The Appreciation not Appropriation campaign aims to encourage open dialogue and reflection regarding cultural appropriation and the harm it causes within our communities. We want to discuss how appropriation differs from appreciation, and how we all can participate in fostering an environment where we appreciate, rather than appropriate.

To be part of the campaign, take our pledge online or at one of the locations below, and pick up a button:

  • AMS Front Desk (JDUC 1st floor)
  • Tricolor Outlet (JDUC 2nd floor)
  • Print & Copy Centre (JDUC 1st floor)
  • Common Ground and the Brew (Queen’s Center 2nd floor and JDUC 2nd floor)

 Sign the pledge here!

You can also join us at one or all of our events during the campaign, starting Wednesday, October 17th, in Sutherland Room (JDUC) at 6:30pm:

Join us along with almost a dozen of religious and cultural groups on campus at the Cultural and Religious Appreciation Night. Learn more about the different cultural and religious traditions that exist on our campus and engage with members from a variety of different cultural and religious clubs here at Queen’s. Oh, and enjoy yummy dishes while listening to music from around the world!

How can I appreciate a culture without appropriating it?

Seek out knowledge and information. What is the significance of an Indigenous headdress? Why is it an earned honor that bares great responsibility in Indigenous communities? What does it mean, then, when they are sold as accessories for music festivals?

Let’s appreciate, not appropriate.

Think about the context. Are you in a setting where you are being asked to participate in a certain cultural practice by people of that culture to honor a certain occasion or out of respect? Or are you choosing an “attractive” element of a culture for a costume party?

Let’s appreciate, not appropriate.

Think about where you are buying and who is benefiting. Where did you buy your bracelet? Are you able to know who made it and towards who the profits will go? Appropriation also means large-scale business imitating religious and cultural elements and doing mass-reproduction strictly for monetary incentives.

Let’s appreciate, not appropriate.

Think about your privilege in being able to take off this “costume” at the end of the day. Would someone from this culture feel entirely comfortable walking down a busy street in their traditional clothing, free of second glances, generalizations, discrimination or constant questioning? Do you experience any of the things that marginalized communities often face when you wear their cultural clothing as your costume or accessory?

Let’s appreciate, not appropriate.

Don’t conflate intent with impact. Are you assuming that a good intention guarantees a good impact? Are you assuming that others should view your choices positively simply because you meant no harm when you made them?

Let’s appreciate, not appropriate.

Recognize that not all people from this identity group will feel the same way. Are you making an assumption people will not offended by your choice to have fun with a group’s cultural symbols, simply because you “have a friend” from that group who said it didn’t bother them? Are you recognizing that people within groups have diverse views, even when they share an identity?

Let’s appreciate, not appropriate.

I have appropriated in the past. Can I move forward?*

Yes, you can! Being able to recognize our mistakes helps us work towards improvement. If you recognize that you have engaged in appropriation, here are a few steps you can take:

Listen and validate. If a person from a marginalized group addressed the fact your costume was offensive or hurtful, do your best to take the time to listen and understand where they are coming from. It is a good thing to start by apologizing, but keep in mind that the person who approached you about the situation may or may not forgive you immediately. Although you may not have intended to offend, it is important to remember that appropriation is hurtful and is part of the oppression that members from marginalized groups face on a daily basis. People may not be ready to forgive you right away and that is valid, but don’t let it stop you and keep going!

Educate yourself. Becoming aware of how appropriation is harmful is a first step. But next, you need to think about what you need to do to avoid engaging in appropriation again. Try to learn more about what constitutes appropriation. For instance, you can research website or articles that are addressing the topic. If there is an event on campus discussing appropriation, consider attending. It is a great way to learn more and have in-person interactions. Also keep in mind that education is an ongoing process. There is always room to learn more and further develop our understanding.

Challenge appropriation. Challenging oppression and creating more equitable environment is a work that each one of us needs to partake in. Now that you have a better understanding of appropriation, if you encounter it in your environment and that you feel safe, you can try approaching the situation. A thing that may help you doing so, is mentioning the fact that you have yourself engaged in appropriation by the past and talk about why you no longer do. This can help other people relate and make them more open to hearing and understanding what you have to say.

*online resource: http://www.lspirg.org/costumes/