Cultural Appropriation and How to Avoid It

Cultural Appropriation and How to Avoid It.

Main point: Don’t be lazy. If something catches your eye, research it. Time and energy are the first steps toward being anti-racist and culturally respectful.

Example: Sushi.

Congratulations, you just ate sushi for the first time! You’re in love! Now what?

1) Research sushi. What’s its history? Does it have special cultural meaning? Is it usually eaten at particular cultural events or religious ceremonies? Is it a day-to-day food? How is it usually consumed? Do specific rolls have special meaning? Is it real sushi or a bastardized version that you’re eating? How is sushi made (rituals involved, is it made by religious leaders)?

2) Is sushi something that is actively shared with others or is it being taken? Were you invited to eat sushi by a Japanese person? Is it a food that Japanese people encourage others to eat or is it something that white people have decided is cool and are making/selling without regard to its background? Is it being sold by Japanese people because they’re economically disenfranchised and it’s one of the only avenues that they have for survival?

3) Where are you buying your sushi? Are you going to a Japanese restaurant owned and operated by Japanese people? Or is it a white-owned restaurant profiting off another culture? Can you buy it from a Japanese chef or restaurant?

Most of these questions can be answered by Wikipedia. And most people will immediately say “No! Too much work! Cultural appreciation! Racism against whites!” but for those who actually care about ending racism, imperialism, and appropriation of other cultures, here you go. Go forth and do better!

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