By: Elijah Green
In the African American community there has been lots of discussion about “white washing,” and the importance of the preservation of African American culture. The conversation has been centered around the phrase “cultural appropriation.” Defined as a usually dominant culture adopting aspects from a different usually oppressed culture. Where are the lines drawn between a cultural exchange, cultural inspiration, and cultural appropriation?
In America dreadlocks, saris, cultural hair styles such as braids, dashikis, hijabs, kente clothes, and various cultural headdresses, are popularized halloween costumes, trends, and fashion pieces. Does the sensationalization of a culture group elevate acceptance of the culture? The Kardashians donning cornrows, Elvis directly drawing inspiration from various black artists, or designer Marc Jacobs’ looks paired with bantu knots that were attempted to be renamed “mini buns,” didn’t boost the acceptance of African American people or their culture as a whole. Certainly not with the perversion of cultural aspects that comes with the appropriation of them.
In order to take inspiration from an oppressed culture, does one have to actively credit the culture they drew inspiration from? Taking aspects from a culture can be degrading. The broad answer is simply not sensationalizing facets of a culture, (cultures are not halloween costumes) and to put thought into what aspects of a culture are being used as inspiration.