To culturally appropriate is to take a culture and diminish its significance for your own selfish purposes/desires. Cultural appropriation is most often seen today in mainstream media. Take the infamous Kardashian family, for example. This family takes credit for many of today’s popular trends They take already popular trends and slap their names and faces on them without any remorse.
An example of their disgusting lack of respect and obliviousness is seen within their hairstyles. While it may seem insignificant, hair plays a big role in culture. Last year Kim Kardashian-West sported a look called “cornrows,” but instead renamed them “boxer braids.” Cornrows have been worn by black men and women for centuries. The difference between the two when it comes to wearing this hairstyle is how it is perceived by society. When the Kardashians appropriate boxer braids, they are seen as trendy and cool. Cornrows worn by a black person, instead, are considered “ghetto” and “ratchet.”
While mainstream media seems to mainly profit off of black culture there are also so many other cultures that have been subjected to the degrading act of having their culture appropriated while they have been forced to assimilate.
What many fail to realize is that they don’t see that they are sexualizing a culture and not only is that just plain rude and disgusting, but it is also hurtful to that culture.
Native Americans are forced to deal with their Native headdresses and their clothing constantly being sexualized. Everyone has seen the “sexy” Pocahontas and the “savage” Indian man that graces us every year for Halloween. Another example is the Asian Halloween costume that has cut the traditional Kimono meant for a grown woman and turned it into a short silk robe that barely reaches a third grader’s feet. This degradation makes it seem as if their cultures never advanced.
This damages and hurts cultures. How? Well, by showing a false narrative of a culture, especially a sexual one, a fantasy is created to where these culture are viewed as “exotic.” Since this misplaced view is perpetuated in society, many women are forced to deal with the consequences of appropriation.
Native Americans are twice as likely to face sexual assault more than any other race according to rainn.org. 41 percent of sexual assaults against Native Americans are done by strangers.
Cultural appropriation is wrong. Always remember that there is a difference between appropriation and appreciation. The difference between the two is how you choose to represent this culture. Appreciation is being able to experience that culture without stealing from it. It is being able to learn, understand, and inform others about that culture. And that means, to not only take the fun and exciting parts of the culture that everyone loves like food, jewelry, and games, but to rather educate others on the hardships and contributions to society that culture has faced or made. Once you are able to experience a culture and understand their hardships, there should be no need to steal off of that culture and appropriate it.