Hoop Earrings and Cultural Appropriation

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

photo by hbary

It turns out that multiculturalists—teachers and demonstrative students alike—cannot even expound on their area of expertise accurately.

“Take hoop earrings, which date to ancient Assyria,” Jonathan Zimmerman, who teaches education and history at Penn, writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education. “In Nimrud, located in present-day Iraq, there’s a depiction of King Ashurnasirpal II (884-859 B.C.) wearing thick hoop earrings.”

“The ancient Greeks and the Romans wore them, too; so did pirates in many parts of the Western world, who believed that hoop earrings contained healing powers or would protect them from drowning.”

“And, yes, hoop earrings were eventually adopted by Latinas in the United States. Starting in the 1980s, young working-class Hispanic women in Southern California donned wide earrings — alongside baggy shirts and nameplate necklaces — as symbols of pride and struggle. They didn’t ‘invent’ hoop earrings; instead, they invested the earrings with a new set of meanings.”

“Yet we continue to imagine that every current-day practice descends from some kind of cultural Garden of Eden, where each ethnic or racial group existed in unalloyed form.” Zimmerman is the author of Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2016).

By the way, when he was at NYU, where he taught for 20 years, he got rave reviews on Rate My Professor.com.