Culture and race are two seperate things. I think this can be agreed upon. (Particularly interesting is that race is not an actual genetic phenomena, and certainly the portrayals and interpretation of race does have a lot to do with culture, but I’m saying that it is not an automoatic thing). One’s race is not a deterministic factor in one’s life or one’s culture. So saying that it is inappropriate and perhaps even racist for white kids to wear hairstyles that originated in the cultures of people who happened to be of another race is really weird. What this is suggesting is that we all have preordained or predestined sorts of cultures within which we are allowed to behave, but that we cannot move outside of them. Do we have to only embrace the culture of our ancestors??? Isn’t this is little bit predeterministic? What if you don’t feel comfortable with or like the culture of your ancestors?
What is a white kids hair supposed to look like? WHy should race limit their choice in hairstyle?
I’m pretty certain that the movie The Taxi Driver is not what popularized the mohawk, but that largely it was the punk rock movement. I have a mohawk. I embrace the culture of punk. I don’t embrace the WASP culture of my ancestors. I don’t agree with it, belief in it, or support it. I don’t think I should be expected to either. So I should have some autonomy in choosing the sorts of cultures I want to embrace. I don’t do it to be ‘counter cultural’ I do it because it feels right to me. Also, I don’t think anyone expect for punks has had GREEN mohawks.
I think we should encourage more sharing of culture, more broadening of choices and lifestyles.
Cultural appropriation seems most harmful to me when it involves commodification. If the religious practices of a culture are commodified to sell tourist kitsch- like Voodoo dolls for instance- that seems really fucked up. But if a non-celtic heritage person decides to start studying and practicing a celtic religion or celtic mythology, I don’t see why that is a problem.