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UN hears arguments to make ‘cultural appropriation’ illegal worldwide – let that sink in a minute

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A United Nations committee heard arguments this week to make “cultural appropriation” illegal worldwide.

A group of Native Americans and indigenous advocates brought their case before a committee within the U.N.’s World Intellectual Property Organization and, if passed, it would outlaw the appropriation of “indigenous designs, dances, words, and traditional medicines,” CBC reported.

James Anaya, the University of Colorado Boulder Law School dean, told the committee that the United Nations ought to “obligate states to create effective criminal and civil enforcement procedures to recognize and prevent the non-consensual taking and illegitimate possession, sale and export of traditional cultural expressions.”

Anaya recounted a lawsuit brought against the retail chain Urban Outfitters by the Navajo Nation who sued the store for promoting a “Navajo” line of clothing.

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The case was settled out of court in 2016.

The U.N. committee has been working on crafting legislation for decades that would outlaw so-called cultural appropriation.

Pop star Katy Perry was recently forced to apologize after she was accused of “appropriating” African-American culture by wearing cornrows and eating a watermelon in a recent video.

If you think this sounds ridiculous, you are not alone.

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Carmine Sabia

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