It’s Halloween and the Social Justice Warriors are out in full force, ready to condemn even the slightest hint of temporary culture adoption, i.e. cultural appropriation. But where do we draw the line? As a white woman, if I wear any Halloween costume that has ever been donned by or originated from a person of a different ethnic, racial or cultural background, I have sinned in the eyes of SJW’s. But make no mistake, this is not a multi-way street. The outrage only emerges when the perpetrator is white. Let’s say Beyonce decided to dress up as Amelia Earhart for Halloween. I don’t doubt one bit that the media would either be silent, or praise her, comparing her to the heroism and intrepid determination of Earhart….because flailing around on stage in next-to-nothing with 90% backing tracks is heroic, right? Right.
But again, I ask, where is the line? At what point will these SJW’s realize that they are actually hurting cultures by condemning the sharing and appreciation of said culture?
Let’s take this appropriation argument one step further. When I go on vacation to a destination with a differing culture, I like to partake in the culture and experience all of the beautiful and unique things it has to offer. I also like to buy souvenirs. Last summer, I made a day trip down to Mexico. I ate homemade tacos, drank Mexican beer, and purchased items in a market there. One of the primary reasons I made the two and a half hour drive down there was to buy a rebozo. A rebozo is a long piece of thick fabric, usually constructed from an acrylic/cotton blend with many alternating stripes of turquoise, magenta, bright yellow, azure, purple and white. They are original to Mexican culture and in addition to the aspect of it’s beauty, it is also very functional. Because of their size, they can be worn many different ways for different purposes. I desired one and subsequently purchased one because I think they are beautiful, not because I want to “steal” Mexican culture or make fun of it. Cultural appropriation is not a bad thing unless you are making a joke of their culture. Even then, a person’s intent may not be malicious.
Mexico’s revenue from tourism makes up about 37% of its total national revenue, which equates to roughly $4 billion. How far are we going to stretch this argument? If you’re going to condemn non-Mexicans for wearing sombreros on Cinco de Mayo, a sombrero that likely was “Hecho en Mexico,” then you are hurting the country of Mexico.
Let’s talk music. Because it is completely conceivable that SJW’s will not stop where they are. This is the epitome of the overly used phrase, a “slippery slope.” In my music library on my phone, I have a very diverse collection of music. I absolutely love Motown. My music library contains music from The Four Tops, The Temptations, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding. I also love the musical phenomenon known as electro swing, pioneered by, among others, Parov Stelar. Stelar is Austrian, as Austria is closely attributed to this type of music. I also like some country music and emo pop like My Chemical Romance. But I’m not black; I’m not Austrian; I’m not a country girl; I’m not emo. So at some point down the road, by listening to this music, will I be accused of appropriating those cultures? That’s really going to suck for current rap artists because 60% of rap music consumers are white. Kanye West, Jay-Z, Snoop Dog, Travis Scott, are you willing to reduce your luxurious lifestyles by 60% in the name of cultural exclusivity?
My unpopular opinion is that cultural appropriation is predominantly a VERY good thing. Every culture on this planet has something unique which we can appreciate. No one is trying to steal your culture. We’re trying to learn and experience. If you love your culture, don’t you want to share it?
I believe the phrase “cultural appropriation” is more accurate phrased as “cultural appreciation.” And this world could benefit from more appreciation.