Cultural Appropriation – Diane Fung

Hello class! I was the girl who opened the cultural appropriation discussion today! I really enjoyed the responses I received from many of you. I think it’s important that we all stayed relatively open minded to each other’s opinions and viewpoints, which is great. Because of a minor time crunch today, I didn’t really get to finish my discussion actually. I wanted to start to bring out points on the contrary: cultural appreciation. What is the difference? Generally, when you are appreciating a certain culture, you engage yourself into the culture. You surround yourself with the knowledge of the culture and correctly represent what you are wearing.

Like I’ve mentioned, it is all situational, case by case. Usually when someone is cultural appropriating, it is quite obvious. If you’re on Etsy or Urban Outfitters and you buy something titled “Face Jewel” which is actually a “bindi,” chances are you’ve already appropriated. The other side to this is that many of these appropriated cultures are cultures that are oppressed. Examples would be: cornrows? New fashion statement! But on black people, it is something that is “ghetto” or “unprofessional.” Bindis/henna/saris? Boho/Hippy Chic!!! But seen on the people they belong to, it’s “weird.” I could probably best word it with “You hate who I am, yet you love my culture.” In an appreciative sense, you would be bringing awareness to the communities that have been scrutinized for their culture. In a pop culture view, Angelina Jolie and Shay Mitchell has gone to many third world countries as volunteers and managed to try on a sari or a headdress a couple times. I would consider this appreciation. Why? They’re not exploiting the culture for a fashion trend. On a smaller scale, if you were to attend someone’s wedding and get henna done on you, it would be appreciation. Why? You’re engaging yourself into a specific culture and not running around parading it.

I have one question that I’ve been back and forth on that I’d love to hear back from you all. Would it be the same concept if someone were to wear a band t-shirt (or anything alike) they never heard of or listened to? What if someone came up to you and started a conversation about it with you? If you had answered “I don’t even listen to this band, I just liked the shirt,” would you feel embarrassed? What if you spotted someone wearing your favorite band and that was the response you received?

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One thought on “Cultural Appropriation – Diane Fung

  1. I don’t think it should be embarrassing. It would probably be awkwardly funny but can also be an opportunity for someone to learn more about the band of the real fan is excited enough to share. Honestly, I think that anything having to do with someone wearing certain clothes, accessories, body art, etc because “they like it” shouldn’t be considered appropriation because in their own way they are in fact appreciating that piece of another culture. That’s the beauty of living here. America, to me, doesn’t have its own original culture. Instead, it has grown to embody a collection of cultures, wrapped in a big beautiful bow called freedom of expression, through the contributions of EVERY foreigner that’s brought some of “home ” with them. That’s why our land is called a melting pot, because that’s pretty much what happens. So, as long as the intentions are good or innocent of any spite t’s not Appropriation.

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