Cultural appropriation is a form of erasure
Cultural appropriation popularizes an action but fails to educate people on the action’s cultural significance, thus erasing it entirely. Without the cultural significance attached to the action, appropriation occurs and the majority remains ignorant of an action’s cultural significance.
Cultural appropriation is a form of valuing a culture above the humans that produced it.
The ‘Harlem Shake’ is a good example of cultural appropriation as a form of erasure. The viral sensation saw netizens across the world go from a motionless stance to suddenly extravagant and over the top dancing in seconds. Prior to the viral trend, the term ‘Harlem Shake’ was originally a dance from the historically black Harlem district of New York City. In borrowing the name of the dance, those that started the viral craze believed they were paying homage and honouring an element of African American culture. In reality, they were erasing the cultural roots and with it, the people that started the dance. Now, when people hear the term ‘Harlem Shake’, they don’t think of the African American dance scene, or the original Harlem Shake dance that originated in the dance halls of Harlem, they think of a viral sensation that has nothing to do with African Americans or African American culture. In this way, cultural appropriation erases the people and the culture that produced the design or style. This is a particularly dangerous form of racism.
[P1] Cultural appropriation is valuing a cultural element above a people. [P2] This is racist by suggesting that the culture is more valuable than its people.