Cultural appropriation is when a person of privilege profits from stealing the traditions, beliefs, and practices of oppressed people. The person of privilege often gives little to zero credit to the culture in which they took these ideas from.
An example of this can be seen with Native Americans being used as mascots. Another good example is how Miley Cyrus profits from the appropriation of black culture. But let’s get back to the original point: nerd culture isn’t cultural appropriation.
Recently, people on the Internet have been accusing one another of “appropriating nerd culture.” First of all, what does that even mean?
While nerds do face a lot of generalizations and stereotypes, nerd culture in and of itself is not a real thing. It doesn’t have a rich, historical heritage, and as such, doesn’t even come close to being an actual culture. If anything, it has developed somewhat into a counterculture.
Using cultural appropriation to call someone out for being a “fake nerd” is ridiculous for a variety of reasons. First off, using cultural appropriation when talking about nerds is really just a sophisticated attempt to call someone out for not being a “real nerd.” This is just silly. I mean seriously, let’s not make light of a serious issue.
Secondly, using cultural appropriation in this context does a disservice to the very valid appropriation experienced by people of color. White people, do we need to remind you again that not everything is about you?
Nerds have never experienced genocide. Nerds have never experienced mass discrimination in the work force. Nerds have never experienced violence at the hands of authority. And nerds sure as hell have never experienced the inequality that comes from being denied civil rights. So if “nerd culture appropriation” is the biggest complaint you’ve got as a privileged person, boy do you have it good.