Cultural Appropriation creating a cultural divide

Appropriation is the means to adopt notions from one source and, use and adapt it in order to form new meaning, and this has been noted through the history of art, in particular the work of Andy Warhol as he is known for his stylization of imagery derived from brands, logos, pictures and newspaper articles, reflecting the popular culture of the time. He re-stylized ready-made images (usually with repetition or the addition of colors) to transform them into works of his own.

Cultural Appropriation was coined from the same ideals, as James Young defines “cultural appropriation is a sociological concept which views the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture as a largely negative phenomenon” (Young, 2010).
This negatives of this phenomenon come down to whether it is an equal give and take, or if it is ‘stealing’ culture without knowing the cultural meaning of the adopted elements, and is  further described as A dominant group adopting/trivializing elements of a culture without acknowledging the existence of its original source, especially when the adopted culture belongs to an oppressed group.

Have you ever been to a dress up party? Or a music festival? chances are you have seen people wearing costumes in which depict iconic notions from another culture, for example a geisha or a Mexican. But another good, and widely talked about example is that of the native American Indian headdress, and its popularity to be worn at festivals, and the debate on white American’s wearing them as it was their ancestors who killed the native American Indians. It is suggested that these are being worn more as a fashion statement than that of cultural identity.

source : Ian Gavan/Getty Images

For further information on what cultural appropriation is, and recent examples of this, watch this video below:

Kylie Jenner recently copped backlash from the media, and fellow celebs after posting this photo on Instagram

View this post on Instagram

I woke up like disss

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Kylie posted the Instagram photo of her cornrows with the caption: “I woke up like disss.” It didn’t take long for Amandla, best known for her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, to respond. She commented: “@novemberskyys when u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”

The reason for this back lash, is not to say that white women cannot wear their hair how they would like, but it is about acknowledging the existence of the people behind the culture. Sparing details on the long history of people of colour to this day adopting Eurocentric beauty standards in order to adapt to society, Amandala Stenberg’s message details it all, and her reasoning behind her comments to Jenner.

If you would like more reading on modern day cultural appropriation, take a look at this post from a highly opinionated blogger whose writing is strong and influential.

So it leaves with the question, is Cultural appropriation acceptable, if so are there terms of this being acceptable? Or should we leave each others cultures alone and not create a culturally diverse society such as the ideal of the melting pot?
Leave me a comment below with your thoughts.

– Cassie


> Young, James O. (February 1, 2010). Cultural Appropriation and the Arts. John Wiley & Sons. p. 5. ISBN 9781444332711. Retrieved September 1, 2015

> Andy Warhol

> Cultural Appropriation

>what is cultural appropriation video:

> media coverage on the Instagram feud:

> Stenburg’s video message

> read more on related topics


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