Cultural Appropriation Issue

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

Imagine putting hard work and effort into a project only to receive a letter grade F, but your classmate copies your work and receives an A. Wouldn’t that be upsetting? Dating back to 3000 B.C Africans have been braiding their hair in cornrows. Centuries ago in Africa, warriors and kings were identified by what style their hair was braided. Until this day, cornrows and other styles of braids are still worn all over Africa with some styles being a sign of age, wealth, marital status, and religion.

While at a conference in South Africa a well-known Atlanta based celebrity hair stylist, Nancy V. Brown, realized that braids were a way of self-expression saying, “the women I met use shells, bottle caps, corals, fresh flowers and twigs among other items to adorn their cornrows and express their personalities” (Gabbara, 2017). Many of Africa’s cultures and practices have been passed on to African Americans or Blacks, including the hair braiding. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s Blacks started wearing cornrows to reflect their heritage and to support the Black Power Movement. In the ‘80s cornrows went out of style because of the Jheri curl, but in the 90’s and 2000s celebrities such as “D’Angelo, Allen Iverson, Bow Wow, Ludacris, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Ciara” brought cornrows back into style (Gabbara 2017).

Cultural appropriation is when customs, practices or ideas of a culture are adopted by people of another culture without acknowledging and giving credit for where it came from. This usually happens with people from cultures that are more dominant that the culture from which they’re stealing from. While it is okay to borrow and use other cultures practices, customs and ideas, we must remember to give credit where it’s due. Cultural appropriation is not right.

As Black people continued to wear their hair braided and in cornrows, eventually people of other cultures, mostly white, started to talk bad about the hair style. Some saying it wasn’t professional and even going as far as firing their Black employees who wore their hair braided. There’s the example Melphine Evans who was a black former executive at BP oil company who was fired over her braided hair (Wilson 2013). In 2017 there was also a Banana Republic employee who was told by her white manager that her braids were too “unkempt for their image” (Lowe 2017). He also mentioned that if she didn’t change her hair style he would no longer schedule shifts for her to work (Lowe 2017).

Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner along with several other white celebrities often braid their hair in cornrows changing the name to “boxer braids”, “KKW braids” or “birthday braids” (Gabbara 2017). Portraying that the hairstyle is a new style of hair braiding that they came up with. These celebrities are often glorified on social media for this; in 2014 it was tweeted Kendall Jenner had taken braids to a “new epic level” and after that the LA Times credited Cara Delevingne, Rita Ora, and Kristen Stewart for cornrows “moving away from urban, hip hop to chic and edgy” (Gabbara 2017). So, the question is, are cornrows only “chic and edgy” when white people wear them?

Frequently, many people accidently use cultural appropriation mixing it up with cultural borrowing. This happens because they love the culture; they love what they see so they want to replicate it. This is still not suitable to do. For example, in April 2016 Justin Bieber decided to grow his hair out in dreadlocks because he liked the way they looked, but Justin Bieber won’t ever be called a gangster, thug, or be told he looks like he sells drugs and smells like marijuana, just as black men are told.

Cultural appropriation isn’t always dealing with different people stealing African hair braiding, it also deals with the assets of African Americans. One commonly known fact is that most African American people have big lips, thick thighs and a voluptuous bottom. As an African American person myself I remember growing up in Elementary school and being asked by my white, and sometime other ethnic classmates why my lips were so juicy and big. Coincidentally a couple years back there was a challenge called “The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge” where people from all over the world, especially white girls were glorifying Kylie Jenner for getting her lips injected with silicone inevitably so she could look more like a black woman. As black people, we naturally have these physical qualities but surprisingly instead of others glorifying us, we receive flak.

All and all the point many miss are when it comes to cultural appropriation, ones need to be careful when copying customs, practices or ideas from other cultures. As Arewa brought out in her article entitled Love Hate and Culture Wars, “explorations in the cultural sphere must be undertaken with attention to context” (pg 28). This needs to start with celebrities because they are the ones who influence the world. People go on social media and look at their pages and believe that they came up with these styles of hair braiding when in fact they’re style of hair braiding was taken from African, or that their big fake lips are so beautiful when in fact black people have had big lips since the beginning of time, but have been criticized for them. Once again, it is okay to borrow ideas from other cultures, we just have to remember to give credit where it’s due.

Cite this paper

Cultural Appropriation Issue. (2021, Sep 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/cultural-appropriation-issue/



How does cultural appropriation cause harm?
When people appropriate from cultures that are not their own, they often do so in a way that is insensitive and harmful. This can cause harm to the people who belong to the culture that is being appropriated from.
Is wearing henna cultural appropriation?
Henna is a cultural practice with deep roots in Indian, North African, and Middle Eastern cultures. Wearing henna can be seen as cultural appropriation if the person wearing it does not have any personal connection to the culture and is not respectful of the cultural significance of the practice.
What are examples of cultural appropriation?
Cultural appropriation is the act of taking or using elements of one culture by members of another culture. Some examples of cultural appropriation include wearing traditional Native American headdresses as a fashion statement, using Buddhist iconography in commercial advertising, and playing music from other cultures without permission or understanding the cultural context.
We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out