There is definitely a distinction between cultural exploitation and cultural appreciation. There is also a group of people (usually referred to as SJWs) who prefer to ignore that distinction and cry foul whenever someone engages with a culture outside their own.

My biggest objection to the latter isn’t that they object to (perceived) appropriation — we’re all entitled to feel as offended (or not offended) as we want by just about anything. My beef with them is that they often ignore all the ways in which cultures have borrowed from each other over the years. They also tend to downplay the fact that some practices cut across many different cultures, meaning that those specific practices cannot be claimed exclusively by one culture in particular. It’s a sort of historical revisionism that makes their objections feel very insincere at times.

That being said, I’ve stumbled across my fair share of white-owned tourist traps selling made-in-China dreamcatchers alongside Elvis statues and “I LOVE NY” hats and shirts. I know those places exist, and I agree that the people who deliberately engage in that kind of exploitation should be (respectfully) challenged on it.

Outer space enthusiast. Japanese history junkie. I write about politics, culture, and mental illness. Disagreement is a precursor to progress.

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