19 March 2019
With various changes to American culture over its history, and the need for inclusion of many subcultures, a question is raised concerning the act of appropriation. This question, whether cultural appropriation is inevitable or necessary, becomes even more pressing with changes to foreign culture and inclusion of other cultures into pop-culture.
A common example of cultural appropriation pertains to Halloween costumes.
The act of wearing Hispanic, African American or Native American regalia is considered by some to be an unacceptable form of appropriation, yet an entire subsection of industry in the U.S. is dedicated to crafting those costumes.
This implies that the act of profit is more important than the act of social inclusion amongst subcultures.
The result of this systemic problem is the formation of a divide between progressive American culture and the areas of society that don’t necessarily consider it an issue.
This divide is worsened by a lack of empathy of many subcultures towards this problem, creating a sense of alienation.
This is one of the more obvious results of cultural appropriation, however there are other problems that arise that are far more latent and quiet.
For example, politics becomes involved regardless of the intent, creating a cycle of political reaction and response that is often times more harmful than the act of appropriation itself.
Another example is the inevitable cultural loss that arises from appropriation. As cultures mold together, it is inevitable that lesser-held aspects are dismissed for more easily appropriated ideals.
This results in the loss, intended or otherwise, of valuable cultural heritages that have been passed down for generations.
It should be noted that cultural appropriation is not necessarily utilizing traditions and practices from other cultures, but rather the act of pretending that the appropriated traditions are one’s own.
This problem has an easy solution that is often overlooked due to its simplicity. Simply pay respect to the culture from which you are drawing ideas. Unfortunately, the implementation of this solution is far more difficult than the solution itself.
Common occurrences of social activism pertaining to appropriation have not been met with wide acceptance in previous years. Examples include negative responses to Ariana Grande’s misspelled Japanese tattoo and Kendall Jenner’s afro controversy.
Society as a whole needs to address this issue for fear that many subcultures might experience significant losses as society changes in the future. Regardless of the state of social change regarding this issue, cultural leaders need to have a strong mandate regarding this issue for society to change as well.