There have been numerous occasions where I have been blind sighted by the media force feeding me images of these ‘celebrities’, loosely using the term ‘encouraging’ culture, but rather exploiting it, because they want to take their career to the next stage by exploring new material.
Firstly, the term appropriation and appreciation are nouns which can commonly be misinterpreted, regardless of one’s pure intention to ‘experience’ or understand another’s culture, if not done sensitively. This is commonly carried out by powerful elites, that because of their fame, status and lack of better word, following, are untouchable so reuse or highlight other cultures for their own profit, claiming to remap one’s background without fully dispensing or acknowledging the culture they are exploiting from, which are categorically marginalised and oppressed.
The ignorance doesn’t just stop there; oh no. It goes on to possibly assuming all of these cultural factors, just to be different amongst their peers as a USP, but also do very little to actually understand the heritage and difficulties minorities must have faced just to live and appreciate their own background and not be ridiculed for it. The saying goes ‘ignorance is bliss’ and in the case of modern celebrities, it may just be the case.
It’s not to say that those that do not come from or share that specific background are banished from wanting to experience one’s culture, for example wanting to wear henna or boxer braids etc, but there has to be a form of respect and appreciation of these different cultures that are ‘now becoming more accepted and part of the norm’ in today’s society.
The difference between cultural appreciation and appropriation is for example, when you have celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Katy Perry and Iggy Azelea (just to name a few) jumping onto black culture to excel their public image and career, but remain silent on issues surrounding the black community which they happily take credit for, only if it adds to their own agenda. If they were to be vocal about such issues that debilitate such minorities, and can see are issues that need to be addressed, then maybe people wouldn’t be so opposed to having these celebrities ‘celebrate’ their culture, as it would be publically seen that these ‘vultures’ are in fact people who want to learn about another one’s culture, sharing their insight whilst having celebrities on their side, using their vast platform to express the gulf of oppression against them, and it would demonstrate that instead of appropriating, these people are appreciating as they are trying to build relationships with genuine care and interest in the culture. Because that being said, if you respect something enough and value it, you can’t offend something or someone without the thought ever crossing your mind.
Though it is pleasant to see how minority culture has become more and more accepted, it also feels a sense of betrayal and entitlement that through my childhood, my culture, amongst others, if we dare to wear our culture on our sleeves we’d have been ridiculed and ostracized for being ‘different’, whilst having the additional derogatory names and xenophobic comments thrown at you. But due to having celebrities now putting bindi spots, henna, boxer braids on the mainstream map, it’s now a cool, hipster trait to have, and should be worn ‘proudly’.