The Dichotomy of Cultural Appropriation | Womanist Musings
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Cultural appropriation is the ultimate dichotomy. The conqueror or oppressor says that a group of people are worthless, that they are less than human and don’t deserve equal rights. The oppressors strip these people of their rights, their dignity, and often, their culture. At the same time, this isn’t good enough for the conquerors. The culture that these people have created and the fruits of their labor are frequently bastardized and pulled into the culture of the oppressors. What remains is often a shell or husk of the beliefs and art of the people who created the culture. Western culture takes what they see to be the best elements of a culture and they take credit for it, because surely anything they do is far superior to the efforts of people in other cultures. This is the start of the dichotomy. The culture and art has been created by the oppressed people. It is created by them as it in turn creates them, developed over decades, centuries, or millennia. Surely, if the culture that has been created is worth valuing, worth adding to our own culture, the culture of the oppressor, then the people who created it have value. They are worth honoring and respecting. It is amazingly illogical, really, to devalue a culture and call it barbaric, while simultaneously claiming elements of a culture to incorporate into our own. It cannot be simultaneously barbaric and worth adding to our own culture. Until people of different cultures, different races, can be respected, there should be no stealing their toys. Foods from different cultures might be tasty and fantastic, but they are not ours to borrow. This is especially true when people are mocked for eating those same foods, where they are valued less simply for the food that they are using to nourish their body. It should be impossible to steal something from a culture while simultaneously mock people from that culture for...
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