Inclusive Language: Cultural Appreciation and Cultural Appropriation

As part of our Inclusive Language Series, we are introducing some terms and resources for you to learn more about this semester in an effort to create more inclusive communities. This week’s terms are: Cultural Appreciation and Cultural Appropriation.

Understanding the difference between Cultural Appreciation and Cultural Appropriation is important all year round. The differences are especially important during the Halloween season when many choose to dress in costumes to be someone else or an identity other than their own.

Cultural Appreciation can be described as a way of honoring another culture through exploration and seeking an understanding as a way to honor that culture, beliefs, and traditions. There is a thin line between Cultural Appreciation and Cultural Appropriation. If one uses the knowledge that they have learned for personal gain, they have crossed that thin line.

As explained by Anti-Racist Daily, Cultural Appropriation is the misuse of “creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices” of marginalized communities by socially dominant groups. Examples of mainstream cultural appropriation can include adopting a false or mocking accent of a culture or language, sports teams with offensive names or mascots, and a fashion designer creating pieces dedicated to a culture they don’t belong to and not involving cultural members to participate in the design process or the fashion show.

An easy way to remember the difference between Cultural Appropriation and Cultural Appreciation is to remember that Cultural Appreciation is about honoring a culture whereas Cultural Appropriation is dishonoring or demeaning a culture.

As you are preparing to celebrate Halloween, if you are choosing to do so, please be aware of the differences between Cultural Appreciation and Cultural Appropriation, as well as the potential harm that can be caused to by choosing to appropriate someone’s culture.

Reflection Questions:

Below are questions from Preemptive Love that will assist one in determining whether or not they are honoring or dishonoring a culture.
1. Do I understand the significance of what I’m doing here?
2. Am I honoring this culture or simply imitating it?
3. Am I perpetuating a stereotype that might hurt those who belong to this culture?
4. Am I doing this as a personal opportunity to interact with and experience another culture, or am I doing this for a photo I can post online?

Upcoming Holidays & Observances

October 24: Diwali, the Hindu, Jain, and Sikh five-day festival of lights that celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and lightness over darkness.
October 25–26 (sundown to sundown): Birth of Báb, a Bahá’í holiday celebrating the birth of the prophet Báb
October 26–27 (sundown to sundown): The birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í religion
October 29: Latina Equal Pay Day. The aim is to raise awareness about the wider-than-average pay gap between Latinas and White men. Latinas are paid 54 cents for every dollar paid to White men.
October 31: All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), a celebration observed in a number of countries on the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.
October 31: Reformation Day, a Protestant Christian religious holiday celebrated alongside All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) during the triduum of Allhallowtide in remembrance of the onset of the Reformation
October 31–November 1 (sundown to sundown): Samhain, a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter