Cultural appropriation is best defined as a problematic power dynamic where members of a dominant group or culture (who have privilege) take or use elements from a culture of people who are marginalized or oppressed by the dominant culture. Often times these the dominant culture benefits from the use of these elements with a gain in power, influence, notoriety, or income. Cultural appropriation is widespread in photography, social media, and beyond. It does damage by letting us show love for a culture, but remaining prejudiced against its people. When members of a dominant culture utilize traditions, tools, and rituals from an oppressed culture at weddings, family events, conferences or anywhere else it furthers the problems of falsehoods, stereotyping, and systemic racism - especially when published online, where stories are often misunderstood. As such, I do not partake or photograph in events with teepees, dream catchers, jumping the broom, henna, or other cultural traditions unless the event is led by people from those cultures.By doing this, when a photograph, narrative, or event is published online - the true owner of a cultural tradition or ritual is the one whose voice is being heard and I’m prioritizing a commitment to justice for oppressed groups over my own dominant culture’s privilege.
3. Cultural Appropriation
Social media, blogging, and photography are about storytelling and one of my core values is to not manufacture narratives or photo opportunities for the sake of the opportunity. I want to tell stories about beekeeping, photography, or neurodiversity as if its unfolding in a documentary way. By doing this I focus on content that’s created with purpose instead of simply for the sake of creation.
4. Creating Content with Meaning