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Switched at Birth: Cultural Appropriation and Divergent Views

Now on its fifth and final season, Switched at Birth episodes continue to cover relevant relatable topics. One of my favorite episodes so far was episode 2 which takes a contreversial topic and shows why people think the way that they do, and why that is ok.

Episode 2: This Has To Do With Me

This episode covers cultural appropriation. Daphne and her friend Mingo dress up as their favorite singers (Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne) for a costume party and receive unexpected backlash. African American students on the college campus UKMC and many others on the internet are livid, and Mingo is labeled as a racist. He has a hard time understanding what was wrong with him wearing that costume, and many Switched at Birth viewers had the same question.

It is hard to come up with a definitive explanation of cultural appropriation, but it is often seen as members of a dominant culture using other culture’s language, fashion and traditions with little understanding of the meaning of those cultural foundations.

A picture of Daphne and Mingo go viral and some comments that appeared were:

“There is a huge difference between appropriation and forced anglo-saxon assimilation that we had no choice in”

“So is Beyonce appropriating white culture when she dyes her hair blonde”

 “People blowing this crap out of proportion just invalidates the real racism happening on campus”

“Just another brainless white girl coasting on her white privilege”

Every person is entitled to an opinion, but every person has to work towards respecting other’s right to that opinion even if they disagree.

The writers of Switched at Birth do a fantastic job of showing both sides of the story. Viewers get a chance to go inside the minds of the different characters and see why they think and feel the way they do. In this episode, cultural appropriation is expanded into an even larger topic of importance: freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in this case is the freedom to wear what one pleases.

On the flip side, a person can wear what they please, but someone else has the right to criticize the attire. The question then becomes, is either party wrong?

College campuses are a place to find purpose, a place to find what you believe in, a place to find diverging points of view. It is up to the students, faculty, and staff on each campus to make its distinctive campus a place where divergent views, even if disagreed with are embraced. It is easy to be a diverse campus, but it is hard to be an inclusive campus.

As President John C. Hitt of UCF would say, “we would be just as diverse if we all hated each other.”

The goal is to become accepting of the differences that make us individuals, and Switched at Birth is no stranger to showing that people are different and that is ok.

Alexis is a junior print-digital journalism major with a minor in business. She loves snickers, writing, dancing, and collecting elephants. Her favorite movie is Dirty Dancing and thinks the Minions are adorable.Alexis is a writer for Her Campus at UCF and a Southern Regional Journalist for her sorority Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In her spare time Alexis loves to watch Netflix. She aspires to start her own magazine.
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