What is cultural appropriation?

Cultural appropriation, the adoption of aspects of another culture by members of a dominant culture, is not a new phenomenon. Today, wearing an insensitive Halloween costume or sporting a certain hairstyle can draw accusations of cultural appropriation. But what is cultural appropriation? A form of neo-colonialism? Racism? Cultural theft? Political correctness gone too far? Or is cultural appropriation actually cultural appreciation?

Political correctness gone too far

Western culture has a long history of borrowing from other cultures. Our cooking, art, and music demonstrates a rich blend of cultural influences. Yet all of a sudden, Western culture is not allowed to borrow from any other cultures.

Borrowing from other cultures is not cultural appropriation

Western fashion and art have always been influenced by minority cultures and designs. Why is it suddenly such an issue?

The charge of 'cultural appropriation' is racist

If the act of cultural appropriation was genuinely offensive, it would be offensive when everyone does it, not just white people.

The charge of 'cultural appropriation' stops us celebrating other cultures

Cultural appropriation prevents us from enjoying and celebrating each others' cultures.

A cultural appreciation

Borrowing aspects of another culture is a sign of respect. It indicates others want to emulate that culture, which is fundamentally a compliment.

Cultural appropriate is really emulation and appreciation

Emulating another culture should be a source of flattery as it indicates that citizens of another culture like elements of another culture so much that want to incorporate it into their culture.

Cultural theft

Cultural appropriation is the theft or exploitation of a culture to which you do not belong.

Cultural appropriation is the theft of elements of another culture for personal gain.

Borrowing elements from another culture is not cultural appropriation. But leveraging them or exploiting them for financial gain is cultural appropriation.

Racism through aesthetic

Cultural appropriation refers to a very specific form of cultural borrowing that seeks to erase the people. This is racist.

Cultural Appropriation is belittling and demeaning

Appropriating another culture is to undermine it and treat it as little more than a fashion trend or fad.

Cultural appropriation is a form of colonialism

Power balances are at play in instances of cultural appropriation. When a dominant culture steals parts of another culture, they are stealing part of their identity and attempting to assimilate it into the dominant culture, removing their unique cultural identities.

Cultural appropriation is a form of erasure

Cultural appropriation popularizes an action but fails to educate people on the action’s cultural significance, thus erasing it entirely. Without the cultural significance attached to the action, appropriation occurs and the majority remains ignorant of an action’s cultural significance.

Cultural appropriation is a meaningless term

Cultural appropriation is at best an imprecise term, and at worse, outright meaningless.

Cultural appropriation fails to include class

Class appropriation is as damaging as cultural appropriation but is not called out in the same way.

Cultural colonization would be a better term

Cultural appropriation only takes place when a dominant culture appropriates a minority culture. Cultural colonization would be a better term to encapsulate this phenomenon.

Cultural appropriation isn't the act but the how

Cultural appropriation refers to the act of appropriating another culture. This fails to differentiate between respectful cultural exchanges and damaging cultural thefts.
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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 14:53 UTC