By Liana Shivers, VA High School Program Coordinator
Photos courtesy of AALEAD Staff
Hello Everyone and Happy New Year!
Today, we wanted to shine a spotlight on the Annandale High School youth who have been pretty busy as of late.
After a few bumps in the road, we have been able to get back on track with programming and have added an optional second day. And after a day of planning together, we have hit the ground running and the youth have covered many topics. So far, we have touched on Asian Pacific Americans in the U.S. music industry, defined great leadership by looking to Asian leaders as examples, began a series dedicated to navigating career pathways, and discussed the history behind the model minority myth.
The latest workshop we had focused on racism and Orientalism in Hip-Hop music. Together we discussed the ideas of cultural appropriation versus cultural exchange, and how appropriation possesses a difference in power dynamics that is not inherent in cultural exchange.
After reading an article about both Asian Pacific American and African American Hip-Hop artists perpetuating stereotypes, or appropriating culture to either appear “cool” or “exotic,” the youth had many powerful ideas and questions. For instance, some asked:
“What would be overdoing it, like screaming cultural appropriation when it’s not?”
“We have siri and the internet…why do people not search up what the culture [is] like?”
“Why do some people continue to support these artists…?”
What followed was a wonderful discussion about ways we could dispel stereotypes and push back against appropriation even when it came to our own favorite artists, and why this was important.
It was exciting to see youth so engaged and productively challenging each other when they had opposing viewpoints. We could all come to the conclusion though that issues of culture are complex and hardly ever just black and white.
We have many more exciting opportunities coming up and cannot wait to share more updates with you soon!