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Coachella: The Opinion Editor’s Verdict

Nihal Al Qawasmi, Opinion Editor

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I’m sure many of you have heard the word “Coachella” splattered across your social media platforms this past weekend. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a massive, weekend-long music festival that takes place in Indio, California – specifically, the Colorado Desert. The festival takes place every year in mid-April and attracts a young, music-loving crowd from all over the country.

Everything about the festival so far might seem fun and harmless, and in truth, it could be. I am a huge fan of live music and discovering new artists, and I am sure most college students are too. However, Coachella is notoriously known for hosting a sea of insensitive and culturally appropriating young adults and teenagers.

Now before anyone gets offended at my previous sentence because you might be an avid Coachella fan – just note that I do not believe in generalizing, but in this case, I happen to be speaking about the majority of attendees here. And had it not been a common issue – I probably would not have dedicated an entire piece on the topic.

Almost every year during this time, a million opinions sprout surrounding Coachella and the lack of sensibility and respect some individuals at the festival show. I guess I’ll add my two cents to the conversation as well because I still do not believe it is taken as seriously as it should be. Moreover, college students are at the forefront of the issue – and not in a good way.

The topic of cultural appropriation is a controversial one for many; those that appropriately do not see it as a “big deal” nor do they believe they are doing any harm, while those whose culture is being appropriated feel otherwise – for obvious reasons. For example, when you attend the festival with glitter on your face and a Native American headdress – you are actively disrespecting a very sacred aspect of Native American culture. A culture and people that were silenced and colonized on the very same land you are carelessly jumping and dancing on at Coachella.

A Native American headdress is not a trend nor is it a costume – it has spiritual significance. This might be difficult for someone with zero culture to grasp – but it’s not an excuse. Headdresses, feathers, bindis, dashikis, cultural embroidery, and the like are not up for the taking. They are not “hipster” nor are they the latest fashion craze you can slightly adjust and get away with. You are not a trendsetter.

Whether or not you care about Coachella, this is crucial life advice: educate yourself on the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. It’s ok to ask questions – wouldn’t you rather be socially conscious than have your latest Instagram picture at Coachella as the feature image of an article that is totally going to drag you for your callous wardrobe choice? Think about it.

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