Cultural Appreciation is appreciating another culture in an effort to broaden their perspective and connect with others cross-culturally, while cultural appropriation is taking one aspect of a culture that is not their own, such as culturally distinct items, aesthetics, or spiritual practices, and mimics it — without consent, permission, or any cultural context or relationship to that item or practice — solely for personal interest, make money, gain popularity, or because they like the way it looks.
The primary difference is that of consent or permission to share in a cultural exchange. For example, appreciating and sharing the culture being celebrated by wearing culturally appropriate clothing at a celebrated event — as opposed to appropriation, such as going to a music festival wearing a costume the imitates a culture that is solely intended to get attention or likes on social media.
The following links provide some examples and explanations of cultural appropriation vs. appreciation:
- Cultural Appropriation vs. Appreciation— Explore this question from three unique points of view: Comic Franchesca Ramsey, Kill Screen founder Jamin Warren and the “Godfather of Streetwear” designer Alyasha Owerka-Moore.
- Cultural Appreciation vs. Cultural Appropriation: Why It Matters — Examples and tips from The Student Voice of Austin Community College District
- What is Cultural Appropriation? — Examples from PBS Studio’s Origin Of Everything, a show about the undertold histories and cultural dialogues that make up our collective story
Cultural appropriation fuels social inequality, injustice, and racism
It is important to note that cultural appropriation also fuels social inequality, injustice, and racism.
Here is an example very close to home: did you know that a very high percentage of Indigenous items sold in Canadian tourism souvenir and gift shops are not produced by Indigenous artisans?
- Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.: Why buying authentic Indigenous art is important
- The Discourse: Fake art hurts Indigenous artists as appropriators profit
- Huffpost: Indigenous Artists: It’s OK To Buy, Wear Indigenous Art. Just Make Sure It’s Authentic
Allowing this to be the norm in Canada highlights the connection between cultural appropriation and social and economic racism, and makes consumers complicit in preventing sustainable economic participation of indigenous artists in our communities. Reclaim Indigenous Arts is an awareness campaign hoping to bring attention to and prevent the devaluation of authentic, indigenous art, prevent the importation of culturally appropriated items, as well as protect Indigenous heritage, traditional knowledge, and exclusive rights to traditional cultural expressions.
To learn more about this topic and its connection to the Indian Act, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, potential reconciliation, and cultural economy of Canada, visit the Reclaim Indigenous Arts website.