I posted the piece below at TED Conversations to get some reactions from the community. As an advocate for social change as well as a marketer who is involved with brand, I say with a resounding YES, reappropriation is an important concept for many communities. I can also speak to the effectiveness of this tactic with my work through The Slants as well.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment here or at the TED site (it is currently a featured discussion):
A.M Croon defines reappropriation as “is the cultural process by which a group reclaims—re-appropriates—terms or artifacts that were previously used in a way disparaging of that group” In other words, groups who have suffered under cultural stereotypes or racial/sexist/facist slurs attempt to reclaim the meaning of an offensive term to shake the negative associations with it and instead use it as a banner of pride.
One of the most common examples is in the LGBT community. Previously, it was inappropriate to call someone who is gay “queer.” However, over time it became the proper moniker to address the community.
Numerous groups have tried to do the same with labels in regards to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and politics.
What do you think about activists proactively changing the meaning or association with a word/term? Is the reclanation of offensive epitaphs only symbolic or does it provide meaningful change for individuals? How does this reverse discourse shape future generations in the way that they of minorities? Can we change the meaning of words/phrases?