From The Telegraph over the weekend: a Leeds-based “woke dance school,” the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, “drops ballet from auditions as it is ‘white’ and ‘elitist'” as it “reviews ballet art form as part of a diversity drive.”
Many other performance arts are rooted in other cultural traditions, so should we expect that white folk refrains from performing those because that would be cultural appropriation? Shun yoga, not wear cornrow, and drop taco nights?
Should everyone else avoid trains, cars, computers, and much else because they’re white European originations?
Should people not be allowed to wear clothing, cultivate hobbies, or pursue careers that aren’t reflective of the culture they were raised in?
Look, works of art incorporating racist clichés and caricatural images (such as in The Nutcracker) should be reassessed with a different consciousness. Appropriation is elastic and ill-defined. Not all cultural appropriation is harmful or exploitative, certainly not innocuous cultural appreciation—where elements of other cultures could be used to pay reverence and highlight the historic oppressions of those cultures. Appropriation is but offensive when what’s being appropriated brings problems to the people to who the cultural artifact belongs.
On embargoing ballet, let’s stop denunciations of white pride where it doesn’t exist before. Let’s not fuel resentment with our shrill accusations and ill-thought overreactions and contribute to the rise of white supremacy.
Idea for Impact: Raise cultural hackles only for a good cause, i.e., when there’s real offense intended. Don’t stigmatize valuable cultural interchange. Delimiting features of cultures is contradictory to our goal of creating a diverse, melting-pot society. E pluribus unum.