Posts Tagged culture appropriation

The Ghettoization of Culture

America was once held as a beacon of many different cultures and all of culture’s contributions became a common American culture. That gave way to multiculturalism which started separating each into their own cultures. Now even multiculturalism is on the outs and replaced with a new form of culture ghettoism in the name of “Culture Appropriation”

Culture Appropriation claims that the greater society is oppressing other cultures by taking parts of other cultures and melding it into their own. It is a belief that it is a type of societal oppression and theft that diminishes the culture that the greater society is taking from. It is kin to intellectual property theft but instead of individuals owning property it is a collective property right owned solely by the respective cultures and that only members of that culture have a right to aspects of their culture.

According to Wikipedia:

Cultural appropriation is a sociological concept which views the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture as a largely negative phenomenon.[3] Generally, an assumption that the culture being borrowed from is also being oppressed by the culture doing the borrowing is prerequisite to the concept. This view of cultural borrowing is controversial, both in academic circles, and in general society. According to proponents of the concept of cultural appropriation, such cultural borrowings are problematic for a variety of reasons, ranging from group identity, and questions of cultural oppression, to claims of intellectual property rights.

Clemson University recently apologized for hosting a Mexican Food Fiesta party because of complaints by some students it was a cultural appropriation and thus oppressing Mexican culture to eat Mexican food and celebrate their culture because, in their view, only Mexicans have the right to be a part of Mexican culture and that displays of Mexican culture somehow shows insensitivity to Mexicans.

Another example it is no longer acceptable to depict or refer to anything that is Native-American. They cannot be portrayed in movies. Sports teams cannot be named after them. Gone are toys or clothing that is part of the Indian culture without cries of racism or insensitivity. The result of this is Indians culture has been relegated to a culture reservation out of sight and out of mind to most people.

Another example is black culture. Blacks have been a driving force in shaping the greater culture such as Jazz and Rock and Roll as well as rap and hip-hop but beyond that much of black culture too has been diminished and even expunged. You can no longer portray any aspects of black culture in the media that was prior to the civil rights movement and even now blacks that are portrayed on TV or movies are usually suburban and middle class. Old movies that have blacks speaking in old southern dialects have been deemed racist or racially insensitive and are no longer available or kept buried. It is like the people never existed and has distorted our view of history and even caused historical amnesia.

The idea that melding cultures are somehow racist or contribute to oppression is dangerous and will mainly hurt minority cultures that will be forgotten and harms the greater culture that benefits greatly from other cultures. The benefits of diversity is not supposed to be division but bringing different people together. Movements like “Cultural Appropriation” threatens that and the result is what we have gotten and that is division, mistrust and conflict.

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