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In Defense of Cultural Appropriation

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    June fourteen 2017, author Kenan Malik wrote an article in the New York Times sharing his belief on ‘Cultural Appropriation’ and how it has been affecting people who share their opinion on the topic. Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer, broadcaster (ABOUT, 2019). Malik studied neurobiology at the University of Sussex as well as history and philosophy of science at Imperial College, London. Malik has also lectured in many Universities in Britain, Europe, Australia, and the United States according to Malik’s own website (ABOUT. 2019). Malik being a noticeably credible author, according to his “About Me” page, was also involved with various far-left organizations and antiracist campaigns including the “Newham 7 campaign”, the “Colin Roach campaign” and “East London Workers Against Racism.”

    He has “written of how the Salman Rushdie affair helped transform his relationship with the left; the Rushdie affair gave early notice of the abandonment by many sections of the left of their traditional attachment to ideas of Enlightenment rationalism and secular universalism and their growing espousal of multiculturalism, identity politics and notions of cultural authenticity,” (ABOUT. 2019).

    According to Maliks website, he has presented “Analysis on BBC Radio 4, and Nightwaves, BBC Radio 3’s Wonderful Arts and Ideas Programme, was also “for many years, a panelist on The Moral Maze, also on Radio 4 (ABOUT. 2019). According to Malik’s website, he has written and presented a number of radio and TV documentaries including the “Disunited Kingdom, Are Muslims Hated?, Islam, Mullahs and the Media, Skullduggery and Man, Beast and Politics”(ABOUT. 2019).

    Malik specifies on his about page that his primary areas of academic interest are the history of ideas, the history, and philosophy of science. Also the history and philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of mind, theories of human nature, moral and political philosophy, and the history and sociology of race, immigration and identity (ABOUT. 2019).

    Malik is a well-known author for is politics and has published an article named “In Defense of Cultural Appropriation,” with the New York Times, which is considered a reliable source. The New York Times is known to “favor liberal causes” and publish articles with “loaded words” to influence their audience according to their own website (“New York Times”). Now according to (a website where they rate and check websites for reliability) they acknowledge the New York Times as “Left-Center biased based on word and story selection that moderately favors the left,” but are “highly factual and considered one of the most reliable sources for information due to proper sourcing and well-respected journalists/editors” (

    Now website Statista points out statistical information about the New York Time’s; 20.21% of their audience is in the ages of 18-29 years old of age. The majority is in ages between 30 to 49 making 23.09% of their audience, while the last 8.96% are in the ages between 50 to 69 years old (Statista,2019).

    In the Article In Defense of Cultural Appropriations, Malik shares his attitude about cultural appropriation. Malik’s main claim is that in fact cultural appropriation is not just acceptable, but should definitely be pursued because it allows cultures to experience on another. (Malik 1). He understands the perspective of minorities, himself being a minority, and strengthens his point by talking about the injustice of Caucasian, or superior people losing their job. In this case, he brings up the example of Hal Niedzviecki, for “defending the right of white authors to create characters from minority or indigenous backgrounds.”(Malik 1). Hal who was an editor of a very successful Canadian magazine “Write,” was forced to resign. Malik mentions that it is not just editors who have to watch out for this type of backlash, but artists, novelists, musicians, etc, who have gone through the same experience due to the defense of cultural appropriation.

    Grounds are considered to be the evidence that supports the reason. Malik makes sure to scatter grounds through the article supporting his main reason. He mentions many names, for example, Mr. Durant. His work of art “Scaffold” was made honoring 38 Native Americans exected in 1862 in Minneapolis, was being “recently assembles in the appropriating their history, the artist dismantled his own work, and made its wood available to be burned in Dakota Sioux ceremony” (Malik 1).

    Malik also brings up Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, talking about how back then radio stations would refuse to play Chucks music, labeling them as “Race Music.” The after came to Elvis and the music was labeled as cool, filling black pioneers with resentment, who were ignored. ”Racism defined who became the cultural icon”(Malik 2). In other words you would only be preached if you werent a minority.

    A warrant is the assumption the readers need to belive in order for the writers argument to be legitimate (Ramage et al. 59). Warrants are also expected to pass the “If Test.” In Malik’s article “In Defense of Cultural Appropriation,” there is a certain amount of warrants that need to be believed by the reader to be influential. In this case the reader must believe that exposure to diverse perspective is important. This warrant does achieve the “If Test.” If exposure to diverse perspective is important (warrant), then cultural appropriation gives people a chance to understand other cultures (Reason), because cultural appropriation is acceptable (Claim).

    A rebuttal are any arguments that oppose the authors ideas. Having a “resistant audience” can be quite conflicting because they can try to question the author’s argument by challenging the grounds and reasons that make the claim true (Ramage et al. 60). Malik include a couple of rebuttals in the article. The first rebuttal Malik uses is when he mentions that racism is a form of gatekeeping (Malik 2). Gatekeepers are people who are in charge, and tend to protect the people who are considered “powerful.”

    Also according to Malik “Racism itself is a form of gatekeeping, a mean of denying radicalized groups equal rights, access and opportunities (Malik 2). Second the author mentions the following “The most potent form of gatekeeping is religion”(Malik 2). Many beliefs cannot be questioned and challenged in religion, and if so, it is to “commit blasphemy” (Malik 2).

    STAR criteria is used to evaluate the use of evidence in the article or essay. Open-minded but skeptical audience will only consider you, if your evidence meets the STAR criteria (Ramage et al. 69). First of all you will need to have sufficient evidence to succeed (Ramage et al. 70). Malik does provide a fair amount of evidence, but I belive more can be used to hit the marker and successfully persuade your audience. He includes various examples of people being affected by “Cultural Appropriation” but he does not use statistics which can play a vital role. Next the evidence has to be typical so the audience can familiarize with it, therefore belive it. The evidence cannot be an extreme case (Ramage et al. 70).

    The choice of evidence is marvelous, almost pleasing to the human eye because he uses pop icon Elvis Presley. Allowing the audience to engage and relate to the article. In order for a critical audience to belive evidence, it has to be up to date, and for the writer to be considered he will have to be credible (Ramage et al. 70). Author Keenan Malik is considered experineced and credible according to his background.

    The article can be argued that it is reliable and up to date, hence its published on the New York Times, which is considered one of the most reliable sources to go to for information. At last, only if the evidence is considered relveant to the issue it will be persuasive (Ramage et al. 70). The evidence provided by Malik was relevant to the claim of the article. The evidence throught the article connects to the claim in a very favorable way for the author, allowing it to succesfully persuade the open-minded.

    In conclusion to all of this, I agree that Cultural Appropriation is a huge problem in today’s society. Although Malik does offer good amount of evidence I am not fully convince by his argument. I agree with him that we all need to keep an open mind and allow for other cultures to try on different culture but in a respectful way only.

    If we were to allow people to disguise as any other race, cultures, etc. just for fun, it lacks disrespect from our part. My point of view on this topic is people should be allowed to do as they wish, we do live in a free country. Therefore the consequences paid for appropriating other cultures in a disrespectful manner or just for fun should not be taken as threat.

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    In Defense of Cultural Appropriation. (2021, Jul 26). Retrieved from

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