My household has been busy recently, including a vacation in Galveston, visiting new babies on both my wife’s side and my side, starting swim lessons, and having birthday parties (BWF) and dance recitals (RLF). I also wrote an introspective and melancholy Father’s Day post.
Hopefully those are good excuses for not posting on this Verily blog in a while. But I have wanted to write here, and several topics have fluttered around in my brain. One of them is “cultural appropriation”.
Three years ago, I wrote a bit about “Columbusing” — which is related to but not exactly like cultural appropriation. In that entry though I focused specifically on meat pasties because of the NPR article that had caught my attention and didn’t drive toward a discussion of cultural appropriation — which is what I want to do soon.
As with any social or political viewpoint, I can be convinced with logical explanations, evidence, and clear definitions. This happened to me on the topics global warming and climate change, progressive taxation, gay marriage, and other issues. I changed my position once I more fully understood each topic. That might happen on cultural appropriation too. (My current position is: “I don’t really understand what the fuss is about, but I plan to learn more.”)
One problem is that I haven’t found a good working definition of it — certainly not a definition that fits all the scenarios. In specific instances I do understand the problem. For example when white people adopt hair styles traditionally associated with black people, and are praised for it, while black people are still kicked out of school or denied jobs for the same hair styles — there is a problem. But that problem is systemic ubiquitous racism, at least to my mind. It’s the fact that we (as a society) still treat people differently due to perceived race/ethnicity, even when we don’t intend to.
I hope to dig more deeply soon, because I don’t want to merely “I’m not convinced” my way through something that others claim is an issue. I want to know for sure. If any of my readers have more fully formed thoughts on cultural appropriation, feel free to share them in the comments below. It might help shape my research and writing on the topic. Thanks.