When A Colonized Group Participates…..Is That Misappropriation?

Chalicechick asks if middle- and upper- class white culture isn’t the most appropriated. I will say emphatically “yes.”

However, if a group is colonized; they are taken away from their homeland, given new names and beat if they speak their native tongue, or if a group is forced off the land to which they have lived on for time immemorial, is that misappropriation? 

Just a thought.

2 thoughts on “When A Colonized Group Participates…..Is That Misappropriation?

  1. Kim, I think you need to sit with our question and sharpen it. Right now it’s emotionally powerful, but… is WHAT misappropriation? What you’ve described is colonization and/or genocide. That’s not “misappropriation.” Conflating that with misappropriation is verbicide; it confuses what we’re talking about.

    Cultural misappropriation isn’t about the abuse, the oppression, the killing, the theft of lands — that went on already, in the past. The Negro spiritual is not a piece of culture from Africa, per se (for example).

    Given what you’ve said, where does that leave those of us who are Irish-Americans — driven out of Ireland by force and starvation, deprived of their native tongue…

    But now in America, we’re “white” (now), and thus the appropriators? (Great, we got stripped of culture and ‘color’ and now get to help hold the bag…)

    There’s a fine argument for sensitivity to what something means within a culture, and whether it’s inappropriate to use it. But to enshrine the concern in the bylaws empowers self-appointed misappropriation police to abuse people. It doesn’t encourage the important, exceedingly nuanced discussion that should go on.

    At the absurd–but utterly logical–end of this, we’ll have most people unable to use anything… boldly mincing through a minefield of accusations and misperceptions, obliged to show proof-of-culture and to post extensive citations before reading a poem or singing a song or playing an instrument.

    That’s not a call for insensitivity, it’s a call for it. But making it a bylaw issue seems crazy; it empowers people to claim a special authority to enforce “our” principle (as they see fit, without anything to provide guidelines on how that sensitivity to misappropriation is to be applied).

    The argument going on isn’t that we should/not be sensitive to cultural misappropriation issues. It’s whether the bylaw presentation of it in THIS draft is suitable and appropriate.

    And the answer there is, I think, no.

  2. I don’t have the problem with appropriation that other folks have. I don’t mind if people appropriate stuff they like from my culture and make new, cool stuff out of it. I’m willing to share whatever truth, beauty and wisdom I’ve got.

    But I did want to point out that the appropriation goes both ways.

    who has a punk band’s cover of “You are my sunshine” on her iphone. It is perhaps not precisely in the spirit of the original, but retains a good deal of the originial’s essential depressing sweetness while giving it a whole new arrangement that makes the beauty accessible on a whole different level. To me, that’s just more awesomeness in the world.

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