In today's world, mainly in America, cultural appropriation is a huge issue that affects many different groups.

At a SDCC panel yesterday, Mitch Hyman (Bubba the Redneck Werewolf, Vinnie and Mook: Hitmen for Horror), and Adalisa Zarate (Building Blocks, Traveling Seers) talked about the difference between loving other cultures and letting that love show on your work, or just taking whatever you think you understand in order to make money off other cultures. 

Let's dive into some of the key reasons this happens and how we can prevent it.

What Is Cultural Appropriation? 

in basic terms, means to take without permission. Cultural appropriation happens when another culture steals cultural elements like hair, dress, practices, imagery, and more, usually without asking permission or crediting the original source culture. These elements are used for a person's or group's personal interest or monetary gain.

For example, when Hollywood casts white actors for say, characters who were originally written as Asian, that would be considered "white-washing" and appropriation. 

Disney is pretty well known for this. They take other cultures and act as if they representing it, but really they're just looking to profit. In 2013, the company went as far as trying to copyright the phrase "Día de los Muertos" ahead of Coco, which understandably caused an uproar for the Latin American communities who celebrate the holiday.

'Coco''Coco'Credit: Disney

How Do You Appreciate Instead?

For the most part, according to the panelists, it boils down to simply asking for permission. 

You should also have someone from that culture participating and profiting in the project as well. This creates a healthy dialogue between you and the culture that you are drawing from. 

In The End

The biggest fault in cultural appropriation happens when someone outright steals and profits from another culture. Not only does this usually benefit a large corporation taking from smaller, marginalized groups, but it devalues the culture they're taking from. 

So remember, ask for permission first, and don't steal! 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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