What Cultural Appropriation is & What it isn't...

Updated: Apr 13, 2018



This might be a somewhat controversial post, but I just have to say this right off the bat - I do not mean to offend anyone. My mission statement is: SPREADING LOVE. So I'll reiterate that time and time again. I always welcome CONSTRUCTIVE criticism and feedback. I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions, that's one of the very many functions what your brain is for :)


Now, I know 'Cultural Appropriation' is a very touchy subject so I'll be delicate. The definition of cultural appropriation is: "the adoption of the elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture".


Basically what that means is taking a culture that is not yours and either:


  1. Claim it as your own OR

  2. Try to use it as a profit making machine


I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH THIS! Trying to pass off a culture as your own IS NOT OKAY. It's no different than plagiarism and it's universally agreed that plagiarism is a highly unethical thing. This is no different. So for example, even though I don't really follow sports, I think football sports team like "The Red Skins" should not be passed off so casually. Commercialization of minorities (especially repressed minorities like the natives) should be inexcusable.


And while I agree with this completely and wholeheartedly, I believe there are teeny tiny loopholes in there. There are grey areas sometimes, and I believe it's unfair to swipe everyone under the same brush if they don't have bad intentions.


I've seen Caucasian henna artists who've suffered time and time again unable to get bookings or take part of festivals or fairs because they were looked down on, perceived as individuals who are trying to steal and profit from a culture that's not theirs. It's actually counter-intuitive in a way. So basically organizers denying these artists a platform because it's seen as cultural appropriation are actually being discriminatory themselves (even though it's completely unintentional). I've never personally gone through it myself because I'm originally Egyptian and henna is deeply embedded in my culture, but I guess this strikes a chord with me, because I know many Caucasian artists who are not only truly talented but have educated themselves about the history of henna, its roots and the things it represents. In reality, I know a lot of Caucasian henna artists who know so much more about henna than South Asian artists do. They're not claiming that henna is "their own culture", instead they're trying to spread the message that's behind it.


If I eat Chinese food, is this considered 'cultural appropriation'? Consuming something that's not within my own culture. Not really, it just means I like Chinese food. Let's take it a step further, what about fusion restaurants that fuze recipes from different cultures. Is that not ok? (ok, I'm hungry now lol). There has to be a line between what cultural appropriation is and what it isn't.


If you're "stealing the culture" or intentionally trying to profit from it without really having a connection with it, then yes, this should be unacceptable. But if you've really devoted yourself to it and are completely transparent that it is not classified as your own culture but you have an appreciation for it, then it should be ok.


Because I think education is the most important tool in expanding our brains, I feel it's as important for you to also see the opposing views on this. Here is an article that basically defies everything I just outlined. I'm not trying to sway you into subscribing to my opinion, rather I'm just trying to demonstrate all the views here so you can form your own.



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