Somebody asked me the other day about appropriation, and I summed it up as this.
Appropriation in a nutshell is:
"I want the culture/the fantasy, but not the reality."
"I love the culture! But not the people."
There are countless of people who have written about this in much detail and with more passion, so I'm not going to go essay-mode about this. I don't want this to be a rant. My general feeling is:
Appropriating a culture is not wrong in and of itself. It's when those appropriating the culture have no respect for the people is when it's not only wrong and uncomfortable, but disturbing. And when there's also a lack of empathy for the people, and yet they want to appropriate the culture, well, that just makes the person selfish. Whether we're talking about writing, music, art, etc. it's not about saying "You can't do this." Anyone can and will write, for instance, outside of their experience. That's not the issue. I have a big problem with it when they don't want to learn from people who are of the experience, and instead think that their ego and their research is enough for them to think that they know as much if not more than people who are the experience. What ticks me off most though, is when those appropriating think that it's their job to tell our stories, as if we don't have a voice and can't speak for our own experiences. I'm talking specifically, for example, the trans and intersex experience. We have a voice. Let us use it, write it, draw it,
tell it, etc. We can tell our own stories. We don't need somebody not of the experience speaking for
us and being that loudest voice in the room at that. It's okay to write that story with the hopes that more will understand what's not your experience, but it's pretty self-serving when it's only about you, when it's not about you. Contrary to the
assumption, we aren't broken. We don't need to be saved. We are okay.
Things are getting better. Respect, listen, love, and learn. It's
supposed to be a mutual thing, not self-righteous, cavalier, and
egotistical. We're in this world together. We're all human but we aren't
the same. Our uniqueness is what makes this place beautiful. As long as
we keep respecting, listening, loving, and learning from each other, we
will all be okay. Appropriation is NOT okay when it's more about someone wanting the culture and yet want nothing to do with the actual people. It's just not right. We can do better.