June 18, 2020

Day 4: Stereotyping & Cultural Appropriation

DAY 4 Of YWCA Spokane’s 14-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge

We hope this challenge provides you with an opportunity to better understand concepts related to race, power, privilege, and leadership.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Thank you for taking this challenge! If this is your first day of joining us for the 14-day equity challenge, welcome. If you are returning after previous engagement with the challenge, nice work! We are glad you are here. From Monday, June 15th through Sunday, June 28th, YWCA Spokane will send, those who sign up for our challenge, daily emails prompting you to take time to learn about racial equity and social justice.

We encourage you to take note of any insights in a daily log or diary. Consider setting aside time to talk with friends about what you have learned and how the topics introduced impact our community. Invite your network to join you on this challenge and share on social media with #ywcaequitychallenge. Thank you!

DAY 4: stereotyping & cultural appropriation

Building upon our understanding of microaggressions, provided by the content from Challenge Day 3, today we will examine stereotypes and cultural appropriation. You may find yourself surrounded by these terms quite often, in the media, among friends and family, at school, or in the workplace. Today we challenge you to explore, in depth, what do these terms mean, what impact do they have, and how can I use my agency to combat the proliferation of stereotypes and cultural appropriation?  

Stereotypes are defined as overgeneralized beliefs about a particular category of people. Some stereotypes may seem more damaging than others. In fact, there are two categories of stereotypes, positive stereotypes and negative stereotypes. Positive stereotypes are “a subjective belief that attributes a favorable characteristic to a group and implies an advantage because of your association with that group.” An example of a positive stereotype is the assumption that an Asian person is automatically good at math. 

Negative stereotypes differ from positive stereotypes in that they associate unfavorable characteristics to groups. The implications of a negative stereotype disadvantage the people within that group. An example of a negative stereotype is the assumption that all Muslims are terrorists. Some think that positive stereotypes must not be as harmful as negative stereotypes. Positive stereotypes are commonly misconstrued as complements by those who proliferate them, because positive stereotypes link groups with favorable characteristics and imply an advantage due to group membership. We know, however, that the overgeneralized beliefs inherent in both positive and negative stereotypes are dehumanizing because they erase the complexity of the individual human experience.  

According to Cambridge Dictionary, cultural appropriation is “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” Typically, cultural appropriation occurs when a person or group invokes and attempts to replicate materials or traditions of a culture from which they have not been socialized, and do not fully understand. Often, this is done to make a profit, a fashion statement, and/or a joke. Let’s ground ourselves in some examples of cultural appropriation. 

One example of cultural appropriation is blackface. This is when a light-skinned individual colors their face dark brown or black as a “costume.” Other examples include “Hawaiian”/ Luau or “Mexican” themed parties, wearing sacred Native American regalia such as a feathered headdress for a special event such as a music festival or Halloween, and wearing “native” print clothing created and distributed by non-Native owned companies. 

Some who struggle with the concept of cultural appropriation mistakenly believe that by working to eliminate cultural appropriation in our actions, we will not be able to admire other cultures or traditions. This is not inherently true. An awareness of cultural appropriation does not call us to stop learning about other cultures. Instead, an awareness of cultural appropriation prompts us to question how our popular, established patterns of cultural consumption may be rooted in oppression and invites us to strive toward a more equitable pattern of cultural exchange.

If you have…

5 Minutes


10 Minutes


15 Minutes

and and
Watch this video and read this article
to better understand stereotypes, stereotype threat, and the roles they play in self-fulfilling prophecies.
and Watch this video 
to better understand what cultural appropriation is and what it isn’t and how to discern the difference.
and Read this article
that breaks down cultural appropriation and outlines the many reasons why it can be harmful.

DAILy Reflection

Once you have completed today’s challenge, take a moment to reflect on any insights you experienced. How did the challenge make you feel? What is something you learned? Did you notice anything about yourself after taking the challenge? Consider sharing this new awareness with a friend or group to help deepen your understanding of the information. Consider tracking your reflections on the below daily log or start an online group with friends to encourage daily sharing with each other about the challenge topics.

Challenge Reflection Log

Share each challenge online with #YWCAEquityChallenge

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Do you have resources you think we should share? Any insights you would like to share with us? We welcome you to share by leaving your comments here. Thank you!

By: Rachel Dannen

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