The ”Myth” of cultural appropriation

The meme has transformed and transcended its source material.

Also, cultural appropriation doesn’t exist. Everything is a mashup. Some maybe worse than others, but nothing exists in isolation.


If the culture has no say in how their traditions are used, and the traditions are not being treated respectfully, then it is cultural appropriation.

It is possible to borrow traditions from other cultures without cultural appropriation, but cultural appropriation most certainly exists. I’m not too familiar with anything this article is talking about, but at first blush it feels like cultural appropriation.


This actually makes my points “cultural appropriation” is just a label for syncretism that someone doesn’t like. No one is saying don’t criticize it. Criticize the hell out of it. If the criticism wins the day, it will eventually go away.

However, the term “cultural appropriation” not only runs counter to how culture develops, but furthermore is just a fancier term for “gatekeeping”. It’s drawing arbitrary lines, and pleading to an authority that simply doesn’t exist. It’s to force a different cultural milieu on it that isn’t the one it exists in.-


No, it’s a term to describe privileged people profiting off the culture of people who are regularly exploited in other areas of life. Are you saying that exploitation in the culture industries doesn’t exist? Or in ANY aspect of life? Because that’s just flat out incorrect. Any aspect of life in our modern, capitalist world is subject to various kinds of power relations, and in our modern world, that includes the production of culture, especially on a global scale.

The roots of jazz are syncretic, with primarily African Americans in the late 19th century mixing up western classical traditions with west African traditions. Plenty of black and white artists over the years since jazz evolved had played together and influenced each other, within the genre and outside of it. That is cultural sharing.

White owners of record label were the primary profited off jazz and other “race” music well into the 20th century, because they had better access to the capital and legal system (including ensure the label, NOT the artist, had copyright ownership of the recordings). And the people who often were able to break into the mainstream were often white artists, not black artists. Think of some of the popular swing artists in jazz or Elvis Presley and other white artists who labels had cover black rock & roll artists, so they could “safely” be sold to a white audience.

It is not.



I’d never heard of the Ghanaian Pallbearer meme before this, and went to YT to watch video. My only thought was “god, that looks like New Orleans.”

A couple related thoughts to the comments upthread. Throughout southern U.S., people taken from African were banned from playing drums because the sound carries and could be used for communicating. New Orleans was the only place in the US that African percussion was allowed and able to thrive. Dance traditions lived on with it. So much of NOLA culture descends from the incorporation of these West African traditions into the city. Hopefully now there is some borrowing back and forth of new traditions

The truth of that second sentence in no way changes the absurd fallacy of the first

“theft doesn’t exist. everyone gets their stuff from somewhere”




Forty years ago come July I was on the plains of South Dakota. Someone I thought from AIM came by and told my friend Kimberly that she shouldn’t hang an eagle feather over her tipi door.

He didn’t complain about tye tipi, thatwas embracing native technology. But the feather was typically hippie “it looks cool” without any thought. That was long before I saw the term “cultural appropriation”.

I liken it to me back in high school when I was an outcast and picked on. But then when they found out I could provide answers to tests, or hook up their video recorder to their tv set (this was a few years before videocassettes). They still didn’t like me, they just wanted what I could provide them.

So much was taken, so much was lost. The languages and cultures banned. Endless attempts at getting rid of people, either outright or figuratively. Forced to go where others demanded, forced to live in restricted space.

But then certain aspects “cool”, and usually in a garbled fashion. It’s not caring about what happened, it’s an extraction of bits.

People were forbidden to do potlatches or make totem poles (and all kinds of other things) but then others demand that they should be allowed to do those things for themselves.

If you want to learn a traditional language, nobody is likely to object. It takes too much effort and any new speaker perpetuates the language.

I suppose if someone studied some art under a native teacher it might be okay, but maybe not since it might take the place of a native student, and maybe someone white might do better selling such art, while native people struggle.

Maybe some day this can change, but it is way off when people start with wondering why it shoukd bother people.

My great, great grandmother Henrietta was ashamed of being half-Syilx. You can see a photo of her here:

It 's “cultural.appropriation” , she’s wearing European clothing. No, it’s assimilation.


Yes, that’s part of the problem with the white people I see appropriating culture. It’s ultimately about them. With very little understanding or concern about or respect for who they got it from. Let alone understanding of what white people have done to who they got it from.


I think you’re mistaking “cultural appropriation” with “cultural diffusion”.

“Cultural appropriation”, in its usage as a term, always implied a kind of “theft”.


The OED’s earliest cite for cultural appropriation is this 1945 book The Asian Legacy And American Life

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If you need to ask that, it’s cultural appropriation.


I would say that if a hundred people are accusing you of cultural appropriation and ninety-six of them are white first-worlders, you shouldn’t be too concerned about it.

The good thing about being a white first worlder is that nobody wants to appropriate your culture


Im pretty sure there was a well thought out and considered thread on White Culture a while back but people shat all over it because that’s the White Culture way.


There are some pretty well thought out responses in this thread already:

  • Cultural appropriation is a myth
  • Cultural appropriation is okay because it’s just cultural diffusion that some random weirdo doesn’t like
  • Cultural appropriation is unavoidable, because to do otherwise would mean actually knowing members of said culture well enough to understand their culture, and who honestly has ever done that?
  • Cultural appropriation is okay if a culture is enough of a minority that they can’t really stand up for themselves

Ooh ooh ooh! Inb4:

  • If you don’t like cultural appropriation, go back to living in your little mud huts
  • People appropriate my culture all the time! I’m part Irish and… Well, St Patrick’s Day doesn’t really bother me at all, it’s just an example I could theoretically use
  • No, I’m not white, I had a great grandma who may have been half Italian, so that gives me license to appropriate any minority culture I want!
  • Some of my best friends are black. I even used a black person’s bathroom once (something only 1/4 of white Americans have done, I shit you not)
  • This issue is so important to me because… well, gee, I really don’t know why, I just don’t like being told I can’t shit all over random people’s cultures
  • Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah I Can’t Hear You

Now that that’s all out of the way, can we please nuke this thread?


It seems obvious that people sometimes use culture and the depiction/treatment of marginalized cultures as a way to disempower and oppress marginalized people. It also seems obvious that people shouldn’t oppress marginalized people.

It doesn’t seem obvious that the cultural appropriation concept is the reason people shouldn’t do this, though. Ironically, cultural appropriation leans heavily on notions of intellectual property, and the right to own, control, and profit from cultural and artistic expression. These are very colonized frameworks, and that’s actually why the notion of cultural appropriation has so much traction: it’s compatible with the hegemonic economic order.

There are better explanations for why a white person shouldn’t wear a war bonnet than that it’s violating the collective cultural property rights of indigenous people.

I had an acquaintance who is a working photojournalist in a medium sized paper in the Pacific Northwest. He told me that his take on all those Pow Wows and American Indian religions are that they all made up.

I had to remind him that American Indians had their language, religion, land, and clothes taken from them by force by the people of the USA. So that they had to recreate them.

He gave me a twisted look and immediately changed the topic.

Taking a culture’s material, spiritual, and capital and razing it for Manifest Destiny is not just appropriating it is always destroying.

How does your “there is no cultural appropriation” speak to genocide ?


It still exists: