Gwen Stefani recently made headlines after an interview with Allure magazine in which she claimed to be Japanese. The pop star received a lot of backlash for these comments and has been accused of cultural appropriation. The controversy raised a lot of questions about what it means to be respectful when engaging with other cultures. 

This week’s episode unpacks the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. In order to do this, it draws on the expertise of Melissa Vela-Williamson, an award-winning PR practitioner, national PR columnist, author, and podcast host, who has a rich and deep background in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and how this relates to communication. Tune in to find out whether Gwen is guilty of cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation and hear an important list of some of the dos and don’ts of multicultural practices for anyone in communication.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • What Gwen Stefani said about her Harajuku era in an Allure interview that caused such a backlash.
  • How Molly’s recent workshop with guest Melissa Vela-Williamson relates to the question of cultural appropriation.
  • The difference between the full context of the entire article and the pull-quote.
  • Molly’s definition of culture and how it relates to her work of drawing lessons from pop culture.
  • How Molly hopes that this episode will help people gain cultural competence.
  • Melissa’s definition of the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.
  • Where Gwen Stefani falls in light of this definition.
  • A list of some of the dos and don’ts of cultural appreciation for those in communication.
  • How Gwen should have handled the question.
  • The Indestructible PR® Tip regarding cultural appropriation and awareness.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Molly’s TikTok about Gwen Stefani

Allure – “Gwen Stefani: “I Said, ‘My God, I’m Japanese'””

Melissa Vela-Williamson’s book, Smart Talk: Public Relations Essentials All Pros Should Know

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