February 26, 2020

Defining and Discussing Cultural Appropriation, with Sara Taylor

Episode 34:

Sara Taylor earned a master’s degree in Diversity and Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. She served as a leadership and diversity specialist at the University of Minnesota for five years and as director of diversity and inclusion for Ramsey County, Minnesota for three years.

Sara is the founder and president of deepSEE Consulting and has worked with companies as large as Coca-Cola, General Mills, 3M Company, AARP, and numerous others. She has a new book, “Filter Shift: How Effective People See the World,” that explores how our unconscious is actually making choices and decisions for us, all without our knowing — and how to change that.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The definition of the words ‘appropriation’, ‘frames’, and ‘filters’, and how cultural appropriation is really about taking someone’s cultural frames
  • Why it is difficult or impossible to honor the symbols of a culture without honoring the people belonging to that culture
  • Sara shares why wearing Native American war bonnets (headdress) while being ignorant of their spiritual and cultural meaning is an example of cultural appropriation
  • Why it is important to consider the power differential and history between dominant groups taking from marginalized groups who have been historically oppressed by them
  • Sara provides an example where black women often experience heavy social pressure to straighten their hair but white models wear cornrows on the runway
  • How to identify whether appropriation is truly cultural appropriation, and why cultural appropriation is often harmful to marginalized groups
  • Why understanding a cultural group requires looking beyond its frames and going deeper by understanding its filters

Additional resources: