I’m not someone who takes offense easily, but when I do, I get pretty pissed off about it. I watched a video posted by sixteen-year old Amandla Stenberg about culture appropriation. “Culture Approriation” is defined as the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture. Basically, it’s when White people put dreads in their hair without understanding the cultural representation of them.
Watch this video that Amandla posted. She can explain it better than I can:
The question at the end of this video has haunted me since I first heard it.
“What would America be like, if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”
Amandla has faced some backlash. (Mostly from people missing the point altogether.) This girl is not stirring up the pot, but rather pointing out black culture. I am also thrown off when I see people who aren’t Black exhibiting Black culture as a fashion statement, but dismiss the social ills coming from that culture. Don’t get me wrong: I love LEARNING from other cultures. But you won’t catch me wearing a bindi, commercial use of Kente cloth or using Chinese characters without respecting the history behind it. It’s cultural appropriation when the culture is watered down, commercialized, and used in a comical manner. Period.
Now before you all start flooding my comments, let me make this clear; This cultural appropriation is not just about Black hair, style, music, etc. It’s about understanding and respecting the culture behind it. I have seen so many people miss the point entirely because their ignorance won’t allow them to see the bigger picture. It’s not simply about culture, it’s also about the race of the people behind the culture. We’re not just talking about Black people, but people of all races.
Respect the culture, respect the race of people it comes from and treat them like human beings. We have much to learn from each other if we could stop the hate and ignorance we constantly display against on another.