You’ve probably seen it before: white fashion gurus at Coachella getting attacked for wearing gem bindis, Blake Lively being slandered all over social media for commenting that she has an “LA face with an Oakland booty,” Rihanna’s “Princess of China” music video receiving criticism for mixing and matching style elements from different Asian cultures. White women who wear dreadlocks. Frat boys who party in Native American headdresses. All fall under the phenomenon that liberals have coined cultural appropriation.
At risk of sounding like a brainwashed Trump minion (God forbid), people are too sensitive. I’m a democrat who believes in liberal ideals, but my party has been taking things a step beyond helpful these days. This cultural appropriation phenomenon is a perfect example of liberals taking a good idea and ruining it. Too much political correctness can actually be a bad thing.
There are certain instances for which I understand the sensitivity. I can see where someone would be taken aback by frat boys in Native American headdresses. This type of irreverent mockery is insensitive, to say the least. But trading bits of culture does not always represent derision. The frat boys are on a different level than the white woman with dreadlocks, who just happens to genuinely appreciate the style, and they shouldn’t be treated the same. Even here in WW-P we have non-Indian people participating in SAASA. But this exchange is a celebration of culture; there is no disrespect intended. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The whole idea of cultural pride is, to me, ridiculous. Just by being born, you happen to have a culture, but you didn’t choose it or earn it or deserve it. Some are lucky and are born into cultures with freedom while others are born into toxic ones. It’s completely random. If you don’t like your culture, that’s more than okay. You have no obligation to defend or preserve it. You owe it nothing.
So when you call somebody out for cultural appropriation what you’re really saying is that nobody is allowed to operate outside the culture into which they were born—the culture nobody chose for themselves. Now how is that fair at all?
I feel very uncomfortable with being told I can only act in what others deem appropriate “white middle class behavior.” Cultures should be able to interact without such hostility. There are good parts and bad parts to every culture, across the map. Wouldn’t it make sense to blend the best of all cultures instead of blindly pointing fingers, disparaging others for stealing their heritage? Perhaps the woman wearing dreadlocks isn’t trying to trivialize black struggles—maybe she just likes the way they look. Sometimes, it’s not an attack but a compliment.
The crusade against cultural appropriation is supposed to encourage greater respect between different groups, but ends up having the opposite effect. It sharpens the divisions between cultures and generates more hostility than tolerance. This is a country renowned for its varied religions and races. Our diversity is probably one of the most unique aspects of our country. It’s what drives innovation. It’s what makes us better. Why would anyone want to impede that kind of progress?
Mixing cultures can actually yield exciting results. Take Stevie Ray Vaughn. He interpreted blues, a traditionally black style of music, and is now considered to be one of the most skilled electric blues guitar players of all time despite being white. He breathed new life into a dying genre. That would have never happened if he believed he was stealing a part of a culture that didn’t belong to him. He was simply making music because he loved the way it sounded; that kind of love transcends cultural divisions.
How do cultures come to be in the first place? Through people sharing ideas, trading morals, agreeing on the best parts of one another. So let’s drop the pointing finger, look in a mirror, and see if we can’t make newer, better traditions. Let’s create our own culture. The world will be better for it.