Pitzer College in California was the recent victim of cultural appropriation shaming. A group of Latino students was responsible for graffiti painted on the wall of a campus dormitory that made it clear how they felt about what they felt was cultural appropriation.
I guess no one told these outraged students that hoops have been around for hundreds of years. Even William Shakespeare wrote of hoops of steel in Act 1, Scene 3 of “Hamlet.” I suppose the argument could be made that Shakespeare heard about hoops of steel from explorers to the New World upon their return to England if someone cares to make that argument.
Except that even with excluding Shakespeare from the discussion, there are going to be problems justifying how hoops – and most specifically hoop earrings – are the sole property of the Latino culture.
Hoop earrings are found in ancient Rome and ancient Greece. The earliest archaeological evidence that exists when it comes to hoop earrings date back to Sumeria and 2500 B.C.
It’s doubtful that Sumerians traveled to this continent, saw hoop earrings on women over here, then journeyed back to Sumeria just so they could appropriate culture in the name of being fashionable.
NOTE 1: According to archaeologists, Sumeria is the name given the historical region of southern Mesopotamia which is now modern-day southern Iraq.
NOTE 2: Sumerians also were among the first to brew beer so technically speaking, brewers in Europe and North America might be guilty of cultural appropriation as well.
Native American Indians also had a sport with varying rules that incorporated a hoop. A hoop three inches to a foot in diameter was rolled along the ground and players tried to knock it over with spears or arrows. Points were scored by how the hoop fell when it was struck down.
And in many cultures, circles – or hoops – have been a part of their identity outside of the concept of jewelry. You see, the sacred hoop (sometimes referred to as the circle of life) is something that many cultures have at the center of their teachings.
But more importantly, the world is one great big hoop. So are the other planets. These planets travel in hoops be they round or oval or elliptical. The wind whirls about in hoop shapes. Water drains in hoop shapes. The seasons form a hoop as they move from one to the other and return to the beginning of the cycle — a never-ending hoop the cycles endlessly through the years.
In the end, hoops belong to us all whether it’s a matter of spirituality or a matter of fashion, don’t you think?
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