My View: An appropriated column


By Denise Dunbar

Maybe you’re as confused as I am.

I fully embraced multiculturalism, defined as the coexistence of different cultures, long ago. But it appears multiculturalism has been overtaken by something new: the cultural appropriation phenomenon.

Cultural appropriation, a sociological term, is defined as the adoption or use of elements of one culture by another. The sociologists apparently frown upon this.

The cultural appropriation phenomenon was recently in the news when a yoga instructor at a Canadian college was told her course would not be renewed next semester. Apparently after a review of programs, administrators concluded that teaching yoga, which originated in India, which was once a British colony, constituted cultural appropriation. The instructor offered to change the course name to “mindful breathing.” That wasn’t good enough — she got the boot.

So, we are now supposed to coexist with and appreciate other cultures without actually embracing or participating in any elements of the cultures with which we are coexisting. Got that?

That means my husband and I can’t go to dinner at Woo Lae Oak, our favorite Korean restaurant, and eat bibimbap, nor can we patronize Alexandria’s many Asian restaurants and eat sushi. That would constitute culinary appropriation.

No more treks across the river to Nationals Park to watch a Washington Nationals baseball game. Baseball is a sport derivative of cricket, which originated in Britain. That would apparently be athletic appropriation.

If we owned a Persian cat, I would have to take the poor thing to the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter and hope that an Iranian family could give it a good home. Otherwise I would be committing feline appropriation.

The leaves from our Japanese maple tree will just have to pile up. Raking them would surely make me guilty of horticultural appropriation.

The absurdness of it all could drive me to drink, but my vodka (Russian) and orange (grown in Florida and South America, but certainly not in Virginia) would constitute mixological

Or it could lead me to prayer. But my God, Jesus of Nazareth, was a Middle Eastern Jew. My very religion is apparently an appropriation.

It would help to know what percentage of a nationality one needs to be in order to legally appropriate from that culture. I appear to be 1/32 Native American, the same as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Could the senator and I join hands while legally wearing native garb to celebrate our heritage? If not, could our mothers?

Finally, this is a newspaper. Paper was invented by the Chinese. Which, dear reader, makes this an appropriated column.

The writer is the publisher of the Alexandria Times.