Cultural Appropriation and Its Effects On Other Cultures

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Cultural Appropriation and Its Effects On Other Cultures

This past Halloween I dressed up as a China Doll; in my black

traditional Asian dress, white painted face, rosy pink cheeks, black

eyeliner, and my hair held up in a bun with chopsticks. I originally

thought that this costume would be rather attractive and fun. However,

I began to question myself after a young lady approached me and asked,

"Are you suppose to be an Asian person?" I immediately replied, "No, I

am a beautiful China Doll". Did people believe that I was "attempting

to portray a stereotyped representation of another race"?[1]This is

not what I had intended and this now had disturbing implications. I

had attended the party earlier with a Chinese friend of mine. He took

no offence to what I was wearing- this was I later found out after

questioning him. So when does cultural "borrowing" become ignorant

appropriation? This also brings up the questions of: Can cultural

appropriation be defined and can it be avoided?

With the new fads of Chinese character tattoo's, Hindu god t-shirts,

and the selling of such things as Native sweat lodge kits and

ceremonies, does this not show that North Americans can appreciate

other cultures and that western culture has become a product of a

multicultural society.1

Through examples of film and art, sports, and religion, I will answer

the following questions and specifically how cultural appropriation

has affected North American First Nation peoples.

There is much confusion when it comes to the meaning of cultural

appropriation. The literal meaning begins with

Culture-Anthropological: the sum total of the attainments and learned

behaviour patterns of any specific period, race or people;

Appropriation's meaning is to take for one's own use.[2] Most people

today then know cultural appropriation then as "to take someone else's

culture to use for your own purpose".2 I believe that the argument is

not that appropriation is "stealing", as some people claim, but that

it does matter how a person goes about putting to use the knowledge

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