It’s pretty common to find cultural appropriation as an issue in the EDM community. From girls wearing Bindis at festivals to guys wearing native headdresses, and David Guetta’s music video there’s a huge uproar about it all. As a community based on the principles of PLUR and acceptance where is the line drawn? Are some things just simply overlooked or are they just accepted? Here’s a look from a person who is guilty of cultural appropriation and came to realize when it is wrong.
According to a quick Google search, the dictionary definition of the word appropriation is as follows: “The action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission”. By this definition I believe we are all guilty of appropriation of some kind at some point in our lives, therefore there is nothing wrong with appropriating something, especially if it’s for reasons of self expression. By the motto of PLUR we should keep the PEACE by RESPECTING the way others express themselves, I’ve met tons of people who were sporting Native Headdress, Bindis, or some other form of so called “cultural appropriation” and had the best vibes! The fact is people aren’t appropriating things because they want to spite or demoralize a culture people appropriate things because they appreciate them for their face value. We preach love, respect, and acceptance yet horribly bash people for doing the things they enjoy which are ultimately an expression of themselves. To make matters more ironic Bindis are a traditional accessory and their meaning is deeply rooted in spirituality and self expression. There’s even heated debate among people who wear Bindis for religious or spiritual purposes as to whether people who don’t not follow similar beliefs should be allowed to wear them for this reason!
A Bindi being worn in festival fashion
However some people need to use the PLUR mentality to understand when the self expression is blatantly offensive. Unlike Bindis, native american headdresses have a very deep meaning in personal achievement through acts of honor, hardship, loyalty, strength and bravery in addition to the self expression of the individual who crafted the headdress. As a result people should RESPECT the deeper meaning of native headdresses and avoid wearing them as a form of self expression no matter how well they can rock one. The cultural appropriation of native headdresses has no justification for this reason, something the descendants of Native peoples can agree upon.
However another universally allowed form of cultural appropriation is flow arts! Poi, hooping, fan dancing, staff spinning and the like all have traditional cultural ties with variations around the world. However this form of cultural appropriation receives no flak, aside from festivals that ban them for “safety” reasons such as HARD events. Why you may ask? Because in the umbrella term it’s EXPLICITLY described as art, the ultimate form of self expression! Art and self expression are the reasons we have the gloving is not a crime movement as well!
Traditional poi found in Maori culture
Rather than just pointing fingers or wearing something for looks we should take a little more time to be aware of our actions. Cultural appropriation won’t go away with people being upset about it. It is only going to go away if we take time to understand some things deserve the respect to be worn for more than just appearance and vanity.