Cultural Appreciation, Lets preach it.

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With many of our previous post and media attention around cultural appropriation, its all about what we can’t do. Hoping to educate and inform people about the issue and in return be respected and understood, there instead has been a back lash of complaints and brash comments of “well we might as wear nothing cause you’ll always be offending someone”. And hey its hard to be told what you’re doing is wrong. No one likes being told the faults.

So its no surprise the attempt to educate others about cultural appropriation hasn’t be received with open arms. Instead we’ve decided instead of cultural appropriation we’re here to tell you how to appreciate all cultures with out the implications of appropriation. However remember that sometimes whether its cultural appropriation or appreciation is contextual, assess the situation with common sense. We’re only hoping to act as a helpful guideline (and even then we’re not always right).

Cultural appreciation is what it is. An appreciation of a culture, an act that does so in a truly respectful way. Often this can be seen in an act of cultural exchange, as Jarune Uwujaren (2013) describes it “an exchange” must be a mutual act of sharing (more than just a “here’s my culture, let me have some of yours”). Unlike cultural appropriation which only sees a dominate culture taking aspects of a minority.

So how can we appreciate a culture? 
– Do your research! Really go and find an understanding about the culture, understand the history behind the item which you’re thinking about wearing. Find the purpose of it and ultimately is up to you to take an educated step to decide if its appropriate to continue with your act.

– Other avenues! There are always other ways to appreciate a culture other than just by wearing their clothes. If people of that culture are adamant that you don’t do so then be respectful. Instead ask them how can I learn more about it? How can I truly immerse myself and appreciate your culture without being offensive? More often then not they’d be happy to share with you! Showing an interest is always awesome.

When is it appreciation and not appropriation?
– Immerse yourself! If a friend or someone invites you to participate, do so! They’re inviting you to a cultural immersion and exchange. I’ve seen friends go to Indian weddings wearing Saris as requested by the family. And there was nothing wrong with that. They did so with respect. Understood the situation to be appropriate, an act of celebration. They we’re invited, found the correct and respectful outfits and most of all both parties had fun!

These aren’t much to go off on but they’re a great way to appreciate culture in a way that doesn’t cross the boundaries of appropriation. But remember we can not speak for a culture as a whole and there will always be people who may not be as eager to share, or even see this as being too sensitive. To that we can only suggest a bit of common sense. Back off if you need to. Best of luck!

R.C.W – Stopping Cultural Appropriation

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Uwujaren, J (2013). “The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation”, Everyday Feminism. (x)  

“They know better and yet, they still don’t care.”

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Halloween is coming up and to many of us that means free candy, parties, dressing up and just a whole bunch of fun in general.

But for others it’s seeing what embodies your culture being turned into a tacky costume for one night as people parade around in store bought costumes of Native Americans, Mexicans, Japanese, Chinese and the list goes on.

PulleyWrites at diamondfordumps has written a post about her thoughts as she contemplates dressing up as Pocahontas this year for Halloween. A train of thoughts that soon delves into what it means to respect a culture. How a moment of fun for this Halloween overlooks decades of culture that people have fought to preserve.

Here I am thinking about how awesome it would be for me to dress up as Pocahontas and bite the culture that others are trying to preserve and honor.

Realising the errors of her ways, she ultimately sums up the thought process of what many think about Halloween costumes from the other side quite easily.  That many people do in fact understand that what they are doing maybe wrong but ultimately for a moment of fun, they just don’t care.

 I think all the time about the people who understand these things but just don’t care. They know better and yet, they still don’t care.

Instead we all encourage you to find something better to go as this Halloween (we reckon you’ll probably look better too). Stop cultural appropriation with a bit of education and with you!

Read more about PulleyWrites article “I Smell Halloween…and Cultural Appropriation”

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Image by DeusXFlorida found on Flickr (x). No modification has been done. Used under Creative Commons 2.0.

How can I avoid Cultural Appropriation?

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SO how can we all avoid cultural appropriation?

Well first thing, stopping it all beginnings with know what it is! Get EDUCATED.
Simply hit up our other post and find out what cultural appropriation is exactly and why its so important.

Now that you know what it is simply as your self these questions:
Am I offending a culture by wearing/doing this?
Has someone from that culture told me explicitly not to wear/do this?
If I do this will it alter the original meaning or eliminate the meaning behind the act/item?

If you answered to yes to any of these then hey take a step back they could be indicating that some cultural appropriation is going on here. Whilst this is just a short guide there are obviously   people (hopefully a small percentage) that do take it to the extreme and think everything is cultural appropriation. (Which unfortunately while their intentions may be good, does more harm in the long run when people start to think of cultural appropriation as a joke/non-existent). So if your educated, decide for yourself!

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Why should I care about cultural appropriation?

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Why should I care about cultural appropriation?

BECAUSE CULTURE IS IMPORTANT!

Simple as that!

Cultural appropriation is when a dominate culture takes aspects of a minority culture and changes it resulting in a loss of its traditional meaning and context.

A person’s culture embodies their values, heritage, tradition and history all which should not be belittled. Lets take a look at the Japanese Kimono. The kimono is a traditional garment made from the finest materials and only worm on very formal occasions. It is a very polite and reserved garment, with countless variations for different occasions. Yet cultural appropriation has taken such a garment and made it into a tacky  and skimpy costume often seen on music shows and halloween. And often or not such an appropriation incorporates other elements of other cultures (Chinese, Korean can anyone say orientalism?). Gone are the traditional elements and value of such a piece. So don’t do cultural appropriation.

Culture is important to everyone. Its all about respect. Appreciation not appropriate.

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‘Geisha’ image by Kate Nevens (all credit) used under Creative Commons 2.0. No alteration has been done. Source (x)

Share your experience about cultural appropriation with #stopthecult

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Cultural appropriation affects all, share with us why your culture matters to you and why we should appreciate and respect it.

With Halloween approaching we asked why culture shouldn’t be a costume. One of our follows shared with us their personal opinion about their culture.

I take a lot of pride in my native heritage. And every Halloween I see cultural appropriation everywhere when people ” dress up ” like native Americans. I feel like first of all they stole a nation and now they think it’s ok to try and be native for a night. My culture ( and any culture for that matter ) is not a costume.

dvmien.j (@dvmien.j)

‘Stop the Cult’ helps to educate people about cultural appropriation and why it matters. Share your opinions and experience of culture/cultural appropriation with the tag #stopthecult

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“You can wear it, But I can’t”

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Ishani Jasmin post on the commodification of culture hits close to home. With Halloween soon and up and coming how many of us have walked out at night and seen our culture as costumes. When we see that girl in the Kimono does she understand the cultural heritage behind it, the worth it carries? Does the guy in the poncho overtly stereotyped Mexican costume understand the racial stereotypes that his subtle pushing onto all those that see him. Whilst their intentions are never meant to harmful, in the long run just like Ishani Jasmin says

“our culture continues to be commodified”

Take a look at her post and the insight on the commodification of our culture. Be encouraged, stop cultural appropriation and understand the harm it does.

“I have somehow been locked out of a culture that I want to be proud of”

Beautifully well written. Check it out!
Ishani Jasmin “You can wear it, But I can’t” (x)
All quoted text and images belong to Ishani Jasmin, we at Stop The Cult take no credit and are only aiming to promote/discuss her post. Thank you.

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