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Cultural Appropriation Versus Cultural Appreciation

Different communities have different cultures and every community love and respect its culture and they expect the rest of the people to do so for their culture. Even within the same country or nation, people have different cultures and every community tries their best to protect it. People are known to have certain characteristics that distinguish them from other communities. These characteristics could be behaviors, clothing, etc. However, when other communities start copying some aspects of other communities’ cultural practices, people could wonder whether it’s cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation. What is cultural appreciation and appreciation? Let’s discuss the two aspects.

Cultural appropriation
Cultural appropriation is also called cultural misappropriation. This is where a community feels that their cultural aspect is being used by other communities for the wrong reasons without their involvement. These aspects could be used for commercial reasons like trademark registration, name, colors etc. without consulting the cultural group involved. These kinds of behavior may lead to cultural clashes. Even though this isn’t good, some business people still use other cultures’ cultural aspects to brand their products and services something that has raised issues over time. Using colors and patterns that are recognized to belong to a certain culture without permission is wrong. For instance, the maasai colors and designs are known worldwide.

Cultural appreciation
Cultural appreciation is using other culture’s traditional artwork, symbols and knowledge respectively. This means using these cultural aspects in the right and respectful way. Using these aspects in the wrong way may distort the message intended and it’s an insult to the owner community. Sometimes, this cultural appreciation may become cultural appropriation according to the way other people view it.

Even when the intentions of the community using another community’s symbol were good, people may see the opposite because of the instance in which the aspect was used or the manner in which it was used. A slight change may bring a serious problem due to misinterpretation. When a company or a community wants to use other communities’ cultural aspects, it’s important for them to consult the community on the right way to use their cultural aspects because misuse of such aspects can be very costly. The intentions must be well known and communicated before the use of the aspects so that in case of a misunderstanding, that community or business can defend themselves.

Before you use brand your business, you must learn trademarks and cultural boundaries to ensure you are on the right track. This will help you to avoid cultural appropriation which will cost you a lot. One of the example of cultural appropriation is buying a piece of jewellery or attire and using it to showcase fashion in a certain ceremony that doesn’t belong to the community you bought them. There are several other examples of cultural appropriation you must learn before you use any cultural aspect of a community publicly. Some companies like Luis Vuitton have found themselves in trouble after using the African masa name and traditional colors in their fashion lines.

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