When is Cultural Appropriation not Appropriation

Alright. I already know I’m gonna get slammed for this one, but hear me out.

It seems like every fucking day there is a news article or opinion piece or a celebrity blogging or tweeting about ‘cultural appropriation.’

For those who don’t know what that is, it’s very simply ‘the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture.’

So what does that mean? Well, basically it means an individual taking and using important cultural elements and references from a culture that is not there own and using them in day to day life.

Ya know, like all those American’s who ‘suddenly’ realise they are Irish in March…..

Okay, so that was snarky, but I think it’s a good example of how this can taken personally. As a proud Irish woman who has a culture that is very important to her I do understand that level of possession that comes with being proud of who you are and where you come from – aside HINT US cooking shows – it’s not ‘Irish Soda’ that you are so proudly whipping up for your viewers. It’s wheaten bread – I’m yet to see a single American chef make soda bread. And that’s okay. Because if you ask I will show you how to if you ask.

Recently I had a few days off with an actress friend – we were watching plays, eating food and shopping and generally wandering around.

A large part of it we spent in Camden – which is one of the most amazing places on earth – we had croissants and coxinha for breakfast, and then katsu for lunch while we shopped for Indian scarves and Moroccan lamps and Spanish lights before a Chinese dinner as we watched Irish street performers.

My point is….where does it stop?

I’m proud of my culture and my heritage and I, like every single other Irish person I have every known, will welcome you to come celebrate with us. You spent your whole life living at the top of a mountain in Nepal where your only company was your Granny and three goats? Fuck it! We have goats here too. That means you are one of us! Welcome!

Should  I feel guilty every time I order a pizza or go out for Thai?

Should I berate everyone at my local who tries to order a Guinness? No. Because that would make me a massive wanker.

Truth is, I LOVE sharing my culture with people. Why wouldn’t I? I’m Irish, we have the BEST stories. Do I complain about Hollywood ‘appropriation’ of MY heritage and culture? ……sometimes. Mostly because they generally get the pronunciation wrong (it’s Izz-ol-da – just saying….)

Fact is, as an Irish woman my culture and my legends have been raped  for decades – very often by the same folks who tell me I can’t ‘appropriate’ their culture – you know who you are….

As a writer and film maker I used to be REALLY paranoid about causing offence. And then…..well, honestly, one day I just stopped giving a shit.

I realised that no one was respecting my culture.

As a white Irish woman I was expected to obey an ever changing list of rules about what I could and could not do that was considered socially acceptable.

Was it okay to braid my daughters hair for school? Is the scarf I want to wear ‘too Asian’ for work? Was the cut of my heels ‘too Cuban’ or the necklace I was wearing ‘too African’ ?

So I gave up. I can tell you the EXACT moment I stopped giving a shit about ‘cultural appropriation’ – I posted a picture of my nine year old’s hair.

Before I show the pic I want you all to understand that she has hair that would make Rapunzel weep. I’m not kidding when I say her ponytail is as thick as my wrist and about four feet long – so as a parent I struggle to keep it in check.

 

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She has six braids – three on each side.

As a parent I rejoiced because it was keeping her hair in check.

And then I got a tweet.

I won’t post the screenshot, but it was basically along the lines of ‘white bitches be disrespecting’

Let’s put that in perspective shall we?

I’ma  parent, dealing with a, frankly ridiculous, amount of NEVER CUT hair – what do you want me to do? Do you want me to ignore all the videos and advice on how to deal with massively thick and long hair? Do you want me to shun all the products that might make all of our lives easier just because they are ‘not for you’ – (actual quote I received in a taxi) because right now I will take all the help I can get about her hair.

….

Here’s the thing – I GET it.

I do.

I GET how hair and clothes and festivals are important.

I guess i just get how we welcome you with open arms and a cold drink but you still bitch about what we we wear our hair clips.

It’s one world. We have one life. #

It’s not ‘appropriation’ it’s ‘appreciation.’

‘Love others as I have loved you.’

Guys….we have a WHOLE, HUGE, AMAZING world out there to live in – WHY settle?

Go. Live. Love. Enjoy. Experience.

xx

C

 

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “When is Cultural Appropriation not Appropriation

  1. soldout86

    I guess the people who had opinions on your daughter’s hair never watched “Vikings.” They’re pretty white. And do all kinds of crazy things with braids.

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