Appreciating or Appropriating?

The conversation surrounding the topic of cultural appropriating is essentially a tug of war between those who agree that dressing as or borrowing a facet of another person’s culture that is not our own is wrong and the people who think impersonating a person of a different culture is a sign of appreciation. The conversation from the “appreciation” side generally uses the idea of oversensitivity as a weapon, saying that those who try to keep right and not appropriate other cultures are just overly politically correct. To get a better idea of what cultural appropriation means, we have the Cambridge Dictionary definition which is, “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” Predominantly in the media today, we see countless examples of cultural appropriation, whether it be in magazines, costumes, advertising, or in fashion, to name a few.

Through the disregarding the background of a tradition and picking what bits and pieces of it they want to use as decoration or novelty, people can be offensive by appropriating aspects of a particular culture or religion for the sake of a costume. I want to minimize the actions that can be considered to be cultural appropriation and erase “sensitivity” from the conversation. People fought for their rituals and that is a part of their history. It should be respected as such and not abused for aesthetic appeal.
Primarily, I would like to address examples of cultural appropriation in the media because mediums such as magazines and music are extremely influential such as pop music icon borrowing cultural symbols to seem more exotic. This topic is of urgency because with a culturally unaware president, we the people, need to make an effort to steer clear of being ignorant. Campaigns such as “We’re a Culture Not a Costume” (2012) have been informative especially to college students during the time of Halloween, but I want readers to truly understand why people get so upset about acts of cultural appropriation. If we look at the roots of the traditions being abused, we can see that they are far more important to people than a tacky costume ever could be.


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