Home › Forums › Advice & Chat › Cultural appropriation
- This topic has 69 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 3 years, 6 months ago by Kate.
October 18, 2018 at 6:15 am #805301MissDParticipant
The line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange is always going to be blurred.
Appropriate occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated, but is deemed as high-fashion, cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves.
Appropriation occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture that they are partaking in.
So I guess a good example would be how Kylie Jenner is seen as high fashion or edgy for wearing her hair in “boxer braids” and people love her for it. But if a black person (where the style originated) wears their hair in braids, they are seen as a hood, a gangster or as breaking the dress code.October 18, 2018 at 6:39 am #805303LisforLeslieGuest
I’m with Kate on this one. The woman who yelled at a mother and child for the dutch braid is out of line. It’s a child. It’s a hair style. It’s not cultural appropriation to put a child’s hair in a pretty braid.
Cultural appropriation is not wearing a hairstyle. Hell, trends are trends. That’s always been the way, the gay or black community defines a trend, it goes mainstream, they find the next, rinse and repeat.
Cultural appropriation is diminishing an entire culture into a joke (Hey look it’s Cinco de Mayo -let’s all wear Sombreros because Mexicans always wear sombreros!) or using a cultural symbol or totem in disrespectful ways for profit – (Hey, it’s cool that we totally decimated the Native Americans but headdresses are cool so we’ll send a bunch of models in bikini’s in headdresses down a runway!) Those are two examples, I know there are more like southern cooking.
So do we simply call it shitty behavior? Well, sure, but it doesn’t get to the root of why it’s shitty. Giving it a name places it right on the edge between “being and asshole” and “being a racist asshole” and in my experience, people can wave their hand away at being called an asshole, but if you call someone out for being racist – whole. other. story.October 18, 2018 at 6:43 am #805304MissDParticipant
Agree with Leslie and Kate.October 18, 2018 at 8:03 am #805311keybladeMember
I can appreciate Ron’s reply because I think it displays a good faith effort to contextualize his opinion.
With all due respect Les, I think many people would disagree that wearing a hairstyle is never cultural appropriation, which is may be why it is difficult to determine who was being the asshole in the scenario. I agree with the question “what if we loved black people as much as we love black culture”. Where it gets weird for me is when people make a fast assumption that someone who genuinely appreciates black culture (and is not just making money off of it) isn’t also somebody who genuinely cares about how black people feel or how they have historically been abused and mistreated by the dominate culture.
If my nine year old child wants to go as Black Panther for Halloween should he really be slapped with the label of being a racist asshole, even if the whole enterprise has nothing to do making real structural power shifts in America, (if this conversation can even be contained that way)?
As someone of a half-ethnicity, does it make me a thief to claim my own culture? As some self-selected and appointed members of that culture have claimed? And if we constantly excuse outright asshole behaviors based solely on looks, while calling out every perceived transgressor a racist asshole, doesn’t that leave the potential of false equivalency? (Not to mention people don’t always display a stereotyped “look” of their culture)
Do you genuinely believe Donald Trump is the same level of racist asshole as Elizabeth Warren, or is that stupid double talk (and no she should not have appropriated native American culture)? Is having a teepee-ish play area from etsy really being a racist asshole? Would it matter if you and your children weren’t white? I know people get gaslit on these things all the time and it is always in defense of the “norm” which is also predominately still benefiting from taking and abusing other people’s land and cultures. But even if the American cultural experience looks very different from different angles, isn’t some social cohesion required for any functionality or change?
I think it’s worth having the conversation and listening to multiple perspectives especially because there is also a generational and experience gap between people who most likely both would like to see real social change to the extent that it can ever be intentionally engineered.October 18, 2018 at 8:05 am #805312ronGuest
Really, Leslie — Southern cooking! That emphasizes the speciousness of the whole concept.
Whoever mentioned double-standard has it right. The collegiate explanation is that minorities can’t be racist, women can’t be sexist, other that white European cultures can’t culturally appropriate, because they lack power. But we’ve all had experiences with sexist women, racist minorities, and non-white cultures which freely steal from white cultures (think the Peoples’ Republic of China freely stealing American intellectual property). And no, there isn’t some threshold when China becomes a leading world power and crosses over into having what they do now be deemed cultural appropriation. What is power? China is the most or second most populace nation on Earth; it’s government has absolute power; it is creating a local region of hegemony. In America, power derives from which group controls the government. At the moment, Trump and his cronies do. Does that mean white men have all the power? How does that stand up to the fact that 55% of the votes in the 2008 election were cast by women and many of those women believe on religious principle that women should not have power over men.
The collegiate ‘done by people who have power’ is a cop-out. It’s an amoral cop-out because racism/sexism/religious intolerance are driven by hate/loathing/fear/a sense of innate superiority. Any person of any sex, gender, race, religion can hate/loath/fear/feel innately superior. This is a bad thing, but its not a bad thing that only members of groups with power possess. Most of the individuals who do these bad things are lacking in significant personal power.
The problem with the headdress is that it’s always wrong to mock another’s religion. This doesn’t depend upon the power of your group vs the power of the other person’s group. Insulting Catholicism or Islam because those are very powerful religions, does not make the insult ok. A federally funded art exhibit shouldn’t be allowed to include the ‘art work’ “Piss Christ” (a crucifix in a bottle of the artist’s urine) if we are going to object to an irreverent display of a native headdress or Star of David. All are wrong. If you want to live in a civil, multi-cultural society, you just don’t do that shit. It has nothing to do with a power imbalance. It is simply wrong. It is wrong in both directions, regardless of who does it to whom.October 18, 2018 at 8:17 am #805313KateGuest
Wait, is this the old argument that sexism against women isn’t a thing because women are sexist too? Or that cultural appropriation against minority cultures isn’t a thing because anyone can offend anyone?October 18, 2018 at 8:35 am #805316KateGuest
And that white men actually really don’t have all the power?October 18, 2018 at 9:23 am #805325ronGuest
Kate — Of course sexism against women is a real thing. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t also some women who are sexist against men.
Yes, men hold the majority of the positions of power in our society. However, it is erroneous to make this a men vs women thing. The majority of married white women voted for Trump. They could have defeated him. They chose not to. The point is, our society does not divide on a male/female axis. It largely divides by religion and conservative white Christian’s pet issues: racism, male supremacy, homophobia. It’s not just male white evangelicals and religious fundamentalists of other denominations — a large proportion of the women in these denomination believe EXACTLY the same thing. The religion teaches male supremacy and they buy in as a matter of faith.
The point is that this theory that only straight, white, Christian males have power so only they can be guilty of these -isms is bunkum. 90% of straight, white, Christian males are as powerless as you are. Ironically, it is the most powerless of these white, straight, Christian males who are most subject to these harmful -sims, because they cling to their identity. Also ironically, the more the collegiate view is that -isms can only be held by what is viewed as the powerful group, the more these men will cling to their -isms and recruit more followers with the pitch that they are under siege as a group.
Really, it’s as silly as saying that only white men can commit murder, because they are the only ones who have power.
If women are to be counted as a group, then they have political power, should they choose to use it, because they are the majority of voting age adults and they cast 55% of the votes. That white women as a group chose to elect Trump, knowing he is a virulent sexist, racist, xenophobe, and liar says that there are things that white women as a group (really older, married white women as a subgroup) value vastly more than doing away with sexism against women. They willingly elected virulent, sexual assaulting misogyny. Why? A lot of it is that they are racist, homophobic, xenophobic. In other words, they possess most of these -isms that supposedly only straight, white, Christian males as a power group possess. If women aren’t a homogeneous group, hen neither are men, white men, straight white men, or straight white Christian men, and it should be an -ism to lump them all together and declare that only they have power so only they can be sexist, racist,etc.
BTW, I think I made it very clear in my original post that sexism is bad and that it does exist. It simply is not the sole province of white men or even men. The main point is this: if something is bad, it is bad for all those people who practice it, not just a particular group that some choose to single out.October 18, 2018 at 9:32 am #805326ronGuest
And yes, white men don’t have all the power. Power in America derives from politics. The group with the majority of the vote have the power. That is women. If many women choose to place men in positions of political power, then that is how the female majority has chosen to cede its potential power. I don’t agree with that choice, but it wasn’t my vote. Women in America will have most of the power when they choose to take it — first political, then changed laws to give power within the corporations. I readily admit that Hillary was an awful candidate. As a white male, I still held my nose and voted for her. Why didn’t the majority of white women do the same? It wasn’t some cosmic error. Trump left no doubt about what he really was. Those who want to end misogyny, especially the white women who run almost all the feminist and women’s group need to answer that question: why did the majority of white women vote for the blatant misogynist and what can we do to change this situation? You don’t need to change any men to accomplish change. You just need to change 10% of the white women who voted Trump. This frustrates the hell out of me. Almost all blacks and the big majority of Hispanics and gays get it. They aren’t about to vote for a candidate who doesn’t hide his intent to oppose them as a group. I’ll never understand the Log Cabin Republicans.October 18, 2018 at 9:40 am #805328KateGuest
I just don’t buy into most of that. It’s usually coming from, sorry, older white men, and used to make the case that some force that women or minorities feel working against them must be their imagination, because white men are actually powerless when you look at them individually, and a lot of women or minorities are actually working against other women or minorities, and really anyone can be offended by anything. Therefore, cultural appropriation isn’t real.October 18, 2018 at 9:56 am #805329KateGuest
And if women aren’t making voting choices that you feel would be in their best interest, I would say a lot of that is because they’re being held down and kept in their place by the patriarchy. A lot of them are evangelical and/or not college educated, and you know who’s running the show for them and always has. Their dads and preachers and husbands are firmly telling them who has the power and what’s in their interest.October 18, 2018 at 10:00 am #805330LisforLeslieGuest
@Ron, you have your opinion. There’s an ongoing debate and of course white people are aghast that they are being called out for not acknowledging that most of what we classify as southern cooking came from slaves. Fried scraps, gumbo, chitlins, okra and collard greens all came from slaves coming up with the best way to take their scraps and make them palatable.
The point here is that no, reverse racism doesn’t exist. Racism is the entire system pushing races to different tiers of importance. A person of color can be racist and believe that one race is superior to another. Reverse sexism doesn’t exist, men currently control the white house, the . A woman can be sexist.
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