Mockingbird And Cultural Appropriation In British Parliament Crossover

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In the modern world, social inequality has led to religious and philosophical ideas being skewed in media through stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird addresses the impacts of cultural appropriation through the lens of racial and religious prejudice during the 1930s. Similarly, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, a British Labour Party politician, consolidates the impacts of cultural appropriation and its effects on media today through his response to derogatory remarks from PM Boris Johnson. Consequently, Dhesi and Mockingbird address the impact of prejudice through stereotypes and cultural appropriation as a means of degrading people in the modern world.

Through protagonist and narrator Scout Finch, Lee is able to communicate the effects of racial and religious prejudice within Maycomb. Scout reveals Maycomb as a ‘tired old town when [she] first knew it… Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon… and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.’ Scouts’ introductory description of Maycomb reveals the town’s slow pace, as well as its old-fashioned values where men wear shirt collars and ladies, use talcum powder. Therefore, Lee establishes a foundation for Scout’s character before she embarks upon a recollection of her childhood as an adult. Further, in the novel, Scout learns the town isn’t as black and white as she had anticipated. This idea of discolorment stems from Scout’s learning of prejudice towards black people, most notable through her relationship with Calpurnia, her nanny.

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Calpurnia functions as Scout’s window into the world of the black citizens of Maycomb. Scout accompanies Calpurnia to church, where she begins to understand the differences between the black and white people in Maycomb. Scout discovers that Calpurnia speaks in a ‘colored’ dialect rather than the proper dialect used at the Finch Household. Upon questioning, Calpurnia explains that the congregation would think she was ‘puttin’ on airs fit to beat Moses’ if she spoke ‘white’ in church. This statement not only demonstrates the divide between blacks and whites in Maycomb but the effects of cultural distinctions in correlation to prejudice. Although following the same religion, the difference between the white and black churches stems from racial inequality. Therefore, the racial and religious prejudice within Maycomb serves to communicate the impacts of cultural stereotypes which have manifested within the town.

Sikh Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi’s response to cultural appropriation and stereotyping in parliament reinforces the importance of social equality. In August 2018, PM Boris Johnson likened burqa-wearing women to ‘letterboxes’, and ‘bank robbers’ in an edition of The Telegraph. His remarks, choosing to target Islamic women, served to perpetuate stereotypes associated with Islam. Subsequently, a study in an anti-racism charity, Tell Mama, found a 375% weekly increase in Islamaphobic incidents. Consequently, Sikh Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi called out Johnson’s derogatory remarks, demanding Johnson to apologize.

Dhesi examines the impacts of cultural appropriation and its effects on media. His speech justifies his reasoning as to why an “inquiry into Islamiphobia within the Conservative party” needs to be made, to reinforce religious equality within parliament. He begins asking whether people who chose to wear garments, such as a kijap or a scullap, are subject to ‘derogatory and divisive remarks about [their] appearance.’ Not only does Dhesi address present racial slurs as an issue, but the effects they have in parliament, thus resulting in Islamaphobia in the Conservative Party. Subsequently, through the media, those from a young age “‘have had to endure and face up to being called names like ‘towel head’ or ‘taliban’”, as stated by Dhesi. He address’s the impact of prejudice through stereotypes and cultural appropriation as a means of degrading people in the modern world. By outing Johnson’s racist remarks, Dhesi further explains the effects of stereotyping and how it has reflected from the media into the modern world. However, despite Dhesi’s powerful speech, Johnson failed to apologize, instead claiming his article was a ‘strong liberal defence of everybody’s right to wear whatever they want in this country’ before stating he was related to Sikhs and appluading his culturally diverse cabinet.

Through the perspectives of Scout and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the effects of stereotypes and cultural appropriation in the media are made adamant. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird serves as a window into the longstanding cultural appropriation through racial and religious prejudice during the 1930s. Likewise, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi addresses the impacts of cultural appropriation and its effects on media today through his response to racism within parliament. Ultimately, Dhesi and Mockingbird take different avenues to address the impacts of cultural appropriation, however, they discuss skewed religious and racial views as a true catalyst in the media. 

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