Cultural appropriation is when someone takes certain elements or aspects from another culture without the consent of people who belong to that culture. There is a very thin line between appropriation and appreciation. Let’s dive in!
Appropriation is defined as illegal, unfair or the unjust taking of something that doesn’t belong to you. Cultural appropriation is taking ideas, beliefs, traditions, and speech from someone else.
The Kardashians for example, are a great example of appropriation. They use elements from other cultures and make a shit ton of money doing so. Kylie got lip injections, sold millions in lipsticks and makeup. Kanye dresses Kim & they decide to do cornrows and boom, sales rocket. These are subtle forms of appropriation, Kylie had small lips, as most white people do. She injected her lips to look full and plump! The worse part of it all is the fact that she capitalized off of aspects well known to the African American community.
& Kim couldn’t even give credit to women of color when she decided to cornrow her hair. She said they were ‘ bo Derek ‘ braids, I mean c’mon, her publicist couldn’t help her with that one? Or maybe her husband?
When we think of the most popular groups of people usually targeted from cultural appropriation we have to include, African, Asian and Native Americans. During this time of year, with costumes and the whole Halloween scene, headdresses and black face circulate crowds like this isn’t 2018. Most people don’t even know that they are offending people, because they were never taught. I didn’t know anything about Native American headdresses and its significance to their culture. I do know, that people like to wear them to festivals as if there isn’t enough headwear to use. (& don’t get me started on the sweat log retreats and dream catchers)
Writer Nadra Kareem Nittle, does a great job in the article on cultural appropriation for Thought Co. Including examples of Madonna and voguing, miley cyrus twerking and gwen stefani using Japanese culture for videos. Don’t get me wrong, these women can do whatever the hell they want to do, but when you start to make money off of cultural traditions that aren’t yours, that’s the problem.
Going into the Halloween season, Ask yourself this simple question when your picking out an outfit:
Is this costume culturally appropriate? Will it offend someone? (ie: people of color)
You should avoid ‘ghetto fabulous’ nonsense, don’t try to look like flavor flav. This also goes for the other side of the spectrum, I saw a couple dressed up as ‘rednecks’ seriously? Geisha’s, Muslims or American Indians, just don’t even think about it.
I know I probably sound like a prude & your thinking, my goodness people are so sensitive. But think of something in your culture you take pride for, something that is very important to you. Now imagine a group of people, from a different background impersonating you as a costume.
There are so many other concepts that are dope, like being a celebrity couple, condiments are so funny to me, how uncomfortable is a banana suit? Movie characters, sitcom favorites for groups. The list goes on.
This is your time to be creative, think of something original before you think about throwing a kimono on and speaking in a Asian accent.