I made a playlist and it’s not very good
"someone was mean to me once because I tried to turn a personal post about their experiences as an oppressed person into a social justice debate, I’m going to make a comic about how social justice culture on tumblr is terrible" - like half the people on tumblr, apparently
This is a pretty good article, I think.
Basically, the issue lies with dominant cultures (i.e. White, Western cultures) taking things from oppressed or subordinate cultures (i.e. pretty much every other culture, thanks to colonialism etc) and changing, diluting, or removing their meaning while doing so. This means that not all things from other cultures are appropriated - while it’s obviously heinous cultural appropriation for a White person to wear a Native American warbonnet because of the great cultural significance it has, it’s probably ok for them to wear moccasins because they have little meaning attached to them other than being a traditional kind of shoe. Obviously the line between ok and not ok to do/wear is very blurry and difficult to define, but generally if you’re in doubt, don’t do it and/or check with someone who is both part of the culture in question and educated on cultural appropriation.
There are, of course, ways of experiencing and participating in other cultures without it being appropriation. Although it would generally not be ok for a White person to wear bindi and other traditional Indian clothing, if, say, an Indian friend of theirs invites them to join in on a celebration their family is having and borrow some traditional clothing to do so, it would be ok for the White person to accept and wear the clothing in that context. Context is always important in cultural appropriation.
Of course, people of colour are by no means except from appropriating things. If a Japanese person with no connection to Indian culture wears a bindi, it’s no better than a White person doing it, because they too are stripping it of its meaning.
There’s a few things you can ask yourself to help avoid cultural appropriation. Does this have meaning in its culture of origin that it does not have when I do it? Was this made by members of the culture it is from? (It’s ok to wear garments and accessories made and sold by members of oppressed cultures, but mainstream retailers recreating and selling designs with no input from members of the cultures of origin is generally appropriative.) Would a member of this culture be harassed/teased/attacked/denigrated for doing/wearing this? If you’re not sure, again, avoid it just in case.
Take everything I’ve said here with a grain of salt because I’m white as hell and only repeating what I’ve gathered from reading things written by people of colour. As far as I’m aware what I’ve written here is more-or-less accurate, but if any people of colour have any input I will edit this.