“CULTURAL APPROPRIATION”- A THEFT OR INNOVATION?

The customs; rituals and social behaviour, framed and followed by a set of people is what we call as culture. Each and every part of the world has its own culture and they follow it with complete pride and dignity. The way we think and act is reflected from the culture that we follow. Though knowledge is considered as power, culture remains as the key to achieve it. But, with the evolution of mankind, where we tend to keep ourselves branded, we intentionally or sometimes unintentionally try to plagiarize the principles of another culture that are specific to it. But does it fall under the category of theft? Or is it a part of the innovation of human kind?

“If a culture is borrowed, it means it is inspiring.”

We define the person we see, through their culture. A south-Indian woman is recognized with the BINDI on her forehead whereas it becomes strange to those eyes if a foreigner sports the same. Being a gay or lesbian isn’t uncommon in the States but it is a sin in the eastern countries. It is treated as disrespect to the women society if a woman inks her body as it is termed as the culture of men. Does the way we dress, eat, our dialect and stuff be restricted within our culture? Shouldn’t we explore the lifestyles of other people and admire it? But is this really what cultural appropriation is referred to?

“Borrowing without consent, becomes stealing.”

A culture is said to be appropriated if a minority group is oppressed by a majority community where the intention of borrowing the ethics of the culture is unfair. Cultural appropriation is like the water stored in a container. It takes form according to the people who appropriate. The blacks, Asians and the Africans are the victims of such appropriations. The soul of borrowing something lies in the intention of using it. To degrade a certain group of people, if their culture is borrowed, then it is appropriation. Racism again plays the demon’s role in cultural appropriation. If the reason for borrowing is true and fair rather than just the attraction of it, it is innovation and not appropriation. It is unfair to degrade a group of people to discriminate or lower their status in the society by adopting their culture. Appropriation is something that has been haunting the minority community for centuries. If borrowing, by any means hurts the source, it is termed as appropriation. The Americans dressing up like the blacks of Africa on Halloween and TV advertisements showing Blacks turning as white people on coming out of a washing machine are some examples of the highest form of appropriation.

The line between borrowing and appropriating is so thin. But the impact it leaves on the society when the line is crossed is inexpressible. Humanization is more important modernization. Thus, when borrowing, restricted within the limit, remains innovation but when it goes out of the boundary it becomes theft and appropriation.

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About Balaji Santhanagopalan. 15 Articles

Balaji Santhanagopalan is an enthusiast when it comes to writing articles. His passion is to write. He loves to express his inner lying emotions through his words. He is one of those ‘writeholics’ who sleeps with the pen in his hand. He is not one among them,he is the ONE.