The meanings of words change over time much in the same way that cultures develop. Sometimes words that originally meant something else end up with negative connotations that are completely different from what they used to describe. Such is the case with the term cultural appropriation. While that word may have once been a synonym for positive terms like assimilation it has been turned into a slur by the left. It’s unfortunate, because cultural appropriation is a good thing after all.
Cultural appropriation is the latest social justice warrior invention designed to divide people by race. Their incessant use of the term and derision of those who commit the despicable crime is what makes its current meaning truly hollow. There is no such thing as cultural appropriation in the way that the term is used by the left today.
According to Wikipedia cultural appropriation is “the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture”. It’s an anthropological or academic term used to observe cultures as they accept new elements. It’s similar to assimilation or acculturation which are natural phenomenon that have been observed throughout human history.
The classic example would be how the Romans copied the style of Greek art. They did so because they admired the Greeks not because they were looking to abuse their history or profit from it. The Roman adoption of Greek art benefited both cultures and the world as a whole. In that context, cultural appropriation is a perfectly natural and inoffensive occurrence.
According to the left, however, cultural appropriation is a terrible sin that only insensitive white people are guilty of. They would say that white America’s adoption of jazz, R&B, hip hop, and rap music is an actual crime. They believe that the individuals who produced that work do not own the copyright but that the African-American community does as a whole. Therefore, when whites enjoy that product they are stealing from blacks or appropriating their culture without compensation. It’s the laziest and most absurd idea since restitution.
Cultural appropriation does not exist in that form. It is not an evil but rather a public good when different cultures are assimilated into the mainstream. Anyone should be thrilled when their ideas are being accepted by others. They’ve had an influence on the collective conscious of the country and that is no small feat. It’s an achievement that should be acknowledged and celebrated not derided.
If one were to think that rap music’s mainstreaming is cultural appropriation by whites then so is the internet’s popularization cultural appropriation by blacks. It’s the same argument after all. Blacks largely invented rap music and whites largely invented the internet. But should white people be compensated for minorities using the internet? Of course not. Nor should blacks be compensated for white people listening to rap music. Both arguments are equally ridiculous and both create unnecessary divisions in our society.
Every group should be proud to have changed a culture for the better. There’s no need to label it appropriation and imply that something was stolen. Doing so negates the fact that cultural appropriation, or cultural acceptance, is a public good and a net positive for society.
Those that still use the word cultural appropriation negatively need to understand the damage their causing to societal progress. Their regressive attitudes will hinder race relations instead of improving them. They should celebrate cultural appropriation as an achievement instead of loss.