What We Are Getting Wrong About Cultural Appropriation

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

It isn’t what most of us think it means, apparently.

Due to the increasing use of the term “cultural appropriation” and the corresponding increase in my own confusion over what it really means, I did some reading and found out some interesting things.

The questions in my mind included:

What is culture, and what are the differences between cultural participation, appreciation, assimilation and appropriation? Which is bad and which is good?

Is wearing a suit cultural appropriation of the West?

Is rapping culturally appropriating African American culture?

Is saying Eid Mubarak instead of Selamat Hari Raya culturally appropriating Arabic culture?

Is a non-Chinese wearing a cheongsam or qipao culturally appropriating Chinese culture? What about designing and selling?

Is a Malaysian restaurant serving Italian food culturally appropriating Italy?