Cultural appropriation is often seen as a negative practice, associated with racism, ignorance, and disrespect of cultures. While in some cases that is true, I do not follow in that thinking and actually believe it is a beneficial thing for society, unity, and prosperity.
Living in the United States, “the great melting pot,” I witness a great variety of cultures, people, religions, races, everything really. Taking aspects of different cultures and integrating them into your own is usually beneficial and allows for growth and prosperity.
I do acknowledge that it can be taken too far and could be used to disrespect and belittle other cultures, but determining the parameters of what’s too far and what’s not is subjective.
I recently saw a post online by a young girl who wore traditional Chinese garments to her school’s prom. She was hit with waves of backlash and support. Some commented that she disrespected the Chinese culture and tradition of the dress, while others said she wore it beautifully and that she deserved to be able to wear something she found beautiful without receiving all the criticism for it. To me, her wearing the dress is an inclusion of the Chinese culture.
Staying within one’s own cultural bubble and prohibiting others to use that culture and disallowing those from your culture to adopt new culture is regressive and could be segregative.
In a society that is still very much separated by race, politics, and moral views, integration and appropriation is extremely necessary. By adopting aspects of other cultures, we can understand and empathize, to an extent, what other people go through.
People need to unite and change the connotation behind cultural appropriation. So if you want to make tamales or wear a kimono to your next prom, I support you.