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Pitzer Prof: Student Paper Covering RA’s Email Claiming ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Is ‘Dangerous, Irresponsible’

Faculty members at Pitzer College in Claremont, California are suggesting that the school’s conservative newspaper should be investigated after they reported a resident assistant claimed that white students shouldn’t wear hoop earrings.

In an email sent to the student body, Pitzer residential assistant Alegria Martinez argued that white students who wore hoop earrings were guilty of committing cultural appropriation.

“[T]he art was created by myself and a few other WOC [women of color] after being tired and annoyed with the reoccuring [sic] theme of white women appropriating styles … that belong to the black and brown folks who created the culture. The culture actually comes from a historical background of oppression and exclusion. The black and brown bodies who typically wear hooped earrings, (and other accessories like winged eyeliner, gold name plate necklaces, etc) are typically viewed as ghetto, and are not taken seriously by others in their daily lives. Because of this, I see our winged eyeliner, lined lips, and big hoop earrings serving as symbols [and] as an everyday act of resistance, especially here at the Claremont Colleges. Meanwhile we wonder, why should white girls be able to take part in this culture (wearing hoop earrings just being one case of it) and be seen as cute/aesthetic/ethnic. White people have actually exploited the culture and made it into fashion.”

Suyapa Portillo, an Assistant Professor of Chicano-Latino Studies, took to Facebook, arguing that the article (which can be read in its entirety here) bullied the young women behind the crusade against cultural appropriation.

Portillo expressed concern over The Claremont Independent publishing Martinez’s email in their newspaper, despite that it was reportedly sent to a listserv open to the entire Pitzer community. She also claims Martinez and her peers were exposed to violence as a result of the article.

“We have a serious problem with The Claremont Independent media outlet bullying young women of color at the Claremont Colleges and illegally posting their emails exposing them to violence,” Suyapa Portillo, an Assistant Professor of Chicano-Latino Studies at Pitzer College, wrote on Facebook. “This is dangerous, irresponsible slander and [is] unacceptable. The minute one of our women of color students feels unsafe on campus ALL of our students of color and faculty of color are unsafe. #STOPBullying #TitleIX #ShutItDown #StopHate.”

Portillo failed to provide evidence for her claims that The Claremont Independent staff bullied the students who stood behind Martinez and her email.

Pitzer College’s website claims that the student email list that Martinez’s comment appeared on is “an unmoderated listserv for general use, lost and found, social events and others,” and that it is “an optional list and students are not required to be subscribed.”

Several professors responded to Portillo’s post, curious about how they might take “legal action” against the students responsible for the criticisms that appeared in The Claremont Independent. They expressed interest in starting an investigation into the newspaper.

Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about education and social justice for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at tciccotta@breitbart.com

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