Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles - So I have this white friend who is, as the title dares to suggest, kinda racist. There have been microaggressions... - Oh my god, I am totally darker than you. I could be Asian. Look, I could be Asian. I could totally be Asian. Look. - As well as some macroaggressions... If you wanna act, you absolutely should act. - Yeah, but if I decide to go into acting, I'm just gonna take away so many parts from women of color, (record scratches) and I don't wanna do that. - That's, um. (splutters) - And some things that are just, well... - Oh wow, what's your background? - I'm a mutt. I'm just a mix of so many different backgrounds and cultures and tribes as well. - What? Dude, no you're not. You're white. You are straight up white. 100% whitey here. You are straight up whi- - With everything going on in the world and the rise of Asian hate, I just feel like I really can't keep quiet about this anymore. Look, my friend, to be clear- great person. She is a good person, but she's kind of racist. And I think that describes a lot of people: good, inherently good, but kind of racist. And it's especially heartbreaking because I know she's trying really hard. She told me... - I joined a white girl book club. We're focused on educating ourselves about race issues so that we don't have to have our BIPOC friends do the labor for us. (dings) - And I believe she genuinely wants to do good, but in order to do good, we also have to acknowledge the fact that there's a specific racism among white people: Exotification. White people who are pretending to be people of color when it's convenient and profitable for them. Like, white women who want to be seen as more ethnic because they hold the racist belief that being ethnic is "exotic" and sexy. White men who want to be seen as more urban to make them seem edgy and cool. White people who want to try on our looks and our culture, but discard the struggles that come with our identities and treat our skin color like an accessory or as an aesthetic. And what I've come to realize is that racism is evolving. It's more nuanced. It's more subtle. It's always been pretty systemic, but now it's also sneaky. So, for example, we know cultural appropriation is bad. And when we think of "bad cultural appropriation", we think of what? White girls wearing Native American costumes for Halloween. But do you also think of how a non-black person wearing a black hairstyle is racist? So, I had some friends who were white who went to Burning Man and decided to wear cornrows and got called out by the Black community. They got very defensive and they were like "This is to protect my hair. "I should be able to wear my hairstyle "in a way that's going to protect it." But the Black community pointed out the inherent problems with this decision and this argument. And I admit, I did not fully understand this evolution of racism until I saw Amandla Stenberg's 2015 video essay "Don't Cash Crop On My Cornrows" in which she examined the parallel rise of Black culture being appropriated in the music industry by white artists and being lauded for it alongside the rise of police brutality against Black people. - Police brutality against Black people came to the forefront in an incredible movement ignited by the murders of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and many others. People began to protest institutionalized racism by marching and by using social media. Celebrities spread awareness and shared condolences, or at least some did. - And this disparity, how some people take so much from Black culture, but refuse to stand up against the racism that comes with it, is where the issue with cornrows and other forms of cultural appropriation lies. So, black and brown bodies are used as props. Their culture adopted to seem edgy, and white people profit off this image without any obligation to deal with the struggles that that culture faces like, seriously. Some people are out here wearing a grill but they can't tweet or donate or march on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Stenberg also has a crystal clear, amazing definition of when what we're witnessing is cultural appropriation. - That itself is what is so complicated when it comes to Black culture. I mean the line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange is always going to be blurred but here's the thing, appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves. - So it's not that white women can't dress up as Native Americans or wear cornrows or dreads. The problem is two-fold. The first issue being when the creators of the culture are seen in a racist light, but the person doing the adopting is praised for it. It's like if someone copied my essay word for word including "written by Anna Akana" and then I got an 'F' and they got an 'A+'. And we can't deny that Black women who wear Black hairstyles are vilified for it. They are discriminated against in the workplace and the world. I witnessed firsthand on a pretty big movie. This black actor was yelled at because her hair frizzled when it rained and the white hairstylist demanded that she come to set with her hair fully straightened. And she didn't understand that my co-star did that every single day. She woke up two hours before her call time every single day to straighten her hair, but obviously rain is going to f**k with Black hair. And even though my white friends who did go to Burning Man are good people, they can't wear cornrows without acknowledging that they're going to be thought of as cool while the same people who need that hairstyle as a method of maintenance are being thought of as unprofessional, ghetto, trashy, or thugs. The second issue is if you are taking from a culture that you're actively silent about in times of that culture's need, thereby, only using it when it benefits you. So for me, it's like if a Weebo who's obsessed with anime and Kawaii culture decided to do a photo shoot where she dressed up as a Japanese geisha, and when I ask her, "Hey, when you post that photo, "can you please maybe consider "using the hashtag #StopAsianHate "because Asian hate crimes are at an all time high "and clearly you love Asian culture? We could use your voice." And instead of doing that, they decided to block me and post their photo with #ilovesushi or something. So, the answer to cultural appropriation is first respect the culture, understand the context of what you're adopting, give appropriate recognition, and please actively be anti-racist. And I know it sounds like a lot, but really it's not. You probably put way more effort into choosing a filter or thinking of a funny tweet.