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A Blog About Culture

Recognition, Situation, Identity, Reality

“The free market idea doesn’t correspond to cultural responsibility in lots of ways,” says Tania Willard, curator of Beat Nation. “We can say people shouldn’t do that and it’s not respectful, but if people are buying it, that’s what’s going to happen.”

Read more from Samia Madwar’s article “Inappropriation,” about the appropriation of Canadian aboriginal cultural objects and artifacts. She discusses the success of Beat Nation, a modern art exhibit featuring cross-cultural fusion, versus the failure of Inukt, a fashion line of apparel very loosely inspired by aboriginal (and a “mish mash” of other) designs.

Here are more links about Canadian appropriation:

At the end of the day, people have different priorities. It is the crusade of cultural workers to educate others about cultural sensitivity and why appropriation, along with plenty of other practices that run rampant in Western culture, has deep social ramifications.

***N.B. As I type “Western” above, I realize that it sounds like I’m saying that European and American cultures are the only ones that act this way. They’re not. Far from it. It might be that almost every country isn’t terrible culturally sensitive. I guess I write about Western culture because I live in the US, and it’s the dominant culture here. ***

Back to our main program. A few months ago, I was talking with a friend about the debate over the name of the Redskins football team.

My stance:

“If you know you’re offending someone, change, even if it’s an inconvenience.”

Her stance:

“Those will be a lot of pissed off Redskins fans,” and “Besides changing the name, they’ll have to spend a lot of money to change all their logos and uniforms and t-shirts.” (This isn’t word for word, by the way.)

She brought up capitalistic motives for keeping the status quo. I guess those capitalistic motives aren’t as important to me, but they’re certainly important to a lot of people, especially in the US, and especially to people who own multi-million dollar companies that benefit off of cultural appropriation. So, as above, if it makes you money, and you don’t care about the people you’re offending, then it’s fine. [???????]

I guess that ethic is what disturbs me the most.

But it’s not enough, or even fair, to vilify people who do think that way now. They are our neighbors and coworkers and friends, too. They shouldn’t be written off. That’s the ethic we are working with, that is the paradigm that we should be working to change. If public education and exhibits and blog posts aren’t working… what else can we think of to try to make this change happen?

More of my posts on cultural appropriation:


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