Kenan Malik defends cultural appropriation, gets demonized

Why Evolution Is True

British writer Kenan Malik, whom I like, has just waded into shark-filled waters in his short New York Times essay: “In defense of cultural appropriation.” Most of the “appropriation” he describes isn’t repugnant to many of us: the controversy about a white woman’s painting of Emmett Till, a black teenager murdered by Southern racists; Lionel Shriver’s assertion of the right of the novelist to write from any viewpoint; and the appropriation of black music by Elvis Presley (and I could add the Beatles). In general, I favor cultural appropriation so long as appropriate attention is given to those whose work was heavily used. At this moment I’m wearing my pounamu (jade) pendant that I got in New Zealand. It’s an appropriation from Maori culture, and if anybody asks I’ll tell them what it is, but I don’t feel bad for wearing it and don’t feel I’m…

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