native instuments

On 'Cultural Appropriation' and why it's not evil

Dear Tumblr,

I see quite a few posts here about ‘cultural appropriation’ and how it’s just the worst thing you’ve ever seen. I’m here to explain to you why it isn’t bad. 

Culture is meant to be shared. Without sharing ideas, foods, religious ideas, clothing, morals and so forth between communities and cultures, we cannot advance as a species. If Japan didn’t share it’s technology with the rest of the world, we’d be sunk. If Sweden decided not to share their surgical techniques, thousands of people would be dead or on short time. If other countries didn’t share their foods, we wouldn’t have delicious restaurants on every corner! 

Of course, that’s just the logical response, and Tumblr runs primarily on emotions, so I’ll provide those too. 

Any one of you who have read my previous works or my About are saying “What do you know, Lea?! You’re a stupid whitey, you don’t even have a dog in this fight!”

Actually, I do. Yes, I am white, in that I check the Caucasian box on surveys and government forms and in that’s what it says on my birth certificate, but honestly, I don’t have to be. I’m an 8th Native American, and I’ve been encouraged and asked several times to join the Nation. 

Normally that wouldn’t be important, but in this discussion I think it is, if only to stave off wave after wave of 'You’re white you dont matter’.

Some of the major complaints I see on here revolve around the following things: Clothing, Music, and Hairstyles. Superficial, non-important things that have somehow become sacred in the minds of Tumblr users (which is a direct reminder that most Tumblrites are 13-17 years old, and female). 

Lets start with Clothing. More specifically, lets start with Kimonos and Hairsticks. What I see on here a lot is reblogs of that post of the girl with the forks in her hair. You know the one. 

NO NOT THAT ONE. 

Jesus. 

Seriously though, you know the one I mean, the girl who’s complaining about how stupid people look with 'chopsticks’ in their hair. 

But you see…

These are Hair Sticks. Hair sticks look a LOT like chop sticks.

Sometimes you can’t tell whats a chopstick and what’s a hair stick (the above are hairsticks, though). 

These could be either one.

And that’s okay, because most Japanese people don’t care. They actually consider it kind of nice that people are interested in their culture. 

On to Kimonos! 

This one is mostly white girls complaining (as always). “Kimonos are SACRED TO THE JAPANESE OMG HOW DARE WHITE PEOPLE WEAR THEM?!" 

Guys, have you ever been to Japan? The people there literally try to get you to wear a Kimono at every opportunity. They like when foreigners show appreciation for their culture by wearing traditional garments. It’s not an insult to them, it’s a joy, and you shouldn’t be offended. The same goes for people with henna tattoos and and other such things. Culture was meant to be shared. 

Music is another common complaint. "you cant listen to, make or perform [musical style] because you are not [ethnicity]!”

Music is a world wide thing, it’s a unifying experience, and EVERYONE has the right to experience, make and enjoy music. I, personally, love Indian music, Native American flute music, rap of all kinds but especially done in Spanish (have you ever heard Daddy Yankee - Gasolina? It’s amazing!). Just because it’s from a different culture, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, and don’t let ANYONE tell you otherwise. 

Hairstyles are also a big thing, and one of the things that makes me deeply ashamed of Tumblr, because you lot took to twitter en masse to attack a 14 year old girl over her hair, and that is not acceptable. For those of you who don’t know, Mallory Merk is a young girl who decided she would try Box Braids. She saw a girl wearing them while out on the town one day and said to herself, that’s awesome. I want to try that. She did, and SJWs became ENRAGED. Hundreds of black people from all over came to her defense, but it was too late, and Mallory just appologized for trying something new with her hair. That’s sad. Box braids, dread locks, buns, beehives, perms, mohawks…these things belong to anyone with hair. They may originate in a particular culture, but they are for everyone. Hairstyles are not sacred or protected. They’re fashion, they’re for those who like them. You do you and you don’t let people take that away by telling you you can’t.

There is on last thing on my list here, but its one that angers me. 

Language. 

I need you to listen the fuck up, because this is important: No one, and I mean NO ONE, owns language. Language is fluid, language is changing, flowing, living and beautiful. To learn a new language, to use it, is a beautiful thing. 

Do NOT, EVER, tell someone that they cannot learn and use a new language. DO NOT tell someone they can’t speak a particular dialect, that they can’t use a phrase because they are the wrong color, from the wrong part of the world, have the wrong background, ect. Language is not a possession, it’s not something you can own. Language is beautiful, and everyone has the right to learn a new language, an old language, to use it and to make something beautiful with the words they are given. What you cannot do with it is twist it. You should not, knowing a language, twist and destroy words or give them new definitions to fit your own agenda, but learning and respecting a language? That’s something everyone should do. 

Sincerely, Lea.