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Chinese medicine is such an important part of my life and my identity, so when I see it become a white people trend, I immediately have a lot of questions.

By Sally Yue Lin “Have you tried acupuncture yet?” I overheard one white girl asking another. Frowning skeptically, I thought to myself: first they come for our food and now our medicines too? For someone like me, a Han Chinese woman who grew up with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the increasing trendiness of some TCM practices—such as acupuncture—makes me uncomfortable and concerned. When I was a little girl, my mother would feed me candies between sips of Kam Wo tea to coax me into drinking the bitter medicine. My pópó would rub my forehead tenderly with Tiger Balm when I had a headache. Of course, we did use Western medicine—such as birth control and immunizations—but only when absolutely necessary. In the past few years, TCM has become more popular with non-Asians across North America, which makes me worried that it is becoming commodified in a similar way as yoga. If so, who is telling the stories behind this ancient tradition and who gets to make money off it? For example, the increasing popularity of the cupping technique among swim bros and white celebrities is intriguing for many white people who view it as an odd curiosity to gawk at. These articles may be well-intentioned and the readers genuinely curious, but they still Other those of us who have been using cupping for generations. It shows how many non-Asian clients see TCM as an exoticized alternative to their sterile and familiar Western medicine. But for us Asians, these practices that we grew up with are often what we are most comfortable with. Herbal teas and Tiger Balm are what we turn to when we are feeling unwell; their taste and scents carry deep emotional meanings, family stories, and connections to our cultures’ philosophical and religious beliefs. Chinese medicine is such an important part of my life and my identity, so when I see it become a White people trend, I immediately have a lot of questions. Let’s first look at who gets to tell these stories. The schools that offer “Oriental Medicine” degrees often employ white teachers and practitioners. Are these really the right people to be sharing the historical, religious, philosophical basis of TCM with their predominantly white students? Asians have to work harder in white spaces to prove our abilities, so why shouldn’t white people have to work harder in Asian spaces to prove their credibility? We must challenge these white TCM teachers practitioners and test their worth in order to keep them accountable. We need to be protective of our medicinal heritage and be cautious of white people who want to “discover” these practices and claim it as their own, just because they find it “interesting”.
Related: DECOLONIZING YOGA: 5 THINGS TO REMEMBER BEFORE HITTING THE MAT

Perhaps Rihanna is a descendant of Nefertiti and this Vogue cover has some divine purpose. The truth is because of the genocide that was the slave trade, we’ll never know.

When I first saw Rihanna’s November cover for Vogue Arabia I found her eye makeup mesmerizing. It’s quite possible the makeup artist used her limited-edition Galaxy Eyeshadow palette but I won’t be able to find out until the queue for her products at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge goes down some. It’s been snaking round the building for weeks. I have been wearing intense, well blended blush on my temples since her look at this year’s Met Gala left me edgeless once again. Her Fenty beauty line is an asteroid that has given us forty shades of foundation from the jump and intergalactic glitters that will have her stans gleaming from here to Pluto throughout the holiday season. Her impact on the beauty landscape has been seismic and to call her a cultural phenomenon would be an understatement. She is shifting tectonic plates EVERYWHERE! [caption id="attachment_48396" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Rihanna on the cover of Vogue Arabia[/caption] The inspiration for the cover is Queen Nefertiti, an Egyptian Queen who heralded a religious revolution. Her image, most specifically her profile, has been worn as a pendant by Black women for decades. Growing up in the 90s, with Pan-Africanist parents, I was made aware constantly that the history being taught in our schools was mythological in parts. That enlightened humanity began with the lightly tanned Greeks was false.
Related: RIHANNA PROVES THAT INCLUSIVITY IN THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY IS NEEDED

Everyone should be able to enjoy this commercial holiday and no one should have to worry about seeing themselves represented negatively so others can have a good time.

A few weeks ago, a Twitter screenshot began to circulate calling for people not to dress up as witches for Halloween because it was in the same line as dressing up in something like Día de los Muertos face paint. The post posits that witches are a living culture and should be respected. Although I generally disagree with the overall argument, I do think that living magickal practices should be respected. My point of contention here is that the idea of the witch that children and adults are focusing on during the Halloween festivities has to do with a caricature version of witches created by the Church of England to persecute, namely, Catholics. Witch trials aside, a lot of the fanfare around witches has to do with that and has nothing to do with actual witchcraft. Pointy black hats, brooms for riding, copious amounts of black velvet, all of these, in my opinion are fine to dress up as. However, they are not ours. Halloween is not exactly Samhain, the Wiccan practice that happens on the same day. Although they do share the idea that spirits and the like can walk the earth around this time, Samhain is a religious celebration and has nothing to do with the commercial celebration of Halloween. That being said, there are many people who do identify as witches, be they Wiccan (the most popular witchcraft-based following in the US), Chaos magicians, or something else. There are also people who call themselves shamans, rootworkers, or vodou practitioners. These are all valid and living practices and are not there to be made into a costume. Although the wide world of “pagan” practice may seem like a free for all as to what anyone wants to believe, it is not. There are many religions with their own belief systems, and although some things are religious practices, such as Hoodoo or rootwork, other things like Vodou or Santeria, are religious with deities and rules. These practices should be respected. Related: The History of Dia de los Muertos and Why You Shouldn't Appropriate It

These mines so often plundered just keep on giving. And they keep on taking.

Designer Stella McCartney dropped the ball. Perhaps she was too busy patting herself on the back for being a vegetarian who cares about the environment to care about being the epitome of British imperialism in the realm of cultural appropriation. For her latest runway show at Paris Fashion Week, Stella McCartney’s neocolonial use of Ankara/wax print (patterns and materials found and used in Nigeria and other West African nations) is disappointing. The dismal lack of cultural sensitivity and appropriation are so blatant, you might as well call it trolling. My tilted head and narrowed eyes are similar to the reaction of Yaya Dacosta when her style was described as ‘ethnic’ by a fashionista she was trying to work for on Cycle Three of America’s Next Top Model. I cycle past Stella McCartney store in Chelsea often. I can assure you that when they see these poorly designed creations, they will also be described as ‘ethnic’ by Lady Rebecca, AKA- Becky. I can also assure you that she still pronounces Kenya as ‘KEEN-YAA’. The history of this fabric is incredibly colonial. Dutch traders imitated the batik patterns of Indonesia and with the mass production technologies brought about by the industrial revolution, were able to sell fabric back to their colonial subjects much to their general distaste. When sales there dipped, their brightly colored fabric found new markets in West Africa. Over the course of the last century these kaleidoscopic and breathable materials have graced Black bodies beautifully and come to be associated with us at times of leisure, domesticity and high regality.
Related: THIS WHITE WOMAN’S “PROTEST SARIS” ARE PEAK APPROPRIATION

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