Why Cultural Appropriation Is Real, And Wrong
Politics and Activism

Why Cultural Appropriation Is Real, And Wrong

And it's not just people being angry for no reason.

726

Cultural appropriation is something that a lot of people have a hard time understanding. Many can only understand some instances of cultural appropriation, but not others. We as a society can't pick and choose instances where we think it is right, and times where we think it is wrong based on what we agree with. Any instance that offends the culture you are claiming to be "appreciating" is not right.

Cultural appropriation is defined as, "When a person takes something with cultural significance from another culture for their own, but doesn't respect or understand the cultural significance that something has. Instead they only claim to 'like' the culture because of what they can gain from it." It's important to understand the context behind why people get offended by this.

Cultural appropriation is not cultural appreciation.


When you're culturally appreciating a culture or an aspect of a culture, you'd go to a friend who is a different culture's wedding and wear their traditional dress.

You'll never be in their shoes.

Unless you are a part of the culture, you will never have a full understanding of it unless you're around the people who are. Society can't claim to understand why a culture is upset by appropriation if they're not willing to have a conversation with the people they are representing.

A culture should not be a mascot.

This is one of the most difficult aspects for people to understand. The most popular culture-to-mascot example is between Native Americans and sports teams. Terms like "redsk*n" have a background definition of the time when colonies, state governments and companies paid white people to kill Native Americans and used their scalps or even genitalia, as proof of their “Indian kill.” Many people are supporting the campaign #NotYourMascot to change this aspect because people from the actual culture do not approve of their culture being mascots.

It shouldn't be just for fun.


If the sole aspect to borrowing something from another culture is because, "it's just a costume" or "it's sexy," chances are you are appropriating and don't need to be wearing the cultural aspect. There are real people that have these aspects of their culture for specific reasons and not for Halloween costumes.

Why it's a problem.

It may not be intentional, but people view those who appropriate in a better light than the people whose culture they borrowed. The reason people are getting so upset with appropriation is because the people who are going around and wearing their own culture are seen as lazy or other negative stereotypes, while the people who are appropriating are seen as being cutting edge and viewed in a positive light. It's hard to not get upset when people are getting praised for your culture, while the culture it belongs to is being ridiculed.


So, the next time you're deciding to borrow an aspect of another person's culture, it's not a bad idea to ask yourself if it's the right thing to do. Have a conversation with people in the culture and see if you may or may not be going too far. It only hurts to assume, but never to ask questions.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Disney Plus

Millions of musical-lovers around the world rejoiced when "Hamilton," the hip-hop-mixtape-turned-musical harder to get in to than Studio 54, came to Disney Plus.

For those who had the luxury of being able to watch it in person and rewatch it with us mere mortals on our screens, the experience was almost as gripping as sitting feet from Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. From the stunning sets, graceful choreography, witty dialogue, and hauntingly beautiful singing, the experience was one even my musical-averse family felt moved by.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

We Asked You How You Felt About Resuming 'Normal' Activities, And Some Of Your Answers Shocked Us

The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists when they'd feel comfortable doing "normal" activities again, considering COVID-19. We asked our peers the same thing, for science.

Last month, the New York Times surveyed about 500 epidemiologists asking about their comfort level with certain activities once deemed normal — socializing with friends, going to the doctor, bringing in the mail. That's all well and good for the experts, but they are a very niche group, not the majority of the population. What do "normal" people feel safe doing? In certain states, we've seen how comfortable everyone is with everything (looking at you, Florida), but we wanted to know where Odyssey's readers fell on the comfort scale. Are they sticking with the epidemiologists who won't be attending a wedding for another year, or are they storming the sunny beaches as soon as possible?

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Keto Is All Fun And Games Until You're Undernourished And Almost Pass Out

Keto is just another extension of diet culture that boasts rapid weight loss, but at a steep price.

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

There has been a Keto diet craze going around in the past couple of years, with many of its followers claiming significant weight loss. With any new, trendy diet claiming miraculous weight-loss, one starts to wonder what exactly is happening behind the curtain. The keto, or ketogenic, diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that claims to help the body shift its fuel source from carbs to fat. In the medical community it has been prescribed to patients with uncontrolled epilepsy to reduce the frequency of seizures, but other than that there is little conclusive evidence to other potential benefits.

Keep Reading... Show less

Jennifer Kustanovich is not only the president of the Odyssey at Stony Brook University but is also an illuminating yoga instructor. She's an inspiring proactive leader in the wellness industry. Her expertise in movement expands onto Zumba and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

On the last day of her in-person class, she gave everyone a way of contacting her and made sure to check up on all her clients. She wanted to ensure that they were doing okay and to remind them that she is always there.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These 5 Black Female-Owned Swimwear Brands Are Must-Haves For Your HOTTEST Summer Yet

To all the woman who put their money where their mouth is, lets do two things for the price of one.

The start of summer is always exciting,(especially after an unprecedented pandemic) and people are itching to make this particular summer count. Correction: with the amount gratefulness I have for life at this moment in time I am itching to make this summer count.

But at the same time, in the midst of social justice issues, activism is something that is at the forefront of many people's minds, including mine. With money comes power and buying Black is a way to directly help the marginalized and oppressed while getting something in return.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These Are The Black-Owned Restaurants In Chicago You Should Absolutely Be Supporting

Support the movement and your appetite at the same time with these amazing spots.


The Black Lives Matter movement is taking the country by storm to crash down systematic racism and liberate people of color. However, during these changing it can be hard to determine what you can do to make an impact besides reposting Instagram stories and texting petition numbers. Instead, support Black-owned businesses or, more specifically, Black-owned restaurants. Here are some outstanding and underrated Black-owned restaurants in Chicago that can help you support the movement.
Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

10 Things To Know About LDRs, From A Couple Separated By The Atlantic Ocean AND A Pandemic

There will be challenges, but more often than not, it's worth it.

Most individuals in relationships have not been able to go on romantic dates in quite a while due to business closures in the wake of the pandemic. Other couples have encountered challenges while seeing each other face to face in the past three months due to coronavirus regulations. Long-distance relationships have unfortunately become a reality for many in this era of global health crises. Western New York native and travel journalist, Chelsea Baron, knows this all too well.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

5 Easy Summer Mocktail Recipes You Can Make With Items You Probably Already Have On-Hand

Keep these drinks in mind next time you're visiting your local farmer's market — you might want to grab some extra mint and limes.

With Summer 2020 in full swing comes the addition of many fresh fruits and vegetables to brighten up your dinner plate, but also your glass! Farmers markets are my personal favorite place to look for produce that is in season to make fun mocktails with.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments