I think the idea of cultural appropriation is very embedded in the experience of the children of migrants. It’s an emotional response to (1) being mocked for bringing your weird food to school, and then (2) later on seeing it becoming trendy and cool, after you’ve worked hard to detach yourself from your culture. So those kids get fucked over (socially) twice. A Japanese person living in Japan would never have been subject to that, and so would never relate to it.
What’s funny I guess is when the authors of the idea of cultural appropriation then project their worldview onto everybody else. I don’t know how I feel about that.
At the same time, I think it’s worth pointing out that a big part of why Japan is able to be completely comfortable with angmohs wearing their clothes is that they’re quite isolationist. The vibe I’m getting is something like, “A gaijin is always an outsider, and the outsider will never be able to harm our self-concept, so them trying to be like us is always a diminishment of them, not us”.
The Japanese are not dependent on gaijins for their sense of self-worth. I suspect we can’t say the same for the children of migrants in America.
I find myself thinking about this article this young Indian woman wrote about being a yoga instructor – and how she had to get her certification from a center run by white people. I think the problem isn’t that white people now do yoga; I think the problem is that when we were kids, we let ourselves get embarrassed about our own culture. That’s something I think the Japanese have managed to avoid.
Here’s one Japanese-American guy who got caught in the crossfire:
“Maybe I’m just being defensive because I’m afraid that my rusty Japanese is a broken chain link that can’t hold my lineage together. I’m afraid of passing down my lack of language to my children and their grandpa’s accent sounds more foreigner than family.”
This is also great: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-cYjUCudbA