Cultural Appropriation

October 18, 2016

def |An adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture| 

  

By definition, the phrase seems harmless but it strikes a negative nerve in today’s society. The phrase is usually linked with insensitive racial exhibitions like black face, def |make-up used by a non-black performer playing a black role|, anyone with common sense would think if you want someone to play a black role why not just let a black performer do it? My guess is because the depictions of black face would be negative e.g. Zip Coon, first performed by George Dixon in 1834, Zip Coon made a mockery of free blacks. An arrogant, ostentatious figure, he dressed in high style and spoke in a series of malaprops and puns that undermined his attempts to appear dignified. 

 

White chicks, a movie based on two characters Marcus and Kevin, they decide to pose as two white sisters, transforming themselves from African-American men into a pair of blonde, white women. In the movie, the depiction of the white blond sisters perpetuates, the negative stereo types of a typical dumb spoilt white girl. I see it as the same thing as blackface and do not understand how they could put on white face on and get away with it, when blackface is unacceptable in Hollywood. 

  

Elvis Presley, King of Rock or thief? Elvis owes much of his musical influence to black artists like Willie Mae “Big Mama Thornton”, who he stole his hit “Hound Dog” from with no credit. Elvis said he was largely influenced by blues musician Arthur Crudup. I understand being influenced and drawing from artists, many artists do it, but there is a difference with Elvis. Eminem a white rapper who has tremendous success in a genre of black origin but isn’t chastised like Elvis. This is because there are wrong and right ways to appropriate culture, Eminem joined the culture where as Elvis took the culture. 

  

In 2016 many cultures have spoken out about their cultures being appropriated, Native Americans have expressed how they feel disrespected by festival goers adorning their sacred headdresses as a fashion statement, although it is done in a harmless way you can understand their frustration. 

 

In summation, cultural appropriation is not a negative thing, as long as you want to join the culture or celebrate a culture it is fine, just like the definition. The negativity comes when the intent is negative and selfish. 

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