Cultural Appropriation

"Cultural appropriation." It appears there's a conversation that is on. So, here's my question, and it is offered as an opportunity to explore the subject, not to point anything out.

If I take an African dance class taught by an American white woman, is that cultural appropriation? If so, by both of us? one of us?

What if it's taught by a person from an African country? Does that change anything? What if it's an American white man who lived and studied in Africa for a decade?

Then again, this is what choreographers do, often. Cross-pollinate. What if you appropriate something, adapt it or fuse it with something else, and put it out there as something novel? Is this part of the cultural appropriation discussion?

On another note, isn't cultural appropriation the name of the capitalist game - turning art and values into politics and commercial items - you know, something you can raise a buck on? (Symbols of revolution become poser goods on $70 distressed t-shirts. Nothing's wrong with the t-shirt, unless it's about adopting the image of a value as part of your "profile," more so than your character. The same could be said for wearing a crucifix under other circumstances, or wearing the t-shirt of a band you don't and haven't listened to. But they're "cool" and that makes you cool that you know they're cool.)

I'm not looking for answers to guide my behavior about a dance class ("Do whatever you want!!"). I've got it covered. I'm interested in this emerging label for a cultural dynamic.

My current thought is that the basic, dominant, operative cultural model right now is exploitation. Steal. Take. Hijack. "Use." It's accepted. It's considered a skill set. I don't like it, but that's how it looks to me.

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