Assimilation, Appreciation, and Appropriation

We have started to throw around the words ‘cultural appropriation’ to the point where when it is committed, it isn’t taken seriously. I would like for us all to take a brief moment to examine the key differences in these three words : Assimilation, Appreciation, and Appropriation.

First of all, a black girl wearing blond hair or weave is not in any way, shape, or form appropriation. Why? Because straight hair, and blond hair are not specific to one culture or group of people. Not only do these not apply to appropriation, they are protective hairstyles meaning they allow our natural hair to grow and flourish. I will say that, when hot combs, weaves, etc. were first invented, it was to help black people fit in to societal standards. Our hair was hated, and in some degree still is. This is  ASSIMILATION, not APPROPRIATION. This is “the absorption and integration of people, ideas, or culture into a wider society or culture”. In order to get jobs, people of color needed to fit into these European beauty standards. It was necessity. These Eurocentric ideals are a part of systemic racism, but I’ll spare you that rant for another day.

If you’re reading this and you’re white, you’re probably wondering “why do black people get so mad if one of us wear dreads?”, “why is it okay for you to have blond hair, but I can’t get box braids?” Here’s why. When a black person wears dreads or braids,  they are seen as dirty. Our culture becomes a trend on you, but “ghetto” on us. It stops us from getting work, it gets little girls suspended from school because their  ” hair is inappropriate”. It becomes against school dress code, but on you its just another look to wear at Coachella. The problem isn’t necessarily  that you are wearing it, but that when we do-it’s an issue. Things invented, and designed by us become a symbol of shame when we wear them, but high fashion on non people of color.  White people are able to wear these things as long as they acknowledge where they came from and their privilege which keeps them from being societally hindered by wearing such things.

That brings me to appropriation versus appreciation. Appropriation is taking our culture and not giving us the credit we are due. It is calling bantu knots “mini twitsty buns” and saying that it is a new trend when black people have been doing it for years.  It is not Kim Kardashian dressing as Aaliyah for Halloween WITHOUT BLACKFACE, and although I find her to be occasionally problematic (no, idc that her husband is black or her kids), leave the woman alone in this case. It is very possible to appreciate black culture without appropriating it, so learn the difference.

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2 thoughts on “Assimilation, Appreciation, and Appropriation

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    Like

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