The Dichotomy of Cultural Appropriation Essay

755 Words Feb 26th, 2013 4 Pages
The Dichotomy of Cultural Appropriation | Womanist Musings
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Cultural appropriation is the ultimate dichotomy. The conqueror or oppressor says that a group of people are worthless, that they are less than human and don’t deserve equal rights. The oppressors strip these people of their rights, their dignity, and often, their culture. At the same time, this isn’t good enough for the conquerors. The culture that these people have created and the fruits of their labor are frequently bastardized and pulled into the culture of the oppressors. What remains is often a shell or husk of the beliefs and art of the people who created the culture. Western culture takes what they see to be the best elements of a culture and
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It seems to me as if most Americans are like toddlers raiding their parents’ closet, completely trashing whatever they pick up in the process, no matter how valuable or beautiful.
In the end, people and cultures have an inherent value. There is nothing wrong with wanting to learn about a culture, to experience the different aspects, as long as there are people willing to teach and share and the students can be respectful. It is human nature to be curious about new and different things, and learning about a culture can actually lead to more respect. It does no good to be greedy and devalue the culture and disrespect the people. Culture is not something to be taken at random, something to be torn and ripped by greedy fingers, morphed until it is unrecognizable. It is something to be respected, something to be treasured because it gives variety and meaning to life.
It is not that difficult, after all, to not appropriate from different cultures. The main difference between appropriation and appreciation has two elements. The first is one of historical and current context. Dominating a culture and oppressing the people is one of the things that leads very easily to cultural appropriation. It is the sense that other cultures are property for the taking, while the people themselves do not need to be respected. It is impossible to truly appreciate something without appropriating it when the people who live in and create the culture are being systematically devalued.

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