55327_girl-writing_mdUntil last fall, Jen Scharf taught a free yoga class for students with disabilities at University of Ottawa. However, the class was cancelled by the student center administration because of concerns that it was “cultural appropriation.” This translates as: Yoga is a Hindu art, so people of African, Caucasian and Latino descent should not be allowed to practice it.

Oberlin College had a similar issue over its cafeteria food. Last fall, cafeteria management, hoping to create more diversity, included a number of food offerings from different cultures. However, they were attacked because the food was not made with authentic recipes, and was again, a type of cultural appropriation. Presumably this means that serving Asian dishes to African American and Jewish students is a form of micro-aggression.

These are easy targets. Looking for a way to feel like they’ve brought social justice to the world, these activists have deprived disabled students of a free exercise class. They have hounded low-paid cafeteria workers who are trying to add some diversity to the menu. And worse, some activists have crossed the line into bigotry themselves.

Oberlin College has been in the news again this last week. The college has posted the demands an association of African American students sent to the school’s President Krislov before the holiday break. The students were complaining about racism, but others read the content differently. Krislov called some of it “deeply troubling.” More forthright alumni and board members called it anti-Semitic.

Cultural appropriation is another issue that Ann Rice has addressed in her comments on bullying. It’s very common for books to be attacked because a white person is considered unqualified to write about black characters, for example, or straight writers are unqualified to write about the LGBTQ experience. This is considered cultural appropriation. However, it also belittles the skills of the writer. Where are we supposed to go from there? That men shouldn’t write about women characters, or women shouldn’t write about male characters?

Jen Scharf had this comment about the yoga class: “…effectively, political correctness is the new face of bullying.” The class resumed this week with a new teacher of East Indian descent.

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