Cultural Appropriation And Its Effect On Society

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In the simplest of terms, cultural appropriation is loosely defined as an act that occurs when someone of a dominant culture adopts or utilizes certain aspects of a culture that is not their own. However, appropriation goes far beyond that, and can be especially harmful to the marginalized groups that are having their culture appropriated by dominant groups. A deeper look focuses on the power dynamic that exists within and constitutes appropriation. In other words, when members of a dominant group or culture and take elements of a culture that has been systematically oppressed by the dominant groups in America, they are enacting appropriation. The issue becomes more problematic when these dominant groups (which are typically white people) use elements of a subordinate culture without acknowledging or being aware of the original context or source of the materials being appropriated. This isn’t to say that there cannot be cultural exchange (appreciation), or assimilation either. It is important to distinguish appropriation from assimilation, which often occurs when a less dominant group has to adopt elements of the dominant culture in order to survive or endure the systems put in place. For marginalized groups, assimilation helps to avoid even greater struggles, while appropriation is often a case of a dominant group having a choice as to whether or not they want to adopt certain elements of another culture. This emphasizes the power imbalance that serves as the main dynamic
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