I’m a ‘Leftie’, and we need to talk about ‘Cultural Appropriation’. Cultural appropriation is the new outrage trend in Left-wing circles, allowing other people to be offended on someone else’s behalf, often, without reason.
The all-reliable source of Wikipedia defines cultural appropriation as; ‘a concept dealing with the adoption of the elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture.’ However, this definition is problematic, as it leaves little room for the appreciation of other cultures, or the blending of different cultures, which has become particularly prominent in our increasingly globalised World.
Accusations of cultural appropriation should centre around the intention to mock, offend or belittle. But that’s not where we are at today. The most recent accusation of cultural appropriation was thrown at Israel’s Netta at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, where the non-Japanese performer donned a traditional kimono dress and performed in front of a wall of maneki-neko waving cat figurines. Netta is apparently a huge fan of Japanese culture and had no intention to mock, offend or belittle the culture she was appreciating, nor was there any suggestion that Israeli is a dominant culture over Japan, it’s just a dress, a dress that was originally Chinese in origin – one could say it was appropriated by Japan, if they intended to be facetious.
Accusations of cultural appropriation are almost exclusively made by Westerners, individuals who tend to live in countries diverse in their demographics. More often than not, different cultures are happy to see others engage in their traditions and style, in a respectful manner. It is something to be celebrated. So, when did Twitter become the arbitrators of what is right or wrong, over those whom the culture belongs too?
The idealists supporting cultural appropriation are guilty of inciting hatred and have promoted online bullying themselves. Just look at the recent case of Keziah Daum, an 18-year-old from Utah who chose a traditional Chinese dress to wear to prom, appreciating its high neckline and the beautiful artistry enriched by Chinese culture. Abusive messages aimed at Keziah were liked and shared by over 100,000 people, surely that is akin to cyber bullying? What did Keziah actually do to deserve the threats and disgusting comments that were sent her way? A mere teenager attempting to enjoy her life and engage in cultural exchange.
Sadly, one of the more popular comments called Keziah out; ‘My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress.’ Except, this individual is a Westerner openly engaging with Western white culture, a baseball cap, shorts, a t-shirt, all of which are not his ‘original’ culture. However, that is a ridiculous point to make, and when the tables are turned the idea of cultural appropriation appears childish, which it often is.
What is the end goal of the cultural appropriation movement? Are we really helping anyone by engaging in this discussion? Cultures have been shared and mutually appreciated throughout all of history. It’s a sorry state of affairs when we on the Left are alienating innocent people and censoring others through the fear of causing offence, freedom of expression is something we should all treasure.
So next time you see a white person wearing clothes traditionally worn in Asian cultures, instead of being offended, appreciate the artistry behind the garments and how we’re able to exchange and share cultures in an ever increasingly inter-connected World.
Time to hide before someone notices I’m a cis white male.