what is cultural appropriation?
Cultural appropriation is the act of using or wearing elements of another culture such as symbols, jewelry, clothing, hairstyles, accessories, etc. Appropriating a culture happens when the use of the element of a culture erases the true meaning behind it.
How do i know if i am appropriating a culture?
The truth is that it is very difficult to distinguish between appropriating and appreciating a culture. There is a lot of delicate balance and awareness that takes place in being sure that using elements from other cultures is not reinforcing a colonial attitude of take what I want and leave the rest to die. The link below breaks this process down into easy-to-follow steps.
but, aren't most modern cultures a melting pot?
Technically, yes, there is a lot of cultural exchange that has happened and continues to happen so that the food, clothing, jewelry, hairstyles, etc. you find in any country can be representative of several countries. But, there is a difference between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation. The link below helps us to remember that the relationship between a western white culture and eastern cultures of color is a historically tense one. The disrespect, mutilation, and stealing of other cultures is a long-standing western white tradition that has hurt, interrupted, and destroyed eastern cultures of color for centuries. Therefore, wearing a bindi or that shirt with the cute pattern on it isn't just that. Sometimes, and often times, it can be a truly hurtful thing.