This is the entire post I was going to put in at BA's excellent post but snipped down to the relevant bits.
You know, I really do want to think that this whole debate is about the absolutely relevant issue of how WOC (if not POC) cultures do indeed get transformed and mutated by the dominant White culture, and often at the expense of the original cultures. I really do want to stand with BfP and BA in total agreement that appropriating Black and Brown people's cultures without giving them the proper credit and working to maintain the originals is certainly wrong.
I really would...but it all seems to come right back to baiting middle class White women for their sexual liberalism, and dissing them as "appropriators" and "thieves" masturbating on the broken backs of women of color.
I disagree with this.
Saying "why is it ok when middle and upper class white women do it but not okay when poor women and women of color do it" is not baiting when that's the situation.
The question becomes whether that's the situation. The answer is that one loved by all liberals like me, "It depends."
But when you see people who are not of a cultural group using the clothing, activities, and suchlike of a cultural group, it should give you pause, in my opinion. I expect that when I go out in a Sari. I am perfectly open to being questioned on that and explaining about my Muslim Pakistani friend who introduced me to the best shops and told me how to wear it. I wear it in the summer because it's more comfortable and because having a built in sun-roof is a glorious thing. I am aware that by being pale and wearing clothing not a part of the historical culture of pale people that I open myself to censure and that the censure may be valid, and if it is valid I will change my behavior.
I consider expecting members of a culture I am interested in to NOT be defensive and somewhat hostile, given - you know - history, is an example of priviledge. I am a citizen of a nation founded on colonialism. I am privileged to have knowledge of many, many, many cultures that are not my own. There was a time I would have had the opinion that people should be "grateful" I'm interested in their culture, but I've realized it's the other way around. I'm blessed that so many people have told me their stories, shared their practices, and discussed their knowledge and feelings with me. I'm lucky that I can read other religions' holy books, study their history, admire their art, and then build off of it in my own creative expression. It's not "dissing" if someone labels me an appropriator or theif - from a certain perspective I could be seen as such; it's up to me to be sufficiently grateful and respectful that other people share their lives with me and to appologize and seek to make amends when I fail. It's not easy, it's frequently humbling, and I've failed spectacularly and memerably, but it's worth it.
In addition, one can be sexually liberated without taking cultural markers from other cultures. If the only reason one is interested in another culture is because one can "let your hair down," or "be more natural" or "be sexually liberated" by acting like them then, quite frankly, one is colonializing that culture. One is not interested in that culture from an authentic, curious, respectful stance but from a "what can I get out of that culture" stance, which is a colonial attitude and is, at it's most basic, racist; it is making culture a commodity for sale. If one has to leave one's own culture and racial identity in order to feel sexual, natural, or relaxed - something's wrong with one's culture. Projecting the bits of one's personality that one can't experience within one's culture doesn't free one in any major way, it just objectifies an entire other culture as "not us".
And that isn't healthy for either end. If women of color are the sensual, natural, sexual, erotic, warm examples of being female, that means my pasty ass can't be - and I don't buy that. If women of color are ONLY all of the previously stated, then they're denied their ability to be whole people outside of their sexual identity. It's a severing of the self at a profound level, a cutting off of a major part of being human, and as I said in a previous post, that's one thing I know I don't want.
9 hours ago