Reader Jane called my attention to this New York Times video about the appropriation of Hispanic “low rider” culture by Japanese enthusiasts. It’s not just the “bouncy” lowrider cars they’ve adopted, but also the clothes, the music, and the art.
It’s clear that the Japanese entrepreneurs do profit from this appropriation, but it’s equally clear that they respect the culture, downplaying things like gangs and drugs and “stealing” the appealing bits.
And what’s wrong with that? Not much, as far as I can see. This is clearly “appropriating down”, given the positions of the cultures in the American hierarchy of oppression, but it’s also a question of liking a culture and adopting what you like. This is the way the world works, and all the pushback by the offense crowd will not stop it.
The reporter summarized what is going on here: “It wasn’t a question of ‘either/or’ but of ‘more so and’. That is, enrichment rather than theft. As one commenter said, “it’s culture appreciation, not appropriation.”
If the Japanese did this in the U.S., many Hispanics would have a fit.