How do you personally define cultural appropriation

Cultural Appropriation: Why Fashion Can Be Racist

All over the world people are discriminated against because of their skin color or origin. In order for us to achieve the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we must ensure that everyone can lead an equal, healthy and safe life. Use your voice and become active here with us.

Who is in the wake of the worldwide “Black Lives Matter” movement dealt with the issue of racism has probably established that racism has little to do with intent and a lot with effect. In addition, racism is not always found in conscious discrimination, but often in small behaviorsthat you don't question.

An example: cultural appropriation. The term itself was first used in the 1980s in criticizing post-colonialism. Cultural appropriation, in English too "Cultural Appropriation" called, means that people from privileged societies adopt culturally determined items of clothing, religious accessories or other traditions from disadvantaged groups for fashion reasons - but disregard the cultural value and possibly benefit from it.

Besides that 'Cultural Appropriation ' can simply be perceived as disrespectful by members of the group, it can also lead to traditions being lost or falsified. In addition, the products are being commercialized due to corresponding fashion trends and are increasingly being produced cheaply under poor working conditions. The income of cultures that manufacture and sell original products suffers as a result.

Examples of cultural appropriation: From braids to boho

Bindis are points that are usually worn in red and between the eyebrows. Face jewelry is particularly popular at festivals. But the wearer is rarely aware of what bindis symbolize. They even have different meanings: In India they are worn by women of various religions and cultures. Some associate it with wisdom, some with marriage, others believe that a bindi on a baby's face keeps evil away.

  • Feather headdresses or dashikis

Whether as a costume or for fashion reasons: accessories and clothing items related to indigenous cultures are an example of cultural appropriation. Because here, too, the story or meaning rarely plays a role. The dashiki garment, for example, is a symbol of the hurdles and problems that African American people in the United States have historically encountered and continue to encounter.

Blackfacing means to color white skin darker for a costume, for example with carnival make-up. Black people are discriminated against because of their skin color - in everyday life, but also through existing structures such as the job market. However, you cannot remove your make-up again in the evening. Blackfacing plays down this problem. The same applies to Afro wigs.

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  • Dreadlocks, braids, cornrows

Wearing braids or dreadlocks for fashion reasons is similarly problematic - although the term dreadlocks has a negative connotation. White people gave the hairstyle its name and “dread” means “fear” in German. The hairstyles are subject to discrimination and racism. “If we black people wear an afro look or dreadlocks, then the hairstyle is considered neglected. But as soon as stars like Kim Kardashian wear cornrows, it's a huge trend ”, summarized the president of the SP migrants Zurich, Yvonne Apiyo Brändle-Amolo. In addition, the story behind the hairstyles is unknown to many: the cornrows, i.e. the braids plaited along the head, were maps that helped slaves escape from the plantations.

Boho comes from Bohéme and “refers to a Paris quarter in which many Sinti and Roma who came from the Bohemia region lived,” explained fashion theorist and cultural scientist Catharina Rüß in an interview with Bento. According to Rüß, artists who settled there in the 19th century were inspired by the style of the Sinti * zze and Roma * nja. "This look later took up the artists of expressionism and at some point it carried over into pop culture."

Miley Cyrus got a shit storm for having her picture taken with a lot of gold jewelry. Black communities accused her: As a white person, she appropriated the so-called “bling” jewelry, which is related to the Afro-American hip-hop scene, and is now profiting from it.

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Cultural Appropriation: How Should We Deal With It?

The sociologist Jens Kastner explains why this is a problem in an essay: “Whites - or more generally: members of the so-called dominance culture - have acquired forms of cultural expression and have benefited from them. However, they did not have to go through the history of slavery and so-called racial segregation. "

But where is the limit of cultural appropriation? Author and journalist Fabienne Sand, who campaigns against racism on Instagram, recommends in an article about the world that if you are unsure, simply speak to supporters of the respective cultures and communities. "Much less than a general ban and the prevention of cultural exchange is about the actual confrontation with social structures," she explains.

In fact, some even differentiate between "cultural appropriation" and "Cultural appreciation“ (cultural recognition). The former, as Enorm magazine explains, means ignoring the story behind the styles and accessories, making a profit from them, treating them selfishly and claiming them for yourself. Cultural recognition on the other hand means dealing with a culture, finding out about it, observing it - and making decisions on this basis.