Asking whether cultural appropriation matters or not is like asking if a fat kid loves cake… Of course!
But it’s such a taboo subject to talk about that people usually keep quiet about it.
Let’s start with a definition of cultural appropriation.
Cultural appropriation is the exploitation or oppressive cooption of elements of one culture by members of another culture without permission.
Now that we got a working definition, let’s ask this question again: does cultural appropriation matter?
Yes, and especially in America.
This question sparked an interesting debate with my sorority sisters and me.
Some of them actually believed that cultural appropriation shouldn’t matter since everyone takes from everyone to make their culture unique.
However, the rest us believed it to be a bad characteristic of society that needs to be addressed.
We live in a country that was built on the backs of the oppressed.
Because of this, the melting pot that we are said to live in comes with double standards.
Many of these ‘new’ trends that appear in mainstream come from someone else’s culture.
Let’s talk hair.
Braids have been a part of the African American culture as a protective style to protect our natural hair from harsh weather conditions.
When worn by us, we are negatively stereotyped and ostracized by society.
Yet if someone like Kim Kardashian wears it, then it is accepted by those same people that called it ugly and ghetto.
For anything to be magically accepted by mainstream America, you have to be of a fair complexion.
Let’s talk dances.
Breaking out of her Disney barrier, Miley Cyrus decided to twerk as part of her on stage performances.
Before then, this was only heard of in the black community as a form of dancing.
She often kept black women in her videos and performances as pieces.
Usually having some sing and some dance but objectifying the dancers to those equivalent to a sex toy.
But she isn’t the only one.
Shall we go on?
Let’s talk appearance.
Society is a monster.
From a young age, we are taught to hate ourselves, especially young minority girls.
As a black girl, I was often teased for my full lips, milk chocolate complexion, and my naturally curvy body.
Now that I’m older, the same things that I was being teased for are the same things that are being praised on others.
Let’s use the lovely Kardashians as the example.
Kim altered her body to have curves and an ass which she didn’t have naturally; Khloe got ass injections that are not proportionate to her body; and Kylie got lip injections that she swore wore not lip injections.
It seems like the features that many minorities have are favored on other women who are not in the minority.
Not convinced yet?
Let’s give it one more shot.
Cultural appropriation matters because it is a form of oppression.
Typically, the ones that are being oppressed are usually the ones that have a problem with this.
This is just another example of how white privilege works.
White people take something, give no credit for it, and claim it as their own and repeat the process.
White privilege and accountability don’t go together at all hence why we have cultural appropriation issues.
Minorities have given the false hope of ‘all man is created equal’, forgetting the fact this quote wasn’t meant to include everyone at the time it was first said.
So in turn, the foundation of this country has been built on the unequal stature of those who take from those who are defenseless.
And in the end, cultural appropriation does matter and needs to be recognized.
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Cover Photo Credit: Alannah Giannino/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)