Cultural Appropriation Was Always Inexcusable


Professor Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute, was quoted in InStyle in an article on cultural appropriation in the fashion and beauty worlds.

When Black culture and trends are (mis)appropriated by the white majority in these industries, the creators of that culture — Black men and women — do not see profit. Or representation. Or power. This appropriation without compensation blatantly tells Black people, “Black is cool — unless you’re actually Black.”

Susan Scafidi, the academic director of Fordham University’s Fashion Law Institute and a Yale Law School alum, defines cultural appropriation as taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expression, or artifacts from another culture without permission. The fashion industry is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to appropriation, and designers have by and large responded to criticisms and callouts with nothing more than lip service while they continue to riff off of hip hop culture and stack their runways with mostly white models.

Some have suggested paying royalties as a means of monetary compensation. But Scafidi, the Fordham professor who also authored Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, says, “Royalty payments to the members of a cultural group as a whole can be complicated, as they raise the question of who is part of the group and should receive them.”

Read the full article.


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