Cultural appropriation has been a hot topic amongst many social media users over the past years. Quite often I scroll through my Twitter feed and come across full on debates, either shaming or defending somebody’s choice of fashion due to a clash of opinions.
A famous example over the years come from The Kardashians as they have encountered accusations of cultural appropriation numerous times especially over their use of cornrows. Originally from Africa the use of cornrows amongst other cultures is quite popular. Considering the backlash at the time I didn’t take too much notice of it. From a bystander perspective seeing this topic come up was the perfect time to actual take a deep dive into the subject of cultural appropriation. I want to find out what it really is and understand why some people feel the way they do .
What Is Cultural Appropriation?
Personally I’ve not been inclined to join in the backlash on social media and would much rather just read the topic then move on. I do find myself exploring the comments just to get some clarity but I wouldn’t recommend the comments section for this as the opinions could be endless. GQ defined it as “Taking something from a less dominant-culture in a way it’s members find offensive.” From this, I understand it stems from heritage (as is most things from culture) and it brings more context as to why someone might get offended as it’s close to home. Check out the full article at GQ:
Recently, singer Adele made comments regarding the backlash she faced due to cultural appropriation as she was called out for using a hairstyle typic done on dreads. BuzzNews reported that the singer states how she sees why people were offended at her outfit choice and how she was trying to celebrate Jamaican culture but didn’t quite read the room right. From her situation, I can understand both sides, as whilst she may have had good intentions, it did instead offend people of that culture. In the age of social media, it’s usually celebrities or influencers getting the headlines or backlash. It's unlikely I would have even heard of cultural appropriation if they had not been accused of it.
My Take on Cultural Appropriation
People are proud of where they come from, of how they grew up, the food, the language or clothes. If they're to see someone using their culture without showing it the respect or acknowledgement it deserves then people are going to take it personally. However, I do see the way culture progresses and grows. In the age of social media, we are exposed to all different types of cultures at the touch of a button. Some people are very fashionable or like the way something looks and therefore they may give it a try.
The key word here is appreciation, I feel it’s nice to bond over culture as it helps us to understand each other but it should be for the right intentions and in not a disrespectful manner. Whilst not everyone has the same definition for cultural appropriation and it may hit harder with some than others. On a wider scale, the context is important and you should do research if you want to avoid backlash as everyone’s opinion will not be the same. I’m not saying one side is right and one is wrong, I’m just saying to be aware of others.