Let's Digress

I’m Thankful for Cultural Appropriation

This Thanksgiving season, I wanted to jump aboard the Gratitude Train.

So, for this particular article, I’m going to expand on something for which I’m immensely grateful. Thankful? Grateful. Thankful. Thateful? Grankful? Whatever. It’s basically a synonym.  

But first, some background information. A while back, I wrote an open letter to New-Agey people about gratitude and how I didn’t understand part of it. You can read that here if it tickles your fancy. But let me summarize: It’s my opinion that one has to be grateful to/for someone or something specific. It can’t just be a feeling projected out into the ether of the universe; gratitude and/or thankfulness is a specific sentiment that requires a specific recipient.

I have many things for which I am thankful. Too many things to list here in a reasonable amount of time. But the one I want to talk about now is, perhaps, one of my most favorite things.

Cultural appropriation.

Oh yes, that cultural appropriation. 

I am tremendously thankful for cultural appropriation. Without it, we would all be pigeonholed into the customs and behaviors of our own cultures, which is silly. 

Before I started writing this article, I participated in my usual pre-writing ritual: coffee, light research about the topic I plan to write about, and visiting the Everyday Feminism website, just for that added morale boost it provides because it makes me think, “Hey, at least I’m not them.”

So I guess I’m also thankful for Everyday Feminism, but in a backwards sort of way. 

Anyway, according to Everyday Feminism and other Left-leaning sources, cultural appropriation is where people “steal” parts of other cultures and weave those “stolen” parts into their own cultural fabric. Even Indiana University had an advisory about cultural appropriation with Halloween costumes and how awful and disrespectful it is for white females to dress up as Moana from that Disney movie or something ridiculous.  

Here’s the deal though: I love cultural appropriation. I also love the reason why it’s possible. I shall explain both. But first, let me provide an example of why believing cultural appropriation is bad is actually pretty dumb:

If white, black, Asian, or any ethnicity/race other than Hispanic followed the cultural appropriation rules, we wouldn’t be allowed to eat chalupas. Chalupas are a Mexican dish. Therefore, if anyone other than those of Hispanic descent ate chalupas, then they would be “stealing” from Hispanic culture and adding it to their own culture.

See? Sounds pretty dumb. If you like chalupas, then you should be able to eat chalupas, regardless of where you come from. If you like the part of Hinduism where they don’t wear footwear inside homes but dislike the part about worshiping multiple deities, then don’t wear shoes in your house and don’t worship multiple deities. If you like Middle-Eastern food but see how morally abhorrent the tenets of Sharia Law are, then eat hummus to your heart’s desire while also castigating the ideology of radical Islam. 

I’m thankful for cultural appropriation because we can take the best parts of other cultures and mesh them together into our own collective super-culture. That also means by mixing best parts of cultures together we can leave out the not-so-best parts (keep the hummus but discard the Sharia).  

This is made possible because we live in the United States. Pretty much all other countries are based on race or religion. The U.S. is the only country based on ideas. On a creed, specifically (see the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence). That whole “life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom to do what I want as long as I don’t infringe on the rights of others” thing. 

The way it has traditionally worked is for people to come to the United States legally, assimilate to those wonderful American ideas, and bring the best parts of their cultures with them while relinquishing what isn’t the best parts. Then, if we like the food, attire, or religious beliefs of those people (assuming it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others), we can adopt it ourselves and work it into our own cultural fabric while they adopt our food, attire, religious beliefs, etc. 

So, for this Thanksgiving, I’m choosing to be thankful for cultural appropriation, America, and Everyday Feminism (because at least I’m not them).

Let’s appropriate some cultures!

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