Cultural appropriation, ever heard of it? People use the term all the time yet most mainly use it out of context. There’s a clear definition that could help folks truly understand but when has anyone not distort definitions to benefit themselves?
Dictionary definition of cultural appropriation
noun: cultural appropriation; plural noun: cultural appropriations
2. It’s an inadequate citation, acknowledgement and or credit given to an original source or group attempting to pass off the work as ones own without acknowledging the originator. Some profit and benefit from the borrowing of another culture without the intention of equitably sharing in said profit or benefit or giving due credit. When those fail to consult or research the borrowed culture they end up misrepresenting that culture.
3. It’s failure to seek out input or approval from the originators or community.
- having dreadlocks yet not understanding the cultural history of them
- criticizing a person of color’s hair texture
- asking to touch another person’s hair because you’re curious
- discriminating against someone because they don’t fit into European beauty standards
- mocking another hairstyle that may have cultural significance
- creating laws and societal rules that limit expression of a particular cultural group through hairstyles within professional and academic environments
- imitating a hairstyle of another yet taking credit for it
The reason I chose hair as my topic of interest is because most don’t know that hairstyles are an important topic among people of color. It’s a very deep cultural thing that most treat less than due to lacking a true understanding of it. As a black woman with a very diverse family hair is spoken about quite often. I have naturally curly hair as most black people do to varying degrees. People treat natural hair like it’s new and unique. But its been around for decades yet never really accepted or respected even by those who have it. Being that it’s full of versatility, it creates huge opportunity for those in the natural hair business with products, salons, hair shows, YouTube tutorials and of course the envy of other cultures.
Sometimes people get what I like to call, scissor happy and cut their hair off multiple times. I tend to get an itch to chop my hair like every Summer even after I lost all of it to chemo. I had no hair on me head to toe for about a year during my cancer treatments. Having curly hair was my signature, what I was known for so being bald felt weird. The funny part is that it growing back from baldness was an interesting experience and I honestly loved how the water felt running on my very short hair in the shower. Unfortunately I still wanted and did cut my hair 2 years after it grew back. I feel bad that many people aren’t able to get their hair to grow back once treatments are complete. For some reason hair just became nothing more than an accessory to me. I really don’t care as much about my hair because when your life is in question, your priorities most likely will change. But I can definitely sympathize with someone who would like to change up their hairstyle yet lost their hair permanently. It’s because some people identify only by their hair with their whole existence revolving around it.
I recently read this article about jobs not hiring people with certain hairstyles and it being legal. So not only did this melting pot of a country make racism the norm but now the hiring process is using hair as a way to further discriminate against prospective employees. Who is to say something like an afro, dreads or braids aren’t professional when that’s what our hair does? Has anyone ever looked into the religious history or cultural significance of these hairstyles? It’s not just some weird thing that should invoke curiosity and criticism.
It reminds me when people ask to touch someone’s hair. That is ridiculous! This isn’t a petting zoo and we aren’t on display. More and more a ditching perms, weaves, and anything that makes curly kinky hair look more Eurocentric. I still hate when I’m asked to straighten my hair because someone wants to know what it would look like. I’m ‘Team Curly’ for life! I really wish they used their imaginations instead of having someone damage their hair for their ignorance. I had to painfully watch a referee cut a young black wrestler’s hair at a match with scissors because it wasn’t acceptable in order for him to perform. I’ve seen children on the news getting suspended, reprimanded and detention for having braids, natural kinky hair or locs. Why is the world so scared of hairstyles? Pay attention to the fact that if a person who isn’t of color decides to wear braids or dreads etc. it’s regarded as a cool new trendy hairstyle. Lots of hypocrisy going on if you ask me!