Cultural appropriation is a phrase that has been on the rise on my timeline lately (especially with Halloween around the corner as well as ignorant folks lurking around that same corner, waiting to buy their "sexy geisha" costumes. If you don't know how that can be problematic: DM me. Hurry before it's too late and you get dragged this holiday season).
When it comes to the topic of cultural appropriation, there are lots of people who seem to think one of two things:
1. Cultural appropriation doesn't exist.
We're not going to spend too much time debunking this one...I've been trying to get my life right, limit the amount of edges I snatch, and keep it classy and right with God, so...just know it, in fact, does exist.
2. Cultural appropriation isn't a big deal because...culture is meant to be shared.
Imagine being the person who first said this. Imagine having all of the information about how, historically, culture has not been shared but taken and exploited at your fingertips and still thinking that the purpose of culture is to be shared. Imagine being this heada**.
For those of you who don't know (no shame in that game) cultural appropriation is the adoption and use of elements from one culture by members of another culture without permission. In our case, historically, it's white people stealing cool stuff from minority cultures, renaming it and re-presenting it to the world as "innovative" or "stylish" while casually erasing the cultural group behind the "trend." Because on a minority body or in a minority space, these trends are seen as "primeval," "deviant," "unprofessional" or "ghetto" and thus these minority groups are further undermined, erased, and characterized within harmful stereotypes. Cultural appropriation is almost always rooted in racism and elitism...but that's a whole other article entirely.
The idea that culture is meant to be shared is not only false but extremely heada**. It doesn't make any sense if you think about it. Let's break it down:
What is culture? Culture is the collective beliefs, art, music, hairstyles, language, fashion, slang, dances, etc. of a specific group of people that are created by, for and about that group. It's literally created to bring a specific group of people together who share a common trait (often race, ethnicity or nationality). Culture is shared...within a group of people over generations. Culture is meant to be appreciated, not shared (and not taken...I'm looking at you Christopher Columbus).
It's completely okay to appreciate another culture, even sample it with permission and representation of the people group you're sampling it from. But to assume that someone else's culture was created to be shared with you and then getting upset when it's not is one of the first symptoms of being unaware of your privilege and you should probably get that backpack unpacked immediately before you catch a severe case of heada**.