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PC Culture and Cultural Appropriation in America: How PC is too PC?

Cultural appropriation and political correctness (PC) is the latest hot topic in politics, which seeks to define what is culturally acceptable to think, say, or do. While I do believe that being PC is polite and can be the right thing to do in certain circumstances, sometimes it goes too far.

Cultural appropriation, a recent PC theme, accuses dominant groups of borrowing or appropriating cultural elements from minority or marginalized groups without permission and without love, respect, and understanding.

For example, people are shamed or attacked for wearing American Indian clothing, a Japanese kimono, wearing their hair in dreadlocks, wearing Hindu bindis, etc.

However, my question is, who decides whether someone is appreciating or appropriating? Who decides whether someone has enough love, respect, and understanding to do so? The PC police think they have the authority on that, but these questions have subjective answers, which may change from one PC person to the next.

Of course, people who are PC claim they are standing up for the rights of the minority and the oppressed. However, are they themselves oppressing people by enforcing a made-up concept that shames people for exercising their basic freedom of expression that our country is founded on?

Cultural appropriation also assumes that people from a particular culture will react in the same way, but again, this is a very subjective issue. Some African-Americans may think white people with dreads are cool, while others think they are lame, while others don’t care at all, and others get offended.

Is it better to value the rights to free speech and expression, or to value people’s feelings of getting offended? While I’m usually one to value respect over anything else, getting offended is a personal reaction, which cannot be avoided by an outside authority.

Many of our political issues are also dealt with as if humankind has never seen a problem like this. Appropriation is not a new issue. People from the beginning of time have been interacting and trading with other cultures, whether subconsciously or consciously. 

Personally, I do think people need to be more respectful of each other, but I don’t think there’s any way to truly enforce that. If people really want a melting pot in America, then they have to accept a melting pot of cultures which interact with each other.

Rebecca White is a junior at Seton Hall University in New Jersey where she is majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Writing. She has been on the Dean’s List every semester of her college career and will graduate a semester early in December 2016. During her internships she has conducted celebrity and author interviews. Rebecca is a writer for her college newspaper, The Setonian, and is the Arts and Entertainment copy editor. She aspires to be a novelist while working in the publishing industry, either as a book editor or magazine editor.
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