Cultural Appropriation in my Communities

I am a part of three major communities - the blogging community, the witchy/woowoo/tarot community, and the planner community.  Each of these communities has it's own version of cultural appropriation...and it really bugs me.
Hear me out now..I don't think I'm over reacting.  I don't like to add disclaimers, but I'm adding one : If you don't agree with me or don't find problem in this, okay.  That's great, please go about your day. (/sarcasm)  But if it even irks you in the slightest, I ask you to take action.  I also ask for grace as I am doing my best to explain this feeling in this blog post.

First off, in the last few years certain things have been brought to the forefront of our attention.  If you've noticed that everyone is talking about Cultural Appropriation its because, well, they are.  CA is not something new..it's been around for ages.  I am also not an expert, I am merely examining my privilege and sharing experiences.  In each of these communities I get really put off by the use of terms originating from other cultures so.......willy nilly.

Most notably the use of words originating Native American or First American & African American culture.  No, I will not join your tribe.  No, we're not going to have a blogging powwow.  No, I'm not a spiritual gansta.  Less often I've seen the word ghetto or other terms from AAVE (African American Vernacular English) used wholeheartedly to describe something they shouldn't be used to describe.  You're glorifying a culture while simultaneously marginalizing it.  YOU'RE not a part of that culture, so you don't need to be using those words.  It is for this reason I chose to call my energy clearing kit DIY an Energy Clearing Kit DIY and not a smudging kit - those are not my words. I can not use them.  I even touch on that in the actual blog post.

The second thing I've seen quite often is the use of imagery that originates from another culture because it's pretty.  Dream catchers are pretty.  Sugar skulls are pretty.  Feathers, tipi , headdresses, etc, etc are pretty.  But the aren't yours.  Again, glorifying an aspect of a culture while not supporting it....is not a good thing to do.

In the witchy/woowoo/tarot community I've seen Spirit Animal, tribe, & smudging used too much.  There are things that I struggle with - am I allowed to use the term Chakra?  Does that fall under cultural appropriation (CA), or not? If its not my word I should not use it.  Just because it is popular doesn't mean it is right.  There are generic terms for many things and there is no reason to use a sugar skull for decor.

Cultural appropriation is a very, very real deal.  When we use terms or images because they are hip, trendy, cool, fun, pretty, etc while simultaneously marginalizing the group that they come from - that's not appreciating the culture, that is appropriating it.  If you have to sacrifice the alliteration & trendiness of your tag line for respect, then you know...you should do that.  Its not a sacrifice for you to respect others.

I'm not perfect on this.  But like any person who wishes to grow the community in which they live, I must change.  I must keep up with it, be aware of my words, and use them intentionally.  And speak up when I see it.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  I hope that you've gained insight into cultural appropriation and may be able to notice it in your communities.  I hope that you will speak up & also change your ways to respect others.

Please let me know how you feel on this subject down in the comments or over in the Five Sixteenths Blog | Live Creatively Facebook group.

I couldn't find the original article/blog post I read that really inspired this post, but I consulted the following article while writing this ::  6 Ways You Harm Me When You Appropriate Black Culture – And How to Appreciate It Instead.  It is a good read and breaks down how black culture is commercialized and sold to the white population - it's cool & trendy while its commercialization doesn't support the original culture.  Please take time to read it. 

xoxo, Moe

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your feelings, Moe. I agree with you and didn't even realize that I could be marginalizing. You've helped me be more aware of words and symbols of other cultures.


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