The fact that minority cultures in the U.S. are much more harmed by these stereotypes is just one of many reasons to remember the next step...
3. Check your privilege
If you’re white in western culture and borrowing from another culture for your art/life/whatever, know that you are doing it from a position of privilege that colors how you see the other culture and how your use of that culture is perceived.
Sometimes, checking your privilege means that you might have to change how you plan to use the culture you’re lifting from to make it more accurate to that culture. In fact, working with or including people from that culture in your depiction may be the only way to borrow from that culture without taking advantage of it.
Revisiting one example from last week, the popularity of the post about wearing a veil was another example of how minority voices are silenced and those of the majority are elevated. Many veiled Muslim women have written about their experiences and yet not received nearly the same amount of exposure as the non-muslim woman who did so . Also, the idea that wearing a veil for a few hours is the same as a lifetime as living as veiled Muslim woman is an offensive oversimplification.
Another part of checking your privilege is realizing that if you’re in the majority culture, you have the ability to lift the enjoyable parts of various cultures without experiencing the negative parts of actually being a part of that culture. When it comes to art, acknowledge that your privilege may allow your work to be recognized more than others, and your “borrowing” of others’ culture is taking advantage of this situation.
Having a position of privilege means that sometimes there is no right way to appropriate an element of someone else’s culture. If your form of appreciating another culture only serves to hurt the creators of that culture, are you actually doing any good? Instead of appreciating, you may end up offending those around you and further alienating yourself from the cause of racial reconciliation.
If we’re not willing to avoid wearing a fashion accessory or reconsider our art in order to help foster racial reconciliation, why should we be trusted to fight racism and prejudice in other, more difficult ways?