I decided to channel my inner Maasai Queen for a photoshoot…Seeing the images, “cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation”, began to ring in my head. What have I done?
Cultural Appropriation has always been one of the most confusing topics to me ever, confusing because I find it hard to accept all the points that make it look so bad.
The first time I heard about this was when Black (Black American) Twitter was in rage over Kylie Jenner having cornrows…Cornrows? Really cornrows on a white girl caused an uproar on Black Twitter. “She is trying to be black so bad “, one tweet implied.
Honestly from an African perspective, I did not see any problem in Kylie Jenner wearing cornrows, I just saw a white girl wanting to look like us and that means we are doing something great.We see white people everyday wearing fashion pieces and styles from Africa, Do we get mad? Should we be mad? Maybe we should or maybe we shouldn’t.
A simple definition from Wikipedia describes Cultural Appropriation as” the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture…Often unavoidable when multiple cultures come together, cultural appropriation can include using other cultures’ traditions, food, fashion, symbols, technology, language, and cultural songs without permission”.
If this is the real definition then WOW please call the police because we are all guilty… very guilty. We live each and everyday appropriating others culture. Some examples from my life; eating sushi (Japan), wearing the sari and bindi(India), speaking French (France), Twi (Ghana ) etc..
Then I saw another definition stating that cultural appropriation is “the harmful act of dominant groups borrowing from marginalized cultures without respect, knowledge, or pay for what they’re taking”, that’s when I had to read more to really understand why Black Americans always feel like victims when it comes to this topic. I didn’t feel it should be a racial topic until I had to wear the shoes.
If you should call me derogatory names for my thick black lips, my style of dressing and talking, then next time try to replicate and own all you bashed me for, I would be so offended. They have been called ghetto for their sense of fashion, hair styles and even music and here we have the same group that brought them down trying to own that same way of living, at least give the Blacks some credit.
In Africa, we are rather so chilled that all we see is nothing but cultural appreciation. Yes, I believe in cultural appreciation but there is a thin line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. An Obroni or Oyibo (White man) coming to my country, going to our local market to buy our local fabric, beads, or even trying to speak my local language is just seen as one who appreciates my culture. I will even go the extra mile to teach him/ her how to do it right. To me, this is Cultural appreciation and not appropriation. This promotes my culture and its elements, it helps my people sell more when these elements are brought; boosts my economy. Secondly, when this happens we see the creation of oneness as humans for the sake of humanity.
When a Chinese man comes to Ghana, sees the beautiful original Kente Fabric, then goes back to China to recreate the kente in a cheap mass production form, now that’s insulting and a blow to every Ghanaian because the Kente signifies royalty and my friend that should make us mad. That should make us go on a Twitter rage or some kind of march.Imagine Louis Vuitton making money by exploiting the Maasai of Kenya for its S/S 2012 collection, no credit, no acknowledgment.
The point is when this happens the appropriators steal elements of your culture, your culture begins to fade away from you and owned by someone else who don’t know the stories that created that culture. What makes your society is basically stolen in such an easy manner right under your nose. In other for this not to happen acknowledgment has to be given to who its due. It’s like plagiarism because they take credit for what is not created by them.
We speak English but never take the credit for owning English, because the Colonizing nations already have that credit.Imagine what happens if Africa or Blacks said they invented the English language? LMAO! I don’t want to imagine that.
Just give what belongs to Ceasar to Ceasar. Meanwhile enjoy more images from my photoshoot with Momento Photos here.
Let me know your views on this topic by commenting…