Cultural Appropriation Essay

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Example #1

Introduction

Cultural appropriation has been a factor in our society for decades. In society today, cultural appropriation is almost always discussed with a negative connotation associated with it. This research will help to further develop the sociological perspective on cultural appropriation.

The current paradigm on cultural appropriation is that it is neither accepted nor is it demonized. It is seen as a phenomenon that has existed for years, but has recently become more prevalent in pop culture. It is often associated with a negative connotation and its definition differs depending on the community and environment.

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Literature Review

Not all acts of cultural appropriation are meant to have a negative connotation. At times, cultural appropriation is an innocent imitation of a favored action, object, etc. that originated from another culture. Usually, when cultural appropriation is deemed wrong or immoral, it is because the action was seen as offensive by one or more individuals. (Young 2002) Despite cultural appropriation being applicable to other races in that American is a melting pot and/or mosaic of cultures, it seems to be centered around Black and White cultures. (Lemley 2007)

However, cultural appropriation often falls into a grey area between not only “black” and “white”, but immoral and moral. Also, the negative connotation behind the word appropriation could be due to the words association with power, typically at the expense of an inferior or marginalized culture. (Sinnreich, Latonero, Gluck 2009)

Research Question

I want to research whether race influences one’s perception of what is or isn’t deemed cultural appropriation. I also want to try to uncover the reasoning for the negative connotation associated with cultural appropriation with a focus on the rationing of credit for an action.

Methodology

Data will be collected through interviews conducted over a two day period. Six Black individuals and six White individuals will be interviewed. The 12 individuals will be between the ages of 18 and 30. The interviews will be conducted on separate days depending on the individual’s race. Each individual will be asked a series of questions concerning cultural appropriation. The individual will be asked at least three general questions on how they define cultural appropriation.

After these questions, the individual will be asked a series of scenarios generated prior to the interview. The scenarios will be altered depending on the individual’s race. For example, a black individual may be posed a scenario where a white individual performs an action that could be seen as cultural appropriation. A white individual would be asked a reversed scenario where a black individual performs an action that could be seen as cultural appropriation.

There can be instances where the same scenario is posed to two individuals of different races. Each interview will be recorded and at the end of the two-day interview period, a general summary of the responses will be made. This summary will be presented to al 12 individuals during the debriefing for the research study and there will be 20 minutes of open discussion with the group. An additional summary will be taken from the individual’s responses to this discussion and conclusions will be drawn from these two summaries.

Some ethical issues may arise due to the focus on Black and White individuals. With the head of this research (me) being Black, it may cause others to believe that the results of the research are biased.

Sample Interview Schedule

Each interview will be an hour-long and will not exceed an hour. Day 1 will be devoted to the White individuals and Day 2 will be devoted to the Black individuals. The interview period will start at noon each day and will end immediately after the last individual is interviewed with the exception of the 20-minute open discussion period on Day 2. In each interview, we will observe the individual’s response to the scenarios and mark any easily observed similarities between the responses according to that individual’s race.

DAY 1 (White Individuals) DAY 2 (Black Individuals)

Noon: Individual 1

One: Individual 2

Two: Individual 3

Three: Individual 4

Four: Individual 5

Five: Individual 6

 

Five to Five-Twenty: Debrief

Five-Twenty to Five-Forty: Open Discussion (All 12 individuals)

Hypothesis

I believe that race does influence one’s perception of what is or isn’t deemed cultural appropriation (part a) and the negative connotation associated with cultural appropriation stems from the allocation of credit for an action (part b).

Part A:
I believe that race does influence one’s perception of what is or isn’t deemed cultural appropriation. In general, each individual has their own opinions about any number of issues, topics, practices, etc. Cultural appropriation is no exception; however, I feel that race plays a role in this difference of opinion. For example, a Black individual may consider the recent dispute over the recent—or recently publicize—trend of “boxer braids” to be cultural appropriation. On the other hand, a White individual may argue that it’s not cultural appropriation, but simply that individual trying a new style.

My perspective holds that no individual can say that they are exempt from cultural appropriation. American culture can be said to be a series of culture appropriations simply because of the many cultures that are present in America.

Part B:
I believe that cultural appropriation is an issue not because of the cultural appropriation itself, but because of the allocation of credit. Once again analyzing the “boxer braids” issue, the main issue appeared to be mainstream media giving Kim Kardashian credit for the hairstyle. “Boxer braids” have been around for years, which is what primarily outraged the black community. It wasn’t so much that a White woman was wearing the hairstyle, but rather a White woman getting credit for the hairstyle and the hairstyle becoming a trend because of it.

Conclusion

Cultural appropriation is a phenomenon that plays in the grey area between moral and immoral. Whether not an instance of cultural appropriation is deemed legitimate, right, wrong, etc. depends on the individual, environment, and personal belief.

The negative connotation associated with cultural appropriation could be due to the origins of the word appropriation. It could also be due to the issue of allocating credit for action to the “wrong” party. Race does influence how one perceives cultural appropriation in that some races are more marginalized than others (some races are not marginalized at all).

 

Example #2

What is cultural appropriation?

Cultural appropriation is the adoption or the! of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards, and behavior from one culture or subculture by another. It generally is applied when the subject culture is a minority culture or somehow subordinate in social, political, economic, or military status to the appropriating culture. “is “appropriation” o!en occurs without any real understanding of why the original culture took part in these activities or the meanings behind these activities, often converting culturally signi#cant artifacts, practices, and beliefs into “meaningless” pop-culture or giving them a signi#cance that is completely di$erent/less nuanced than they would originally have had.

Why does cultural appropriation happen?

Cultural appropriation is a by-product of imperialism, capitalism, oppression, and assimilation. Imperialism is the creation and maintenance of an unequal cultural, economic, and territorial relationship, usually between states and o!en in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination. Imperialism functions by subordinating groups of people and territories and extracting everything of value from the colonized people and territories. In the case of cultural appropriation, culture is treated as a “natural resource” to extract from People of Color.

Cultural appropriation is pro#table. Objects and traditions (but not the people) of marginalized cultures are seen by the dominant culture as exotic, edgy, and desirable, which translates to pro#ts. Capitalism works best when people are not individual people with celebrated di$erences, but identical workers, cogs in the machine.

Once diverse cultural identities are stripped away, the only culture le! to identify with is capitalist culture. “is one aspect of assimilation, in which marginalized communities lose their cultural markers and are folded into the dominant culture. “the process of assimilation is sped up when culture markers are appropriated by the dominant culture. Once the dominant culture has access to the cultural markers of a marginalized culture, they are no longer markers of the marginalized culture, and the marginalized culture is gobbled up by the dominant culture.

Why is cultural appropriation so harmful?

Cultural appropriation is harmful because it is an extension of centuries of racism, genocide, and oppression. Cultural appropriation treats all aspects of marginalized cultures (also known as targets of oppression) as free for the taking. “is is the same rationale that has been (and still is) used to steal land and resources from People of Color, particularly Native people. Put together, the! of the lands, resources, and culture of a marginalized group amount to genocide.

“e defense of cultural appropriation is based upon the misconception that race relations exist on a level-playing #eld, as though racism no longer exists. Systematic racism does still exist – white people have power and privilege in this society, while People of Color are systematically denied power and privilege in this society. “ere cannot be a truly equal and free %ow of ideas, practices, and cultural markers as long as one group (white people) have power and privilege over another group (People of Color).

Spiritual practices of Native peoples are particularly prone to appropriation by the dominant culture. “is exceptionally ironic, given that a!er colonization, it was not until the passage of the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act that Native people in the United States were legally permitted to practice their traditional spirituality.

Since the colonization of this continent by white settlers, Native people have faced monumental obstacles to the free exercise of their spiritual practices, including boarding schools, forced relocation, endless broken treaties, “kill the Indian, save the man” policies, and forced assimilation. So it is particularly insensitive for white people to attempt to justify their/our use of Native spiritual practices when Native people themselves have o!en been brutally persecuted for the same.

Cultural appropriation is not an acceptable way to honor, respect, or appreciate People of Color. If you wish to honor, respect or appreciate Black people or Black culture, then you should learn how to recognize, confront, and dismantle systematic racism instead of appropriating dreadlocks, a symbol of the wearer’s commitment to Jah Rastafari and Black resistance to racism.

If you wish to honor, respect, or appreciate Native people or Native culture, learn how to listen to Native people when they identify very real problems (and how to confront them) faced by Native people today, such as astronomical suicide and alcoholism rates on reservations or the continued the! of Native lands by resource extraction companies.

 

Example #3

Cultural appropriation is known today as people adopting aspects and elements of cultures other than their own. When this adoption is done respectfully, it enables people to better understand cultures that they may see as “different” to them.

The respectful learning and understanding of cultural differences are equally important factors of how cultural appropriation helps foster cultural appreciation. Yet, it is important to remember that like many other concepts and ideas, cultural appropriation also has a good and bad side to it that should be acknowledged by societies. By acknowledging both sides of cultural appropriation, societies can use cultural appropriation to foster cultural appreciation in ways such as tv shows, styles, traditions, etc.

With that being said, people should consider a few things about how their actions may affect others before deciding to appropriate different cultures. In a recent New York Times article Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong? the author gives many examples of negative cultural appropriation. The author uses being Miley Cyrus as an example. The author writes, “Wore dreadlock extensions while hosting the V.M.A.s and drew accusations of essentially performing in blackface” (Sehgal).

The term “blackface” may confuse readers who have had no cultural appropriation of the word’s negative history. Yet, in the 1940s white actors would paint their faces black in order to resemble African Americans in a discriminating way that prevented many of them from being actors and/or actresses (Blaque). In order to prevent history from repeating itself, cultural appropriation has changed the hearts of minds of directors who receive cultural appreciation when they hire actors of various backgrounds.

Cultural appreciation is also often seen in clothing design as many designers adopt different styles from cultures other than their own. A good way to avoid negative cultural appropriation, as suggested by The Atlantic in clothing design would be, “To pay homage to artistry and ideas, and acknowledge their origins” (Avins). This means one can wear cultural clothes to show appreciation but should remember respectfully to credit that culture so that the clothes do not lose their cultural significance.

The same idea can be seen in the memoir Funny in Farsi as Firoozeh Dumas, the author, credits Thanksgiving holiday’s American heritage and adds her own Persian twist. For example, Dumas mentions her family’s Thanksgiving turkey experience as they, “All share the American tradition of feeling more stuffed than the bird,” while for dessert they have baklava and Persian ice cream hence the Persian twist (Dumas 74 and 75). The author then pairs her food experience of Thanksgiving by also giving thanks for their new American freedoms and shows cultural appropriation that way (Dumas 75).

It is important to remember that with different kinds of cultural appreciation, there needs to be cultural appropriation. A true appreciation of different cultures may not be able to exist if a particular culture could not adopt aspects from another. Societies would also never know how positive and negative cultural appropriation differ if those societies never interact with other cultures. By calling cultural appropriation wrong, it is almost like saying that segregation is right. To avoid this, cultural appropriation should be respectful to foster cultural appreciation.

 

Example #4 – Interesting ideas

“Cultural appropriation” was created by hypocrites who want to use other people’s cultures, usually white people’s cultures, and yet exclude anyone else from using their own culture. Do you know what I mean?

People are trying to make it an issue and they are hypocrites because they culturally appropriate white culture at the same time they are accusing white people of appropriating their or another’s culture.

I find it ridiculous to see a non-white person speaking English, dressed in white people clothes, living in a Western/white society, and then accusing a white person of cultural appropriation.

Just ignore it. It’s not an issue. People are trying to make it an issue because they have nothing better to do. I don’t believe in cultural appropriation. Culture is meant to bring people together and for us to admire and share with each other. If you are not disrespecting the cultural element itself or the culture to which it belongs, then I do not see the problem with borrowing from another culture. Culture should NOT be reserved for people with genetic ties to people who used it first. That’s so stupid.

If you just ignore it, it’s not a problem. There are no laws thankfully against “cultural appropriation,” so you shouldn’t worry about it at all. It’s a ridiculous concept.

To use another people’s culture is only wrong when you are using it while making fun of them or insulting them or mocking them, or something like that, or if you take someone’s culture and try to claim it’s yours.

LONG STORY SHORT: Cultural appropriation is basically a term used by racists who hate white people and are trying to justify or excuse their hate/racism towards white people by fooling others into believing it.


Cultural Appreciation: Borrowing one’s customs/cultural markers and giving props.

So, what’s SO bad about cultural appropriation? Why is so offensive to people? Is it because people are just too sensitive or are people rightfully outraged? Let me throw in some examples.

The National Anthem is a very important part of American culture. Roseanne was asked to sing the National Anthem. When she did, she sang as ugly as possible, she was sitting up thinking it would be a good laugh but patriotic Americans weren’t having it. They booed and cursed her and she marched off.

You may find something not that big of a deal or don’t care about the importance of how people identify themselves with their culture but that does not mean just because you don’t care….that it doesn’t matter to these people. Cultural Appropriation has always been a big deal for minorities but only now have these minorities been given a platform. There are some minorities who don’t see it as a big deal but there are many who do find it wrong when a person misrepresents them.

That’s the essence of cultural appropriation. Misrepresentation. Cultural Appropriation enforces stereotypes. I don’t know if you hold anything sacred or dear to you that revolves around your culture, as I’ve become aware many Americans don’t know what culture means, its not hamburgers and jeans.

An example of Cultural Appreciation is Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley received inspiration from Black people and time and time again he admitted this which was courageous during his time. His had Black female singing group and hotel wouldn’t admit them because they were Black so he refused to stay there and his comments.

‘Nobody can sing that kind of music like colored people’. _Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley couldn’t help the Black composers of that time who didn’t receive as much money because of their race but it did highlight their originality. Very admirable of him but unfortunately we have so many today who won’t do this in a humble fashion but more of patronizing fashion.

About the hairstyle thing, I don’t care, it’s a hairstyle. I just get pissed that it takes a White person to make a Black hairstyle ‘acceptable’ or ‘trendy’ or ‘fashionable’ when folks have been wearing them for decades. It pisses me off when I see articles like, “Now you can get an afro!” (That grows naturally from our damn heads, either it’s natural or its teased up and perm rodded hair, not an afro) Or that the majority can wear hairstyles that are associated with a racial group or wear clothing associated with a racial group AND completely drown out the people these cultural markers originated from.

Culture Vultures are not cool. You can spot them a mile away. They just grab whatever they like from other people’s cultures and do it to be trendy without researching the meaning behind them. I’m Black but I won’t wear dreads out of respect for the Rastafarian or African clothing with traditional patterns out of respect of the fact that each pattern can have a special meaning. Like each feather on a Native American headdress has a meaning

It’s like going to a foreign country and learning the customs as not to offend the locals when you go. America is a country built by immigrants. Several cultures here and it’s only right to learn to respect that.

Those who culturally appropriate are either too simple-minded, lack respect for others, or don’t understand or have a culture of their own.


“Cultural appropriation” was created by hypocrites who want to use other people’s cultures, specifically white people’s cultures, and yet exclude anyone else from using their own culture. Do you know what I mean?

People are trying to make it an issue and they are hypocrites because they culturally appropriate white culture at the same time they are accusing white people of appropriating their or another’s culture.

I find it ridiculous to see a non-white person speaking English, dressed in white people clothes, living in a Western/white society, and then accusing a white person of cultural appropriation.

Just ignore it. It’s not an issue. People are trying to make it an issue because they have nothing better to do. I don’t believe in cultural appropriation. Culture is meant to bring people together and for us to admire and share with each other. If you are not disrespecting the cultural element itself or the culture to which it belongs, then I do not see the problem with borrowing from another culture. Culture should NOT be reserved for people with genetic ties to people who used it first. That’s so stupid.

If you just ignore it, it’s not a problem. There are no laws thankfully against “cultural appropriation,” so you shouldn’t worry about it at all. It’s a ridiculous concept.

PS. Yay Byzantines! I love the Byzantines.

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Cultural Appropriation Essay. (2020, Jul 28). Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://essayscollector.com/examples/cultural-appropriation-essay/



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