Cultural Appropriation

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Cultural Appropriation

Post by Alatar »

I know it looks like I'm trying to pick a fight but I'm really not. I just wonder would this be considered Cultural appropriation in the US?

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/ ... -irish-rap
‘People are vibing off each other’s cultures’: Hare Squead and the rise of Irish rap
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Cerin »

I don't think these artists would be criticized in the U.S for doing rap, because they are people of color. White Irish kids doing rap might be another story. Is that what you meant?
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by yovargas »

I agree with Cerin, I doubt there would be much criticism (there's always some from somebody somewhere.....)
That said, more generally, I have no idea what people mean by "appropriation" or why it's considered a problem. I've legitimately tried to listen to people's thoughts and concerns about it and still don't understand why it's a thing I'm supposed to care about.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

This is an issue that I have dealt with a fair amount, because there is a segment of the African-American community that is not happy with white folks who play African drums. I have not, however, ever encountered an African who feels that way.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Sunsilver »

To me, cultural appropriation is a white kid dressing up as a native American for Halloween, or someone from some other culture they aren't part of.

I think we need to use common sense when it comes to being butthurt about these things. (Okay, I remember both my brother and I wearing Indian...er, Native American...costumes for Halloween... :oops: but we were just kids, and the costumes were home-made, except for the wooden tomahawk my parents bought me at a native craft store in Midland, Ontario.)

I'd be more upset at the companies that profit from something like this (the ones that market the costumes.)

Sometimes imitation is a form of flattery. How many North Americans love to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, even when their claims to any Irish blood are many generations back (or maybe even non-existent, I mean who's going to check their DNA??)

Then there's a member of the Tolkien community who loves to wear kimonos, even though she's from the Caribbean. She's a huge fan of Japanese anime, too. I have never heard anyone complain about that being cultural appropriation. :scratch:

Where do you draw the line?

Is it really that wrong to take something from another culture, and celebrate it because you like it, and enjoy it? (Voronwë's drumming would be an excellent example.)

I think it would only be wrong if it were mocking or stereotyping that culture. An example of this would be the old 'black face' song and dance routines. And, of course, Hollywood and just about every Western ever made that features 'Injuns'... :roll:
Last edited by Sunsilver on Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by yovargas »

Sunsilver wrote:Then there's a member of the Tolkien community who loves to wear kimonos, even though she's from the Carribean.
It is extremely rare to hear accusations of "appropriation" directed at non-whites. At least in my experience.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Sunsilver »

Hmm...you have a point there, Yov! :wimper:

And that's no doubt because whites have been the ones who most often 'appropriate' stuff, without giving any credit to the culture from which it came.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Inanna »

I find cultural appropriation so *stupid*. Not only that, it’s counter-productive for the minorities too.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Frelga »

Alatar wrote:I know it looks like I'm trying to pick a fight but I'm really not.
Are you sure? Image
I just wonder would this be considered Cultural appropriation in the US?

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/ ... -irish-rap
‘People are vibing off each other’s cultures’: Hare Squead and the rise of Irish rap
I don't see why it would but other people are entitled to a range of opinions, and I have no investment in either culture.

Things that I would consider an example of appropriation:

Using symbols that are hard earned in the source culture as mere decorations, like a Medal of Honor or a war bonnet.

Using a deeply spiritual practice as mere exercise. Imagine a Mass reduced to a series of standing and sitting (do people kneel?).

Performing a form of art originating in a source culture for money while people from that culture are barred from commercial success. Think Elvis rising to stardom with gospel-influenced music at a time when that kind of success was not possible for a black singer. The problem was not with Elvis, imo, it was with the entertainment industry of the day. That is probably what V is running up against - the perception that white people are taking not just the music but the benefits of performing it, and also why people from Africa don't view it that way.

The use of symbols of the source culture in the context of the culture that has a history of violence and oppression toward the source culture, or why I am not prepared to see a German wear a hamsa as jewelry when I am fine with Americans doing that. That's a tricky one, and the reason why you rarely see accusations of appropriation leveled at people of color - there is no history oppression by their culture of, say, the Irish.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Dave_LF »

Frelga wrote:That's a tricky one, and the reason why you rarely see accusations of appropriation leveled at people of color - there is no history oppression by their culture of, say, the Irish.
But is color a culture?

I know it sounds teasing or snarky to ask, but I think it's a legitimate question. Race, culture, and ethnicity are all so hopelessly conflated...
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Sunsilver »

Come to think of it, one of the biggest cultural appropriations of all time is the appropriation of a religious holiday (Christmas) by a very large percentage of the world's population!

This has resulted in the holiday losing most of its original meaning.

Most Christians just sigh and shrug, and mark the holiday in their own way, with church attendance and carols, and trying their best to minimize the secular, commercial aspect by keeping gift giving to a minimum, helping the less fortunate, and donating money to charity instead.
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Frelga »

It isn't, but it is a shorthand for the plethora of cultures where most people have darker skin.

It would be more precise to say "people whose background is in cultures throughout the world that suffered from European colonialism and imperialism" but that kind of language doesn't play to mainstream.

Eta: that was to Dave, I x-posted with Sunny.
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Jude »

Sunsilver wrote:Come to think of it, one of the biggest cultural appropriations of all time is the appropriation of a religious holiday (Christmas) by a very large percentage of the world's population!

This has resulted in the holiday losing most of its original meaning.

Most Christians just sigh and shrug, and mark the holiday in their own way, with church attendance and carols, and trying their best to minimize the secular, commercial aspect by keeping gift giving to a minimum, helping the less fortunate, and donating money to charity instead.
Well, actually, in this case the original cultural appropriation was the appropriation by Christians of 25 December as the birth of their founding member :P
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Alatar »

Probably the first time I ever heard something like this was when Paul Simon brought out Gracelands. While many of us appreciated our first exposure to South African music, he was accused of plundering their culture for his personal gain. The same accusation was leveled at him for Rhythm of the Saints. Yet, if it weren't for Paul Simon, would Ladysmith Black Mambazo have ever achieved the fame they did?

Of course, now I hear a lot about it, particularly with white people wearing Dreadlocks. It really makes no sense to me.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Frelga »

As well as scores of Pagan customs, such as decorating a tree. Although that may be less of an appropriation and more said Pagans holding on to aspects of their culture while being assimilated into the Christian world.

Eta: x-posted again!
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Sunsilver »

Yeah, Jude, I was going to mention that, but decided not to complicate things! :)

The tree-decorating thing actually came from Germany, through the British royal family's ties to that country. But I think it was originally a Norse custom.
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Frelga »

Alatar wrote:Probably the first time I ever heard something like this was when Paul Simon brought out Gracelands. While many of us appreciated our first exposure to South African music, he was accused of plundering their culture for his personal gain. The same accusation was leveled at him for Rhythm of the Saints. Yet, if it weren't for Paul Simon, would Ladysmith Black Mambazo have ever achieved the fame they did?

Of course, now I hear a lot about it, particularly with white people wearing Dreadlocks. It really makes no sense to me.
Al, since your stated purpose is to get people see other points of view, perhaps it would be a helpful exercise to see the perspective of people who are upset by these things?

Using quotes this time because x-post won't catch me again!
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

Terry Pratchett, Small Gods
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Alatar »

Well, I understand the perspective of Native Americans objecting to Tribal headgear, but nobody has ever properly explained to me why wearing dreads is offensive. Its not like they are a religious artifact.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Frelga »

Who do you hear it from?
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

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Re: Cultural Appropriation

Post by Sunsilver »

Culture is not static, it's very fluid. That's what makes 'cultural appropriation' somewhat difficult to define.

I saw an interesting video on YouTube yesterday, where a group of people from different countries talked about their country, and were asked what other nationalities they might have trouble relating to. Then, each was asked to donate a tube of saliva to determine their ancestry, using DNA.

Many of the people thought the would turn out to be 100% (whatever their country of origin was).
Most of them who thought this turned out to be 100% WRONG!

And this is why I think it's pretty stupid for someone to say, "Hey, THIS belongs to MY culture! You can't have it!"

There are exceptions, of course, such as articles of religious significance, or honours that have been won at great cost (war medals, for example).

And I do appreciate that some cultures/people who have been oppressed may be sensitive about sharing with the oppressors.
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.
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