Let’s talk about cultural appropriation. When I was a teenager, I attended Rugby School, a posh public school (Americans – that’s a private school in your lingo) in the middle of the UK. When I was there I was treated like shit by students and teachers alike, because I didn’t come from the same rich privileged background as they did. I was never allowed to fit in, even if I tried to modify my behaviour to be more like them, I was always the outsider. Eventually I realised that I had no desire to fit in with that group of people and to this day I still despise the attitude of those people.
Skip forward to the modern day and there’s this concept called “cultural appropriation” which suggests that you’re not allowed to do anything if it’s something which is part of some culture which you were not born into (the one currently getting my goat is that supposedly I’m not allowed dreadlocks because I’m not black). this to me reeks of the same privilege and exclusion I experienced at school.
I am in favour of freedom of expression. Even in situations where that freedom causes people to become offended (It is impossible to produce anything which is universally inoffensive). The concept of cultural appropriation only serves to segregate people. Some of the best things in the field of human endeavour have come about through a blending of culture and the emergence of a new culture from that merger.
I mean, shit, if white people hadn’t used Black blues musical influences there would be no rock and roll. almost all of the music that people listen to in the west these days is of Black origin. I’d hazard a guess that the Balti would not be a thing if not for Pakistani and British cultures merging. And to quote my friend Patrick: “‘Without cultural appropriation, there would be precious little culture,’ said somebody sometime, and they were right… I for one am glad we nicked numerals from Arabs so we don’t have to work through that I, II, III shit.”
So when people look down on others for appropriating their culture, my attitude is “go fuck yourself”. People are free to do whatever the fuck they like, in whichever way they see fit, and nobody owns any part of any culture.