First Psychology Colloquium: Bindis, Burqas & Blackface: When does Cultural “Borrowing” become Ignorant Appropriation?

Mr. Fiyyaz Karim presented “Bindis, Burqas and Blackface: When does cultural ‘borrowing’ become ignorant appropriation?” at the first Psychology Colloquium on Tuesday, March 15th.

He defined cultural appropriation as adopting or using elements of one culture by members of a different culture.

For instance, Native American headdresses are worn in only some tribes of Native Americans.  Feathers in the headdresses, as well as make-up on one’s face, represent specific acts of bravery that are earned.  Spirituality is also an important component of the headdresses, feathers and make-up.

When non-Native Americans “borrow” elements of American Indian culture, for instance to wear headdresses for fashion purposes or for a costume party, there can be numerous negative outcomes.  When individuals engage in cultural appropriation:

  • It can trivialize violent historical oppressions
  • It allows individuals to show love for a culture but continue to hold prejudices against its people
  • It makes things “cool” for dominant culture but “too ethnic” for people of color
  • It lets some people get rewarded for things the creators never got credit for
  • It spreads mass lies about marginalized cultures
  • It perpetuates racist stereotypes

How can we reduce cultural appropriation?

  • When considering a costume, ask yourself “Is this a part of someone’s history or spiritual practices?”
  • When listening to music, ask yourself “Is this music misrepresenting someone’s culture?”
  • When purchasing apparel and accessories, ask yourself “Does this item have symbolic meaning in another culture?”





First Colloquium of the Semester!

The first Psychology colloquium of the Spring 2016 semester is coming up! It will be held on March 15 from 12:00-1:00 in Mendel 101. Professor Fiyyaz Karim will be presenting Bindis, Burqas, and Blackface: When does cultural “borrowing” become ignorant appropriation?

Prof. Karim will be discussing the term “cultural appropriation” in relation to our current society and how the media displays appropriation, and the impact on how it is viewed and defined. He will also discuss how to celebrate culture instead of appropriating it.

Solutions  will be examined at the individual, institutional, and societal levels on how not to appropriate culture.

Don’t Miss Out: Summer Counseling Class

Professor Williams-Wengerd will be teaching PSYC 2994: Basic Counseling Skills this summer. The course’s duration will be July 6 through August 8, and will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:00-9:30 PM.

The course will introduce core skills of counseling. Such skills include attending, empathy, building rapport, effective responding, goal setting, and action planning. By the end of the course skill strengths and areas for improvement will be identified for future exploration.

The course will be interactive and have triad practice sessions in and outside of class. Alongside readings from the required text and journal articles, students will keep a journal to record their experiences. Students will be graded through two practice videos and one transcribed video.

If a student has any interest in or questions about the course, contact Professor Anne Williams-Wengerd at or (651) 690-6625.

Look for these flyers!

Lauren M. Crepeau ’16
English, Communication Studies, and Women’s Studies