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Cultural appropriation in Carnival

Cultural appropriation in Carnival

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Whoever said “change is the only constant” sure said a mouthful. Personally, I’ve always been averse to change for as long as I can remember, and I think a lot of people share this sentiment, even if they are unwilling to admit it. However, the change I am focusing on today is cultural change, specifically change by cultural appropriation in our Carnival.

Cultural appropriation is described as the adoption or use of elements of one culture by another culture. For many years, Vincentians (particularly the older generation) have complained about the youth’s adoption of foreign customs in our Carnival.

Carnival has one major complaint: “Is just bra and panty!”Historically, the design of the costumes had to reflect some cultural significance to St Vincent and the Grenadines; today, you only need feathers to qualify as a costume. The youths in general seem to love the skimpy costumes; however, they have faced harsh criticism from the older generation.

Millennials are much more comfortable wearing less clothing compared to our grandparents. With the onset of global warming, who can blame them? Ha-ha. Remember when showing too much collar bone was scandalous? Our wardrobes are always changing.

Carnival has become almost elitist; poor people can no longer afford to play mas on Tuesday. Carnival costumes are now being quoted in US prices; in Barbados they even offer attractive “carnival loans”. Moreover, the evolution of these events makes them more and more exclusive to one subset of the population: the wealthy and attractive. You can’t blame people for wanting to participate in all the festivities; they do look like fun. Although, Carnival or not, please live within your means.

The second instance I’ve observed is the change in Carnival music. “The song dem have no substance.” Honestly, I agree; a lot of them are unimaginative and poorly produced. Although, I should point out the genesis of a new batch of Vincentian artistes. With the evolution of technology and the Internet, young artistes with no money for studio time or radio play can promote their music for free on-line. They use various virtual software and cheap equipment to produce their own unique sound. It might not be the music you grew up with, but it is the sound of this generation.

Ultimately, we will always try to hold on to the customs we grew up with as children. No matter what, we will always see our childhood as the better version of the current. Sometimes, we must learn to let go and accept change. Customs evolve all the time. The best we can do is hold on to our memories and leave the young people be. Let them have their fun!

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