So this concept has been bothering me since the whole Miley Cyrus twerking thing started. After this a significant group of people started arguing about how terrible she was for her cultural appropriation. I must admit I was a little confused by this; I did not realize that there were styles of dance that were only allowed to be done by certain cultural groups.
The more I tried to understand more about the concept of cultural appropriation the more it confused me. As far as I understand it can only really happen to minority groups (whites and men cannot have anything culturally appropriated) and it involves taking or doing something (usually a behavior, sometimes a style of dress) invented or created by a minority group.
Frankly I’m confused on a number of levels. I really don’t see how Miley Cyrus twerking signified the stealing of the culture of African Americans (it signifies a number of other things I’m sure).
I find the whole idea of cultural appropriation to be mildly hypocritical. Basically people are arguing for equality, equal treatment, to be treated just like any other group (something I see to be a valid request from all people from all walks of life) and then they turn around and call out any one who “steals” from their culture. It’s like saying “I want to be treated like I’m part of a whole BUT I still want to be different” I feel like that’s like a woman saying that women are equal to men BUT I still want men to carry my stuff for me and hold doors for me because I like to feel special.
I see no reason why it is racist for a white girl to twerk, in the same way that I see no reason that it is sexist for a man to wear a dress. Seriously, if dresses are “women’s clothes” and women are a minority group isn’t it cultural appropriation for men to be doing or wearing something that is feminine?
The other question is: where the hell is this weird cultural appropriation line drawn? Why is it not racist for anyone who is not Cuban to be dancing salsa? Salsa is the new dance trend nowadays (it seems) and everyone is taking classes and restaurants are having salsa nights. This is just as much cultural appropriation as a white girl twerking is. Why are we all not fighting against non-Cubans salsaing?
At the moment we’re just talking about dances which, while they can be meaningful in certain settings, are not huge metaphysical concerns. Religion on the other hand is something that is incredibly meaningful. I have heard people argue that a white person being Muslim is cultural appropriation. I am truly astounded that religion is now supposed to have a color/race distinction. Religion is supposed to cross over petty human divides. It doesn’t matter what your color is; your belief is what is important.
As a concept I am confused by cultural appropriation. I don’t get the problem. Why should you not be allowed to dance a certain way just because of the color of your skin? This is just as ridiculous as not being allowed to sit on a certain part of a bus because of the color of your skin. Our behavior is inherently contradictory. We all talk about wanting to be equals and wanting everyone to be treated the same but we act in the opposite manner. We all want to be treated as individuals who are part of a small, exclusive group. “I’m a women so I’m going to this women only society, no men allowed BUT I don’t want to be treated like I am any different than a man”.
It seems like we are all a little confused. We want to be seen as equal to everyone in one big unity where everyone is the same but we also want to be seen as separate and recognized for what makes us separate. This doesn’t make sense to me and I don’t see how we can can have both.
The idea of cultural appropriation is not only indicative of this but it also signifies a much deeper hypocrisy we all seem to have. Certain types of cultural appropriation are okay. When it’s not our culture and when we like the things we are appropriating.
Think about it. How many of your behaviors and styles of cooking, eating, dressing, and dancing actually came from your specific cultures’ ancestors?