I read this article on Yahoo today. Essentially, people are upset that Vogue Magazine did a photo shoot with a white model dressed as a geisha and using Asian backgrounds. They are calling the photos racist.
My question is...are they? I'm not asking that to be a brat...I honestly want to know. Is one culture doing a respectful representation of another culture racism?
I trolled the comments for the article, and there were several comments from folks who weren't white who didn't see anything racist about the photos.
So again, I wonder, is respectful representation of or borrowing from another culture racism? My grandma wears mumus a lot, and she's not Polynesian. Is that racist? I bought a handmade bag when I went to Guatemala, and it's pretty much my go-to church bag. Is that racist? I watch Korean dramas, and I like the subtle make-up style of the women in the shows, so sometimes I imitate it. Is that racist? My friend Cindy loves India and has been to India a few times. She wears Indian clothing when she goes, and sometimes wears it for Halloween or other dress-up days. Is that racist? Some Americans I know have adopted the Asian custom of taking of their shoes at the front door. Is that racist?
What about when black women straighten their hair like white women? Is that racist? What about when Asian people dye their hair blond? Is that racist? What about when largely non-Christian nations celebrate Christian holidays? For instance, many people in Japan and South Korea celebrate Christmas and Valentine's day, even though they are both Christian holidays, Christianity is not the religious majority in either Japan or South Korea (although a quick web search notes that about 29% of South Koreans are Christian).
In a way, it seems kind of segregating to me. On the one hand, we say we want people to share and respect other people's cultures, but then when it happens, it's like "Oh, but not really. Let's keep our cultures separate, please." And then there is the obvious reverse racism, where white folks aren't allowed to copy the culturally distinctive looks of other cultures, because that's racist, but when they copy ours, it's okay.