Could you imagine your existence only being relevant for the identity theft of your creativity? The Black/African American culture is appropriated everyday, by not just white people, but also non-black minorities. Appropriating culture is the social equivalent of plagiarism, and adapting to an element, or elements of one another’s culture or identity. It’s not a problem to borrow from our culture, but you also have to know appreciating and appropriating, have two completely different meanings. White people will take our hairstyles, fashion, vernacular, and skin tone, without permission or give the credit, and will rock it like they started a phenomenal trend, but will degrade the true meaning of the culture’s components. Unfortunately, when the black community showcases black culture, we are less valued for rocking our culture, that white people and non-black minorities stole. If white people and non-black minorities are the problem, then they have to be our solution, and I want to help show them what they are doing wrong.
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of the saying “Do it for the culture”, but never understood the significance of the quote. The term was created by the famous rap group migos, which is the only style of music that hasn’t been predominantly stolen from whites. No wonder it’s still labeled as the “ghetto factor” of music, because it hasn’t been normalized by white people yet. The appropriation of black culture is very significant because there are numerous ways you can harm a black person when doing so. We’ve been denied education, work, health care, shelter, and more, all because of our cultural components that whites are applauded for, when we are discriminated against. Yes I am an African American, but also light skinned, which basically fits the “beauty standard”. Women with lighter skin will always be the “beauty standard” according to society today, since it is the closest to white skin. Not to mention the discrimination against women with darker skin. But what people fail to realize is having lighter skin doesn’t make you any less black than a person with darker skin. I’m not under 120 pounds, I have round hips with curvy thighs, thick beach wave hair that is taken care of by protective hairstyles, full heart sized lips, and so much more that white people and non-black minorities feel the need to steal. I’m not saying that these features can’t be appreciated, but the trauma that the black community has been through just by walking out of the house with our music playing , or wearing our fashion, is just not ok.
When you have huge celebrities appropriating black culture like it’s nothing, of course it’ll be justified and defended. People have always provided others who have a platform with excuses for their unacceptable behavior, as if they’re superior to someone who works at Mcdonalds. Social media will accept a white girl with cornrows over a black girl with the same exact cornrows, because they favor black culture, but not black people. It is extremely important for people to know about this because the favoritism towards white people and non-black minorities against black culture can be extremely dangerous to the black community, because the racism that is dealt with is ignored.
Obviously feeling mocked, othered, and judged aren’t as serious as being in danger, but if you don’t see that as an issue, then you are the problem and don’t consider black people human. It’s just human decency and black people deserve to be treated with it too. The public will post “Black Lives Matter” or whatever trending incident that happened with a white cop, and black male, but will still appropriate black culture, and not realize that it is a part of systemic oppression.
Believe me I know what you’re thinking, “how has she not mentioned the usage of the N word by non-blacks yet?”. Well to answer your question, I’ve specifically avoided that topic, just because it’s a critical conversation for me, and my attitude towards it isn’t the most appropriate for a school project. I get very angry and argumentative when it comes to the usage of the N word by non-blacks. To make a change, I definitely want to create and plan a mini course, educating SLA students, non-blacks specifically, about the dangers of appropriating black culture, and how it is a system of oppression. As a black person, being born in black culture myself, my research has definitely impacted my understanding of acknowledging that non-black minorities aren’t fully innocent at all in this situation. I just hope people now know that wearing cornrows isn’t “just a hairstyle”.
So my question to you is, do you love black people, or do you love black culture?