Tags: appropriation

cultural appreciation vs appropriation

Here is an excellent piece from the unitarian universalist organization about this-- i've excerpted some of their questions here.

There are a number of questions that "borrowers" need to ask themselves:

1. How much do I know about this particular tradition; how do I respect it and not misrepresent it?
2. What do I know of the history and experience of the people from whom I am borrowing?
3. Is this borrowing distorting, watering down, or misinterpreting the tradition?
4. Is the meaning changed?
5. Is this overgeneralizing this culture (remind yourself that any culture can be quite diverse). When pieces of a culture are taken out of context, robbing them of power and meaning, problems arise.
6. What is the motivation for cultural borrowing? What is being sought and why?
7. How do the "owners" of the tradition feel about pieces of the tradition being borrowed?
8. If artifacts and/or rituals are being sold, where does the money go?
9. Is this really spiritually healthy for Unitarian Universalists? When we, as a religious tradition borrow rituals from other cultures, we lose the significant meaning they take on from the community in which they are based. We risk becoming impersonators.
10. How can we acknowledge rather than exploit the contributions of all people?

There is no one answer in dealing with issues of cultural appropriation. However, as a movement committed to a responsible search for truth and meaning, it is imperative to try to answer some of the difficult questions and to act accordingly.

edit: original piece from here: http://www.uua.org/re/reach/winter01/social_justice/reckless.html
cookie monster: 'me gotta be blue'

More on privilege, acculturation and assimilation

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**This is from reappropriate.com again in response to her Asiaphile post. I think you'll find her comments re: culture and what that is...especially for hyphenated identites---very useful. There is an LJ feed of her site---though I don't know how to link it. I bolded a paragraph that I thought relevant to taxishoes post on names and appropriation.**

Cultural Appropriation and White Privilege

In this country white people feel like they ARE the culture. And that when they "accept" other groups into "their" culture (it could be debated how far other groups are accepted-- but that's a different issue), they still feel like America is White culture. So, from that mindset, they come up with the argument that specific things belonging to non-white groups and cultures are still under the umbrella of White culture, therefore ours for the taking.

That's what white privilege is about right? Not only the obvious and clear privilege, but when it comes to something as (often) intangible as culture and cultural belongings, whites still feel that they are the umbrella everyone else falls under-- above cultural boundaries so products of other cultures are ours for the taking.

Then somehow that extends globally. Everyone else creates and then we go and take what we want.
Am I getting anywhere with this or just rambling/repeating old points?

Two things that I have seen lately....

Walmart apologizes to black man for bad check accusation

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And, also when people ask about cultural appropriation and you need a clear cut example. This artist demonstrates perfectly what cultural appropriation is. Empire Isis . Taken from Empire Isis. She used to record under this name, Sarai.

The thing that bothers me most about this video besides the really bad accent, and the borrowing of other people's cultures, is the part where she walks between the two people "fighting" and resolves all their problems, just by placing her arm around them.

"Empress Gangsta seasons English lyrics with Spanish, Patios, French, Portuguese, Arabic, and Swahili. The song “What Ya Say ‘Bout Dat” expresses her social conscience, spirituality and one-world philosophy- Empress Gangsta-style."

Mimicry is not flattery, there's a particular reason that people have the patois and accents that they have, which is because people are from those areas. I'm sure there are jamaican, african, portuguese, arab, french and spanish performers with conscious lyrics and spirituality.
cross on rock

Jazz... now only for the rich and white?

America's new jazz museum! (No poor black people allowed): Jazz musicians warn against the Disney-fication of New Orleans.

Source: Salon.com

Oct. 12, 2005 | It took a Category 5 hurricane to do it, but Katrina managed to blow jazz back onto the American radar screen. Those TV montages of physical devastation and desperate souls were accompanied by strains of New Orleans jazz, those benefit concerts filled with saxes and trumpets; the reporters arriving to cover it all flew into Louis Armstrong Airport. Save for the media-friendly efforts of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and PBS poster boy Ken Burns, jazz rarely gets such play.

Much as we Americans like to pay lip service to jazz as "our national music," with the Crescent City its seminal home, we tend to favor jazz's quality as aural decoration over its contents as oral history; we stock up on classic reissues of past masters but rarely consider the music's meaning in our current lives.

The many high-profile jazz-based Katrina benefits -- including a five-hour Lincoln Center affair hosted by Marsalis, with Burns among its stars -- brought more than just jazz's sound into our lives. Placed in stark relief was whether jazz -- which Burns' 19-hour PBS series famously cast as a signal of American values and virtues on the order of the Constitution -- still carries currency when it comes to the issues Katrina raised: cultural identity, race, poverty, and basic decency.
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About appropriation...

A friend of mine recently posted in her journal, her personal feelings regarding white folks and dreadlocks (or mattlocks). Her post was met mostly with the response of "it's a free country, we can do whatever we want to".

I just wanted to hear a broader response on the subject...but read this article first.

EDITED TO ADD: I realize that I should have also said that I am a black woman, who has been growing dreadlocks for 12 years. My daughter also has dreads. Dreads to me are NOT a hairstyle. For me they are a one of the ways I fight the white racist standards of beauty that have been shoved down my throat since the moment that I stepped out of my mother's womb.