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)  

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Fashionably Trendy Cultural Appropriation?

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Cultural appropriation in recent years has been highlighted by cultural items becoming fashion accessories, traditional clothing becoming tacky costumes and fashion styles that sometimes have questionable influences.

But we’re here to ask where can the line between cultural appropriation and appreciation be drawn in fashion? When does a fashion item become an act of cultural appropriation? Can we call it a “cultural influence” with respect or an act of appropriation that disrespects?

Recent festival trends have seen the popularisation of native headdresses, bindis and temporary “tribal tattoos” as the must have fashion accessories to these events. Coachella sees an influx of young girls wearing bindis on their forehead (so much so a hashtag #reclaimthebindi was ignited).

So when is fashion cultural appropriation? Well we’d have to say that sometimes it just takes some common sense. Are you taking an item that traditionally is regarded with high respect?Used on special occasions? Signifies an importance in a culture?When you’re using it does it still mean the same thing? Answered yes? Yep most likely that fashion trend is cultural appropriation.

That being said that doesn’t mean fashion can’t be influenced or draw from other cultures. Fashion can exhibit other cultures yet still be respectful and not be appropriating. Designers such as Akira Isogawa and Bethany Yellowtail both incorporate elements of a culture into their clothing with respect. Akira Isogawa sees Western influenced designs paired with  Japanese fabrics that exhibits creativity from both culture without appropriation. Similarly Bethany Yellowtail designs clothing with a Native American influence that aims to redfine beauty and experience of culture. Both sharing culture through fashion with the aim of appreciation rather then a loss of meaning through appropriation.

So next time you wear an item that you’ve given a second thought about and you’re unsure if its cultural appropriation. Ask yourself.
Are you taking an item that traditionally is regarded with high respect?Used on special occasions? Signifies an importance in a culture?When you’re using it does it still mean the same thing?

(Obviously a bit of common sense will also help, there’s no need to question everything you wear. Unless its about how clean your clothes are after a week and if they smell. Which is yes they do.)

R.C.W – Stopping Cultural Appropriation

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Akira Isogawa work can be found at (x)
Bethany Yellowtail work can be found at (x)
Ongley, H. 2015 “#ReclaimTheBindi: 8 Important Lessons About Cultural Appropriation and Coachella”. (x)

Cultural Appropriation vs Cultural Assimilation

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Appropriation? Assimilation? Appreciation? What is all this?

Why can they do it but we can’t? Isn’t the same thing? Isn’t this just double standards?

All these questions float around when the topic of cultural appropriation comes about usually in the comments. However are three main terms that many people often get confused with when discussing cultural appropriation. One may start commenting on cultural appropriation when actually what it really is is appreciation or assimilation. So here we are to help clear everything up and help you understand where your argument stands!

First off cultural appropriation what is it?
When elements of a minority culture are taken by members of a more dominant culture for their own use. This results in the original context to become distorted and it’s meaning reduced. Those taking elements of the culture do not experience the same cultural significance.

and what about cultural assimilation?
This is the process by which elements of a dominant culture are take by members of a minority culture this often occurs when a minority enters into a dominate culture and assimilates in order to survive.

The difference between the two terms answers the commonly repeated questions about cultural appropriation of ‘Well if they do it why can’t I?” or “Isn’t this double standards?”

Unfortunately in this society not all cultures are perceived as equal. That’s the truth. Minorities take on aspects of dominate cultures to survive or be accepted (or even to hopefully perceived as equals). Where as cultural appropriation sees dominate cultures taking on elements of a minority often for the sake of being ‘trendy’, ‘fashionable’ etc

And then recently we’ve been seeing cultural appreciation
What is this? Well from what we gathered it is when people take the time to learn, educated and understand a culture before taking an educated decision to express the culture in way that does not offend ands till respect it.

However to speak for a whole culture is incredibly hard and there will be inevitable be people who will be offended. So when attempting to do cultural appreciation tread lightly and be aware.

We hope this has helped you out in learning more about cultural appropriation!

R.C.W – Stopping Cultural Appropriation

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Definition by Young, J 2010, Cultural Appropriation and the Arts.
Definitions by Encyclopaedia Britannia (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”

R.C.W – Stopping Cultural Appropriation @ Stop The Cult
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Image by DeusXFlorida found on Flickr (x). No modification has been done. Used under Creative Commons 2.0.

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

R.C.W – Stopping Cultural Appropriation @ Stop The Cult
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