There is something called ‘cultural appropriation, ’ and it’s a terrible thing; it is racist, insulting, oppressive and downright confusing. It is an unavoidable factor in human activity, and it has been around for as long as, well, for as long as culture itself. The left’s social justice warriors (SJWs) have decided to condemn the practice but – since pretentious leftists are the ones most guilty of it – they must now keep trying to explain and define it in ways that let them off the hook, whilst still beating the rest of us over our heads with it.
To unravel the problem, we should start by defining it: Basically, it is the practice of taking something from another culture and incorporating it into our lives or our behavior. It could be an item of clothing, a hairstyle, belief or pretty much anything else. Having established what cultural appropriation means, we must now decide if it is such a terrible thing to do and, if so, why?
Most right-thinking people would probably agree that if one takes something from another culture; say, a traditional costume – with the express purpose of demeaning and ridiculing that culture – then one is guilty of engaging in racism. What if that is not the intent, however? Perhaps, the act of adopting something from another culture is an individual’s way of saying “Hey! This thing from another culture is cool (or practical or stylish or spiritually significant) to me; more so than things from my own culture. I will, therefore, incorporate it into my life.”
How can this be racist or demeaning or oppressive? Why does it have to be weighed down with a negative connotation? The answer is simple: Those on the right tend to have a positive, optimistic outlook and believe that good things – and better things – are always possible; left-wingers have a negative outlook. They are always looking for the cloud within the silver lining. There always has to be a victim. Every deed and word must, somehow, negatively affect someone else. Right-wingers see the glass as half full; left-wingers see the glass as mostly empty and, probably, because some rich white man came along and drank most of what was in the glass.
If we accept the notion that cultural appropriation is a bad thing, then liberals are the guiltiest; in particular, white, middle-class, liberal women. Many of them – possibly more than any other demographic – have a tendency to wear ethnic clothing, eat ethnic food, wear ethnic jewelry and practice yoga or appropriate spiritual beliefs and customs from other cultures. By SJW standards, therefore, this is most racist and oppressive demographic in America today.
How does the social justice warrior reconcile the fact that non-white cultures are equally as guilty of cultural appropriation? How does that fit with their narrative that the practice is, basically, a manifestation of racist tendencies?
Let us use dreadlocks as an example. Although this hairstyle is commonly associated with black people and, particularly, with the Rastafarian culture, it most likely originated in India, although some would say Egypt. Rastafarianism is more a religion than a culture and the adoption of dreadlocks is probably connected to religious tradition. That doesn’t alter the fact that blacks appropriated this style from another culture. Some white people (and probably quite a few SJWs) also wear their hair in dreadlocks. Apparently, this is a terrible thing, but why? Does it demean black people? Why do black people have more right than white people to wear dreadlocks? After all, they didn’t invent that style; they appropriated it.
The SJW needed a way of exempting everyone who is not white from accusations of racism. He, she or it soon dreamt up the way to do that; In Everyday Feminism, Maisha Johnson calls for a “deeper understanding” of cultural appropriation. She defines it as a “power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.” Translation; white people are the only ones who can be accused of cultural appropriation.
How convenient? Although it still doesn’t let all those white, middle-class, liberal women off the hook.
Johnson goes on to further exempt people of color thusly; cultural appropriation, she says, is “not the same as assimilation, when marginalized people adopt elements of the dominant culture to survive conditions that make life more of a struggle if they don’t.” The flaw in this argument is the implication of necessity; the overwhelming majority of non-white racial groups in the modern, western world choose to dress in western-style clothing and even adopt western names. One can argue that they feel this is necessary, to better assimilate, but to say they do it “in order to survive” is a stretch.
No-one needs to use a telephone or watch television to survive. No-one needs to play soccer or football or tennis to survive. No-one needs to dress in a kilt in order to survive. No-one needs to go by the name Kevin. Non-white people have done all these things, and all of them were invented by white people, so it is a matter of non-whites choosing to adopt practices from another culture. That is cultural appropriation and, since it is not done out of need, it must be motivated by racism.
Why can’t we all just agree that borrowing from other cultures is an acknowledgment that those things we borrow are, in our opinion, better, more useful or just more desirable than things from our own culture?
Apparently, white people who play – or even listen to – blues music are guilty of cultural appropriation. The black blues musician who gains fame and fortune playing the harmonica, an instrument invented by a white man, is not. Confused? Join the club.
As if the entire subject wasn’t laughable enough, let’s make it truly hilarious: PJ Media columnist Tom Knighton came upon a particularly whacky blog, The Establishment, in which cultural appropriation has found a new set of victims; the poor. According to writer Julie Westhale, no-one who isn’t poor should choose to do things that poor people do. The trend for living in ‘tiny houses’ is offensive to those who experience real poverty. If all you can afford is to live in a trailer or a very small house, you are being insulted by wealthier people who choose to do so, even though they could afford more spacious living quarters.
“And it’s not just the Tiny House Movement that incites my discontent. From dumpster diving to trailer-themed bars to haute cuisine in the form of poor household staples, it’s become trendy for those with money to appropriate the poverty lifestyle…,” Westhale writes. Tellingly, she goes on “…and it troubles me for one simple reason. Choice.”
Yes, that’s right; for social justice warriors, the problem is free will. Every one of us should live, dress, act and speak in a manner that befits our station in life and racial heritage. The moment one chooses to step outside that boundary, one is oppressing and victimizing someone else. So, the wealthy family who chooses to live in a mansion is evil because, well, they live in a mansion. If that family wants to move into a tiny house and live a more frugal lifestyle, they are insulting poor people.
To explain cultural appropriation as an oppressive and racist practice is the ultimate form of segregation. To extend the concept to the boundaries between rich and poor is the ultimate form of class warfare. Only radical, left-wing moon bats could take an aspect of human behavior that is so central to cultural development and turn it into something negative. That is what they do, however; they suck all the joy out of life.
So, if you want to please progressives, be miserable, don’t disagree with them, don’t joke and don’t stray from your race or your socio-economic status. Social justice or social division? You tell me?