Cultural Appropriation... Welcome back to the Train Station - this month we take a deeper dive into a complex, layered, confusing and emotional topic. Confused? Angry? Feeling shame? Defiant? Fearful of engaging? Yeah - welcome to Grand Central Station, views going all which ways, lots of noise and is anything really moving?!! Read on...
Let's define cultural appropriation... Cultural appropriation is the adoption or theft of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards and behavior from one culture or subculture by another. It generally is applied when the subject culture is a minority or somehow subordinate in social, political, economic or military status to the appropriating culture. It often occurs without any real understanding of why the original culture took part in these activities or the meanings behind them, dishonoring the original meaning or significance.
This YouTube video breaks down the issue into simple terms, addresses some common objections and yet also recommends we take the deeper dive into understanding the experience of those who are/have been marginalized.
Did you know??...
Up until 1978 (only 41 years ago!!!) it was illegal for American Indians to practice or discuss their teachings or ceremonies in public without fear of retaliation or incarceration. Yet, even while it was illegal for indigenous people to practice their own religion and culture, white folks were freely using or mimicking such practices! It was not until the passage of the Indian Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1978 that American Indians were legally able to practice their traditional beliefs. No wonder Cultural Appropriation is so impactful!
1. Be aware, be mindful - note the rituals you practice, the music you listen to, and the clothes you wear. Where did these originate? How did they get to you? Make your choices conscious ones.
2. Be curious - with humility, ask questions. How did this come about? What was it's purpose? Is this a sacred practice in that culture? Do the research. Don't assume.
3. Look at impact - Who is impacted by your cultural and spiritual choices? In what way? Find out! Impacts are not inherently good or bad. You get to decide. Remember, your good intentions do not negate your impacts!
4. Educate yourself and others - how did this custom come to you? Was it shared or was it taken? Was there a price paid? By whom and why? Learn their cultural history and your ancestor's roles in that history. Learn, acknowledge and speak the truth. Share what you've learned with others.
5. Create connection - true relationship overcomes "otherness." Step out of your comfort zone. Make a new connection with someone whose culture differs from yours. Be truly curious. Ask about their cultural practices. Step into their world rather than inviting them into yours, and ask permission - check your privilege!
6. Work toward social justice - How can you contribute toward a more equitable community and world? What positive action can you take? What results will you declare? If not you, who? If not now, when?