Cultural appropriation: the adoption or use of elements from one culture — in most cases, one that is continually being systematically oppressed — by members of a different, superior culture. People all around the world — I see lots of it in America; especially white, privileged grade school students and adults — use traits of different cultures for fashion statements, decoration, trends, or because it “looks cool.” White people at Coachella wearing Native American headdresses exemplify cultural appropriation. People do not realize that they are stealing an important symbol of a different culture, and using it as a fashion statement which they think makes them look cool and up to the latest trend. Another example is somebody getting a henna tattoo in order to follow a trend or, once again, look cool, rather than for the proper traditional purposes.
This offends members of the culture people are appropriating because they are using part of or a symbol of their culture for purposes other than representing their knowledge or participation in this culture.
Racism ties into appropriation in a way that being racist leads into stealing traits of people of color’s cultures such as: henna, cornrows, dreadlocks and bindis. These are all examples of traits of cultures that are frequently appropriated by white people.
You may remember when Kylie Jenner sported cornrows. That appropriation of black culture offended people that looked up to her, and for doing that, she suffered the consequences.
I believe that cultural appropriation needs to be recognized. Everybody should know that this dilemma may be a minor cause of feuds between cultures and races. We’ve seemingly come so far from discrimination but really, there are still many disputes regarding diversity of races and cultures throughout the world. There are still lots of problematic obstacles blocking us as a worldwide population from equality. Cultural appropriation may be a small issue, but overall it creates a sizable impact on altercations between races.
People who are appropriating need to realize that doing these things is offensive and foolish. To be frank, I think it makes them look like an idiot. They obviously have no regard for diversity or significant symbols of different cultures.
In order to prevent this stupidity, just simply don’t wear a symbol of a different culture for trend and/or fashion reasons. I’ll tell it to you straight: don’t be ill-advised and make a fool out of yourself.
How do you know if you’re appropriating culture? To know for sure, ask yourself these questions: Do you understand the cultural significance of the symbol? If yes, proceed carefully. If not, do you want to do it because of how different and exotic it is? If yes, you’re appropriating. If no, figure out your motivation. If your motivation exemplifies any objectification, you’re appropriating. If your motivation is not objectifying, ask yourself if you have white privilege but you understand to not abuse or deny your privilege, then proceed very carefully and respect boundaries. If you are not white privilege, also proceed carefully and respect boundaries.
I hope this gives you some insight on diversity around the globe and cultures that have been systematically oppressed, and how to respect their boundaries if you aren’t a part of that culture.