The Fine Line Between Cultural Appropriation and Appreciation

Liliana Valdez

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Culturally appropriation has long existed in the world. Whether it be intentional or not, appropriating a culture shows a lack of respect for others.

Recently a photo of Grammy award-winning singer Adele has gone viral. The photo, which the singer posted onto her Instagram showed her celebrating what would have been the Notting Hill Carnival, an event that celebrates Caribbean heritage in London. The photo has spiked a major controversy, as she is seen wearing the Bantu Knots hairstyle. 

Bantu Knots, thought to have originated in Southern Africa, are a traditional African protective hairstyle for hair types ranging between 3A-4C. This hairstyle carries much history along with it, yet when it is worn by Black American women, some perceive it as being unprofessional.

This photo has once again brought up the topic of cultural appropriation.

The intention behind wearing the hairstyle is most likely to celebrate Caribbean culture, however, the internet seems to be split on whether or not it demonstrates a complete disregard for the struggles that groups who wear this style have style, have gone through.

Adele is not the only celebrity to be under scrutiny for cultural appropriation. The Kardashians, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, and many others have been in similar situations in the past as well. 

The problem that arises with this, is whether or not these situations are considered cultural appropriation or appreciation. 

There is a very thin line that exists between the two matters and many people can not distinguish these actions as being one or another. In most cases, it is better to allow those who are being directly affected by the situation to speak up first.

It was no long ago when people were ridiculed for embracing their culture, and of course, with changing times things have gradually become more accepted. On the other hand, cultural appreciation is completely allowed, as it shows the will to learn more in-depth about other groups. The problem is when things are taken too far and it is no longer showing appreciation.

In this case, it can’t be said if whether or not Adele was appropriating or appreciating, however, this is a clear area when people do go too far. Before deciding to do something outside of your own culture, please do research and take into account how your actions could affect others.