Cultural Appropriation Is A Good And Necessary Thing

Sadly, I keep hearing stories about people slashing at each other for “cultural appropriation.” I had hoped this issue would die on its own, but evidently it hasn’t. And so I think it’s worth a brief post.

Cultural appropriation refers to a sort of robbery: the stealing of something created by a member of one group, by a member of some other group. The most common example I’ve run into is when someone of a lighter skin tone quotes Martin Luther King, Jr., and is told that they’re not allowed to do that, because they’re stealing the words of a black man.

There are other examples, of course, covering almost anything imaginable, from vocabulary to food. Almost always this is done for political power, but its damage goes far beyond the mendacity of politics. Here’s the core of the issue:

Progress – functional survival – requires us to grasp and use good ideas wherever we find them.

If we seriously attempted to use only those things created by people who look like us, half of mankind would be dead within six months.

I won’t bother going through lists of ethic groups and inventions… and neither have the people who use this enemy-of-life phrase.

So, let me say this again, in another way:

Anyone who could end ethnic-to-ethnic sharing would simultaneously murder most of humanity.

And that’s a fact.

We are one race of human beings; we need to share and to survive together. Cultural appropriation is good and necessary. Without it, our streets would fill with piles of corpses… and quickly.


Paul Rosenberg