When I was 19 or so, I thought about getting braids. Braids with extensions. Braids with beads on the ends. “African Braids.”

“You’d look like a poser,” my mother said, and that was the end of that. (Admittedly, if that HADN’T been the end of that, further research into the cost of getting braids put in would have settled the issue almost as quickly—braiding, if you didn’t know, is a serious investment. Another place my Scottish and Indian heritage shines through—I am SUPER cheap. “Frugal,” my mother would quickly correct me.)

My mother was giving me a valuable lesson about cultural misappropriation fairly early in life: don’t take other people’s culture and use it without respect to its history and value and distinctness. Don’t use their culture like a costume. (more…)