Your View: Appropriation requires discussion, not dismissal


By Holly Bowers, Alexandria

To the editor:
I am writing in response to Denise Dunbar’s latest column (“An appropriated column,” December 10), which I found to be offensive and petty.

I was disappointed to see her piece printed at all, particularly in this city, in 2015. It seemed incredibly tone-deaf to me at a time when we as a country are wrestling with very real and disturbing arguments about xenophobia and immigration.

Ms. Dunbar chose to take a very one-dimensional view of “cultural appropriation.” By her logic, any Alexandrians without Scottish heritage (including myself) are guilty of cultural appropriation for celebrating the Scottish Walk Parade last weekend, especially those who dared to wear plaid.

Cultural appropriation is a sensitive, tense issue; it bears the potential for positive sharing, but it also bears the potential for much offense. Instead of bemoaning that she can no longer have her favorite Korean takeout, Ms. Dunbar — and the rest of us — should instead focus on engaging with other cultures beyond such a superficial level.

Particularly in light of recent political rhetoric, we need to work towards greater understanding and respect, not nitpicking. We each can choose to learn about the cultures that surround us: their beliefs, their artistry and their people.

Perhaps Ms. Dunbar’s column holds sway with the conservatives of Alexandria, who believe in the ongoing moral decay that is affecting not only this city but also the United States as a whole. But our country and our city were founded from pieces of many cultures, a fact that seems to fall victim to selective forgetting.

In the future, I hope that Ms. Dunbar and the editor exercise better judgment in how they choose to use their platform.