Cultural Appropration of the African American Culture

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What is Black Culture? This is a colloquial term we hear a lot in media. As we know, it is used in reference to African Americans creativity, representing principles, desires, and orientations link to black individuals globally. Culture is not something we have at birth, it is instilled in us throughout generation, which is also known as a tradition or custom. culture Cultural Appropriation, which is the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, and ideas of a particular people by members of another dominant race. When referring to the culture of blacks, not specifically speaking about the race but the experiences that they have had together.

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Today, whites welcome the differences that once troubled them. Whites considered black people inferior to them, just less than one-hundred years ago-what changed? What was once ridiculed is now replaced with imitation. Is black culture still authentic, when industries that produce content us controlled by white corporations? The evolution of a black slave to a consumer was monumental to many across the globe but yet came with a cost. Slaves did not have the right to possess money and their right to buy and sell anything in the consumers market was obsolete. Whites now use their new-found appreciation as a means to exploit and monetize.

Cultural appropriation is a by-product of: capitalism, oppression, assimilation, and imperialism. These attributes contribute to the feelings of African Americans and the cultural divide. Imperialism is the formation and upkeep of an inadequate cultural, economic, and territorial relationship, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination. Imperialism functions by subordinating groups of people and territories and extracting everything of value from the colonized people and territories. When on the topic of cultural appropriation, culture is utilized as a “expected” source to take from the people of color. Races of all kinds have continued to profit off of African Americans. Objects and traditions of this culture are seen by other races as: colorful, unique, and desirable- which transfers into either appropriation or exploitation. There is a lot of money in cultural appropriation and many celebrities have used this static to become more marketable in industries that require you to stand out from others. Objects and traditions of relegated cultures are seen by the dominant culture as exotic, edgy, and desirable, which translates to profits. Capitalism works best when people are not individual people with celebrated differences, but identical. Which is why you see some people of color conform to Americas norms to fit the description. For example, talking loudly, being expressive with clothing or hair- those are all characteristics of black individuals. Once they have stripped every one of their individuality, it will only be one culture remaining which will be the capitalist culture. This is one characteristic of assimilation, in which communities lose their cultural identity and is forcibly merged into the more dominant culture. The process quickens when a certain culture is appropriated by the more governing culture.

Being that “Black Culture” is the most influential brand on social media to date, many discussions regarding the black community have been had about the relevance of the issue. African Americans have been at the forefront of social change for quite some time now by becoming more vocal on social media, music, as well as movies. In this generation we see individuals of all ethnicities imitating and capitalizing off their culture. African Americans are expected to or in other words be held at the standard of being accepting to other races when it comes to art, music, and literature. It is baffling how other ethnicities are not as accepting to African American’s when it comes to sharing their customs. There are many celebrities such as: Bhad Barbie, Woah Vicky, The Kardashians, and many locals who use the culture for monetary gain. When looking closely at the subject, non-black individuals are praised more for appropriating the black culture than the actual people that started the trend- if done by a black person it is seen as “ghetto” or “ratchet”. Artists like Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea, who have been accused of appropriating Black culture, have spoken out in defense of their actions. In a Rolling Stone article, Miley admitted: “I'm from one of the wealthiest counties in America. I know what I am. But I also know what I like to listen to. Look at any 20-year-old white girl right now—that's what they're listening to at the club.

The Article “The Black Culture Industry” was written by Ellis Cashmore, is a professor of sociology at Ashton University’s School of Languages and Social Sciences. In this article he discusses in depth the relationship between black culture, affluence, and race interaction, in doing this allows the reader to comprehend the revolution of a race relations and how culture and art can be used by the wealthy and the powerful to manage a race. Cashmore critically acclaims how African American’s Culture has become a commodity to white-owned corporations. This author’s target audience is to people who are interested in knowing how white supremist use our own culture against us to get monetary gain. So I asked the question, are they really cultural appropriating or was the system designed for blacks to fail? African Americans aren’t celebrated or commemorated when someone imitates the look because the black culture is a commodity, something that can be bought and sold like any other type of merchandise. This particular group of people are the only group to not receive reparations for being enslaved for 400 years?    

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