Miley Cyrus. Danielle Bregoli. Kim Kardashian. What do these celebrities have in common? They have all been known to use black culture to benefit themselves. 
What is this phenomenon called? Cultural appropriation. According to social commentator Emma Bracy, “Appropriation, the kind that's constantly decried, occurs when an actor from or representing a historically dominant or oppressive culture takes a cultural product...from a historically marginalized culture, and...benefits while the latter does not...The benefit doesn't always have to be exceptional. It's not always gonna look like piles of cash. It can be as simple as a compliment, which seems petty and mundane, but actually feeds into a system of eventual erasure.”
True to this definition, white media figures will often use other cultures in ways that perpetuate negative stereotypes.
In 2013, Miley Cyrus released hit album Bangerz.  In the music video for the song “We Can’t Stop,” Cyrus shows off grillz, twerks and grabs the behinds of  black women twerking in the background. That video garnered 771,448,537 views on Youtube and the Bangerz tour earned over $62 million. In 2016,  news outlets everywhere reported that Kim Kardashian had created a new hairstyle called “boxer braids,” instantly causing the hairstyle to become a trend. In 2017, 14-year-old Danielle Bregoli appeared on Dr. Phil for her fights with her mom and theft. During her appearance, Danielle uttered the now famous phrase “Cash me ousside, how bout dah,” which utilizes ebonics,  a way of speaking associated with African-Americans. Bregoli now earns thousands from endorsements and is predicted to gross a million dollars by the end of the year. Danielle and Kim took credit for pre-existing concepts in black culture, and Miley’s wild child image caused people to overlook the elements she took from black culture. 
On the contrary, black people are often ridiculed when they indulge in their culture. Twerking has existed for years, yet until white artists did it, it was called “ghetto.” Cornrows, the correct name for “boxer braids,” are one of the hairstyles that black women use to manage and protect their hair. These hairstyles are “cute” when worn by celebrities such as the Kardashians, yet black women often face discrimination when they wear the hairstyle. For example, according to Teen Vogue, bi-racial Zara employee Cree Ballah was told to “fix” her hair when she came to work with box braids because her hair was not the clean professional look Zara wanted. 
When Danielle used ebonics in the phrase “Cash me ousside,” she was seen as entertaining. In real life, African-Americans often face prejudice for speaking that way. These blatant double standards makes me ask: Why can white figures profit off of the use of cultural appropriation so frequently? 
To gain a better understanding, I spoke with social commentator Emma Bracy and Bamsfest founder Catherine Morris, who both have some expertise on the matter. Both professionals had the same answer: white privilege. “Consider all outlets of information and propaganda in the United States--they are owned, controlled and distributed by  old white men who have the power, influence and desire to assert themselves as being the premiere example of a race of people,” Morris said. “They control the a way that burns itself into our memories, creating a false belief that their social normal is standard.”
Culture appropriation differs from cultural appreciation, which is when people take time to learn about and understand another culture. A good example of cultural appreciation is Angelina Jolie’s visit to Pakistan. During Jolie's visit, she wore a hijab to show respect to the local culture. 
The difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation is not always obvious. In unsure situations, it might be best to follow this advice from Eleni Kinney, a 10th grade student from Noble and Greenough. “Think about whether something does or does not poke fun or disrespect a group,” she advises.“Educate yourself; know why or why not certain things may be appropriation. Be sensitive and be respectful.”

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This fall, picture TD Garden with a bunch of smoke, fireworks and a cheering crowd. The announcer shouts:
Introducing your teams for the the League of Legends (LOL) summer finals!
Wait, what is happening?

What is happening is the future is here, in the form of esports. Esports, short for electronic sports, is a global phenomenon where gamers play in competitive tournaments facing off against other top notch players. There are esports tournament for your favorite games, from Mario Kart, Super Smash, Madden or Call of Duty. 

Esports have been gaining popularity across the globe and are changing the way we view video games. Some even argue esports should be considered a real sport, like basketball or baseball. 
Robert Skinnion, founder and CEO of Vector Gaming, said, “Technology is changing how we live, and it is changing how we compete. Not that it replaces traditional sporting events, but it adds another opportunity for us to experience the same thrill of competition at the premier level.”
Skinnion isn’t the only one that believes esports have a big future in sporting events.
“Every year, competitive video gaming gets more popular. In the future, I think it is going to be recognized as a sport like basketball,” said Isaac Amado, a 17-year-old from Jamaica Plain.
Gerson Cruz, 17 years old, explains why he agrees. “To make a sport a sport is practicing and communicating and having a team.” 
Still, critics continue to blast esport players and consumers. On The Herd with Colin Cowherd, the former ESPN host mocked esport players with the stereotype that adult gamers live in their parents’ basements and telling them to go outside. 
ESPN President John Skipper agreed, saying at the Code Media Series in New York that “it’s not a sport, it’s a competition.”
Despite the critics, the esports scene keeps pushing forward. 
The U.S. government now recognizes gamers as professional athletes and will grant visas for gamers to participate in international tournaments, according to Forbes. 
“The players are professional, they put in an amazing amount of time and work. In my view, they are athletes. But even if by your definition they aren't, it doesn’t matter, we love watching them anyway,” Skinnion said. 
For readers who believe esports won’t succeed because no one will watch nerds play video games, you are wrong. In a 2015 ESPN article comparing viewership of major sporting events in the U.S., the Super Bowl came in first, League of Legends (LOL) second, the Masters third and Dota 2 fourth. Video game tournaments for LOL and Dota 2 surpassed the NBA, NHL, and MLB championships. Market researcher Newzoo also released a report this year suggesting esports revenue will hit $1.5 billion by 2020. 
Multiple people ranging from professionals to casual gamers agreed they would go to an arena to watch esports tournaments. 
“The fans are electric at these events. When I was growing up there were a lot of stereotypes that got slapped on gamers, and now you see 45,000 people who are gamers packed into a stadium together all going nuts for their team. It’s awesome to see as Boston becomes a larger esports market!” said Skinnion.
Both Cruz and Amado would both also go to an arena to watch video games.
If you choose to ignore the games going on around you on your monitor and phone, you will be left behind. One day when you turn on your television and want to watch sports like soccer and football, don’t be surprised when Rocket League or Madden takes over.

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According to South Africa administrative capital Pretoria, 35 percent of South African women use skin bleaching products. 75 percent of women in Nigeria and roughly 52-67 percent of Senegalese women use skin bleaching products. West African women are actually more likely to use skin bleaching products than any other African region,with a rate of 70 percent of women as consumers of the skin bleaching industry. What do all of these regions with high skin-bleaching usage have in common? They were all targets for European colonizers in the late nineteenth century.
As countries tried to expand their economies to many non-industrialized countries, they left a lot of damage that changed the psyche of many Africans today. The idea of “whiteness’’ being superior made Africans believe they are less, or lower ranked. 
Betsy Kim, long time beauty supply owner in Dorchester, noticed a pattern with the kind of people walking into her store buying skin bleaching products. “They are mostly black,” Kim said. “Black, but they are mostly foreigners; you can tell from their accents. A lot of them are light brown. You never really see the darker women buying those stuff.’’ Kim mentioned that she believes that the reason behind why darker women don’t really use skin bleaching is because it’s harder to get lighter natural results from these products.
The practicing of skin bleaching comes with serious risks. Health issues associated with this practice include permanent skin bleaching, thinning of skin, uneven color loss (leading to a blotchy appearance), redness and intense irritation, dark gray spots, skin cancer, acne, increase in appetite and weight gain, osteoporosis and neurological and kidney damage.
Mariam Killo, 16, from Hyde Park, has seen women in her family use these products since she was a child. “Being a dark skin girl, watching everyone try to get lighter made me really insecure,” says Killo. “It made me think ‘well, I'm that girl everyone would never want to be.’”

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Hibo Moallim, an 18-year-old Muslim student, walks into Mr. G’s Place in Roxbury and begins perusing the racks in search of an outfit. She says hello to the store owner as she picks up vibrant headscarfs and flowing skirts. Mr. G’s Place is one of the only spots in Boston that specializes in modesty wear. 
Mikaela Martin, 16, from Mattapan, thinks modesty wear is “being conservative of what you wear and being mindful of what it means to you.” 
To Moallim, modesty wear is any dress below her ankles. “I don't like showing my arms so I always have a long sleeve on. You can’t wear ripped jeans or too tight jeans,” she said. 
Moallim went all over town to find an outfit for Eid, a major Muslim holiday. 
“You don't want to go to a Somali store because everyone is going to go there and everyone is going to have the same clothes.” She eventually found a dress at H&M, but it was too short, so she had to improvise. 
Moallim and her family frequently order their hijabs and other clothes online from a store in Minnesota that specializes in Muslim modesty wear. “If you really want to pop out for Eid or an event, you gotta order your clothes from Africa or Minnesota,” she said. 
Modesty wear should be more accessible all over the country, not just in concentrated pockets across the states. 
In Boston, there are two Muslim clothing stores that specialize in affordable modesty wear—Mr. G’s Place and Mabruuk Fashion, both in Roxbury. There are also a few stores that young people like to shop in that do not exclusively specialize in Muslim modesty wear - H&M, Marshalls, T. J. Maxx and occasionally Forever 21.
For such a prominent corner of the market, the Muslim population does not receive enough representation in fashion. According to the 2015-2016 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report, the global Muslim community spent $230 billion on clothing in 2014. 
The number is expected to grow to $327 billion by 2020. These soaring statistics are because 29 percent of the global population is estimated to be Muslim by 2030, according to Al Jazeera America. 
Why has it taken so long for the high fashion industry to cater to such a prominent market? Martin believes that merchandisers are hesitant to feature Muslim fashion because because “Islam is never viewed as something that is positive.”
 Western designers are beginning to make modesty friendly lines for Muslim women. The hijab and abayas are becoming normalized by the higher fashion brands like Dolce and Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, and Oscar De La Renta according to Vogue. 
Hana Tajima, a Muslim fashion designer, has recently teamed up with Uniqlo to create a new line of modesty friendly, affordable clothing for Muslims. Her collaboration is one of the first modesty friendly clothing lines that has hit mainstream clothing stores. 
As the Muslim market continues to grow in size, designers are slowly beginning to accommodate this large percentage of the population. 

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If the hoodie fits: Boston police stopping black males without justification
Imagine being with your friends, and then a patrol car pulls up. You and your friends know of the police brutality going on in the world, but you don't know exactly what to do.
This exact scenario happened in 2010 in Boston when police officers were alerted of a break-in near Roxbury and got a description of three black males, one wearing a red hoodie, another wearing dark clothing and a third wearing a black hoodie.
When I read this description of the men, I looked outside and saw about four black males who fit the description. It reminded me of how many of those men could have been stopped, and how vague the description was. This vagueness contributes to the disproportionate stoppings of black men and women.
 Boston is an open and diverse city. The mayor constantly speaks on the police department’s improvements in racial relations, but the statistics don't show it. According to statistics reports by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, 63.3 percent of civilian stops in Boston from 2007-2010 were black people. That statistic would make sense if blacks made up the majority of Boston, but that isn't the case. At the time when these statistics were captured, blacks made up less than a quarter of Boston's population, yet made up more than half the civilian stops. 
The amount of civilian encounters are disproportionate among the races, and the Boston Police Department gave no justification for the disproportionate stops. In fact, according to the ACLU, 75 percent of stops weren't justified, with only “investigate person” written on the police report. Furthermore, only 2.5 percent of stops resulted in finding contraband.
An incident recently took place where five teens were almost arrested for trespassing and breaking and entering. I spoke to two of the teens, Mattapan 15-year-olds Jamie Giovanni and Lexi Turotcher. They were playing around, one of them with a large rock in her hand, when a police car pulled up. One woman in a police uniform and another male police officer out of uniform directed the teens not to run. They cooperated with the officers, telling them their names and addresses, but then something weird happened with the male cop and the male in the group. 
“The boy in our group was black and wore all black and had his hoodie on,” Giovanni said. “We were asked different questions compared to him. They asked him if he had weed or any weapons on him. He said no.” Strangely, the female holding the rock was not asked about drugs or weapons. This again shows the amount of pressure that is put on black males when they encounter police.
Now how can we repair this system? First, we can start by making all data more public. Also, we need to be able to read more reasoning for the stops rather than just “investigating persons”—what was the point of investigating them? What made you pursue them? Did you see them commit a crime? Finally, we need to make sure citizens are constantly reminded of their rights. If they’re asked to be searched, they need to know that they are not legally obligated to answer any questions form a cop without reasonable cause. These are all just beginning steps in changing a system that has been broken for awhile.

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