The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation
By Jarune Uwujaren for EverydayFeminism.com.
Cultural appropriation is a term that isn’t often heard in daily conversation, which means it’s inevitably misunderstood by those who feel attacked by feminists, sociologically-informed bloggers, and others who use the term.
Many a white person sporting dreadlocks or a bindi online has taken cultural appropriation to mean the policing of what white people can or can’t wear and enjoy.
Having considered their fashion choices a form of personal expression, some may feel unfairly targeted for simply dressing and acting in a way that feels comfortable for them.
The same can be said for those who find criticisms of the Harlem Shake memeand whatever it is Miley Cyrus did last month to be an obnoxious form of hipsterdom – just because something has origins in black culture, they say, doesn’t mean white artists can’t emulate and enjoy it.
And then there are people who believe that everything is cultural appropriation – from the passing around of gun powder to the worldwide popularity of tea.
They’re tired of certain forms of cultural appropriation – like models in Native American headdresses – being labeled as problematic while many of us are gorging on Chipotle burritos, doing yoga, and popping sushi into our mouths with chopsticks.
They have a point.
Where do we draw the line between “appropriate” forms of cultural exchange and more damaging patterns of cultural appropriation?
To be honest, I don’t know that there is a thin, straight line between them.
But even if the line between exchange and appropriation bends, twists, and loop-de-loops in ways it would take decades of academic thought to unpack, it has a definite starting point: Respect.
Read more at EverydayFeminism.com.