Forging a Melting Pot
by Julian Franco
Firstly, and most importantly, an article could never fully explain the complexity of cultural appropriation. It is a divisive issue with origins that are rooted in the colonial era. Though it is not a happy tale, I implore any reader to research those origins.
To keep some sort objectivity, here are a couple of essential wrongs of cultural appropriation from both sides of the matter:
Firms profiting from a minority group without due recognition nor compensation
Sounding the alarm whenever we see someone who culturally appropriates
Both of these wrongs emerge from the same issue: misunderstanding each other in a globalized context. The first fails to openly acknowledge the contributions of the people it gains inspiration from. Yes, there is a clear violation when businesses profit from the designs of the socially marginalized. However, in a complex way, this brings the issues of socially marginalized people to the forefront.
The latter is a subject suited for millenials: whistle blowing for matters that serve merely as a
distraction to our everyday lives. We make issues out of issues that largely do not impact us directly. Whenever we criticize others for their lack of cultural sensitivity, we are solely observing what lies before us and making an issue out of it.
The question then becomes: what do we want to see in a globalized environment? Is it people staying within their sub groups? Dividing ourselves based on our skin color, or even what we wear or how we speak? Or is it an environment full of cultural exchange and fusion? Ultimately, accepting the fact that we are only going to become more mixed and that giving and taking from each other is a natural part of migration.
To paraphrase the words of Chimamanda Adichie, let's shake off the notion of a single story. Shake off the misconceptions of cultural appropriation by learning from your colleagues. Let's appreciate each other as opposed to creating even more lines to divide us.