In a strict sense, cultural appropriation is simply “the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture.” (Wikipedia)
However the more commonly applied usage of the term in a racial justice context is the misappropriation of elements of a marginalized culture by a dominant culture.
Misappropriation might look like fetishization (only “borrowing” from a culture, without their permission, and without a long-term commitment to/knowledge of/relationships among/solidarity with that culture) or opportunism (benefitting—financially or otherwise—from the use of a culture without a reciprocal investment in and honoring of that culture.)
To learn more:
- VIDEO PLAYLIST: What Is Cultural Appropriation and Why Is It Wrong?
- BIG IDEA: Cultural Appropriate Isn’t Appropriate