Not being one to normally follow celebrity news, as I don’t usually find it important or relevant; but something came out recently that poses a much larger look at an issue afflicting society as a whole.
Pop musician and actress Vanessa Hudgens is one in a long list of individuals to be publicly slammed for cultural appropriation after posting a photo of herself with a dreamcatcher in her hair.
Cultural appropriation remains a one-sided argument that aims to only protect minority, seemingly victimized cultures with no regard for the hypocrisy it encourages.
However, if people were able to look past the restrictions of entitlement and biological heritage to see humans are all of the culture in a globalized world; wherein cultural borrowing and osmosis-education in a positive, non-mocking manner where encouraged most cases of cultural appropriation would be a non-issue.
According to the New World Encyclopedia, the dreamcatcher supposedly first originated with the Ojibwa Nation but was adopted by a number of different nations to show solidarity.
Now, the idea of cultural appropriation is promoting cultural barriers and segregation.
Dreamcatchers are showing up as hair accessories, on clothing, and jewelry, but seems to be an issue of cultural appropriation on an inconsistent basis; as are most arguments of cultural appropriation.
In the globalized world we live in today, where countries, especially western countries, are a melting pot of different cultures, it is nearly impossible not to experience elements of another culture and taking a liking to certain elements.
The argument cultural appropriation as a problem includes the line of thought it strips minorities of the credit they deserve. But if cultural appropriation is about protecting the integrity of cultural elements why is it only minority cultures seem to matter?
Why can those not of a rural western background wear cowboy boots and hat, and those not of the Maile culture wear a lei, and those without Gaels, Gauls, British, Irish, and Gallations heritage sport a Celtic tattoo without being vilified?
There are numerous blogs peppering the Internet on why cultural appropriation remains a troublesome issue. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but not all of these blogs seem to be telling more than one side of the story.
One blog titled My Culture is Not a Trend starts out: “I’ve removed myself from a lot of the cultural appropriation debates because as a person of colour, it is … exhausting trying to have your feelings and pain constantly invalidated by white folks.”
The remainder of the post attempts to explain why reverse cultural appropriation is not an issue and why minorities can take elements of majority cultures without the same repercussions due to the fact English colonization forced that culture upon them anyway.
History contains many tragic events that harbour the suffering of dozens of races: residential schools, the Holocaust, Japanese-Canadian work camps, Ukrainian work camps and the Irish Famine to name a few.
It is important these events and the lessons they need to instill are not forgotten but carrying ongoing grudges and teaching cultural separatism to the next generation is only going to ensure the world’s future looks the same as its past.
Currently, internationally, there is an ongoing debate over whether culture falls under the umbrella of intellectual property. What’s ironic is the Cultural Survival group, an organization advocating Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supports Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience, admits the biggest problem of the intellectual property argument is it is a western notion being applied to non-colonized western culture.
For those who are going to follow that argument while still complaining about about how cultural appropriation needs to end, I call you hypocrits.
One with a victim mentality cannot simply pick who is required to follow the rules and who does not based on what benefits them most.
Amelia Naismith is the new reporter for The Pipestone Flyer. She writes a regular column for the paper.