Many people don’t know the consequences of cultural appropriation. When people are appropriating a culture, they usually think that they are appreciating the culture when they are actually appropriating. The definition of cultural appropriation is said in the article “What’s Wrong with Cultural Appropriation?” by Maisha Z. Johnson that “cultural appropriation is when somebody adopts aspects of a culture that’s not their own.” as a basic definition. She also says “A deeper understanding of cultural appropriation also refers to a particular power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.” For example white people wearing cornrows or dreadlocks when that is a part of African American and Jamaican culture and religion. As Matt Sailor says in “How Dreadlocks Work” Jamaican people have dreadlocks because they believe it is “an ascetic's vow not to alter God's creation through grooming.” Jamaican Rastafarians say that “Rastas see dreadlocks as a way to keep themselves in a pure state of nature as God intended.” But when white people do it, it’s for fashion instead of religious beliefs. Cultures like Native American cultures and African American cultures are what is appropriated a lot today. In the article “Dior perfume ad featuring Johnny Depp criticized over Native American tropes” it describes a commercial that Dior made. An actor was surrounded by a Native American person that was in traditional clothing doing traditional dances in Utah. Crystal Echo Hawk, CEO of IllumiNative said “It is so deeply offensive and racist”. The article also mentions “The French name of the fragrance line translates to “wild” or “savage” in English.” so people thought that this commercial had a deeper, more offensive meaning behind it. Echo Hawk said “These types of tropes, these types of narratives about Native people as savages they do real harm, and fuel racism.” I agree with him because even though the creators of the commercial might not have realized what they were doing, it felt like to a lot of people that they were continuing to implicitly imply the idea that Native Americans are savages. They were also using a whole culture for a commercial to make a profit for their company. I believe that this is wrong because they are taking a culture, some people’s whole belief system and way of life, and using it for their own good. I feel like that’s incredibly insensitive. If these people were in someone else’s shoes that were apart of that culture, they would feel the same way, but they’re not and it feels like their only mindset it towards money. Cultures are affected by appropriation by people that are privileged, taking another’s culture and using it to their advantage. Luiza Dresher says in “A Point of View: Understanding the Harmful Impact of Cultural Appropriation.” that “It is not, as many think, a way for one culture to honor another. Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do to mitigate the harmful impact of oppression and the ways some groups still dehumanize, ostracize, and marginalize others.” I think she puts it nicely, instead of thinking that people that are cultural appropriating are honoring other’s cultures, they need to be aware that they are instead oppressing cultures that aren’t their own. This connects with utilitarianism because I’m talking about the happiness of everyone and everyone respecting other people’s cultures and religions. In the article “Cultural appropriation or appreciation?” Amerique Phillips and Alexis Baker define the differences as “Cultural appropriation can be defined as the “cherry picking” or selecting of certain aspects of a culture, and ignoring their original significance for the purpose of belittling it as a trend. Appreciation is honoring and respecting another culture and its practices, as a way to gain knowledge and understanding.” One is using another’s culture for your own benefit and the other is an act of trying to better understand a culture and while doing so, respecting it. I believe that if everyone was a little more educated on different cultures besides their own and the significance behind the things they do like for example with their hair and the clothes they wear, then there would be less damaging effects on minority groups.
Works Cited: Johnson, Maisha Z. “What's Wrong with Cultural Appropriation? These 9 Answers Reveal Its Harm.” Everyday Feminism, 25 Oct. 2017, everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/cultural-appropriation-wrong/.
Singh, Maanvi. “Dior Perfume Ad Featuring Johnny Depp Criticized over Native American Tropes.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 Aug. 2019, www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/aug/30/diors-fragrance-ad-draws-criticism-for-featuring-native-american-tropes.
Dreasher, Luiza. “A Point of View: Understanding the Harmful Impact of Cultural Appropriation.” The Inclusion Solution, 4 Apr. 2019, www.theinclusionsolution.me/a-point-of-view-understanding-the-harmful-impact-of-cultural-appropriation-cultural-competence/.
Baker, Alexis, and Amerique Phillips. “Cultural Appropriation or Appreciation?: @TheU.” TheU, 30 Oct. 2017, attheu.utah.edu/facultystaff/cultural-appropriation-or-appreciation/.