The opinion submission, “From an Unapologetic Hawaiian,” created an opportunity for critical conversation: the intercultural discussion of how cultural appropriation can occur in the absence of sociopolitical and historical context. While the University of Portland has hosted events originating from various cultures, as the article states, not all have effectively incorporated marginalized voices.
As social workers, we are keenly attuned to the experiences and voices of non-majority members because they shape how we advocate for these underrepresented communities. Educating oneself about the foundational truths that surround cultural practices is vital to take part in and appreciate them. It must go without saying that holding a culture’s beliefs and traditions at the center of your participation in cultural events is key to respectful engagement. This is where the intercultural discussion calls for open communication amongst all involved. Each voice must be heard in this conversation to allow for productive and meaningful action to take place.
Our hope as social workers is for open dialogue to foster the empowerment of marginalized voices, cultural clubs and the greater campus community. In this conversation, everyone is invited to be an active and constructive participant. We each have a responsibility to consider how the experiences and practices of non-majority students are presented on campus.
Therefore, we encourage the participation of all individuals — supports and critiques — to further continue this intercultural dialogue. Our collective engagement ensures that the voices of culturally diverse students are brought to the forefront of the conversation.
The Senior Social Work Cohort
Jezeth Zaragoza is a social work major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.