Sunday, September 03, 2017

Getting Life Backwards: Cultural Appropriation

It appears to be popular now in academic circles and in circles that vibrate out from them, to object to any person's use of anything not native to that person's culture. The crime is labeled "cultural appropriation." A yoga instructor had her class canceled because she was not East Indian, and therefore was guilty of cultural appropriation--which is evidently a euphemism for stealing. A white person wearing dreadlocks or making tacos are also examples of cultural appropriation.

But those who object to borrowing ideas from other cultures have it all backwards. Cultures grow into civilizations by aggregating ideas, practices, foods, and so on from other cultures. When one culture learns that another culture has a better solution to a problem, that solution is adopted.

If the adoption of better solutions from other cultures had been prohibited from the outset, we'd all still be using Roman numerals instead of Arabic numerals.

Cultures whose ideas are adopted by other cultures should celebrate with pride that their idea or practice was found to be superior to the previously reigning one.

It has been said that every great city is situated within 50 miles of the ocean or a navigable river because the international trade brings not only goods but good ideas to the city.

So, feel honored and not resentful when your culture is the source of ideas other people find useful.