For our last Woke Wednesday, Bincers uncovered and discussed the topic of Cultural Appropriation. It was a great conversation and an opportunity to learn from each other. Here is a recap of what we learned:
Cultural appropriation, in brief, is generally understood to be “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own”. We see this in music, art, even at Forever 21 where significant artifacts, practices, beliefs, and symbols are turned into trendy pop-culture.
On a deeper level, cultural appropriation reflects a power dynamic. The dominant majority takes elements from a culture that has been systematically oppressed. The former group takes those elements and are seen as “edgy” or “creative”, while the oppressed have to face negative stereotypes for embracing these elements of their culture. These things (whether they are symbols, clothing, language, hairstyles, etc.) lose meaning and significance, and the minority group often doesn’t get the credit they deserve.
As a company, we shared our experiences and found nuances and disagreements within the group based on each Bincer’s individual experiences, even between those of the same cultural background - it’s not black and white.
I’ve made my share of questionable outfits and accessory choices, especially in my youth, without a second thought of what sort of effect it would have on another. During our last Woke Wednesday, I was reminded of these mistakes and cringed. A lot. I’m not too proud of my previous ignorance of other cultures and the significance of my actions.
I learned that what we can do is appreciate and learn about different cultures. We can do this by learning about the history of the culture, the good and the bad. At the end of the day, it’s all about education, #respect, and #authenticity.
If you find yourself having this type of conversation, remember to be brief, specific, and assume positive intent. When faced with this topic in real life, these conversations will be difficult. But they’re important to have to make a #positiveimpact on others!
About Woke Wednesday
‘Woke Wednesdays’ are monthly meetings hosted by Binc’s D&I committee which are intended to provide a safe environment for open dialogue on a variety of topics that can be seen as tough to talk about in the workplace, but are essential to learning how we can make our work environment more diverse and inclusive for all Bincers.