It's the end of Week 3 of the Be Green Challenge and I'm happy to report that I resisted purchasing any new items over Thanksgiving break. However, it was very hard to not purchase all the clothes in the mall after viewing the dramatic price reductions and new winter inventory. It's was difficult to avoid the mall because most of my cousins wanted to catch up with me while going shopping. I explained my Be Green challenge to them and they respected my choice, but they did not want to leave me alone.
As I was going through the stores and seeing all of the shoppers trying to get the heavily discounted items, I realized that I was happy to be going on this Be Green challenge because I took myself out of the chaotic environment that is often called "Black Friday." Seeing my cousins forget their manners and basic civility in exchange for a discounted bag or jackets caused me to see how the pursuit of consumer products can make even the most level headed individual go crazy. I left the shopping mall feeling accomplished.
I liked reading about the articles in class this week that dealt with ethnicity and identity through clothing. For example, reading about the discriminatory practices perpetrated by Abercrombie & Fitch was fascinating and disturbing at the same time. I could believe at this day in age that we are still dealing with racial insensitivity in the form of clothing that negatively depicts Asians in a stereotypical image and a young girl asked to take her hijab off in order to operate under a ridiculous policy. The article reminded about the recent incident involving jewelry sold at Top Shop that perpetuated an negative Asian stereotype that is often depicted in the form of Fu Man Chu.
I feel that the company was not being racist, but more likely ill-informed about the Asian community. Many people jump into the racist conclusion too quickly without hearing out the other side. Often times people or companies just make mistakes and I'm open to having a civilized discussion in order to educate them about Asians and our culture. On the other hand, I did not appreciate the backlash the store received once the necklace was pulled out of stores. Reading the comments such as "Asian are so sensitive" or "Can they just take a joke?" upset me because I feel our society has not grown after years of racial inequality.
All in all, I want companies to know that clothing and accessories come with a certain power in our society. They can be symbols for socioeconomic status or catalyst for discussion about deeper societal problems such as the Fu Man Chu necklace.
"Abercrombie and Fitch Settles $40 Million Discrimination Suit" News Source. 2004. http://yellowworld.org/civil_rights/280.html
"Well, This Yellow Face Necklace is Just Awful" Source. 2014. http://www.refinery29.com/2014/07/70907/topshop-racist-charm-necklace