There’s a very fine line between appropriation of a culture and appreciation, so fine in fact that many people just blunder over it without even thinking of what they’re doing. You’ve seen them, the drunken morons dressed up as Native Americans for Halloween or at professional sports games, or those that think it’s cool to emulate African American or any other culture by taking the parts that they like and donning them as part of their persona or as a stage costume. Those folks tend to think that they’re not doing anything wrong by taking something they know little to nothing about and using it for their ends. In truth however it’s kind of like creating something and being ignored only to watch someone take the same thing and make it into a sudden sensation without knowing what it means.
Appropriation is a hard term to get around sometimes but it’s also hard to defend as well since throughout time different societies and different civilizations have appropriated elements of those they’ve conquered, forced to assimilate, or have eradicated as their own. So many things in this world have been lost because of appropriation that it’s a wonder if there’s anything that remains as it was when it was first created. Appreciating the cultures that have made their way throughout the millennia is just as difficult since after being disrespected for so long many cultures and their people tend to take great offense at even the slightest hint that someone might be copying something of theirs without their permission.
Unfortunately, there’s not much anyone can do about it.
Throughout history other cultures have been appropriating certain elements and aspects of those around them.
There are times when it’s been done out of necessity, and other times when it’s simply been seen as fashionable or trendy. Necessary appropriation could do with hunting techniques, agricultural methods, or anything that helps a civilization to survive and flourish. In such cases paying appreciation would be the best idea as giving thanks to those that bothered to show others the way would be only right. Of course that’s not how always how our world works, mores the pity.
If you’re going to use someone else’s culture, be sure to at least say thank you for the opportunity and don’t abuse it.
Appreciation is a matter of perspective.
Some people believe they’re paying homage to the cultures that made their designs and lifestyles popular and even possible, but in many ways the hearts of those that belong to said cultures might be hardened and unwilling to admit that anyone is capable of truly furthering their culture but them. It’s easy to see how this would be assumed since a lot of people have openly flaunted other cultures and their ways and have thus damaged relations between cultures for centuries.
Those of different cultures tend to have to get along to survive, so it’s usually wise not to upset one another when so much can be gained from each other.
When trying to please another culture by giving homage or true respect to them it’s important to remember that dressing up in the manner of that culture is not always the best idea unless you belong to it. Some people might shrug it off while others will verbally attack you in ways that you might not expect. Simply donning the cultural garb of another people or performing acts or doing anything that happens to belong to their culture isn’t evil or wrong in and of itself, but it is far wiser to appreciate such things without engaging in them. Appreciate and respect the cultures of others, don’t feel the need to touch and befoul them in ways you won’t understand.