While browsing through Facebook, I came across a post whose headline read: “Zac Efron Trolled For Wearing Dreadlocks”. I was stunned. Why would people do that? I read the post in detail and came to know that many people thought of it as cultural appropriation. How could a white guy sport a hairstyle that is native to the people of Jamaica who practice the Abrahamic religion of Rastafarianism?
I was appalled. Clearly, many people today misunderstand the concept of stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Anyone can choose to look the way they want to. It’s really a matter of choice. But these days the very people who claim to fight against stereotypes seemingly reinforce them. I cannot look a certain way because I don’t belong to a certain community or race. Wasn’t that notion the first thing people fought against?
Anything we do outside our culture becomes racist. So, a non-Sikh should never wear a turban. If we go by this logic, the whole tourism industry will collapse on its face. And isn’t it our freedom of speech and expression that allows us to express ourselves in the way we deem best? Then why do we troll someone for that? If not, please tell me why it is offensive for a white man to sport dreadlocks?
In this way, free speech will always be in danger. And not only from the right-wingers as we choose to believe but also from the other side of the spectrum, the so-called liberals. Free speech is curbed by anyone it seemingly offends. The Left curbs it by telling us it’s bigotry and hate and the right by calling it anti-national. And we need to fight both.