Cultural appropriation is a sensitive topic. Cultural appropriating consists of taking important pieces of culture from a minority and trying to make the custom appear as if it was an idea generated from a majority. Evidently, this is not acceptable.
It’s often argued that our society has become overly sensitive to any sort of “appreciation of diversity.” There seems to be a right way and a wrong way to be racially integrated. Nit-picking the do’s and don’ts of different communities can tend to be a tedious activity with the inevitable result of never satisfying everyone. So, by default, people often don’t bother being politically correct. However, this is utterly moronic and ridiculous. It is not, and should not be a so-called inconvenience to treat others with respect.
A recurring problem seems to be that when someone of colour wears something from their culture, they are often ridiculed and the costume is stigmatized. But, if someone famous often is not always of Caucasian descent) is to do the same, they are congratulated on their “unique” fashion choices and rewarded by being given credit for “their” idea.
A Quebec made gin called “Ungava” used the Ungava Peninsula in Nunavik, an Inuit territory, as its brand name. The alcohol bottle is riddled with Inuit syllabics as “exotic” logo decor for their product. The company’s founder and president, Charles Crawford, says the intent was to capitalize the land from where the gin is produced and to celebrate the region itself. Although the intent was honorable, how would the Nunavummiut (Ungava Inuit) benefit from the juniper berry plant being harvested from their land as well as their language and identity trademarked to advertise a product? Perhaps this would be beneficial if the company were to share the profits with the residents of Ungava Peninsula, but instead the company is exploiting their culture in exchange for cold, heartless cash.
The issue with not being politically correct is that people want to be able to indulge in other customs without being fully immersed and dealing with the societal affects of the culture. They want to take pieces of other customs and try to adapt them as their own, often trying to westernize them. People may say that as it is a style, that it is free to be worn by anyone, but it is stealing.
The infamous Indigenous Native American headdresses always cause a stir in the over boiled pot that is society. Once again, those who don a headdress or a similar type of “accessory” will argue that it is purely for artistic and self-expressive sake. Self-expression is important, but disregarding past conflicts (as the British and French believed Native American ways were barbaric and henceforth tried to Europeanize them.) Some might say it is merely an appreciation of the different lifestyle and marvel of the beauty and design of the headdresses. But, how is taking a piece of Native American identity and turning it into a western trend for Halloween being respectful? Native American culture has been blatantly disrespected and ridiculed for centuries, yet only when it conveniences white people is it seen as beautiful.
In the early 2000’s, females and some males of African descent would braid their hair in the style of cornrows. This is composed of many tiny braids tightly weaved onto one’s scalp in a neat and tidy fashion. It was a “ghetto” or “trashy” hairstyle for people of color, but once Caucasian women and men took to the trend, it began to be popular. At some point in fashion, there was an odd attempt to re brand cornrows as “favorite resort hair look,” which is despicable and insulting to the original creators of this style, who have been consistently treated horrifically.
In turn, all of this is humiliating and dehumanizing for those who are victims of cultural appropriation. Those who are a part of where the customs or costumes originated from feel as if they’ve been cheated from what they are entitled to, the right to their identity. Culture is a part of the environment that shapes who one is as a person, and it is a source of pride in who one is, especially in a society where fair representation is rarely seen in the media.
It’s always important to learn about different ethnicities and customs as humanity has come far from the days when everyone was ethnocentric. Reverting to those days would only cause society to walk backwards from all the progress we have made. People need to learn to adapt to what is morally right. Sexism and homophobia was accepted as the norm 50 or so years ago, but mankind has started to attempt to treat everyone around us equally. Without becoming zealots of political correctness, it’s important to keep making progress towards a future society that respects the differences between one another, and learns that all people are created equally. That we might have a society that respects one another. Equality isn’t just about rights, it’s also about respect.
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