Cultural Appropriation & Youth Voice

photos for posterThe other day, my 10-year-old daughter and I went out to dinner.

We were sitting in a booth at a Mexican restaurant downtown, and out of nowhere she asks what makes it okay for people in the US to make Mexican food. I asked her what she meant, and she asks what makes it okay for people who aren’t Mexican to make or eat Mexican food. She said, “Isn’t it theirs?”

So we talked about how people take things with them wherever they go, and sometimes, people from other places come to some places and take things with them when they go. I explained appropriation to her, and she asked about things like clothes and all that.

Developmentally speaking, starting around age 3-4 kids develop an acute awareness of fairness, and I think this was her application of her understanding across a complex situation. Funny to remember all the people in college I knew who were still wrestling with that concept. I guess I still do, too, some days.

Reflecting on it more, I wrestle with the relationship of cultural appropriation and youth voice. How do you think they tie together?

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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