In a beautiful article for xojane, Nikita Redkar contrasts attitudes towards cultural appropriation between her parents generation and hers.
For Indian Americans who have been born and raised in America by immigrant parents, Redkar says, “[W]e are upset when someone wakes up one day and decides to exploit our turbulent identities as a disposable fashion — and by doing so be rewarded as a paragon of globalization and cultural acceptance.”
However, for Indians who have immigrated to the West, this cultural appropriate hardly poses a problem: “They knew from the onset they weren’t going to be accepted. They grew up embedded in a deep sense of cultural identity — one that everyone around them shared. They always knew where they are from and they owned it, even when they arrived in America. Years later, our parents’ generation is bursting with pride at the thought of all the customs they accepted being embraced by the mainstream — whether it’s being exoticized or not. Our parents see the western infatuation with select parts of their otherwise deeply rich culture … as an acknowledgement; it is a cross-cultural equalization they could have never dreamed of.”
As Indian practices become more deeply embedded in American mainstream culture, these starkly contrasting viewpoints between generations are at the fore of the discussion about Indian/Western cultural collaborations. But what if there was a middle ground?
This is why we created Shastra. We seek out musicians whose work is authentic in both cultures, who go far beyond musical appropriation, and truly allow the music of one culture to exist alongside the other. Redkar’s parents are right: It is wonderful to see any semblance of Indian culture make it into the mainstream. And Redkar is right too: We can do more.
Read the full article here.