“Ethnic” clothes and hairstyles are still stigmatized as unprofessional, “cultural” foods are treated as exotic past times, and the vernacular of people of color is ridiculed and demeaned. So there is an unequal exchange between Western culture – an all-consuming mishmash of over-simplified and sellable foreign influences with a dash each of Coke and Pepsi – and marginalized cultures. People of all cultures wear business suits and collared shirts to survive. But when one is of the dominant culture, adopting the clothing, food, or slang of other cultures has nothing to do with survival. So as free as people should be to wear whatever hair and clothing they enjoy, using someone else’s cultural symbols to satisfy a personal need for self-expression is an exercise in privilege.
The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation (link here)
I really have to share this. I’m honored just to know this girl and so proud of what she’s accomplished by the age of 21.
Kristin Allen is an acrobatic gymnast from Livermore, California. She and her partner Michael Rodrigues were the first American mixed team to win gold in acro at the World Games and the second to win the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championship. She hasn’t just placed first in multiple national and international competitions, but has been awarded many titles, including Sportsperson of the Year and USA Gymnastics’ Athlete of the Year.
After Kristin retired from competition in 2011, she and Michael went on to work in Las Vegas as featured performers in Cirque du Soleil’s Viva ELVIS. She also founded what is now the Acrobatic Gymnastics Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting and expanding the sport and its community.