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Does anyone think cultural appropriation is an actual problem?

Last posted Jan 08, 2015 at 11:27PM EST. Added Dec 15, 2014 at 10:57AM EST
27 posts from 20 users

I don't, i see some non-black people with dreads and i really don't give a fuck. I mean it doesn't look that good them, but i don't think its racist. I see some white people cooking a soul food dinner and i don't see how they are disrespecting black people by doing that. So why and how does this manage to piss people off.

From what I've heard it's supposed to be offensive because if the subject is something sacred (like, a bow in a karate match or a sacred object,) it might offend some of the more spiritual people, or something like that.

I'm asian (Filipino to be precise,) and I don't really see how a person of a different culture using something from my culture (like say, the martial art Arnis which can be seen in a lot of fight scenes in movies,) is supposed to offend me. The movies don't even call it Arnis all they know is it's cool to see someone beat bad guys up with two sticks. Still, I don't mind, My dad happily points out Arnis in a movie whenever it's on screen. I'm more into boxing myself which is actually a western 'martial art,' and nobody's every complained about that.

tl;dr: I don't mind

Last edited Dec 15, 2014 at 12:23PM EST

What do you mean by "cultural appropriation" anyway?
If you put it like in your post, I'd say no too. People have the right to wear whatever they want, to choose whatever they want to as a style and everything.

You know, in France, we don't really have such debate at all. We don't care about foreigners eating our baguettes, our traditional-made cheese and drinking our wine. We also don't care about people of any ecthnic group sporting dreads, playing djembe or wearing sirwals (which, by the way are very comfortable and easy to wear nudge nudge). They are often associated with a specific group of teenagers smoking weed (taking sometimes harder drugs) and listening to hardtek/trance/techno music in outdoor parties but I don't see where the cultural "appropriation" is in this. To me, it's more of a cultural "melting-pot".

Last edited Dec 15, 2014 at 12:21PM EST

People find it offensive because of how sensitive they are. If somebody is doing something like defacing ancient landmarks (WHAT UP, GREENPEACE?), then yes, that's offensive to the group involved. But simply being a white guy with dreads? No.

One word: cringe.

It is a problem because the people who do it, don't understand the culture and often times look racist.For example

The wearer in this picture is not aware that chastity is a very important aspect of being a muslim and instead dresses in a very sexualised way. Thus, the people from the original culture find this very offensive and in no away respectful.

Hence the cringe.

Last edited Dec 15, 2014 at 01:50PM EST

DCS WORLD wrote:

One word: cringe.

It is a problem because the people who do it, don't understand the culture and often times look racist.For example

The wearer in this picture is not aware that chastity is a very important aspect of being a muslim and instead dresses in a very sexualised way. Thus, the people from the original culture find this very offensive and in no away respectful.

Hence the cringe.

i suppose so

No its a good thing.
People mixing cultures leads to understanding of others and new and interesting interpretations on the cultures.

People who use the culture wrong are just misinformed. And you can't improve yourself without mistakes. Just because you hate when something is misused doesn't mean it just shouldn't be used at all.

I wonder if the people who are so against cultural appropriation realize that their goal is to 'artificially separate the different cultures for their own good.' Which is pretty much a justification of racism.
Isn't it funny how you can go so far left that you end up on the right?

Erin ◕ω◕ wrote:

I wonder if the people who are so against cultural appropriation realize that their goal is to 'artificially separate the different cultures for their own good.' Which is pretty much a justification of racism.
Isn't it funny how you can go so far left that you end up on the right?

After all, Three Lefts Make a Right.

Erin ◕ω◕ wrote:

I wonder if the people who are so against cultural appropriation realize that their goal is to 'artificially separate the different cultures for their own good.' Which is pretty much a justification of racism.
Isn't it funny how you can go so far left that you end up on the right?

It went from keeping cultures separate to keep them pure = fascism
to keep all cultures separate to keep people from being offended = tumblrism

DCS WORLD wrote:

One word: cringe.

It is a problem because the people who do it, don't understand the culture and often times look racist.For example

The wearer in this picture is not aware that chastity is a very important aspect of being a muslim and instead dresses in a very sexualised way. Thus, the people from the original culture find this very offensive and in no away respectful.

Hence the cringe.

a halloween costume worn for teh lulz is kind of different than something you wear everyday because you took an interest in the culture/like the way it looks.
it's all about intention. when i wear blackface and baggy pants to ridicule black people, that's racist. when i wear baggy pants because i saw someone wearing them and think they look cool, or because i want to dress hip-hip-esque, then that's definetly not racist (on a side note: i wear skinny jeans). saying that this is racist would be kind of racist itself, because you're excluding someone from something bacause of their ethnicity, in order to keep a culture immaculate. sincere imitation is indeed one of the highest forms of respect and admiration.
now again: i'm not talking about dressing p like that for teh lulzon halloween or something.

Last edited Dec 15, 2014 at 06:03PM EST

I'd say yes it is a problem, but one that tends to be overstated. Rather than an attempt to keep cultures seperate, it's more of a backlash against lazy or insinscere adoptions of different cultural attributes. For example if I used the Day of the Dead as an excuse to get drunk and throw a "Mexican themed" costume party would be cultural appropriation. Wearing ceremonial robes from Japan just because they look cool or claiming to be Jewish to get Hannukah off from school are examples of cultural appropriation. Where Tumblr goes wrong with this is thinking that someone from one culture copying the dance moves or fashion statements of another culture is cultural appropriation. If culture A sees culture B doing something because it looks cool and they decide to follow suit because they think it looks cool too, then there's no problem. The only two times it's cultural appropriation is if one culture copies something more meaningful just because it looks cool or if they think that copying superficial aspects of a culture makes them part of that culture.

Meh, I don't really care too much about my culture, mostly since even I don't fully understand what it means to be a "true Mexican" when the "real Mexicans" keep shifting the goalposts constantly.

First, you must be born in Mexico, if you were born in some other country that isn't the motherland but your parents were. You're a pocho and don't really count.

If you were born in the motherland but speak broken Spanish, because you learned it as a second language or forgot it as you learned another, you're a pocho.

If you were born and speak Spanish just like they want you to, but you moved to another country to pursue your career (take Alfonso Cuaron, director of Gravity, for example) you're a sell out and not a real Mexican because you didn't "spread[force] the culture", like Guillermo Del Toro.

If you don't like certain shitty foods (capirotada, mole, tacos de moronga, atole, tripitas), you are staining the name of the dumb primitive natives (and I'm not talking about Mayans/Aztecs/Incas either)

If you don't like Soccer(or Football, fuck you both sports suck anyways), or have some sort of machista attitude then you aren't a Mexican.

tl;dr, I personally laugh too hard when A. Wyatt Mann pokes fun of Mexicans since I stopped associating with them quite a while ago. Let the white man appropriate our gargoyle like women with a taco in one hand and Tequila in the other whilst wearing an oversized straw hat since there isn't much that hasn't already been said about Mexicans…

You have to consider here how twisted tumblr SJW's definitions of things are. Sexism, racism, transphobia, and rape are all real problems, but the crazy people over there who want to be offended fuck up what they see as sexism/racism/transphobia/rape so minor offenses or even mundane, everyday occurrences become equivalent to capital crimes.

As springhole.net puts it: "To put it simply, cultural appropriation is taking something from another culture, particularly one that's lower on the social pecking order than yours and…
-Using it in a shallow or superficial way (presuming the original culture doesn't use it in a shallow or superficial way).
-Using it in a way that denies or degrades the culture it came from.
-Using it in a way that promotes misconceptions or stereotypes about the culture it came from.
-Treating the people who invented it like lesser beings."

THINGS THAT ARE CULTURAL APPROPRIATION:
-Gratuitously using something from another culture because it seems "cool" or "exotic" (inserting random snippets of Japanese into one's phrases, the completely pointless Christian imagery shoehorned into Neon Genesis Evangilon at random intervals)
-Labeling something as being from a completely unrelated culture to make it seem more impressive
-Dressing up in a turban and calling oneself a "terrorist"
-Making assumptions about a culture based on pop culture rather than actual facts

THINGS THAT ARE NOT CULTURAL APPROPRIATION:
-Eating or making food from another culture
-Enjoying media from another culture
-Writing characters from different cultures (provided they aren't colossally stereotyped)
-Learning about and enjoying a culture, its mythology, its language, etc.
-Cosplaying a character or person from a foreign culture

And remember, folks, the major danger of cultural appropriation when you run into someone from the appropriated culture is not offending them, but making yourself look like an incredibly ignorant tool in front of them. This is for your own good, people!

tl;dr cultural appropriation is actually using elements of a foreign culture in a way that demeans or perpetuates misconceptions misconceptions about the culture; the tumblr definition is bs

"I personally laugh too hard when A. Wyatt Mann pokes fun of Mexicans since I stopped associating with them quite a while ago" That does not make sense though. I dont associate with blacks and I still believe that everything Wyatt does is awful

Personally, I believe that the problem here is that a lot of people on the internet dont have a clue about what cultural apropiation is. No tumblr, eating tacos is not cultural apropiation.

Last edited Dec 16, 2014 at 12:40AM EST

If something is sacred to a culture, then I can easily see how it could be a problem if people appropriate that in a way that doesn't pay any respect to the original subject and/or trivializes it. Making a mockery, changing its meaning or exploiting it. etc etc

For an example; the Native Indian Headdress.

It has a ton of significance to it's culture. It carries deep spiritual meaning and is earned through a lifetime of experience. According to the original culture, wearing one is meant to mean a lot about you as a respected elder in Indian society or a hero of battle

Wearing one casually like your San Francisco 49'ers baseball cap even if you aren't an experienced Native Indian Elder does trivialize it a bit and doesn't respect the meaning that the original culture decided for it, thus not respecting that culture. So I can see why some people can be upset if the headdress is appropriated as an ordinary fashion statement as if it had no meaning at all

I googled "native Indian headdress" and sure enough there's an article about the cultural appropriation of it in the first results

That said, wearing a fake one for halloween surely isn't a big deal. You're just saying "I'm a pretend-indian" rather than "This is my cool looking hat and totally not another cultures important spiritual and religious icon". And if a Japanese guy in Hokkaido wants to wear a real native indian headdress but actually has gone through the spiritual rites and passages to earn it, then what's stopping him?

Before we get offended at every use of cultural elements that are taken out of original context, we should first look at the intent behind the use. Sometimes it is innocent. Sometimes it is respectful. Cultural appropriation should only be an issue if it takes something thats important to another culture and shits all over it. But just representing other cultures stuff respectfully should be fine

And if it's not sacred…then who the hell cares?

Dreads are not sacred. Anyone can wear them.

Last edited Dec 16, 2014 at 05:52AM EST

Basically what Blue says. Most cultural appropriation I see has to do with Natives and East Asian cultures. It's obnoxious and insensitive as shit when people casually just wear clothing from these cultures like it's some sort of costume, especially when it's really exaggerated. The East Asian clothing isn't that bad as long as it isn't exaggerated from what I've seen since it's usually considered less sacred, but the Native stuff has got to stop. It's usually ultra stereotyped and slaps their culture in the face. Like I think wearing kimonos or a gi is fine, as long as you don't paint your face white or some crap like that.

Overall though with cultural appropriation in the sense that some people push like having dreads or eating tacos, that's just nonsense and isn't offensive at all. It's almost purist in a way like people have said above.

@ivan tabtov

So, what you are saying is that people should not be bothered about it when other people want to show their appreciation for something.Correct? If that is the case then saying you like arab culture by dressing up as a belly dancer is like saying you like internet memes by wearing this shirt.

Sure you are telling everyone you like this culture but now you are bringing up a new context where you unintentionally insulting the people from the original culture. In this case about memes you can see here why that would cause a stir. If you don't understand the culture then don't try impress it.

@BSoD

Sacred things are only sacred to believers. If you don't believe in it, no need to treat it as sacred unless of course you are a guest of believers.

DCS WORLD wrote:

@ivan tabtov

So, what you are saying is that people should not be bothered about it when other people want to show their appreciation for something.Correct? If that is the case then saying you like arab culture by dressing up as a belly dancer is like saying you like internet memes by wearing this shirt.

Sure you are telling everyone you like this culture but now you are bringing up a new context where you unintentionally insulting the people from the original culture. In this case about memes you can see here why that would cause a stir. If you don't understand the culture then don't try impress it.

i didn't take your example seriously because of the halloween context. but yeah, if someone likes bellydancing and dresses in a certain way when pursuing this hobby, i don't see what's wrong with it. saying that's cultural appropriation would be like saying that people aren't allowed to wear keikogi for martial arts training, becasue they're not japanese or don't care deeply enough about the culture.
if they wear that just to express their interest in arab culture and run around dressed like that, but have a misconception and all their knowledge is probably based on disney's aladdin, that's stupid. but that's not what i meant. you can't go out blackfaced with baggy pants and pretend you appreciate contemporary african-american culture either.
but i can still like one aspect of a cuture and not care for the rest, as long as i'm well aware of what i'm doing and not meaning any harm by it. on a side note: counting chastity to a part of culture worth conserving is troublesome imo. also bellydancing as we know it comes from early 20th century middle-eastern cabaret clubs, so what's so sacred about bellydancing? i can't really imagine being offended by someone dressing in a traditional dress from my culture ( just in case you wonder how that'd look like ). it'd be weird, but the cringe factor would only be there if that person wouldn't know anything or untrue things. still, i wouldn't think that this person is in any way "stealing" or disgracing my culture. but maybe i'm not affected enough by this "cultural appropriaton" to get behind the offensiveness of it.
now, who's talking about trying to impress anybody? unless they're ken-sama of course. and are you sure you don't rather mean that shirt:

idc for meme-elitarism btw. so that comparion doesn't really work for me. that shirt isn't cultural appropriation, it's just bad taste (then again, one could argue there isn't such a thing…)
but i care even less for cultural purity. sure culture is important, but you can't be overly conservative about it. it's improtant to know how the generations before us lived and carry on what we deem valueable. but i sure wouldn't want to live in a world that holds culture so dear that we'd still live 100% by it since… i don't even know what today's culture would look like of they didn't change over the centuries and millennia. probably not so great.
so again: ridiculing culture is of course bad, and i understand where a lot of people are coming from, but it shouldn't really be an issue if there isn't any ill will behind it, and in a multicultural society, there's no way of preventing a mix of cultures without exclusion.

I still wonder if it's cultural appropriation if my Filipino boyfriend eat's "white people" food like meatloaf and pot roast and stuff like that… Or if it's cultural appropriation that I'm in an inter-racial, and inter-faith relationship.
(It's not, but I still want to see a tumblrista debate it.)

Purposefully and knowingly disrespecting a person's culture and views and objects, yeah, that's not "appropriation," that's something else.

Putting up a dream catcher in your room, or eating or cooking other cultures food, or getting a Chinese word tattooed on you, no. Not "appropriation," it's celebration of another's culture and showing that you are interested in it. Which is a good thing.

Last edited Jan 08, 2015 at 11:31PM EST
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