The point is that “cultural appropriation,” as a diagnosis, is decidedly unhelpful. The metaphor suggests that a person of one culture is taking something that belongs to people of another culture, and effectively endorses the imperial regime of intellectual property, one founded not in moral considerations but in economic ones. (Casting culture as intellectual property is neoliberalism at its worst.(...)
Specific instances of what people criticize as cultural appropriation may well be wrong, but the term encourages us to call out a property crime when something else is going on. If I take a practice that is freighted with significance for some group and mock it or trivialize it, that’s contempt. (That’s why it’s usually not a good idea to wear, say, clerical garb because you like the look.) The key question in the use of symbols or regalia associated with another identity group is not: What are my rights of ownership? Rather it’s: Are my actions disrespectful?