centered around the various social and political injustices faced by minority groups, Awaken minorities is a blog published weekly with the goal of advocating change and encouraging the recognition of minority groups in the united states

On Cultural (In)Appropriation

With the spotlight shined on minorities, it is necessary to address an issue faced by almost every minority culture in the United States: cultural appropriation. By definition, cultural appropriation is hard to recognize; it is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture. One thing to keep in mind is the term itself does not fully encapsulate the true meaning of cultural appropriation. Nobody can necessarily own a culture, therefore you can't steal parts of it, right? While it is true that there are no owners of cultures, there is a fine line between borrowing and respecting parts of a culture, and blatantly stealing and disrespecting it. 

From celebrities like Kim Kardashian to runway designers such as Armani, a clear example of the blatant appropriation of culture that occurred in 2016 was the trend of boxer braids, or more commonly known as cornrows. While Zendaya Coleman was being stereotyped by television hosts for her dreadlocks, Kim Kardashian was being praised for the introduction of a new trend. When this kind of disparity exists, where one race is being praised for "borrowed" culture, but the original culture is still being discriminated and stereotyped against, the hypocrisy present in cultural appropriation becomes clear. 

Even personally, I remember being constantly ridiculed as a child for decorating my hands with henna during religious holidays, but now I see the same people who made fun of me are showing it off for a weekend at a music festival. The major problem with cultural appropriation is the fact that a double standard exits. While one woman may be praised for her ethnic hair or clothing, the other woman is being discriminated against for the same thing. 

The argument that cultural appropriation is a divisive mechanism, meant to separate the races and cultures instead of integrate them, is simply an excuse. Instead of recognizing the clear issue with cultural appropriation, some simply try to rationalize their actions, and in doing so are simply just participating in this utter lack of respect for the sacred cultures of many groups. Before we start defending ourselves, we must take a step back in order to recognize these concerns, because ignoring the problem, rather than addressing and fixing it, is what is going to prevent the considerate cooperation we so long for between the cultures.


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