What’s my take?
You can respect a culture without necessarily having to partake in it. I understand if you are invited to a celebration, for example if you are a white British male attending a Nigerian wedding and are asked to wear traditional wear, then, it makes sense. Otherwise, if you ‘truly’ appreciated something you would understand that it has value to the people of that culture, and how you wearing it too in the same society that will demonize a person of colour for wearing the same thing, may be problematic. I’m not completely clued up on what type of celebration the Afropunk event is, but again, I think it ultimately comes down to respect.
Arguments around cultural appropriation might be helped if more people realized we do not wear things in a vacuum; there are many social and historical implications to treating cultures that are marginalized like costumes. As free as people should be able to wear whatever they want, using someone else’s cultural symbols to satisfy a personal need for self-expression is an exercise in privilege. If someone is so moved to call you out because they think that’s what you’re doing then as an ally you are called to listen to them and engage in dialogue. White people shouldn’t ‘have’ to do this, just like people of colour (PoC) who face discrimination based on their culture shouldn’t ‘have to’ go through it either, but for as long as PoC continue to face discrimination, confrontations like these will inevitably keep arising.
If some people are not even willing have that discussion, they shouldn’t be surprised when they’re called out for it. #AllyshipNotGoodIntentions