Is Cultural Appropriation Similar to Racism and Sexism? By Tan Yet Mee, Founder of Ecominim

By October 27, 2022No Comments

I was so fascinated by this topic when I first came across it, coming from a multicultural country.

The latest Fall 2022 Dior brand was accused that one of their skirt design was an appropriation of the traditional “mamianquin” “horseface” skirt, the Chinese netizens’ grouse were, they should have at least given some mention to Chinese History.

Kim Kardashian, reality star, caused a row, when she was accused of cultural appropriation for doing her hair in “Fulani” a Native African tribe cornrows for a fashion event. The reason she was called out, “she is not black”.

The reason the Dr Neal Lester, Arizona State University College explains at a Dr Phil show why cultural appropriation is bad, is because people have worked hard to create culture and the misapproproators use it without credit to the source.

According to him, cultural appropriation should be given the same importance as racism and sexism. My initial thoughts were, say what?

Whilst there is no denial about importance of respect for other cultures, but the fine line and obsession about anything a person from another culture does is considered an appropriation, does it not seem a little paranoid?

The most appropriated culture in the USA must be the Native American culture. And yet, to them, the fact that their culture has been adopted is a source of pride. Because they believe, in order to survive in their harsh land, learning and adopting from any source like how another tribe made fire from rubbing wood sticks meant survival of their own tribe.

Theirs is a culture of spreading knowledge not holding on to culture itself. Sustainability mindset was already in 200 years ago.

Used wrongly, cultural appropriation, can be a misguided a vehicle of herd mentality to incite hatred and unrest.

As long as I can remember, it is seen as a sign of respect to attend a Malay wedding or formal occassions in a baju kurung or baju Melayu or an Indian wedding in a saree or Diwali or celebrate CNY in clothes with cheongsamlike details.

In fact, the Sultan and Sultanah of Selangor recently posed in traditional Hindi garments in Diwali greetings for their beloved Indian rakyat.

We live in peace.

The thing is, is it an oversize ego or a victim mentality that brings forth such vehement protection of culture. I do agree that we should give credit of the origin where credit is due. In the case of Dior referencing a particular culture, if they did, should been have shouted out, and gave due its due. But how much shout out is enough before it is considered a cultural appropriation?

My take is, there won’t be misunderstanding or fight for appropriation when there is respect for each others’ culture. And we all must learn not to trivialise any such discussions not use racism or sexism for self motivated agendas.

What are your thoughts?

#culturalintelligence #culturalawareness #sustainabilitymatters

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