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Can we talk about cultural appropriation?

Before I jump in: my intention is not to start a firestorm here---I'm hoping for an open, polite discussion in which we can share and inform one another. Can we all agree to keep things friendly?

Recently, I've been hearing the phrase "cultural appropriation" used quite a bit. I use the words "gypsy" and "tribal" in many of my listings, descriptions, etc.---and I do so with much love. I consider myself a *gypsy* soul---a traveler, both in body and mind--and I have a strong *tribe* of close friends and family who support me and share in my life.

That being said, I understand that these words carry different significance to others and might even be seen as hurtful, or as stealing an identity that isn't *mine*.

I'm hoping to open up dialogue about this and see where others stand on the matter.


241 Responses

I use "gypsy" and "tribal" in some of my listings too. Never thought they would upset anyone really - it certainly isn't my intention and I don't feel I'm hijacking anyones culture by using them as descriptions.

Just my two cents!
*grabs fixens for s'mores*

If there is a firestorm, I'll be ready!
I come from dozens of cultures; the least of which is my Choctaw and Italian heritage (both of which I'm extremely proud of.)

While it doesn't bother me to use slang terms of my heritage I recognize that others may take deep offense to them. After all, they started out as derogatory terms borne from fear and ignorance. They may not hold negative connotations for me but I can't say the same for others- I prefer to play it safe.
This topic reminds me of the controversy that surrounded Univ of Illinois' sports mascot, Chief Illiniwek. He represented the Lakota Indian chief and danced during sports events.

I understand the issue, but to me - this dancer respectfully celebrated and upheld a tradition of native American heritage. I'm not native American, but I always felt moved by the dance, which was (to my eyes) a beautiful expression.

I think of the use of these as a means to try and reach buyers who may enjoy these items, and as such, a service.

I make things for those who may not want to make them for themselves. If I make a hippie style dress, that doesn't mean I am a hippie, just a person making clothes.

I am not trying to appear to be a plus size person by having a plus size shop, merely making clothing for plus women.

If I make a kimono, I am not trying to be Japanese, simply enjoying and recreating a style already created by others.

We are limited in how we are able to describe and tag our items and we have to make the best of a limited system. I have both tribal, gypsy and ethnic in my listings and don't wish to offend anyone, only to make items available in those styles.
I'm native american and white. I don't care what you call me, or title your stuff, or use to describe your stuff. I am asuming that you are using the cultural identification to reach certain people, or people who have an appreciate for those cultures (in a positive way).

The only time it bothers me is if it's clearly used in the derogatory, such as the infamous N word. I want to slap the crap out of everyone who uses derogatry slag to put others down or treat them as sub par. Everyone should be proud of who they are...and if you appreciate another culture and want to create items out of that appreciation and respect, then more power to ya!
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Inactive Etsy Member 10:11pm Jul 2, 2012 EDT
Cyn said right on! That being said,someone is always going to find something to be offended by.
I live in the town where some of 'My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding' is filmed. 'Gypsy' has derogatory connotations to some but they seem to self-identify that way, at least in part? I find their culture fascinating, in an anthropological sort of way.
Sunny, I remember that. I don't remember who complained though. But it reminds me of a recent controversy that Ben and Jerry's found themselves in. They had an ice cream flavor that was for a Chinese American (if I remember correctly) athlete (basketball?). People threw a huge fit about it, resulting in Ben and Jerry's caving to them and pulling the ice cream. The people complaining? Not Chinese, but white folks. It seems white folks are the ones that make a huge stink about things like this in an effort to be PC but the problem with that is, they are making people afraid to do anything that might be a nod or honor (in some way) a culture.

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