Frustration is that feeling you get when you see idiots waging arguments about issues that are distorted by their anger and inbred prejudices and sincerely wanting to correct them, but knowing that any attempt at reasonable discourse will fall on selectively deaf ears inviting nothing but venomous drivel in return.
I once heard someone say something along the lines of:
If you need government to protect your culture, then your culture is already dead
These cultural appropriation-ists should consider this within a broader context.
Whether or not cultural appropriation is true, for me, is a side issue. The real issue is how did it get to the point where others felt comfortable enough to insult a culture without any fear of consequence? Relying on the respect of others is obviously a foolhardy exercise, but the moment you bend and sway in what you do or don’t practise in your own culture, you automatically end up taking from other cultures, or at best, contaminate your own culture to the point where it makes it fair game for others to do the same.
Cultures have evolved and absorbed external influences for eons before the advent of the Internet, and as can be seen, the more connected we are, the greater the chances of cultural cross-contamination, if that is even a fair term to use. The surprising thing for me is how people are happy to cry foul when they see others ‘usurping’ their cultural heritage without due consideration for its roots and meanings, while they themselves openly embellish their lives with items or aspects from the culture of those they’re taking exception to.
This is all starting to feel too adult for me. I prefer playing with kids. They usually have no hidden agendas, political motives, or underhanded suspicions. If I imitate them, they’re happy, and if they imitate me, I’m happy, and we give and take without keeping score. All adults know is to be territorial as if puberty makes it compulsory for them to mark their territory. These adult games are ridiculous. Adults need to learn from children again, before the current template of adult role models all but eliminates any traces of the innocence of childhood.
This is for cynicallyjaded, who was interested in my views on cultural appropriation.
I feel that the careless throwing around of the term cultural appropriation somewhat deligitimises it when it actually occurs. A non-native wearing Native American tribal headdresses and prancing around with facepaint on, or someone wearing a bindi with no regard for the meaning behind it; that is what I understand to be cultural appropriation, and when used in that context, then yes, it is a problem and it does happen.
Cultural appropriation is so much more than someone simply wearing the clothes of another culture; or eating the food of another culture. I agree that imitation and appropriation are two completely different things; which it seems a lot of people on tumblr don’t understand.
Now, the reason why I became annoyed with the term being thrown around, is because the things that were being said were along the lines of ‘white reverts and reverts in general feel cut off from their own cultures so they appropriate Arab culture and fetishise it.’
I felt that that was offensive to reverts who are genuinely trying to follow Islam without any interference from culture. I just want people to think before they completely debase and alienate us reverts by making it out like we’re trying to steal everyone’s cultures. If you do meet a revert who you think is ‘appropriating Arab or Asian culture’, then why not speak to them about it, and give them naseeha, as opposed to making angry tumblr posts on the topic.
If people want to take up a cause; why don’t we deal with the sheer amount of racism in the ummah? Or our Muslim brothers and sisters who are imprisoned? Or our brothers and sisters in other countries being tortured and oppressed. Just saying, there are bigger issues at hand here.
(Anyway, cynicallyjaded, I generally agreed with the views expressed in your post.)
I agree with your views as well. The part I missed in my post was when cultural traditions are used mockingly by others not of that culture. In that case, they’re just downright disrespectful, and again, would probably have a cultural void of their own, hence their need to legitimise their rootless stupidity by ridiculing the culture of others.
But if not done offensively, I find it difficult to imagine any good reason for someone to take exception to others adopting or even adapting their cultural practises to fill a need in their own life. Even cultures themselves have variations of practises and traditions within their own groups, Indians being a typical example. You have the Indian culture itself, and then you have the castes within the culture that have various permutations of how certain cultural practises are observed.
But for some, such variations are only allowed if you’re of the same racial or ethnic background, which is somewhat hypocritical (in my opinion), since that would tend towards racism or bigotry rather than a defence against cultural appropriation.
To me, it sounds like a desperate effort on the part of those with barely any roots to lay claim to a culture that they don’t understand, will probably never fully appreciate, will subscribe to selectively, and are using it purely as a tool to establish some sort of elitism because they lack any credibility elsewhere in their lives.
Imitation is supposed to be the best compliment, so next time you see someone appropriating your culture, thank them. Their efforts will probably contribute more to the preservation of your cultural roots than your efforts to claim guardianship over something you probably had nothing to do with regarding its establishment.
Of course, if someone is actively trying to alter the truth about the roots of a specific cultural practice, by all means correct them. But more often than not, the debates around this on Tumblr is about others practising some elements of a different culture that they don’t naturally belong to, and that is then misconstrued as appropriation. It’s not. It’s imitation or adoption, but not appropriation.
In my mind, the Europeans going into Eastern lands, colonising it, destroying its historical records and recreating a new adulterated view about the sources of the knowledge and culture that they now claim to own, is cultural appropriation. Seems like most don’t understand the difference between imitation and appropriation.
- The action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.
- The artistic practice or technique of reworking images from well-known paintings, photographs, etc., in one’s own work.
This entire debate about cultural appropriation, especially within the context of this wonderful global village that everyone is always happy to celebrate and be a part of, is superfluous.