Essential Question: At the end of the lesson, students should know…

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Teacher: Lake Class: AP Language
Unit Title: Cultural Appropriation

Essential Question: At the end of the lesson, students should know…
(Explain why we’re doing what we’re doing this day!)

Class Period: What are you doing today?
Go through the steps of the lesson, from the very beginning (like checking or collecting homework, announcing things, etc) to the end of the period.

Homework and upcoming assignments


What is cultural appropriation?
This Ted Talk will introduce the idea of Cultural Appropriation and provide pop culture examples that students can easily relate to (or probably have prior knowledge on). The Socratic Seminar Questions document will serve as a guide to the Socratic Seminar in that it will get students thinking about various aspects of cultural appropriation in American media and society. Students will then come prepared to keep steady conversation with little silence.

Watch the “Cultural Appropriation: Why Your Pocahontas Costume Isn’t Okay” (Aaliyah Jihad) TED talk. Talk about the TED talk (leave it an open-ended discussion). Announce the Socratic Seminar tomorrow. Hand out the document to aid the Socratic.

Prepare for the Socratic Seminar tomorrow using the “Cultural Appropriation: Socratic Seminar Questions” document.


What are some general arguments and opinions on cultural appropriation?
The Socratic Seminar will allow students to express their thoughts and insights on cultural appropriation. Having a Socratic Seminar earlier in the unit will get students thinking about the topic and help them formulate their own opinions. During the discussion they will be able to share different examples they found through their own research and establish the significance of them.

Have the Socratic Seminar. (Grading rubric: “Cultural Appropriation: Socratic Seminar Grading Rubric)

Read the packet of articles (“Cultural Appropriation: An Introduction”). Be prepared to discuss these articles in the future (and tomorrow).


How is African American culture appropriated?
Because cultural appropriation is such a large topic with many different cultures to discuss, today will focus on African American culture. The video will discuss how aspects of African American culture such as hip-hop is becoming increasingly popular among white Americans (like Eminem or Iggy Azalea). The project will help with analysis skills (useful in both synthesis and analysis essays) – students will practice identifying the rhetorical strategies authors of the articles use in their Précis and practice writing theses regarding their analysis of the authors’ arguments, as well as research articles that can be used as future evidence in argumentative essays (or otherwise).

Watch Amandla Sternberg’s “Don’t Cash Crop on my Cornrows” video. Begin discussion on African American culture. Announce project, which will be due next Wednesday (in a week).

Read project guidelines (“Cultural Appropriation Project”).

Work on project.


When does cultural appropriation become racism?
This activity helps to begin discussion on the line between racism, stereotypes, and cultural appropriation. The show, “black-ish” revolves around an African American family that is ashamed of becoming ‘whiter,’ of losing their black heritage. The TV show employs many black stereotypes for its comedy and plots, making the show prone to accusations of encouraging stereotypes. Students can use these clips to discuss whether the show’s use of stereotypes is a form of cultural appropriation, racism, or both. Students discuss this fine line cultural appropriation shares with racism and ignorance, especially involving the controversial ‘blackface’ (a role-playing involving the painting of the body to imitate African Americans), to better define cultural appropriation (in their own words), a necessary tool for argumentative purposes.

Continue discussion on African American culture. Watch clips from the TV show “black-ish”. Mention the incidence of blackface, especially recently with Kylie Jenner’s Instagram post and Julianne Hough’s Halloween costume to begin the conversation. Discuss the fine line between cultural appropriation and blatant racism - even whether there is or isn’t a difference.

Work on project.


Does cultural appropriation cause the loss of cultural identity?
The documentary helps students understand that cultural appropriation has been occurring since the early 20th century and the injustice African Americans feel. The documentary also focuses on the metaphorical ‘bleaching’ of African American culture – how

white Americans inched their way into hip-hop, jazz, rock, black hairstyles, and black fashion. While negatively portraying this ‘cultural appropriation,’ the documentary exposes students to another aspect of appropriation – the loss of cultural identity. The mass adoption of a culture led to its loss of exclusivity; while arguably negative in the documentary, students can begin to justify whether the loss of cultural identity is a positive, negative, or neutral consequence of mass adoption. By analyzing the effectiveness of the documentary, the students practice their analytic skills while also identifying arguments they may use in their argumentative essays (or otherwise).

Watch the documentary, “Bleaching Black Culture.” Analyze the argument in the documentary and discuss whether or not the argument was effective and why. Finish the discussion on African American culture.

Work on project.


How is Asian culture appropriated?
The video will introduce students to Asian cultural appropriation and provide a few pop examples so students can understand the concept. By discussing the video, they can form new opinions and connect it back to African American cultural appropriation. Avril Lavigne’s video involves many Japanese cultural stereotypes (dancers, odd fashion, Hello Kitty dolls); Gwen Stefani was known in the 90’s for her company of harajuku girls – Japanese female models – that accompanied her in interviews and at award shows; Katy Perry’s performance was inundated with Japanese stereotypes too (geishas, paper umbrellas, cherry blossoms, kimonos).

Begin discussion on Asian culture. Watch Avril Lavigne’s “Hello Kitty” music video. Ask for thoughts and opinions on the video. Watch Gwen Stefani’s 2004 interview with her harajuku girls. Ask for thoughts and opinions on the video. Watch Katy Perry’s American Music Awards performance of “Unconditionally.” Ask for thoughts and opinions on the video. Finish with a discussion on whether these examples are blatantly racist, culturally appropriating, or not offensive at all. Ask if it is justified for these pop sensations to be ‘inspired’ by Asian culture.

Read the two articles (“Cultural Appropriation: The Great Bindi Debate”)- “Why a Bindi Is NOT an Example of Cultural Appropriation” and “Take that Dot Off Your Forehead and Quit Trying to Make Bindis Happen.” Analyze the arguments in both articles. Identify the more effective essay and why it is more effective.

Work on project.


How are Middle Eastern, Indian, and Native American cultures appropriated?
The articles will provide examples of cultural appropriation in even more cultures. They may compare and contrast to the previous cultures (Asian and African American) in the scale and scope of their appropriation. The exploitation of Native American art – dreamcatchers, fringed handbags – represents the use of cultural appropriation for mass production (money). Belly-dancing (having gotten popular among white women), henna (popular among teenage girls), and bindis (donned by teenage girls as ‘hipster’ fashion) all also represent cultural appropriation through fashion and popularity.

Begin discussion on Indian, Middle Eastern, and Native American culture. Hand out the packet “Cultural Appropriation: Middle Eastern and Native American.” Read the articles. Have an open-ended discussion regarding the articles and their arguments. Mention that henna, bindis, and belly-dancing have become increasingly popular in the past few years – ask if this is cultural appropriation or simply cultural appreciation? If there is time, share opinions on the articles from last night. Remind that the project is due tomorrow.

Work on project. Practice writing Argumentative essays at home.


Can “white culture” be appropriated?
Students will be exposed to even more educated opinions that address if cultural appropriation even exists. They will learn the other side of the argument and this knowledge will be useful for concessions in argumentative essays. Evidence from the ‘reverse racism’ argument may even sway certain opinions, if not educate the students on the scope of the argument regarding appropriation.

Turn in Cultural Appropriation projects. (Grading rubric: “Cultural Appropriation: Project Grading Rubric) Begin Stations activity – number off students from one to five; have students read the article at each station and discuss (for a total of ten minutes); rotate and repeat. The articles during this activity all revolve around the response to cultural appropriation (“reverse racism”) and the possibility of ‘white’ cultural appropriation.

Practice writing Argumentative essays at home.


Does cultural appropriation actually exist?
This activity will sum up the unit and discuss the boundaries of cultural appropriation, reiterating arguments and evidence for use in the argumentative essay. Students will discuss the shift of cultural appropriation to racism to again encourage the establishment of a definition or a concrete opinion on appropriation, a necessary tool for the argumentative essay.

Have a final discussion on cultural appropriation to summarize all arguments and examples. Be sure to have the class discuss whether people are becoming easily offended by so-called ‘cultural appropriation’ or increasingly overprotective of their respective cultures. Ask where the line is between ‘borrowing’ (being inspired by) and ‘stealing’ (imitating or even trivializing) a culture. Hint at the essay tomorrow.

Review evidence – articles, arguments, examples – from the past week.


Can you effectively utilize the information, evidence, arguments, and opinions from the past nine days in an argumentative essay?

An essay will allow students to practice their argumentative writing skills. Students will be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the unit as well as their writing skills.

Write Argumentative essay on Cultural Appropriation (“Cultural Appropriation: AP-Style Argumentative Essay Prompt).

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