Image for post
Image for post
Rachel Dolezal, the Grand Dame of cultural appropriation

What Folks Get Wrong About Cultural Appropriation

When it comes to the exhaustive debates about the validity of cultural appropriation, we’ve basically heard it all from those speaking from experience, and the privileged poachers who love to fight back with “Black women straighten their hair and color it blonde.”

And if you think the “privileged” who wield those weak ass comments are mostly non-Black folks, you might need to prepare for the brutal truth.

It’s hard to accept the fact that influencers who are positioned in places of authority with the armor of massive platforms for extra volume, end up misusing their blessed station by recklessly miseducating the masses.

The Breakfast Club is the well established morning radio show that has evolved into the hub of social interaction and endorsed exposure to the culture, for ambitious contenders like Democratic presidential candidates, who need to convince Black folks that they can be champions of equal rights up until election day.

The rest of the glitzy traffic consists of an array of notables who have performed in ways that merit their admittance to what is undeniably a vital space for enlightened conversations and spirited debates.

So, when the rambunctious gang of three, Charlamagne tha God, Angela Yee and DJ Envy routinely hit wrong notes when discussing hot-button issues that deserve dissecting core fibers, rather than tone-deafness, it feels like an awful letdown when you consider the serious ramifications.

As a writer with a loud mouth that won’t shut up, I have covered my never-ending woes as a Black woman who has been treated like a freak on numerous occasions for simply showing up with my hair in it’s natural state.

This was way before Instagram became a loyal shrine for hashtags that are committed to the long overdue “movement” that finally approves what I was relentlessly lambasted for by friends and family.

There was the cumbersome task of self-critiquing my personal grooming as a young adult, based in New York City, who desperately needed the corporate job to manage the high cost of living.

My legendary obstinance opened the door for unwarranted and insulting remarks from staffers at temp agencies who felt I needed to tame my wild tresses, or choose a hairstyle that wouldn’t immediately evoke the militant stance that potential employers on Wall Street would find threatening.

Interesting that our current landscape makes allowances for white women to freely exercise their independence when it comes to sporting the same ethnic styles that I had to dutifully refine for job interviews, and entrance into spaces that typically judge Black women who “look a certain way.”

Not too long ago, The View’s most beloved troublemaker, Meghan McCain had the audacity to strut onto the brightly-lit set with a head full of cornrows, which was a clear sign that she avoided a humiliating vetting process.

McCain bemoaned her victimhood when the swift backlash forced the conversation about whether or not she was guilty of appropriation.

As with most debates that occur in settings that are dominated by the tutelage of white media, there’s always a quick and unfulfilling resolve with peppers of wisdom from the dependable voice of reason who represents the oppressed.

Meghan McCain doesn’t quite comprehend how her white privilege permits her to boldly choose the hairstyle, that would be interpreted vastly differently and negatively if a Black woman dared to assume the exact same disposition in a similar environment.

She feels pretty in cornrows as she states in the clip, and is visibly confused about why she should be apologetic about that.

The lesson she didn’t receive is immersed in the history of abuse that her Black counterparts still endure, because of the blatant ignorance that reserves judgment and punishment when we proudly display the textures we were born with, and are forced to bear the contemptuous assessment that white women like McCain are spared.

The endless debates never do enough justice when it comes to calling out the righteousness of oppressors who are able to escape vilification based on how society coddles their damning efforts.

And it’s even worse when our own refuse to recognize the glaring truth that even the guilty are well aware of, despite the determination to throw a blind eye.

Some days ago, brother and sister duo, Brandy and Ray J paid a visit to daytime TV staple The Talk, and somehow a blast from the past forced the topic of cultural appropriation with the question of whether or not Kim Kardashian is a frequent offender.

Beloved singer and actress, Brandy, who has always been revered for her unwavering allegiance to braids, obviously inspired the cohosts to seek words of wisdom in this specific arena that should be expertly handled by Black folks.

The response from Brandy was branded to give the impression that her younger brother’s infamous former paramour shouldn’t be publicly persecuted for indulging herself with an ethnic hairstyle, that should be free for any willing participant, regardless of race or creed.

Fair enough.

Ray J was also called upon to offer his own analysis on his former lover’s grooming habits, and as expected, his diplomatic stance matched the casual mood of the moment.

And things didn’t improve when members of The Breakfast Club made the poor attempt to educate their listeners about why Brandy and Ray J missed the prime opportunity to explain why having the right to poach from other cultures, as a form of “paying homage,” also demand the acknowledgement of why that privilege is non-transferable to originators.

I have always bitched about the sometimes unremarkable presence of Angela Yee as the woman of color who never rises to the occasion when meaningful conversations about the mistreatment and devaluing of Black women take centerstage.

Charlamagne’s “voice of reason” ends up summarizing the hot takes on hot topics, and in this instance, his example of how Black women also borrow from whiteness with hair straighteners and the like, remained unchallenged.

Here’s the thing, if the three members of The Breakfast Club can’t get the basics right because of dismissive attitudes when tackling vital issues that directly affect the Black community, how can we be pissed when the white media follow suit?

The Kardashian/Jenner women have made a fortune and continue to rake in millions and millions of dollars from the lucrative ventures that are dependent on the perfection of the Black woman aesthetic.

Kylie Jenner’s feat as the first-ever “self-made billionaire” was borne out of the success of her lip-liners, and the inspiration of her own inflated lips, and other surgically-enhanced body parts that make her look less white and more exotically-inclined.

Image for post
Image for post
Before
Image for post
Image for post
After

Her older sisters with the exception of the still-Caucasian Kourtney, paved the way for the next generation of young, white girls, who are now realizing how much more fun it is to be the more cosigned version of a Black girl, with maximized profits to boot.

Freedom of self-expression shouldn’t be fucked with, except when it’s weaponized against vulnerable groups for the selfish and exploitative pursuits that must be challenged by those who suffer the consequences from the contagion of white privilege.

Cultural appropriation is absolutely the signature branding of Kim Kardashian & Co. because of the audacity to shamelessly rebrand the template of Blackness with the avid support of traitorous beauty brands, that inexplicably swoon over generic bargains by ceremoniously rejecting the real thing.

It’s not so much that privileged white women influencers with a massive following are forbidden from frolicking around with braids and enhanced features that are firmly in place to seduce Black guys in high places with roving eyes.

We have to recognize the criminal aspect of cultural thievery from the stand point of how the authenticity of Black women continues to be defamed in favor of white counterparts who are exalted as global beauty ambassadors, for their edginess and supremeness as fake Black women.

That’s the aspect of appropriation that’s unforgivable, and sadly, rarely gets the full definition in ways that gives much-needed pause and reflection by guilty parties, who wrongly resort to white victimhood instead of formally “paying homage” to the true victims.

Former “president” of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, Rachel Dolezal has since revised her name to “Nkechi Amare Diallo.”

She will forever be remembered for her immense contribution to the art form of willfully stealing from a culture that she wasn’t born to righteously emulate, sans the threatening items that her whiteness is conveniently immune from.

We can talk about this all day, but will it change anything?

Folks will always get it wrong, when the topic of cultural appropriation comes around again.

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say! https://medium.com/membership https://www.patreon.com/Ezziegirl

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store