Utah senior Keziah Daum, 18, thought that she was sharing a pictures from a wonderful prom from Woods Cross High School. The pictures show Daum in a beautiful Chinese Choengsam (also known as a qipao) dress, a creative and striking choice for this important event. The posting however unleashed a torrent of criticism of Daum for “cultural appropriation” because she is not Chinese. I have been a long critic of the “cultural appropriation” protests on campuses, but this case is particularly maddening and absurd.We have seen an ever-widening array of “microaggressions” and cultural appropriations. We discussed a basketball game where a player was attacked due to wearing braids that 20-year-old Hispanic student, Carmen Figueroa, claimed to be cultural misappropriation. Then there was the controversy at Pitzer College where white female students were warned to take off big hoop earrings as cultural appropriation. Then there were the students at Oberlin declared the serving of sushi as cultural appropriation while a white student was assaulted at San Francisco State University for wearing dreadlocks by an African American student.
Daum’s prom pictures were posted on April 22 with the simple caption, “PROM.” It is telling that people seeing these lovely pictures of young people enjoying a special event would instead see a cultural or racist slight.