Tuesday, October 4, 2016

On cultural appreciation

Hey, white people!  It's not OK to just cherry-pick individual elements of other people's cultures and use them to your own ends.  That kind of behavior is called cultural appropriation, and it's totally unacceptable.  Even if their stuff is really cool, even if it's just for fun, and even if you're only using it during a holiday which is all about playing dress-up, it is unacceptable to take elements of another person's culture, denude them of their cultural context, and use them for your own entertainment.  Those things don't belong to you.  Appropriating them is wrong.

"Hey, Tricia," I hear you saying, "I'm really interested in a specific kind of food/dance/art/clothing/etc. from another culture.  I, however, acknowledge that I am a white person.  I want to be sensitive to the people of that other culture, but I would also really like to dive deeper into learning about and enjoying their culturally specific food/dance/art/clothing/etc.!  How can I do that without being an obnoxious white person and appropriating from the people of that culture?"

Well, my white friend, I've got a resource for you!  

Remember, it is totally fine to appreciate other cultures!  You should absolutely feel free to learn about and enjoy culturally specific elements of cultures different from your own.  The key thing to remember, though, is that they are elements of other cultures, and your appreciation should include respect for and understanding of the cultures which originated those elements, and the context in which those elements developed.  Let's work together on this one.  Happy appreciation!

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