Appropriate? or Appropriation?

Austin, TX is a “humid, sub-tropical” climate.  In my daily activities, the “strenuously casual” dress of where I came from Davis, CA. It is a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, so drier than here. My clothing is less appropriate here, but a suit, even a tropical suit, is too hot and too dressy for everyday wear. For the Capitol, it’s different.

The guayabera originated in similar climates (Cuba and/or Mexico). It is lightweight, traditionally white, and left untucked. It has some populist connotations, especially when worn by politicians. It has been urged as a revolt against the European suits of the colonizers. Here, I find the actions of the “suits” in the capitol revolting.

It is appropriate for this climate. Is it appropriate for a straight white male of predominantly Great Britain origin? Or is that appropriation by a member of the dominant ethnic group? Or is it an appropriate way to distance myself from the ruling group?

This morning I watched a video of the governor of Hawai’i, David Ige, talk about measures being taken around the eruptions in Lower Puna. He was wearing a pressed, button down Aloha shirt. The two officials mentioned, Tom Travis and Mike Kaleikini, can also be seen in other videos making statements wearing similar shirts. In Hawai’i this kind of shirt is formal wear, replacing the coat and tie or suit and tie.

The Aloha shirt was a commercial invention by a Chinese merchant based on earlier designs by a Japanese immigrant made from kimono fabrics. So it’s an appropriation of an appropriation, typical of so much of current culture in Hawai’i.

Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto
I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me.

Terrence of Rome

 
Who decides what is appropriate use or appropriation?

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