Disabled Appropriation:
— The Cultural Appropriation of Disabled People and Media's Unperceived Enabling —

 

THE FOLLOWING is an academic ESSAY


 

Persuasive essay excerpt, Disabled Appropriation: The Cultural Appropriation of Disabled People and Media's Unperceived Enabling (2015)

We live in a world that, perhaps unknowingly, has created a difference between the results of the appropriations of some cultures over others. This difference prioritizes the needs of one underrepresented group (for example, African- or Native-Americans) over another (the disabled), when the offense is the same in both cases. By praising Lady Gaga’s use of disabled accouterments, critics make it OK for others to do the same.

As a critic, as well as a physically disabled person, I believe that when discussing cultural appropriation, we often overlook disabled culture. For the purposes of this argument, I will group all physically and mentally limited persons into the umbrella-term of “disabled.” In his essay, Profound Offense and Cultural Appropriation, James O. Young defines the term culture. He states, “[i]t refers to the language, customs, basic values, religion, core beliefs, and activities of a group of people. In short, a culture is a way of living” (136). Per this definition, disabled individuals share a culture.

Media views the act of cultural appropriation as highly disrespectful for many reasons. James Young created subcategories to describe the ways culture is appropriated. They are subject appropriation, content appropriation and object appropriation. This essay discusses the act of content appropriation. Young defines this type of appropriating:

When content appropriation occurs, an artist uses the cultural products of another culture in the production of his or her own art. This sort of appropriation is quite various. Musicians who perform the songs of a culture that is not their own have participated in content appropriation…Sometimes the content appropriated is not the entire work but rather a style or motif. White musicians who perform in a jazz or blues style developed by African-Americans engage in content appropriation.
(136)

 

Copyright 2015 Cam K Johnson