Celebrating diversity without fostering adversity

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The term cultural appropriation is one that has stirred up controversy recently in the media as social justice advocates claim that aspects of various cultures are being copied, mocked, and belittled by those who would oppress them in the first place. However, defenders on the other side of the argument claim that these actions are just simply appreciation and that they should not be demonized for embracing aspects of other cultures.

The term cultural appropriation is one that has stirred up controversy recently in the media as social justice advocates claim that aspects of various cultures are being copied, mocked, and belittled by those who would oppress them in the first place. However, defenders on the other side of the argument claim that these actions are just simply appreciation and that they should not be demonized for embracing aspects of other cultures.

Many who lie in the middle of the argument are left wondering where exactly cultural diffusion ends and cultural appropriation begins. Cultural diffusion is a phenomenon that you can trace throughout history and it seems simple enough. If two cultures are mixed together and share the same space, eventually both cultures will rub off on each other and blend.

San Diego is a prime example of cultural diffusion in action as the city is nestled right on the border of Mexico, which promotes and maintains a large Latino population, large Middle Eastern, African American, Asian, Native American and gay populations. Not to mention the countless other subcultures that can be found in the city as well. These large communities have all greatly influenced the overarching regional culture of San Diego in things such as language, food, fashion, architecture, arts, and even street names.

But issues of appropriation deal largely with the specific and characteristic aspects of a culture being recreated by those who do not share the same cultural identity. A good example of this would be Native American moccasins. Social justice activists argue that if a person wants to purchase moccasins they should have the moral obligation to do your best to purchase a genuine hand made pair from a tribe rather than from a manufacturer because in doing so you would be supporting Native Americans and respecting the culture.

Other examples would include racially insensitive Halloween costumes, the Redskins football team, white people celebrating Cinco de Mayo, Straight Pride Parades, and white people getting cornrows. However, many people argue that these are not insensitive and that they do not cause any harm.

In a world that is so currently wrapped up and intertwined in racial tension, it is easy to see why many social justice advocates are going on the offensive, while others are taking the defensive. The root of the problem lies in how we as a society deal with these issues.

Society must come to the conclusion that it is imperative that people respect and admire all cultures regardless of their own, and in doing so open a healthy and informative dialogue on culture and the best ways one can embrace and share in a culture’s history and identity. In doing so, society would be celebrating diversity rather than fostering adversity.

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