This is a guest post by Joanna, who blogs at My Name is JuJuBe. She's wondering just where the lines are for white people between "appropriation" and something like, "respectful appreciation."
I have a question that I would love to hear some feed back about. I recently read a book called Culture Bandits, by Del Jones, about the appropriation of African cultural images and traditions by white people.
Now, I understand that performing a traditional type of music, or wearing certain culturally significant items are blatant forms of cultural appropriation. I never really paid attention to the concept of cultural appropriation before, but have become more aware in recent years.
So, I have several questions regarding this.
1) While I have heard many times (and always believed) that a white person wearing dreadlocks is a form of cultural theft, does the same hold true for a white person wearing braids/cornrows?
2) If a white person displays art work from another culture in their home (and I mean GENUINE artwork, not a white person's INTERPRETATION of another culture's artistic tradtion), is that cultural appreciation, or cultural appropriation?
3) If a white chef is called an "expert" on the food of another cultural, like Rick Bayless is considered a highly respected Mexican chef, is that culturally inappropriate? (I see nothing wrong with a home chef cooking food from another cultural tradition, but I think that profiting from someone else's cultural traditions is disrespectful.) Does it make a difference HOW the person goes about doing this? (meaning, is Rick Bayless living in Mexico and studying the food and later opening a restaurant as offensive as say, Taco Bell?)