Is Some Cultural Appropriation Seen As More Acceptable?

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Pharrell Williams' latest shoe collection for Adidas has some people talking about cultural appropriation. But are all cultural appropriators seen as equally bad?

The musician was criticised by some for releasing a line of shoes called 'Hu Holi' with Adidas, inspired by the Hindu festival of Holi.

Holi, a spring festival celebrated in India and other countries with large Hindu populations, is known as the 'festival of colors' and involves colored powders to represent different meanings and emotions, associated with Spring.

KITES #MUMBAI #HOLIFESTIVAL

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The new sneakers, released in mixed pastel colorways, draw heavily on this tradition. But this has been criticised for trivialising a celebration of religious significance.

According to Okay Player, the head of the Universal Society of Hinduism Rajan Zed called the collection "highly insensitive" and said “Pharrell Williams and Adidas should have done some homework before taking Hinduism concepts frivolously and using these to make a fashion statement and sell shoes for mercantile greed, some of which contain leather."

. — b o o s t m o r n i n g — ☁️by @owaishsb #boostheads

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This is not the first time Pharrell has been criticised for cultural appropriation. In 2014, the musician was dragged for donning a native American headdress on the cover of Elle. He pointed out that he had some native heritage, before apologising.

Pharrell isn't the only black artist to be accused of cultural appropriation, in a debate which is usually dominated by claims of people borrowing from black culture. Beyoncé drew criticism for her collaboration with Coldplay 'Hymn For The Weekend', which was also heavily borrowed from Indian culture.



Coldplay found themselves in hot water before this too, with their Rihanna collaboration 'Princess of China' drawing ire for its mishmash approach to melding Eastern cultures and allegedly Orientalist lense.

While people readily (and rightly) call out the Kardashians, sometimes it may seem that not all cultural appropriation is seen as equally bad. A debate over Bruno Mars' appropriation of Black American culture continues to rage, but Nick Cannon escaped criticism for donning a Sikh-style turban. So is all cultural appropriation created equal? It doesn't always seem that way.

Is Pharrell appropriating Hindu culture? Is there a double standard when it comes to cultural appropriation?

Join the debate on our Twitter, and let's keep the conversation going.

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