There’s a great post this week over here on The Langar Hall about cultural appropriation and fashion. I often find myself bristling at discussions on cultural appropriation on both sides because I understand “culture” to be something extremely fluid and dynamic and always being influenced by power and economics. That being said, I do appreciate Sonny’s stance in this article of both recognizing the constant flux of culture but also acknowledging the power dynamics at play.
“The thing about cultural appropriation is that the appropriator does not have to face the same consequences that we do for practicing our culture or faith. For them, it is an accessory that can be taken on or off at will, while for us, it is a way of life. I’m not saying cultural or religious garb or practices should not be shared. Culture never exists in a vacuum and is never pure, nor should it be. It is ever-changing, evolving, growing. But in a society where immigrants and communities of color are marginalized at every level, we can’t pretend that power relations do not exist when we have this conversation about appropriation. Sharing and exchanging cultural and spiritual practices is great, but it gets more complicated when we’re not all on equal footing. It gets more complicated when meaningful things are taken, commodified, and exploited for a profit, with little respect shown to the community they were taken from. This is a much bigger conversation than Jean Paul Gaultier’s turbans on the runway, to be sure, but perhaps we can use his turbans as an opportunity to begin (or continue, as the case may be) the conversation in the Sikh community.”
To read the full article click here.