Cultural co-optation or appropriation has been happening since FOREVER. Well, since brown and black people started doing cool stuff that white people wanted to copy and claim credit for. So, basically, since the First Agricultural Revolution which began in African and Asia. So, okay, white people weren't really around yet, but STILL. FOREVER.
Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll. Potatoes, corn. Banana republics. Gold and oil. Pokemon and anime. The fashion industry and home decor. We just take shit that doesn't belong to us.
I was perusing Auntie Katie's wedding registry on Crate and Barrel, not so much to buy her anything yet, but to see what's the latest in the design saavy, hip and cool, child-less world of the young. And I found the Maganda vase. Damn you Crate and Barrel! It wasn't enough when you and Pier 1 Imports and Urban Outfitters stole Ikat and Papasans and Hello Kitty?
Now, you're stealing our wood from the Philippines and appropriating our language to perpetuate your ethnic exoticism aesthetic?!?
On the other hand, Filipinos don't get much play in popular culture. So, maybe it's a good thing, this cultural co-optation. It exposes people to new things and new experiences.
For example, maybe someone will buy this vase and be all: "Hmmm? What is this MA-GAIN-DA you speak of?"
And the vase will come alive. Well, not the vase. But, the aswang that lives in the wood that the vase was made from. And the aswang will be all: "It's ma-GON-da, bitches! And it means 'beautiful.' Like my face!"
And the world will be a better place becuase one more Crate and Barrel shopper received a Tagalog vocabulary lesson from an aswang.
Of course, the unspoken flip side to cultural appropriation, is that it's OKAY when people of color do it. Sort of like I can joke about my momma, but you can't. I can make fun of my own people, but you can't. I can tell a joke about Filipinos using a Filipino accent, but if a white person does it (with the exception of white people from Daly City) then it's ON.
Therefore, moreover, henceforth, I am able to justify 1) buying the Maganda vase for Auntie Katie and telling the aswang inside that "this lady's okay!" so it won't freak her or her dogs out and 2) thoroughly showering preggo Auntie Dee with Bollywood themed presents for herself and baby Precious Stone.
Because how freaking awesome is this stuff? (click image for source)
Don't try to make sense of it; it's how I sleep at night.