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Color in Culture

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, and cultural appropriation set sailed along with him. Over the course of history, America has been introduced to diverse cultures and has formed some of its own. But, in its entirety, America remains majority white up to the present day.

The introduction of global influences and cultures to America has often times not been treated by the nation with appreciation and acceptance, but rather as another channel for Americanization and cultural appropriation.

The newest installment of “America takes things” is found in 5K runs such as the Color Run and Run or Dye, which have popped up all over the nation with budding and flourishing popularity.

With this development, a can of worms is opened. People have labeled the runs as disrespectful and offensive while others have described them as just another way to have fun. The main festival the run has “culturally appropriated” is Holi, an ancient Hindu religious spring festival that celebrates colors and love.

The Color Run  website even blatantly states itself as deriving its origins from a variety of sources. The organization labels itself  as“the first paint race of its kind […] inspired by several awesome events, including Disney’s World of Color, Paint Parties, Mud Runs, and festivals throughout the world.”

In a day of a globalized society, cultures and customs are constantly exchanged and often times reinvented or “Americanized.” I believe there is a balance between appreciation/incorporation and appropriation.  For scenarios such as the run, I understand the basis of argument that it is a form of cultural appropriation. Having participated in the run years prior, I realize that the run is purely designed as a method of fun. No harm or foul  is purposely meant to be dealt. But, even so, the organization holding the run does fail to acknowledging the fact that Holi was the sole inspiration for the run. This lack of acknowledgement treats the run as simply another American invention, when it is actually another symptom of globalization.

Culture is meant to be shared and understood, but not stolen and recreated in ignorance.

Photo by Andy Basile
Photo by Andy Basile: Indian Spring Festival of Colors (Holi)


Photo courtesy of Annual Color Run 5k

About Chloe Jiang

Chloe Jiang
Chloe Jiang is a senior and a co-editor-in-chief of The Sun, a tea aficionado, a La Jolla Cove frequenter, a grammar snob, and an advocate for gender equality. Among her favorite words are bougie and trite.

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