see what I am saying uncolored by their own prejudices against me as white we aren't really going to get anywhere.

    IndusBlood made a point about whites being defensive, but I have seen continually in my life that the things people angrily accuse others of is usually something they are angry at in themselves as well. As an analogy: the angry person is looking in the mirror and sees their face is dirty. But instead of wiping their face, they try to clean the mirror. It doesn't get anywhere.

    I am working on an article about this at the moment and having a lot of difficulty finishing it because I am struggling so to say what I feel about racism in a way that will offend the least number of people so that we can actually discuss it instead of continuing to rail at one another with fury that fixes nothing.

    I also know that no matter how I state things someone will take offense because I am white and I am therefore not allowed to feel as if I am excluded because of the color of my skin or the place of my birth.
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    30.08.10 08:50 PM
    Gori Girl, I don't think Indus is calling you in particular a know-it-all, just venting that there are others who are.

    I also think your definition of racism is valid -- but only up to a certain extent. If you define racism as an intolerance of color of skin, then your definition of anti-white racism is not valid. Whites went to colored lands and deemed those people as "lesser." Now, those people dislike White people because they do not like how they were treated by them. You can therefore make the argument that Whites had no reason to label people of color as "lesser," but they did, and that's racism. People of color, on the other hand do not dislike Whites because they consider them lesser. They dislike Whites because of how Whites treated them. I am not saying that every person of color who dislikes Whites does so because of a colonial reaction, but only that doing so doesn't really qualify on the same level of racism as Whites had towards others. Whites were not reacting to anti-White behavior when they judged colored people, but colored people were reacting to anti-brown sentiment when they judged Whites.

    Two quick points, Gori Girl, and please be aware that as always, none of this is meant to offend, only to open up the debate for enlightenment for all:

    1.You'll notice the difference in attitudes towards saree-wearing by White women differ radically based on the gender of the person writing. Women have always felt racism most strongly because the gender inequity hurts them twice as hard. Since men don't wear sarees, I would heed the words of the women more than men.

    2. Please don't use statements that basically say "get over it" or "don't keep holding a grudge." Your last sentence about Indus holding a grudge not doing her, you, or the world any good was a bit offensive, I think. Your statement suggests that such colonial mindsets are history, but they're not. A grudge suggests something that someone is holding on to from the past, but I think Indus is addressing the present.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    30.08.10 07:24 PM
    So, because I think saris are beautiful and I like wearing them I am being a know it all? I don't follow your reasoning.

    And I am familiar with that blog. It is by a guy who feels guilty for being white and not everyone agrees with what is in it. Further, the comments show as much racism going towards whites as whites supposedly show against other peoples. Because intolerance of a person because of where they're from or the color of their skin is racism -- whether people want to admit it or not.

    I'm sorry you feel that way, but holding onto a grudge like this is not doing you, me or the world any good at all.
  • IndusBlood
    By
    IndusBlood
    30.08.10 06:19 AM
  • IndusBlood
    By
    IndusBlood
    30.08.10 05:20 AM
    Gori Girl - Before you dismiss that you have white privilege please educate yourself on what it is! You have it, like all white people in the West, you benefit from it weather or not you can recognize it! I recommend the blog whatwhitepeopledo and search white privilege. Read the comments then maybe you'll get it.

    I myself as an Indian woman cannot stand white people who appropriate Asian cultures. I find it offensive on many levels, especially when they act like a know-it-all or try to make a quick buck off of it!

    "Feel free to speak of your Slavic heritage, but please leave ours alone. And before anyone else says “Well, why don’t you leave our white heritage alone then,” keep in mind that white colonial culture was forced upon us. Whether we like it or not, white culture is a part of our heritage."
    THIS! THIS! THIS!

    I don't expect you to try to understand as white people tend to just become defensive since they are not use to hearing that they are NOT ENTITLED to everything!
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    22.08.10 03:37 AM
    Wow. I had to take a bit of time off because life got in the way. I just wanted to point out to Giselle that she is making assumptions about me because I'm white and from the West. What makes you think I'm "privileged", eh? By my own national standards, I live below the poverty level. By many other country's standards I know I am privileged just to come from America, but that is a rather racist assumption on your own part.

    I find it interesting that on one hand some Asian people are saying that people like me have no knowledge of nor appreciation for other cultures, yet on the other hand are indignant or even incensed that I would dare to try to learn about it in any way I could.

    It just goes to show that in this climate of political correctness more often than not offense is in the eye of the beholder, and what people find offensive can be more a reflection of their own prejudices than something intentional.
  • namit
    By
    namit
    12.08.10 07:44 AM
    nice post, and i think no one really minds any non indian wearing indian attire, i guess its a matter of pride if others want to follow our culture so keep wearing saris.. :)

    namit
  • Giselle
    By
    Giselle
    07.08.10 12:04 AM
    UGH, more than anything I really hate asian culture appropriation.

    No, it's not right for you to be wearing another culture's clothing. IDGAF if you have indian friends. I don't see the fairness in how I, being asian, am looked upon as being "fresh off the boat" wearing clothing and yet some privlidged white woman can come along and suddenly it's ~*cool*~.

    Check your damn privledge and then come back and complain about how ~hard~ it is being white.
  • Barbara
    By
    Barbara
    26.07.10 11:02 AM
    For e: I get my saris from two places: Utsav has quite a variety of handloomed ones if you comb through carefully. SariSafari is a site by some American sari-lovers (more like sari scholars really) containing much info and history as well as an (over-priced) sari shop. But I like the extra info I can get from SariSafari, so it's sometimes worth the extra money.
    Hope that helps!
  • A Singh
    By
    A Singh
    26.07.10 01:11 AM
    You raise a number of interesting points.

    Africans / Skin creams - I am not sure this can be seen as a wake up call. The issue of dark people wanting to look lighter has not been resolved. People will just think twice before risking facial disfigurement, something that will make them more of an outsider in society than dark skin.

    Indians in Africa - I can completely identify with your account from Zimbabwe. I grew up amongst a lot of Kenyan Indians in London. Whenever I made the mistake of referring to them as Indians they would be horrified. They were African and proud. India was then a developing country and they believed they hailed from a more advanced country. In 1999 I attended the India vs Kenya match at the Cricket World Cup. The audience was a sea of brown faces but an equal amount of Indian and Kenyan flags waving. The Kenyan Indians were no less vociferous than the "Indians" in support of their team. Things got so heated a few fights broke out.

    The relationship between Africans and Indians in Africa varies from country to country and on the origin of the Indians. Many are the descendants of indentured labour (slaves basically), others are members of an extremely wealthy class that came to Africa to make their fortunes. In Kenya there was a lot of resentment against Indians being a small minority with disproportionate affluence and influence. A couple of decades ago, Indian homes were looted and there were cases of targeted murder and rape. Having said that, even in Africa some Indians still carry a prejudice against Africans. Marrying a black woman was taboo but many Indians used to retain an African mistress in addition to their traditional wife. Total hypocrisy.

    NRIs - NRIs are no less racist than Indian residents. In some cases they are worse. Many of them are offspring of economic migrants that were uneducated and came from small villages. On the other hand, the attitude in a lot of metropolises like Mumbai and Kolkata is a lot more progressive than even modern day NRIs.

    One important thing to mention is that India is effectively a continent and not a country. One's (anyone) experience depends very much where in India they reside. You will see women in Mumbai wearing miniskirts and sleeveless vests walking around at 2am unthreatened. Meanwhile in Delhi, a similar sized city, men will ogle women who are conservatively dressed at any time of the day. Sex crimes in Delhi have reached unacceptable levels and bear in mind many are not reported.
  • Robert
    By
    Robert
    25.07.10 06:03 PM
    It's often been said that hatred or harassment is extremely close to love. I guess in my own theory the locals see something in me that they want but can't have. Privately you would be shocked at some of the questions I was asked when I got here. I was asked what sin I had committed to be black or why I bothered to come to India. The funny thing is that it is a group metality thing because no Indian individual would dare ask of that. However nowadays thanks to the police authorities and my awareness of the law, I'm much safer and able to stand my ground with confidence. I'm from Zimbabwe, in southern Africa, and in my home country we have a principle of earning respect and simply not demanding it and being a hospitable nation as shown by the numbers of African Indians living there, yet none of them complain of being called names or harassed. India is a great nation no doubt, I have no qualms about that, but sometimes what I see always makes me wonder. Growing up in Zimbabwe I had Indian friends, and they accepted me for being an African black and Christian and I accepted them for being also African Indians and Hindu. We would go to international cricket matches together and both support the same team; Zimbabwe. But when I tell that to the locals here, they declare me a liar, for according to them it is impossible for an Indian not to support India and have a balanced and close relationship with an African! It is almost like this element of discrimination is genetically passed down and second nature to all Indians. It is true that in West Africa skin-lightening creams were in demand, until one company started marketing a defective product which caused such horrific facial damage that it was pulled of the shelves. This incident could be said to have served as a wake-up call to Africans, who slowly started accepting themselves for who they are. We all remember the case of Beyonce publicly protesting that one of her photos had been digitally touched and "lightened" to make her whiter. And you're right, Africans sometimes discriminate based on skin color, but not at the levels or intensity I've seen in India. I don't condone or speak for racial discrimination or for ethnic discrimination on any such levels as such actions are just plain evil and wrong. Hitler did it, they did it in Bosnia, it happened in Rwanda, and to the Native Americans among others. Whoever supports such actions should take another look in the mirror. So I ask why is it that NRI's are more accomodating than locals? Also, ask your selves why the Queen of England is really not coming to the Commonwealth Games?
  • A Singh
    By
    A Singh
    25.07.10 03:43 PM
    Robert, here's one Indian that is not at all shocked or surprised by your comments. Indians can be amongst the most bigoted races on earth, particularly against black people. Your comment about them sucking up to the white man is spot one. What I would say there is that as an NRI, even I would be treated less well in India than a white person. Yes, this may be down to a perception of greater wealth.

    I am not so sure about your theory though, that the prejudice is down to your pride and not having a caste system. I think it is more basic than that and in the mind of the bigot black people are just lower down in the ethnic pecking order. Despite ancient African civilisations they feel that black people are a backward people. In Britain, all Indians faced discrimination when they first arrived but hypocritically still felt an air of racial superiority over the black west Indian community.

    The black community get a rough time in most of Asia (the continent). One black friend had a brother in the US military. During one tour of south east Asia, he would regularly be followed around by local youths making monkey noises and gestures. And he was wearing a US army uniform!

    What you have experienced is unacceptable and unjustified. Sadly it is also part of human nature. You probably already know that the "black" community has similar issues. India competes with much of west Africa in sales of skin lightening creams. In the west there is often prejudice, resentment and suspicion between African and west Indian communities. Skin colour is not only an individual obsession, but black people will discriminate against other black people on the basis of skin tone. This happens throughout the west Indies, and you are much more likely to get a senior management or customer facing / sales position if you have lighter skin. Jeevan may have something to say about this and its causes!

    You have been remarkably measured in your response to these incidents and carried yourself with dignity. I can tell you that if had personally witnessed such an act I would have really let the offender have it. Part of the problem for you is that even where others are not happy with your mistreatment they are too meek to openly speak out in your defence.

    Power to you!
  • Robert
    By
    Robert
    25.07.10 01:57 PM
    You guys would be shocked and disgusted at the way the Indians exult and immortalise white skin. Even for me it has certain benefits; when Indians ask me where I'm from they expect me to say Nigeria, Kenya, S. Africa or even W. Indies, probably so that they can laugh and mock me. So I always alter my accent and attitude and declare myself as an American or British, Irish or even Canadian! They'll immediately change and become all respectful and adoring. I've never and will never wish to be anything than what I am - a black African. The problem is that it paints a pitful and pathetic image of the Indian sub-culture. The way they follow us when we walk around is disgraceful it's like they have never seen a black person before. And the way they openly stare is a pure embarrassment to all indians everywhere. But then the way they want my help when boys want to use my rooms for sexual meetings with girlfriends is also a stark reminder of how they wish to have my priviledges and status as a foreigner that is protected and honored by the Indian law system and be free of the restrictive cultural and historical nature of traditions they live under. The reason I believe Indians worship white people is their care-free attitude and their freedom from the Indian culture. Also the common assumption that all foreigners are wealthy is a contributory factor. Even at my college department, I refuse to stand up and idolise senior students like all my classmates and have reported over 15 students to the authorities for racial and to my embassy for harassment. We now have a tacit agreement respect me and I'll respect you. With black people it's more complicated. All foreigners are heavily protected by law in India. The common Indian man has a fear of police and the police have a fear of complaining and vengeful foreigner. For Indians to have to fear and respect black people for them it's a bitter pill to swallow. Also because they deem us lower but yet have to treat us with the same honor they bestow upon the white man is a further humiliation. But I think the major problem is that Africans cannot and absolutely refuse to treat and see the white man through India's envious eyes. I wonder how they will treat President Barack Obama when he comes to India later on this year. Will Dr. Singh call him "kalu", or try impress him by saying "Yo, yo, yo" or even quoting a Snoop Dogg or a Beyonce song to the President of the US? Because considering what I have seen in India, I would not be suprised.
  • Indian Homemaker
    By
    Indian Homemaker
    25.07.10 07:17 AM
    @ Robert - That's horrible! Did somebody actually ask you to vacate a seat because they are higher caste? Was it in a bus, public transport? Which city was this? Glad you refused, they have no right to ask anybody Indian or foreigner to vacate any seats for any castes.
  • Robert
    By
    Robert
    25.07.10 05:53 AM
    I'm a man from Africa studying in India. The way I was treated at first because of my skin color was deeply hurtful but when even my lecturers saw that I spoke English better and more fluently than them they were humiliated. I'm proud of being black and I've never have and never will use skin lightening creme because I'm ashamed of my skin color. That is the most pathetic thing in the world to do. Now at college people respect me because I respect them. They often compliment me on how I never smoke or drink or chew tobacco. Even the girls are always respectful and often asking me how Africans treat their women and daughters. The reason why Africans are hated and discriminated is because of our pride, our immunity from the Indian caste system. I've seem situations where an Indian asks me to give up my seat to him because he is a higher caste and I always say NO! Never be ashamed of who you are. You lose all your self-respect! Take pride in being an Indian!
  • Indian Homemaker
    By
    Indian Homemaker
    24.07.10 07:35 PM
    You have fun with your sari Gori Girl. I am never sure if sari or yoga or Shakespeare or Karate belong to anybody....
  • radhe
    By
    radhe
    23.07.10 09:25 AM
    the Rajashani culture is very nice and colorful history. it should be add in your project Gori,

    radhe
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    21.07.10 08:50 PM
    Maria, I think people have been very polite with you, but please stop making generalized and sweeping statements about cultures and individuals such as how "it is in vogue" for Asians to blame whites and how Asians have appropriated western ideals. Keep in mind that many of these western ideals were forced upon people through colonization (a point many here have made repeatedly). Lighter skin as an ideal to achieve is a dangerous and self-damaging hangover from colonialism that makes a people ashamed of who and what they are. Nothing that creates self-hatred and shame is voluntarily appropriated, it is instilled forcibly -- at least initially.

    I also think your tone towards Jeevan is quite patronizing. He may be angry, but anger does not always come from a place of ignorance. For you to sit there and accuse of him of not wanting to "face the truth" was deeply offensive to me, also. You are not a person of color so please don't assume to know our motivations.

    I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you're not aware of the deeply offensive things you are saying because you proclaim them to be the truth and so anyone offended by them is simply not seeing the truth. This is a flawed argument.

    Please respect the fact that there are things you do know and things you don't. Feel free to speak of your Slavic heritage, but please leave ours alone. And before anyone else says "Well, why don't you leave our white heritage alone then," keep in mind that white colonial culture was forced upon us. Whether we like it or not, white culture is a part of our heritage.
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    21.07.10 08:32 PM
    @Angie, you are absolutely right. For many people someone's heritage becomes some sort of label. Being a Slavic girl, I face this problem not only in Europe, but also in Asia.

    I also agree, that people who try to act as if they belonged to some other culture are disgusting. I hate as well people using my culture without knowing much about it.

    @Jeevan, appreciation doesn't mean appropriation. They are the same for you, but not the same in reality. I understand where your opinion comes from, but emotions are not a good base for arguments.

    In Asia it is in vogue to blame white people, I know. But let's face the truth. Asians have appropriated thousands of our achievements in culture. In asian cities we see thousands of people trying to "look like white people". So, wearing a saree is just a grain of sand in front of the things that Asia has adopted.

    You have already said that my posts make you even more sure of your words. But let's be honest, they just make you angry, because you don't want to face the truth. I don't wish to offend you and other people who may share your views, I just want to remind you of things that you try to ignore due to purely p e r s o n a l reasons.
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    21.07.10 07:24 PM
    Jayanth Tadinada, sorry, I have just seen your answer.

    Yes, problems are very similar. As for "looking at each other" etc I can say that the strict opposition of the West and the East is a part of the modern political ideology. Unfortunately it becomes more and more popular. People even try to rewrite the history to justify their racist views.

    As for our discussion, I am glad that it has remained peaceful, because the questions of the past, culture and history are very delicate and complicated, so, it is easy to offend each other.

    I am sure that you have read "Mahabharata". So, I suggest that you should read it again, but e x t r e m e l y attentively. Then you will see that my words were not groundless.

    Was glad to talk to you!
  • A Singh
    By
    A Singh
    20.07.10 08:03 PM
    @Gori Girl, the answer is no! Can you imagine if this discussion was taking place in person. There would be scraps of denim and chiffon flying all over the place!!

    @Jeevan, as an Indian I was initially alarmed by your comments. I can kind of see where you might be coming from now, even if I don't fully concur with your view. Some years ago I remember being highly irritated at the sight of that master of the personal brand that is Madonna, dolled up in a sari. It may have had something to do with the fact I can't stand the woman but admittedly it was partly down to a feeling that she was exploiting an important part of our culture in a very cynical, calculated and commercial way. However, I do not have any problem with a white working class mum wishing to tie one if it makes her feel beautiful or sexy. You may feel that this is a contradiction.

    There are other instances of cultural appropriation that really bug me. I grew up in the 80s following the whole Black British and African American urban music scene. Great music by great artists. However, most of them were not commercially successful yet their music was still finding its way onto the airwaves and high into the charts, albeit in a very diluted form and often as cover versions. Many, mainly white, media friendly artists were blatantly ripping off this music and making their fortunes off the back of it, while the original artists were not given due credit.
  • Jeevan
    By
    Jeevan
    19.07.10 11:08 PM
    Angie -- thank you for making this point so clearly and concisely. In my frustration with this shift that I see towards the exoticization of Asian cultures, I let my emotions get the better of my writing.

    Wearing a saree, some claim, is just wearing a saree, but I have a hard time accepting that. I want to reiterate that nothing is free of cultural luggage and what one person labels "appreciation" is another person's appropriation.

    And please, don't use the "I know Indian people who think it's fine" excuse. You can find Black people who don't think the N-word is offensive, you can find East Asians who think the C-word is humorous, but that doesn't mean it's okay.
  • Angie
    By
    Angie
    19.07.10 09:46 PM
    I don't think Jeevan is a racist and that his feelings in regards to his own culture should be noted. I too think sarees are beautiful but one should be careful when you are picking and choosing elements of someone else's culture as if you are picking a flavour of ice cream.

    As a half Asian girl myself (East Asian, not South), I despised Asiaphile men who 'preferred' me because of one half of my heritage. I despised the way they ripped off Asian culture by decorating their houses in symbols they could not understand because they 'liked' them. I despised the way they tried to relate to and impress Asian women by obsessing over Asian culture as if it were some kind of new 'trend' - so I can 100% understand where Jeevan is coming from. Taking an interest in someone else's culture is no big deal - in fact, it's a good thing. When it comes to the point that you're obsessive and trying to act like you are OF that culture though, is not cool.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't go ahead and wear a sari if you really like it, I'm just saying that you need to try and understand his view-point without jumping in and labelling him a racist, whereas in truth, he is far from that. It's nothing to do with not wanting white people to assimilate with your culture - it's about feeling that foreigners are treating your culture, which your people have spent 100s of years developing, like a superficial trend statement.

    Have you ever heard of Japanophiles? If you behave like a Japanophile in regards to Indian culture, then you're being disrespectful - it's as simple as that. It's nothing to do with you being white.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    16.07.10 12:29 PM
    Can't we all just get along? (and wear saris while we do it? LOL)
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    15.07.10 08:36 PM
    Well, I think we have the same problem then... All of us are forgetting our pasts. The west is looking towards the east while the east is looking towards west pissing everyone off in the process :p
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    15.07.10 06:25 PM
    Dear Jayanth, I am not trying to judge India for films. It would be absolutely foolish. But I think you will agree, that some parts of life there leave much to be desired. Especially society where in most families one still has no right to build his life himself and depends on the will of parents etc. I believed that now situation is different: it is the 21st century. But then I started reading and also met many Indians and all of this showed me that India preserves very archaic society. It is surprising that even many Indians understand it, but they are afraid to change anything.

    Now, about the pure western culture. If you read books on european history and culture, you will be surprised, how life has changed here. I am speaking about Europe and not about the USA etc, because the modern USA and some other countries in America, are a very young civilization created by Europeans.

    Most parts of pure western culture are on the pages of books and not in the life of modern people. Our clothing has become poor enough, there is no philosophy behind it anymore, it is much simpler nowadays. Traditonal medicine and beauty care that were EXTREMELY rich, have disppeared almost everywhere. In music you will not hear national motifs. Traditional dances are not very popular as well.

    So, I find horrible, that Europeans are enchanted by Asia, call it so rich and wonderful, FORGETTING that Europe is not worse and poorer. People have forgotten their heritage, they don't know much about it, so they think that it doesn't exist or that it is poor and boring. Just like Barbara, who said that western clothing are uglier than a sari. Huge, awful words.

    Western people should be proud not only of their present, but also of their past. But they are not. How can one be proud of things that he doesn't know?

    I hope I have answered all the questions :)
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    15.07.10 05:28 PM
    Maria, I will definitely agree that there are enough reasons for white people to be proud of themselves. The whole world enjoys the fruits of advancement of science and technology pioneered in Europe and America in the 19th and 20th centuries!

    These differences often come out because we do not know each other's culture well enough to appreciate and understand them. The source of our knowledge about each other's culture is usually movies or TV and they show what sells rather than what is true.

    And please don't look at Bollywood as a barometer for Indian culture. Imagine if someone looks up to the "American Pie series" to learn everything about American culture! That is how we feel when you try to make sense of Indian culture by watching Bollywood movies. Again I am not blaming you for this. Trust me, most Indians hate most movies in Bollywood but the reason the movie industry makes hundreds of such movies is a whole new article which will be published soon in this very magazine. (so check it out)

    In your earlier comments, you have used phrases like "pure western culture" which "you're abandoning for numerous political reasons"

    By pure western culture, what exactly do you mean? I am just curious.
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    15.07.10 04:50 PM
    Barbara, I was not speaking to you aAT ALL. I wrote you only a few words about the western clothing that you called ugly as far as I remember.

    That's what I told you: "As for Barbara’s words, I would recommend her to learn more about the western culture of dressing. If a person says that western clothes are uglier than indian ones, it means, that he/she doesn’t know much about thousands of variations of western clothes. Some of them are a real ideal of beauty. Barbara, open your eyes."

    Being Western, dear, doesn't mean knowing everything about the extremely rich western culture of dressing. If you knew it well, you would not have even tried to compare our clothing with others.
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    15.07.10 04:45 PM
    Jayanth, I haven't been thumping my fists on the table :) I know about this research very well and I was waiting and waiting for somebody to contradict me here. At last you are here.

    Nowadays people of paleoeuropean descent are rare, that is true, what is also explained by some genetical rules, thus - asian presence can't be found in slavic genes, but that asian invasion in the 13th century really took place and was horrible. It was just 7 centuries ago, but there is no more genetical traces of that. So, what can we do with things that happened more than 1000 years ago?

    All the theories have their partisans and enemies. And both of them have prooves of their point of view. Genome researches are not particularly reliable here, because they cannot show fully the situation.

    For every one paper using population genetics that claims that Aryans are just indigenous to India, there are multiple others that show just the opposite. This method does not have the temporal resolution to address questions about population movements in the time period that we are looking at. The error bars on these papers are in thousands of years and cannot authoritatively suggest anything about the question of the origin of Aryans in the time frame of 3000 or so years ago, and are useful only for determining the movements of people in pre-historic periods.

    Genome researches are also not fully reliable, because their results depend on too many factors. Many times scientists tried to use this kind of research in historical studies, and many times the genetic researches contradicted historical documents and archaeological data, what was absurd.

    Of course you have the full right to believe that this theory is wrong. How can I forbid it to you??? Honestly speaking, history as a science can be contested. But even if we suppose that you are right, look at the current situation, even without the Aryan invasion, white people have too many things of which they can be proud.

    As for western clothing: yes, jeans are popular, however you will not deny that western fashion in general is popular everywhere and it can't be reduced to jeans. In Asia many designers are inspired by western patterns and styles.

    I was not offended by Jeevan's words, I just don't like when people who have no idea what West is all about, impose their point of view. West has great influence, it's true, and if someone doesn't like it, then it is a problem of his country and local people.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    12.07.10 10:25 PM
    Thank you, Jayanth. Wearing a sari well is the key, I think.

    I went to a memorial service yesterday, one of my oldest friends, a truly wonderful human being, died unexpectedly last month. I wore my very best sari in her honor, because she would have loved it. The dark green color was perfect, as I was loathe to wear black to celebrate her beautiful life. Not to mention, that particular sari is the nicest garment I own. Nothing Western in my wardrobe was nice enough, nor formal enough, to wear to this occasion for my taste.

    I'm glad I wore it. It was a special piece of clothing worn for a special person. I just wish she could have seen it.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    12.07.10 04:39 PM
    Maria, I wouldn't agree most of the things you said but I'd understand why you offended by Jeevan's comments. And the Aryan invasion theory which you have been thumping your fists on the table to be fact has been scientifically proved to be wrong by the recent National Geographic's Human Genome Project.

    I believe that any society (irrespective of nationality or race) will do things if they make economic sense. So the western clothes forced on us is a myth. Jeans are popular all around the world because they are comfortable!

    I recently attended a wedding in a small town in India and a few French women who were friends of the groom attended wearing Sarees and they were very much appreciated by everyone in the wedding.

    So anyone who can carry off a saree with comfort and confidence can wear it and there is nothing offensive about it.
  • e
    By
    e
    11.07.10 03:37 AM
    @ Barbara, please tell me where you purchase your handloomed sari? Many thanks.
  • Jennifer
    By
    Jennifer
    06.07.10 08:47 AM
    Thank you so much for posting this! Going through the same type of 'Indomania' while going to school for Anthropology. I recently had to buy several new clothes due to weight gain, and decided on several salwar kameez (complete with dhuppatas) and kurtas and kurtis. I live in artistically forward, but still a little conservative, Iowa, and so far have gotten compliments. I asked an India couple who moved here last yr (I live in a college town, so much diversit here) and they were both very excited to hear that a westerner would like to emmulate their culture. I say go for it, and be sure to post pictures! :)
  • Barbara
    By
    Barbara
    04.07.10 10:06 PM
    Maria,
    Are you kidding me? THAT is what you want to say to ME ? This whole thing is just weird.
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    04.07.10 05:26 PM
    Karthik G., I agree with some of Jeevan's words. BUT. I just wanted to remind that we are not imposing anything: India is appropriating our culture and often tries to copy us. And it is NOT our fault. But Jeevan wanted to prove that we are guilty of that. Do you think he is right? People like him can only blame us and that's all. In fact, they should blame their society and themselves.

    Before speaking of the western culture one should learn a bit more about it. Some people here seem to have no clue, who we are. That is also the case of Jeevan.

    I share Ajay's point of view: he said that Westerners had given very much to the world. Yes, that is true. So, we have the right to take just a bit from other cultures.

    Don't be afraid of me and my words: when an Asian is proud of his origins and is defending his nation, it is normal, even if he in insulting others. When a European is doing like this, everybody is scared. Isn't it stupid!

    Yes, I am proud to be Western. Sometimes I want to cry, when I see that western people are abandoning their culture. There are huge political reasons behind it, but I am sure that very soon Westerners will remember who they are. The pure western culture is an incarnation of beauty, I will never abandon it.

    Wearing a saree in not appropriation, Jeevan is wrong. We have no intention to live like Indians, to adopt indian culture. No, thank you. The truth is that nations always share their achievements with others. We take the best from each other. Sarees are the most ancient clothing. And it is our common heritage, because indoeuropean nations are relatives. Besides it is beauty giving a very particular feeling to the woman who is wearing it.

    Sarees mean beauty and femininity, so, any woman can wear them, if she is beautiful and feminine - there will always be harmony in her look. I'm afraid, Jeevan is not able to understand such things.

    White ancestry? Yes, it is true. White people left their deep traces in indian noble families. As for "untouchables", they also appeared because of the white invasion. These were locals who were considered by white invaders as inferior people. However, even in the 21st century Indians are respecting this system. Open your eyes.

    In Iran there are also those who have paleoeuropean origins, for example, Mohammed Ali Ramin, a famous politician. Read some books on ethnology, please!

    Let's stop this discussion. Many people are afraid of truth, we have seen enough prooves of it. My best wishes!
  • Robert  P.
    By
    Robert P.
    04.07.10 04:11 PM
    Karthik G., thank you for your post. Your point of view is very interesting. I know, Westerners were sometimes cruel, but it doesn't mean that Jeevan has the right to say such things. It is not our fault that India (like many countries) is heavily influenced by our culture. Maria's words are very true: if a nation can't resist, it is the fault of this nation. I have been in India two times: in some parts Westerners are really considered as Gods. It is a bit disgusting, you know.

    As for Ajay's English, no one is perfect. In England there are people whose English is really horrrrrible. Maybe Ajay has just started learning English, I don't know. But after reading his post I respect him. Besides, it is a forum, don't you forget it? Many people don't pay any attention to spelling and grammar while speaking here. We have to spare time and space. I don't mean that it is good. But...
  • Karthik G.
    By
    Karthik G.
    04.07.10 08:28 AM
    You know, I wasn't necessarily taking Jeevan's side at first, but when I see the comments being made here, I started to think twice. By mocking and ridiculing him while disregarding the importance he places on culture, I think you may basically be doing what he thinks westerners do, no?

    He's obviously got some anger, but anger can have reasoning behind it.

    Maria, I don't see you actually refuting anything he said, but I do see numerous statements about "these people" and how backward Asians are, supposed White ancestry, and how they take everything from the west. I'm sorry, but the things you say are a bit frightening, to be honest.

    Ajay, sorry my brother, but I don't agree. I don't think that disagreeing with some aspect of behavior is the same thing as outright racism or jealousy

    Robert P., your comment about how Asia is centuries behind Europe is a bit inaccurate, I think (and I am curious as to how Ajay felt about that). Remember that centuries ago, Asia was eons ahead of Europe in terms of civilization and the arts. It may not be so now, but empires never last. And I don't think you read Ajay's post very carefully before you deemed it to be "proper British English."

    Thank you, Gori girl, for providing this venue to discuss these matters frankly. It is unfortunate that passions and culture-baiting get in the way of proper debate and discussion, but that's the nature of blogs. I hope that by reading the comments here you may be better informed and use your best judgment. You strike me as someone who does think and analyze on a deeper level and I have no doubt that your judgment will serve you well.

    Best to everyone.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    04.07.10 05:29 AM
    I see my plea for rational, non-judgmental discourse has fallen by the wayside.

    Jeevan did come in here angry, but condescending to him is not the way to find mutual understanding.

    Perhaps I'll back off the discussion for a little while and see if it can't get back into less strident waters.

    And for the record, I now own three saris and two salwar kameez. And three -- count them! three! -- glorious sets of bangles.

    And I wear them proudly.

    I wore the salwar kameez out to my son's preschool end of year party, and more than one African American woman there was asking where they could find them, because it looked so elegant.

    So perhaps they might not soon wear saris -- especially not with such negative attitudes towards them doing so -- but salwar kameez might bridge the fashion gap to the largely black area I happen to live in.
  • Robert  P.
    By
    Robert P.
    04.07.10 12:29 AM
    A ridiculous discussion, showing that many centuries should pass for Asia to reach the level of Europe.

    I am British and I am glad that there are Indians who are far from hating us.

    Impressed after reading Ajay's post. Thank you, Ajay, very nice words. I am very touched.

    By the way, Ajay has very good British English. Jeevan, you think you know it better? Prove it, guy. I haven't noticed it.
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    04.07.10 12:15 AM
    So, come back, when you grow up or at least read enough to start a discussion, my funny indian friend :)
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    04.07.10 12:11 AM
    Gori Girl, Jeevan is a good illustration of the decline of most asian countries. These people hate and blame us, but they can't do anything, that's where all this hate is coming from.

    Jeevan, nothing ruins an argument’s strength like being rough when your point of view cannot be proven. This is the problem of many people who pretend to have no mistakes in English, but have lots of them in their ideas.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    04.07.10 12:03 AM
    Tsk, everyone. Let's not get all flame war, here. We can discuss this without resorting to ad hominem and insults, yes?

    Jeevan, I may be unusual for a Westerner, but I do understand a great deal more than most of my white American counterparts about Indian history and culture. And I know that I'm a tyro and have not enough time in my life to learn all there is to learn. Curse this American-centric public school education.

    But I must say that some of your comments do seem to stem from a deep personal anger. I'm not saying that you don't have justification for it; I don't know you or your personal history.

    I think that it is high time everyone, everywhere gave up the grudges of the past and looked to the future. We are living on a small planet, and we are all moving forward into globalization together. What is wrong with borrowing what one loves from this culture and that?

    India and America have one thing in common, I hope you will agree. And that is that both countries are melting-pots. India has a few thousand years' head start on us, but you have so many cultures and religions living side by side for the most part peacefully. Cuisine, clothing, rituals and customs have filtered through the country through the years, being adopted by one or the other tribal or ethnic group, improving and enriching as they go.

    Now the world is becoming one vast India and we're all borrowing from each other to the benefit of all nations. Well, except maybe for rampant commercialism, but you can't have everything, right?

    Dwelling on the past and holding grudges that were caused by events long before any of us were born isn't going to help us move to the future and create a better world for our descendants.

    Call me naive, or an oppressor, or whatever you like, but I think that this lending and borrowing of bits and pieces of many cultures makes everywhere more interesting to live.
  • Jeevan
    By
    Jeevan
    03.07.10 11:42 PM
    Maria,

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, you unwittingly represent the best argument in support of what I'm saying. You go, girl.


    Ajay,

    You are entitled to your opinions but to outright label me as racist or mad or jealous without carefully reading what I said and how I said it reflects poorly on you. Please set aside these mindless spiritualisms and do some real research. I wasn't going to get ugly here, but hey, you opened the door, so...nothing ruins an argument's strength like having multiple elementary spelling mistakes and the inability to string together a sentence properly.
  • Ajay
    By
    Ajay
    03.07.10 11:15 PM
    Look at all of these comments! So many people waist their time to speak to a mad person like Jeevan! Increadible!

    Whatever you say, Jeevan, you are racist.

    Saree was created to show the entire beauty of the woman. It is not important what colour your skin has or what nationality you have, you should think of what is in your heart. And in your heart Jeevan there is nothing but hate. YOU ARE JEALOUS. That's why you hate Westerners. By saying such things you defame India and its people.

    "If the boss of your husband likes it, why do you think that it is ok?"
    And if you, Jeevan, don't like it, why do you think that it is bad?

    We, Indians (I mean those who are not racist) are proud that Westerners have interest in our clothing. Saree is our symbol, our achievement. White people have shared with the world many of their achievements, now it is our turn to do something for others!

    White women are amazingly beautiful. Beauty doesn't depend on nationality. If a white woman is beautiful and feminine, she can wear anything she wants. She MUST celebrate a woman in herself. And by the way, white skin in saree is very exotic and attractive, whatever can say racists like you.
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    03.07.10 10:32 PM
    To Gori Girl. My boyfriend is Indian, he is a well-educated person, having a high position in society. He loves when I am wearing feminine western dresses and indian sarees. A saree was his first gift to me and he told me that I was created to wear this kind of clothing.

    If Jeevan thinks that for a Western sarees are just stylish trends and that's all, again he is wrong. For me a saree is much more than just a beautiful clothing. But I can give explanations only to those who deserve it. Sorry, Jeevan, you are not among those people.

    An indian woman can also look ridiculous in a saree. I have seen such women. The way the were moving, speaking, looking and the features of their faces also - everything absolutely excluded femininity and nobility.

    As for Barbara's words, I would recommend her to learn more about the western culture of dressing. If a person says that western clothes are uglier than indian ones, it means, that he/she doesn't know much about thousands of variations of western clothes. Some of them are a real ideal of beauty. Barbara, open your eyes.
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    03.07.10 10:31 PM
    Dear Jeevan, it is evident that you don't know much about the Western culture. You reduce the image of West to functionality and pragmatism excluding spirituality and depth.

    You are also bad at the history of your own country. Many people issued from indian nobility have white ancestors, at least read some books on ethnology. So, Jeevan, be careful with your words about white people, your words may deeple insult some noble indian families.

    Besides, look at Bollywood. How many films have been created on the base of our books and our movies. Maybe in India very few people know about it, but we, Westerners, do.

    Many indian companies invite western models to advertise indian clothing. Westerners often advertise oriental jewellery as well. This is a real triumph of the western appearance.

    Indian model business follows the western traditions as well, some agencies even just copy photosessions of our celebrities.

    As for clothing, if you in West, be so kind to follow our traditions and wear our clothing. It is a rule everywhere. If you have to wear indian clothing in your own country, why do you thing that it is our fault?)))

    Maybe you don't want to understand it, but India has been developing under the influence of West for many many years. And it is the fault of India, because if she could resist, she would have done it long ago. If you don't like it, try to change something. But instead of doing it, very wise and well-educated people like you try in vain to offend the western pride.
  • Jeevan
    By
    Jeevan
    03.07.10 10:10 PM
    Apparently I've stirred a hornet's nest, but in the spirit of lively debate, let's get to it.

    First, to Amanda, where in my original post do I assert that Whites have never been oppressed? But there is a difference between oppression through occupation and oppression through colonialism. Colonialism is when a region is bled dry of all resources to the extent of being a damaged civilization even centuries later while the people of that region are treated as "savages." Remember that 80% of racist action is based on visuals, and no one knows if you are Irish, Polish, or Italian by just looking at you, but they sure as hell know if you're Black or Asian.

    Secondly, I don't understand your point about your husband's boss. Does the fact that she approves mean that it's okay? You will find plenty of South Asians that approve and may even be flattered that you're wearing a saree. But this is colonialism again except we do it to ourselves. Have you stopped to think whether you would have that approval if you weren't White? You don't see East Asian or Black women wearing sarees. Trust me, South Asians will NOT be so crazy about a Black woman wearing a saree (although, ironically, a darker skin tone does, in my opinion, look far more attractive in sarees). Sure, that's our problem, I understand, but I just wanted to point out that issue. And yes, I'm sure you can find a Black woman somewhere in the U.S. who wears sarees, and more power to her, but she is a speck of dust in comparison to the overwhelming majority of White saree-wearers. South Asians carry on the racist mindset they were taught, and that is our fault (you see Indian-White couples all the time but I have yet to see an Indian-Black couple except for myself and one other). But you should know that their appreciation for you in a saree is not without its own colonial sentiments.

    To Gori Girl, first, thank you for creating a forum to discuss these issues. The fact that you are open to debate speaks volumes about you and I don't deny that there are many things I could learn from you. Secondly, to your point, people everywhere -- not just in India -- have to wear Western dress to get a job. To call it the west's "fault" is incorrect, but remember that in any colonial situation, dress indicated status, and the higher-up you were in society, the more you interacted with Whites -- and the more, therefore, that Whites insisted upon western attire (yes, there were protocols). This is why to this day if you get on the Indian railways cars in many cities, you'll see the ticket-taker dressed in a blazer and tie in 110-degree heat. Is it fair to blame White people for the actions of their ancestors? No, but an awareness of how those actions still impact the former colonies to this day is important for context.

    I find your comment about "When in Rome..." interesting. Would you wear a saree if you lived in India? Maybe you would, but you are asserting here that you can wear a saree in the U.S. because in the U.S. we are a cultural melting pot? That's not entirely true. You can wear a saree here because you can, but you have to recognize that you can because you're White (see par. 3 above).

    I am not charging you as being colonialist oppressors, but I am asking that you look at the history and be aware of the context.

    There's a brilliant satire of all this as represented by Cultural Appropriation Bingo -- you may notice that these are just not my issues (this was put together by an American Indian, not an Indian American):

    http://tinyurl.com/332hef6
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    03.07.10 08:50 PM
    I would like clarification, Jeevan, on one thing. You say Indians are forced to wear Western clothing to get jobs. Is this true in India or is it just in the West? If it's in India, how is it the West's fault that your culture is adopting Western clothing, and if it's in the West, what do you expect?

    If I were to move to another country and had to change to different clothing in order to gain employment, I would consider that to be par for the course. When in Rome...
  • Amanda
    By
    Amanda
    03.07.10 06:19 PM
    Jeevan,
    I take offense to your comment about white people never being the object of oppression. Apparently you do not know much of european history, as many white people have been oppressed. Tell me again how long Ireland was occupied by England? How about the signs that used to be all over the Northeast saying "Irish/Polish/Italians need not apply"? I am sure you take offense to all Asians being lumped together, how is it any different?

    As for the Sari topic that we were originally on, my husbands boss brings me back saris every time she goes home to Bangladesh and comments on how beautiful I look in them. I asked her to bring back the first one to wear to a friend's wedding, she showed me the proper way to wear it in the Bengali style, and now I wear them all the time. They are quite possibly the most intelligently designed summer wear for women. They are comfortable, feminine, modest, and keep you cool in the hot humid heat that is so prevalent in the Southeastern US.
  • Barbara
    By
    Barbara
    01.07.10 09:57 PM
    Jeevan,
    You are completely correct in saying that we whites don't carry the baggage of colonialism, you do. The brutality of imperialism casts a very long shadow. Arundhati Roy writes beautifully about this. I have recently read her "An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire." Have you read this? In it she lays out the responsibilities of us white Americans (the new imperialists). I get it, I really do. But if I wear a saree, is that really anything like wearing blackface? Blackface was a white invention to make fun of blacks. Sarees are not our invention, they are so very Indian. I do understand your completely valid point that Indian dress has been used as a way of discriminating against Indians. It is wrong that you must wear western clothes (which are IMHO uglier and more uncomfortable than a kurta) in order to be taken seriously at work. It seems the burden on Indian men in this regard is worse than on women if I'm not mistaken. But though the saree is a part of traditional dress that has been treated unfairly, should the saree really be compared to blackface? Regardless of what whites have said and done, it is still the most beautiful and dignified garment in the world. Gandhi's autobiography carefully considers clothing and what it means. I love the message of peace and equality that Gandhi has assigned the saree. The sarees I have bought from India are all hand-loomed Indian cotton. When I am told that what I'm wearing is beautiful, I tell my fellow Americans (can't say "white Americans" there because many black women have approached me to say it is beautiful) where it was made, how it was made, and how India is leading the way in organic cotton production thereby making this best of all fabrics truly sustainable. Please, may I wear a saree with your blessing, Jeevan? I have only respect for your beautiful and ancient culture. I admire the Indian fight for independence and its role as an emerging world leader. Maybe the bosses in India will find western wear less impressive if even the westerners start abandoning it.
  • Jeevan
    By
    Jeevan
    30.06.10 10:47 PM
    "We have always been in power? Yes, we have. But have you ever tried to think why it has always been like this? Try, dear, it will be useful for you."

    "White women are long famed for their beauty and they are free to wear anything they want"

    Thank you, Maria, for proving my point far better than I every could.
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    30.06.10 09:11 PM
    Jeevan, don't speak of all the nation in general, because many indian women adore our western clothes. I saw many times the slogan: "Now your saree can be like a western sexy dress!"

    Honestly speaking, many indian girls look ridiculous in our dresses, but we don't make such negative statements, because we have no inferiority complex like (sorry for such words) you do.

    We have always been in power? Yes, we have. But have you ever tried to think why it has always been like this? Try, dear, it will be useful for you.

    White women are long famed for their beauty and they are free to wear anything they want: they must only wear it properly. Most indian men love white women in sarees. If you can't appreciate beauty and femininity, and judge us for Madonna or Victoria Beckham who are ridiculous whatever they wear, then I feel pity for you.

    If in your country you can be laughed at because of having a celtic cross tattoo - this is the problem of your country. Only narrow-minded people liek you build walls instead of bridges.

    So, hate us, at least we will have one more reason to laugh.
  • Jeevan
    By
    Jeevan
    27.06.10 01:31 AM
    Sorry to ruin the mood, but I'm afraid I am one of those South Asians who really don't like to see White women dressing in sarees. A lot of my reasoning may come across as hyper-sensitive reverse-racism, but they're not:

    1. Cultural context: you say you have never oppressed or colonized but that is irrelevant. Cultural context takes into account history, and from a historical point, you have. Because Whites have always been the colonizers, you don't carry the luggage of colonialism, we do. Wearing a saree is a bit like wearing blackface (I know, that's an extreme example) in that it may not be the performer's intention to offend, but that doesn't stop it from being offensive.

    2. The argument against Indians and others being equally offensive by wearing western clothes is, again, written from a point of view of someone who hasn't faced oppression. Do you think we all enjoy wearing western clothes? Maybe some do, but most of us HAVE to -- to get (and keep) a job, to be taken seriously and have credibility. We were FORCED to wear western clothes to be integrated into society. Do you honestly think I could show up for an interview in my kurta and be taken seriously? No one forced you to wear a saree.

    3. Wearing a saree is not a real celebration of culture, it's a superficial style statement. There's nothing wrong with that except that in this case, what you are treating superficially is to others, something with deeper meaning and context. A saree is not a "costume," just like yoga is not just "a workout regimen." Respect the depth that accompanies such things.

    4. This idea of "cherry picking" cultural artifacts is a disturbing trend. It devalues the context of the original by reducing cultural components to fashion accessories. White people have always been in power so they don't realize how ridiculous they look when they appropriate such things from other cultures. White people think nothing of getting Japanese or Chinese character tattoos, but if I got a Celtic cross tattoo, I'd be laughed off the streets.

    I realize that it's not your intent to offend, and it is not my intent to attack you personally. I think it's great that you actually put this out there for discussion and remain open to feedback. But, yes, I'm sorry, but I disagree.
  • Barbara
    By
    Barbara
    01.06.10 06:00 AM
    I want to thank everyone who's been encouraging here. I've started wearing saris around town and it's lots of fun! I still wish I weren't so fair-skinned so it looked more natural, but maybe we can start a gori fashion trend.
  • prem raj
    By
    prem raj
    28.05.10 10:37 PM
    When indians can wear western clothes why cant goris wear Sarees. As somone commented earlier, I too admire Goris wearing saris and I can say they wear more stylishly than an average Indian. And the bindis also look fab on a gori
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    20.05.10 10:12 PM
    Maybe we can start a new fashion trend for Westerners!
  • Barbara
    By
    Barbara
    20.05.10 03:02 AM
    A dare! OMG, I don't know if I have my courage up. Okay. I also have to go to the grocery. I'll wear a sari. Mind you, students and former students of mine work at the grocery, so there's no way for me to be ignored. Oh well, the ones who are my Facebook friends know I'm a sari fanatic. I'll tell you how it goes!
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    20.05.10 01:38 AM
    I'll tell you what -- I have to go to the grocery store today and I'll wear mine if you wear yours!
  • Barbara
    By
    Barbara
    19.05.10 08:49 AM
    Hey, Gori Girl! I came across this as I was searching online for answers to the same question. I love my saris and have thought about wearing them out of the house but I must have read the same article you did about the woman whose office mates told her to stop wearing Indian clothes because they look ridiculous on a westerner. You have stated my own feelings about this perfectly! I feel very heartened by the desi approval displayed here. Maybe I'll try stepping out in my (very appropriately draped--I've put a lot of study into getting it right) saris.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    17.05.10 11:13 PM
    Everyone's responses make me wonder if the yes/no divide has to do with being within India or outside of it as an NRI. I know that the one story I read that was very detailed and described what some work colleagues said to the Gori -- saying she looked ridiculous -- took place in Mumbai.

    Of course blanket statements don't provide for individual perceptions but perhaps the trend to dislike a Westerner in sari has to do with location?
  • Journomuse
    By
    Journomuse
    17.05.10 06:51 PM
    Gori Girl, go right ahead and wear sarees every day if possible. My mother swears by the comfort it provides. I, on the other hand, have become so accustomed to kurtas and jeans that accessorising for a saree happens only for someone's wedding or a reception..But if anyone tells you that you are appropriating someone else's culture, then look right back and say, well they have done so too, haven't they? If it makes you feel gorgeous, i'd say keep wearing them..:) I'm personally very fond of seeing Western women in Indian attires and I make it a point to walk up to total strangers and compliment them on how good they look in them..:)
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    17.05.10 09:27 AM
    Is nobody going to argue with me? LOL
  • Purba
    By
    Purba
    17.05.10 07:50 AM
    A saree is such a versatile attire. You can get bold, coy, drape it the way you want. And they come in such gorgeous colors and weaves.

    Go for it girl!
  • Lakshmi Rajan
    By
    Lakshmi Rajan
    16.05.10 11:46 PM
    I feel proud when a non-Indian wears the traditional Indian dresses. And why would anyone have objection for someone wearing another culture dress? Its height of narrow mindedness. Enjoy the Sari !!! Enjoy the various cues of Indian culture :)
  • Moulee
    By
    Moulee
    16.05.10 10:09 PM
    Whenever I see a non-Indian wear Sari or Dhoti it makes me feel proud. So, dont hesitate :D. Make me feel proud lol.

    And there are few people(Indians) who critisize if an Indian from rural part wears western outfits. Forgetting that they themselves wear one.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    16.05.10 07:48 PM
    I really appreciate everyone's support of my couture Indomania. I wouldn't dream of wearing sari any other way than the right way, otherwise, what would be the point? LOL
  • Rahul
    By
    Rahul
    16.05.10 02:49 PM
    Hey, Must say i really adore a foreigner (I won't say white woman) in saree, bcoz i think they look gorgeous, they are tall and they actually carry it much better. And India doesn't have a patent over sarre u knw, so just go ahead, flaunt it good..If you knw how to wear it, you should, indian, wetern debate doesn't come in picture at all !!
  • le embrouille blogueur
    By
    le embrouille blogueur
    16.05.10 10:57 AM
    Go ahead ... buy that Sari and stun the world....!!
  • Lakshmi
    By
    Lakshmi
    16.05.10 08:31 AM
    Hi. Its nice to know that you like wearing a saree. I have seen lot of whites in Houston wear one. I dont feel offended, but yes, I do sometimes feel annoyed because atleast most of the ones I see wear them very inappropriately. Maybe thats why somebody must have said that. If people want to show their appreciation, then they may as well put in a little more effort to wear it correctly, right?
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    16.05.10 12:23 AM
    You have just absolved me of the guilt I was feeling for picking up a new sari on the way home from bhangra class. Thanks! I'll do my best to ditch the Western Guilt and be proud that I know how to pleat one.
  • Lazy Pineapple
    By
    Lazy Pineapple
    15.05.10 09:32 PM
    I am actually so happy to hear that you love to wear sari. I feel you should just remove all doubts in your mind about what other people will think that is including Indians...everybody in this world has his/her own right of self expression. Trousers and jeans were never a part of Indian culture, just as we have adopted them as our own so can anyone from any corner of the world can wear a sari, salwar suit or ghagra choli. And if people get offended then they are too narrow minded and you can never do anything to please such people.
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    15.05.10 08:43 PM
    Thank you very much. I really love sari but I don't want to offend anyone. I wouldn't dream of wearing it any other way than Nivi style because that's the only drape I know -- and nobody wants to see my fish white underbelly anyway. LOL
  • le embrouille blogueur
    By
    le embrouille blogueur
    15.05.10 12:14 PM
    First...this is great effort on your part and experience to narrate about. As Indians, it is almost impossible for us to appreciate what kind of approval/comments/criticism someone like you could be exposed to.I am glad to know about your experience. One observation - often times I have seen a non Indian wear a sari, like in a dance show, but not the way it is worn in India.There is a lot of skin. One example would be the dancers on a popular dance show who danced to the tunes of Jai Ho. Now that is probably not a favorite sight for Indians to like. At the same time, several years ago I attended a Bengali culturual program in U of M, Ann Arbor and I saw several American women wear the Sari. It was a great moment of global blend. Loved the post.

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