Cultural Appropriation Vs Cultural Exchange Thread by @workingdog_ on Twitter:
Cultural exchange is when two people/groups share their culture with each other, willingly, without violence. When I teach a goyish chicanx friend Jewish cooking and they teach me some of their own recipes and then we eat them.
What's important here is 1. We shared because we're friends 2. We are both just as able to practice our own culture as before. Neither of us is preventing the other from practicing this part of their culture. 3. Neither of us is profiting off of the other's culture w/o sharing.
Cultural Appropriation is not a friendly sharing of culture between groups. It's not my Puerto Rican coworker teaching me about dulce de Lechoza at lunch and me giving her an Ayin Hora charm. It's when culture is violently TAKEN and profited off of.
Consider: in the US white western european culture dominates. Every other racial and ethnic group is persecuted for openly practicing their culture. You can't just wear a Sari in public and not be mistreated for it. And often, now and historically, it was outright illegal.
the “indian boarding schools” were designed to actively commit cultural genocide upon North American indigenous cultures. Taking children away and punishing them for speaking their own languages and wearing their hair in traditional manners. These were open until the 90s!
So here we have groups where their culture is being taken away from them. They can't freely practice their culture. And then when white people, the dominant group who worked to erase that culture, who continue to stigmatize and suppres it. when THEY do it, they are celebrated?
If an indigenous person smudges sage they are seen as a savage uncivilized person stuck in the past, BY white people, using it to justify stealing land And when a white woman smudges sage, she's seen as enlightened, spiritual, cultured, and she even can turn a profit.
You can see how what has effectively happened is she has TAKEN the practice. She has it now, and its original culture still cannot do it freely. She turns a profit from some sage business. The community she took it from sees none of that money. She TOOK it. It's been appropriated.
To add insult to injury, cultural appropriation is often done in ways which are wrong, inaccurate, disrespectful, trivializing, exotifying, etc. etc. You still can't practice your culture freely but white people are making a mockery of it for fun and selling it for profit.
This is the explanation I give when other white people have trouble understanding what the problem is with cultural appropriation. How it's different from the natural healthy cultural exchange that happens all the time when two cultures comingle. It's not friendly or consensual.
Now I'm hearing the phrase “cultural appreciation” thrown around so, consider this: Why do you feel you must possess everything you appreciate? Can you not appreciate it at a distance? I love to look at Coast Salish artwork. I can just look, without taking it for myself, yes?
Seeing the entire world as yours for the taking. You see it, you like it, you take it. Everything in the world exists just for you. That's the Colonial Mindset. The entire world is not for you. Someone else's precious things are not yours to take just because you think it's cool.
One time my friend (who is Yup'ik) showed me pictures of Yup'ik masks and we all appreciated the fuck out of those masks and at no point does that require me to own one, make my own, or like, draw my fursona wearing one. I am happy to just look at the very cool masks. No touchy.
I enjoy eating Puerto Rican food and that's Cultural Appreciation I do not need to open a Puerto Rican Restaurant or like, write a cook book. I can think Maōri tattoos look beautiful I don't need to get one myself. You understand the difference here, yes?
“Cultural Inspiration” you're just gonna keep coining new words for “but I WANT it so I should be allowed to HAVE it >:T” over and over huh If you're so inspired by a culture why don't you go ensure the originating culture gets all the love and admiration and financial resources.
Why don't you pay reparations to this culture if you're so inspired by them. Rather than pillaging their culture. Taking what you want and leaving the people themselves behind while pipelines are built through their sacred places That's their culture too, do you care about that?
And is it exactly “inspiration” to take something with cultural and religious significance and reduce it to Cool Aesthetics? It just seems very disrespectful to me!!! …Sometimes!! It's just not for you!!