Is Cultural Appropriation Actually Wrong?


Hi everyone so as usual whenever I make a
video about a controversial topic I don’t want to bore you with a whole list
of apologies and disclaimers. I don’t want to come in here and seem as if I
know “the truth” about whatever I am talking about you know like a lot of
YouTube titles are like “the truth about this” and it’s really just the opinion of
the person and it’s not… I anyways that’s just a pet peeve of mine,
but I don’t want to seem as if I’m here to tell you the facts on something
or whatever, on cultural appropriation. That being said I do feel pretty
confident about my beliefs on this topic at this point because I have done some
research and also because I used to have a different opinion on this and now I
feel like I am a little bit more nuanced in my opinion. So whenever you see people
talking about cultural appropriation and why it’s wrong and why it’s an issue
you’ll notice that most of them they usually will refer to things like a power
imbalance or a sort of double standard. There seems to be this idea that you
might continue to their oppression in some way if you wear something that
belongs to their culture. For example cornrows are seen as ghetto or are
simply just kind of seen as unprofessional or generally wrong on
black people especially in a work context whereas they’re seen as more
fashion-forward when they are on white people or people will sometimes talk
about their experiences as children being bullied for wearing these
or eating these and now you know usually the discourse is something like “well I
used to be bullied as a child for wearing this or eating these kind of
things and now people will see this as trendy and now it’s acceptable” that used
to be kind of my opinion as well in the sense that for example you should not wear
things that belong to another culture if as if it’s something that is inherently
disrespectful something like that and I will tell you
something: being bullied for wearing something as a child something
that belongs to your culture it’s really it’s really unacceptable and nobody
should have to go through something like that specially because experiences as a
child will really shape you and really affect you more than if you had had
them as an adult but… when it’s all said and done, that
has nothing to do with whether or not people are allowed or should be allowed
to wear whatever it is that you were bullied for. And of course those double
standards are also we were sort of those power imbalances between groups of
people that Americans will often refer to and I again I think that’s why
especially Americans find it delicate to see that some people appropriate the
culture of groups that are discriminated against in the United States. Now, I think
we need to ask ourselves first of all: how does one thing lead to the other? how
is the use of traditional clothing or hairstyles of another culture that
aren’t our own help further the oppression of that group and that culture?
and this is not a rhetorical question, it’s something that I really
want to know theories on because I’ve never seen someone actually explain
the process of like “well because these double standards exist then you actually
worsen it by wearing this and that”. I think we need that explanation of the
process because it’s not as evident to see how one thing affects the other when
you are just wearing something like a piece of clothing or something like that,
as it is when for example you are blatantly mocking a culture that is
facing oppression or discrimination in the United States or you are associating
a group or a culture with stereotypes or you are profiting of the symbols of a
culture like you know the kimono trademark thing with Kim Kardashian. Let’s
take last year’s – I think in what’s 2018 – the Chinese prom [dress] incident on Twitter. So
let me just say this one thing: there’s nothing inherent in this white girl
wearing a qipao to prom that is mocking the culture or is promoting any
stereotypes. We’re not talking about like full-on yellow face or anything it’s not
even worn as a custom actually it’s just worn as a prom dress, a dress for a
special occasion which is actually what it
was meant to be for. Not originally but you know its modern adaptation was
meant as a special occasion dress. Now if you’re talking specifically about the
pictures were they’re doing this pose or whatever I think it’s kind of weird
but apparently she was referencing some YouTuber or something so I don’t
know about that. And I want to mention this essay by Erich Hatala Matthes, he
mentions another issue that arises when someone uses the concept of
cultural appropriation (I will link the essay below by the way). So the concept of
cultural appropriation has to rely on distinguishing between people who do
belong to a culture, who are the “insiders” and people who don’t who are the
“outsiders” and it’s very complicated because even today we don’t really have
an explicit and official way to know exactly who belongs to a culture, who belongs to a certain group and who doesn’t. there’s a lot of of ambiguity when it
comes to who can who really does belong it who doesn’t really belong to a
certain group, like say Native American or LGBT and stuff like that and we need a
very specific definition of that sort of thing if we are going to judge who can
wear and who can’t where things are originating in that culture and for
example here you know in the United States
someone is usually – socially speaking – considered to be Native American more or
less based on their appearance and their ancestry their
parents, whether they themselves were Native Americans and stuff like that whereas
here in Mexico it’s more about — a lot of people are part Native technically here
but not everyone, in fact most people will not necessarily consider themselves
to be Native Americans so a lot of people… when you have to take a survey for school or something like that, when they
want to ask you if you are indigenous/ Native American they will ask you if you
or your parents speak a Native American or indigenous language and that’s pretty
interesting because it’s not relying at all on your racial features which is
something that does matter in the United States in the United States if you seem
to be Native American you don’t really have to speak and in native language in
order for people to consider you Native American when they look at you and you
are you do appear to be so that’s just an example to tell you that who belongs
and who doesn’t belong so culture is something that is a bit more difficult.
So in order to calm this problem the author proposes to focus less on
cultural appropriation itself and more on what effects it could have on society
whether it would help to stigmatize a group or it’s relatively harmless or
completely harmless really so this is only just a simplified
version of what he says again you should read the essay if you’re interested in that. So I think that part is especially important for this discussion because
most of the time whenever you see people calling out others for cultural
appropriation they explain that there is a different reception a different view
of how things are…. you know how, things are perceived are different depending on
who’s wearing them what race is wearing them or nationality or just generally
who or what cultures the wearer belongs to so it appears that the
real issue of a lot of people is really the double standard itself and not the
fact that someone is wearing something. I think we should focus more on these inequalities these
double standards more than whether or not someone has the “right” to be wearing
something. I do think that companies that profit that you know use cultural
appropriation for profit like in Kim K’s shapewear or Isabel Marant, the whole
thing about her plagiarizing traditional Mexican clothes which i
think was like three years ago so I’m not sure but he was a couple years ago. I think those things we should freely criticize because it’s not like we’re
talking about someone just wearing a piece of clothing that they like, and not
only because culture appropriation isn’t, as a conclusion of this, what
we call cultural appropriation in general or at least what Americans call it, is not something that is necessarily wrong or harmful, obviously
it can definitely be, but also no one should have this position of telling
someone that they don’t have the right to wear something I know that….
don’t know man, I mean the more I think about it the more I think that
there’s nothing even extreme about that position. I don’t think we should tell
anyone that they can’t or they shouldn’t have the right to wear something because
that’s just really strange. I mean I know that freedom of expression comes with a
price. For example hate speech is obviously not something that I
think should be covered I mean when you’re blatantly promoting stereotypes
and helping to stigmatize a culture or a group, that’s obviously infringing on
other people’s freedom but if you’re just wearing that qipao it’s really
strange to think that that is something that could fall under hate speech, which
is why I think we should consider it to be a matter of freedom of
expression. So I hope you guys enjoy this video, tell me what you think about this
down below again if you disagree that’s fine I mean we can have a discussion in
the comments that’s perfectly fine and I would like to have that actually. Again I will the essay down below and I will have another another article that I will
liked, can’t quite remember the name of it but I didn’t mention it in this video
so I will just have it down below, and I again I hope you enjoyed this video
and we’ll see each other in the next one bye!

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