Appropriation and Assimilation

Appropriation and assimilation can often times have a negative connotation between peoples and societies in today’s world.  Yet, I often wonder if this connotation is accurate or necessary.  Far too often you find people getting offended or angry about other’s “appropriating” their culture.  This appropriation could be the music they listen to, the way they dress, or their religion.  But what I find curious is America is supposed to be the land of the free, the home of the brave, a place you can express your ideals without being ridiculed, and the “world’s melting pot”; where everyone comes together to form Americans.

Yet we constantly find ourselves being segregated and put into groups and then getting mad when others try to break these social norms.  Why does it offend you that I like your music and want to incorporate the style of your dress into mine?  Shouldn’t that be a compliment?  Why are you worried about me “stealing” it from you?  I would like to think in America that were all different, but we can come together learn from each other and  morph into a slightly different culture.  Everyone has different backgrounds, yet they are the same.

Now one might argue that this leads to the destruction of a culture; yet, a counter-argument could be that it is the birth of a new one.  It could be a culture that has many of it’s original ideals, as well as many ideals from many different culture’s that form one very diverse culture.  I believe that real beauty could be found in that.  Beauty in the fact that I could hunt and fish, listen to rap music, eat authentic vietnamese food, practice Islam, wear designer clothing, and be best friends with someone that is the exact opposite from all of that.

I understand that there need to be some social groups and cultural structures so that the best interests and rights of those people are protected.  But I do not understand the ideal of ethnocentrism.  That if your black you can only stick to the “black culture” because everyone else’s ideals are wrong.  There is no reason that someone can strongly practice their own culture, while assimilating to others and have a sense of community in any situation they’re in.

Maybe by having a more diverse culture, the rights of different social groups could be more secure and looked after.  By having more of an understanding of other cultures and ideals and having “walked a mile in their shoes,” people could be more open-minded and willing to look after other people’s best interests.

The whole point to my rant here is that maybe there is possibility to a different outlook on the middle ground between cultures.  Instead of having closed doors between them, they could be open for people to come and go as they please and build new houses based on ones they experienced.  Rather than labeling it cultural appropriation or assimilation, why not label it cultural creation.

Hey Everyone!

Hey everyone! My name is Scott Hammond and I am a Junior at Virginia Tech studying Agronomy. This blog is for my Intro to American Indian Studies class where I will be discussing issues, ideas, and opinions based on American Indian history, culture, colonization and cultural issues in the country. So check in for updates and I hope you enjoy!