Cultural Appropriation and Cultural Appreciation
My views on #Iwillnotshare
I discovered the #Iwillnotshare on Twitter early this morning. The hashtag was followed by comments such as ‘because it’s ‘just a hairstyle’ on you but unaccepted on black children’ and ‘our culture is ghetto, ratchet and inferior until it is adopted by the larger white society’. Cultural Appropriation is something that I became aware of only recently after Amanda Stenberg’s Don’t Cash Crop on my Cornrows video. I found it insightful and very brave of her to explain the problem with cultural appropriation. Why is it that things that are intrinsic to black culture are only seen as cool when white people adopt them. Why are things that black people do or say used to mock us? These were two points I was left with when I watched her video.
Then when we all heard Giuliana Rancic’s comments about Zendaya’s hair and the Kylie Jenner lips fiasco the topic of cultural appropriation cropped up once again. After Rancic’s comments about Zendaya probably smelling like weed because of her dreads I felt the anger of those adamantly opposed to cultural appropriation. Why is it that Zendaya gets insulted for donning beautiful locs but when Kylie Jenner does the same thing she is called ‘edgy’? When the whole Kylie Jenner lips fiasco arose, however, I felt a different way. People were upset by the fact that young girls were embracing big lips, ‘big black people lips’, when they are something that black people have been mocked for in the past. When I heard this, although I tried to empathise and consider historical connotations with racism and overall black oppression, I couldn’t help but think, just because it’s ‘ours’ doesn’t mean that other people can’t embrace it. If people want to suck lids to make their lips bigger then that’s their problem and maybe, just maybe, it has nothing to do with them trying to embrace or even insult black culture at all.
So when I saw #Iwillnotshare I couldn’t help but get a weird mix of the feelings I got from both the Zendaya and Kylie case. Although I don’t condone people using my culture to reinforce stereotypes, I have no problem with people wanting to embrace my culture. If my friend wants to braid her hair, or don dreads then I send her my blessings. If my friend thinks she can start using Ebonics and call me her n***** JUST because she has braids or dreads then WE HAVE A SERIOUS PROBLEM. I think this is what really needs to be addressed.
I feel that saying #Iwillnotshare is not the solution to the problem; the problem being people using black culture to reinforce stereotypes, mock others and make them feel inferior. #Iwillnotshare, to me, screams this is mine, it will forever be mine and you can’t touch it because I don’t know what your intentions are with it and that is not forward thinking.
There is a fine line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, but if we work on embracing other cultures, instead of defacing them, then I think we’ll start making progress.
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree? Feel free to share your comments below.
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