Cultural Appropriation

February 11, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 5
Can one culture borrow from another without exploitation?
By Meehika Barua


In today's digital age, corporate brands and public figures alike are being singled out over accusations of exploiting culture more than ever, leading to public apologies and cancelled campaigns. While the line between cultural appropriation and appreciation is often blurry, experts say it is possible to borrow from another culture in a way that is respectful, not harmful. Some question the concept of cultural appropriation altogether, saying culture cannot be owned and is inherently malleable — especially amid increasing globalization. However, others say the practice is a symptom of deeply rooted colonialism and white supremacy. Recent incidents of cultural appropriation have brought attention to the need for greater public awareness and education. In the last couple of years, companies have prioritized diversity efforts through hiring and training, as global societies grapple with how to achieve a better understanding and consideration of cultural differences.

YouTube screenshot of singer Madonna wearing henna traditional tatoo on October 26, 2009. (YouTube screenshot)
Pop star Madonna popularized henna in the United States by wearing the traditional Indian tattoo in her 1998 “Frozen” music video. Such usage can raise questions of cultural appropriation. (YouTube screenshot)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Feb. 11, 2022  Cultural Appropriation
Jan. 22, 2021  Corporate D&I
Oct. 30, 2020  Systemic Racism
Oct. 16, 2020  Monument Protests
Oct. 09, 2020  Police Under Scrutiny Updated
Aug. 23, 2019  Reparations for Slavery
Sep. 07, 2018  The STEM Gender Gap
Jan. 19, 2018  Future of Puerto Rico
Nov. 17, 2017  Affirmative Action and College Admissions
Jul. 28, 2017  Muslims in America
Mar. 10, 2017  Charter Schools
Sep. 23, 2016  Women in Leadership
Aug. 05, 2016  Diversity in Hollywood
May 13, 2016  Women in Combat
Jan. 08, 2016  Racial Conflict
Dec. 11, 2015  Transgender Rights
May 01, 2015  Community Colleges
Apr. 24, 2015  Native American Youths
Apr. 03, 2015  Latino Voters
Dec. 12, 2014  Police Tactics
Sep. 14, 2007  Racial Diversity in Public Schools Updated
Dec. 12, 2003  Black Colleges
Oct. 10, 1997  Diversity in the Workplace
Jan. 20, 1971  Ethnic America
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