The Appropriation of Style

There are few things more self identifying and important to culture than style. The importance in symbolism and use of color is often lost on us in the western world. The generations worth of history and passion that went into creating what we see currently is often lost on our disposable sensibilities. It’s something uniquely American that allows us the luxury to only have respect and admiration for other cultures when it’s convenient for us. Its that unique convenience that enables us to unknowingly disrespect other cultures.

We spoke a bit on this during our ¡Culture Fresh!™ Podcast episode. It’s to me difficult to say that people are appropriating culture. To appropriate culture you have to understand the culture and all it encompasses. In reality people do not make the attempt to understand the culture, which is why we state that it is more an appropriation of said cultures’ style more so than it is the culture as a whole.

This is not to downplay the significance of that disrespect, intentional or otherwise. Its merely a change in the wording to give another view of a common theme in western culture. This is not meant to draw a racial divide either. Merely to allow some clarity in terminology. No one is safe from style appropriation in the west. Let’s not mince our words here. We ALL do it. From sagging pants to esoteric imagery used in fashion. We often manipulate symbols and traditions that once represented something powerful into a marketable fashion statement. By downplaying the cultural significance style has and will have we do our collective histories a disservice.

The idea should be to pay homage and educate, rather than assimilate that style into mainstream society. What’s the saying? “He who does not know history is doomed to repeat it.” Let’s not lose sight of the importance of style and flavor. Not just to look fresh, but to educate.

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