Cultural “appropriation” shows us that evolution is part of life

Sara Varela


Cultural appropriation is something we’ve all heard about but that isn’t necessarily real. To anyone familiar with history, such concept is at the very least doubtful. But to experts, cultural appropriation has no meaning.

Recently, during the TEDx event hosted by Broward College, history professor Dr. Edward Cornejo held a talk titled Your Cultural Identity Has Been One Big Lie where he explained that each culture itself is a series of tradeoffs from several other cultures. In other words, the culture that each of us is so defensive of, isn’t even uniquely ours as we would all like to think.

Following Dr. Cornejo’s thoughts and points, it’s probably smart we understand that “cultural authenticity” is impossible.

If we look at every single culture’s history, we’ll find that they have become what they are now thanks to countless encounters with other cultures. It can even be considered ‘natural’ the fact that cultures will always borrow from other cultures.

Cultures have and will always continuously evolve over time. Through time, culture shifts to follow the changes in technology, society, economy, politics, etc. What many have called “cultural appropriation” is actually what I would like to call globalization. Thanks to the interchange and encounters between cultures, globalization has been possible. From spreading things from democracy to language, the mistakenly so-called “cultural appropriation” has shaped the world to what it is today.

Without the mingling between different cultures, we would not have even half of the scientific and technologic breakthroughs we have today.

Even if cultural appropriation really existed, it shouldn’t be met with criticism and reject. Let’s look at it this way: if somebody copies you, you should probably be flattered. The fact somebody desires to copy something from you is a compliment – it means that what you do, or what you have is desirable.

Everything we experience in our everyday lives, from our morning coffee to the car we drive to work or school, is the result of cultural interactions. We should be thankful that at any point, we have the chance to learn from new cultures. We can make the world a better place if we all embrace change and the sharing of our positive traits.

Instead of blasting at those who embrace and integrate desirable traits from a different culture we should appreciate how we are contemplating evolution with our very own eyes.