We’ve posted a number of posts about cultural appropriation in fashion, particularly when it comes to Native Americans. Kristyn G. sent in a link to a story at the Huffington Post about a recent fashion show in Moscow that brings up questions about cultural appropriation of another group. The show, from St. Bessarion, included female models in hats, sidecurls, and some articles of clothing inspired by things worn by Orthodox Jews, combined with distinctly non-Orthodox items.

It’s not the first time Orthodox-inspired clothing has appeared on the runway. For instance, in 1993 Jean Paul Gaultier put together a men’s line he called Chosen People, which the New York Times says it was the first Judaism-inspired clothing line from a well-known designer. According to an article I found at Racked, “the collection ruffled quite a few feathers in the religious community, many of whom felt that Gaultier had misappropriated elements of religion in a disrespectful, frivolous manner.” It was quite the production:


UPDATE: Just a quick note, since I see some confusion in the comments — the designer who recently made some horrid anti-Semitic remarks was John Galliano, not Jean Paul Gaultier.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

Following up on a post I put up last month about World War II internment camps for Japanese Americans, reader Eduardo let us know about a short film distributed by the federal Office of War Information explaining why the camps were necessary and trying to portray them in a positive light. It’s a great example of propaganda. Notice at about 2:45 the narrator explains the change from voluntarily to required relocation of Japanese Americans in terms of their own protection, and at 3:20 mentions that those forced to relocate “cheerfully” took part in the process. It was such a happy, smooth process, with the federal government helping out!

The implication starting at about 4:00 that “loyal” Japanese Americans were happy to relocate as part of their patriotic duty is particularly striking. Presumably, then, if you objected to the violation of your civil rights and treatment as a potential enemy of your country, you proved exactly why you needed to be relocated.

But don’t worry. “We are protecting ourselves without violating the principles of Christian decency.”

Sangyoub Park, who teaches sociology at Washburn University, sent us an interesting article posted by NPR on various aspects of unemployment. The overall official unemployment rate of 8.8 percent (as of March 2011) hides a lot of variation. For instance, the unemployment rate during this recession has been consistently worse for men than for women:

Nearly half of people have been out of work for at least 6 months:

The unemployment rate for those with a college education is under 5%, while for those who didn’t graduate high school, it’s nearly 10 percentage points higher:

Check out the NPR story for more discussion and a few more graphs.

The NPR article doesn’t include data on race, but Sangyoub found some racial data at the BLS website. As of March 2011, the unemployment rate for Whites was 7.9%, while for Blacks it was 15.5%.

Racialicious and Hermes’ Journeys featured a clip of stand-up comedian Gary Owens comparing black and white churches, joking about how long and loud black services are compared to white services.  Two things are happening in the clip.  First, Owens is commenting on two different styles of worship.  This is really interesting sociologically because it shows that how one worships is a cultural phenomenon that varies.  We’ve seen this powerfully illustrated by children recently in the viral videos Baby Preacher and Baby Worshipper.

Second, though, Owens is racializing these different forms of worship.  In consultation with Gwen, she reminded me that what he’s really talking about is “the difference between more mainline churches vs. the charismatic evangelical ones.”  At the latter churches yelling out and hours-long services are common, no matter the racial makeup of the congregation.

So, the clip is a good example of both a sociological principle (socialization) and a sociological mistake (racialization):

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Elyse Mc.D. sent in this graphic based on data from the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality that summarizes a number of aspects of inequality.

You can get a larger version here. I took screencaps of three of the figures I found most striking:


Sonita M. sent in a link to an image at GOOD that shows the makeup of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives now in terms of various characteristics (race/ethnicity, gender, political party, religion) and what it would look like if its members were more demographically representative of the U.S. population as a whole:

As they point out in the accompanying article, however, the area where Congress most differs from the U.S. population as a whole is in terms of socioeconomic status. The average wealth of members of Congress, according to OpenSecrets.org (they don’t specify if it’s the mean or the median, so I presume it’s the mean):

For the U.S. as a whole, median wealth was $96,000 in 2009 (the mean was $481,000), according to the Federal Reserve (via CNNMoney).

Katrin sent us a great example of anachronistic portrayals of Native Americans, this time in a German (?) ad for a muscle pain relief product. The slogan at the end, “Indians do not know pain,” plays on the idea of the stoic native:

Chris Rock makes a downright profound observation about race discourse in this 2 1/2-minute clip, sent along by Collin College sociologist John Glass:

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.