A wise man by the name of Paul Mooney once said, “Everybody wanna be a nigga, but nobody wanna be a nigga”. Although that quote could be looked at as vulgar, it is extremely true and has been shown throughout time. Black culture has almost always been the most popular in American society. It quite possibly may be the most popular culture in the world. Many of the things we see around today in pop culture have come from some part of black culture. Just about every TV show, commercial, advertisement, song, etc. has some attribute of black culture in it. Whether it is the music, slang, or even simple mannerisms, they are all used in most of what we hear or see in society today. At the same time the aspects of black culture that the majority of society do not see as worthy of being popular is being dubbed ghetto or as some people say today, “ratchet”. All around today’s society black culture is simultaneously being appropriated and stigmatize by America and will continue to be.
What is appropriating? Appropriating is defined as the act of taking something for ones use, typically without the permission of the owner. Cultural appropriation is the adoption of elements of one culture by a different cultural group. American society has historically been very good at this. They have especially been good at doing this when it comes to black culture. Black culture has been culturally appropriated by America ever since our ancestors were forcefully brought to this country. We as a culture have had our culture almost stolen from us, from our ways of life, our music, food, and even dance among many other things. I’ll give you a few examples of how our black culture has been appropriated and why these things are continuing to happen.
An apparent example of appropriation of the black culture in America would be none other than, the dialect. There has been countless times where white people have begun using slang created by black people to appeal to them. Everyone has seen in commercials, television or movies. For instance how many times have you been watching a movie or television show and you notice a nerdy or elderly individual say some along the lines of, “forshizzle my dog”? Sounds terrible right? Well that’s just the beginning of it. You can even see it in the dictionary now with words like bling-bling or even twerk being added, the latter of which we have Miley Cyrus to thank for. Some white people have even gone as far as to use fake accents to do what they call “sound black”. The language and slang of black culture has been stolen so much that we almost forgot that our culture created it. This is just one of the few examples of how black culture has been appropriated in America through history.
One of the main ways America has culturally appropriated black culture is through fashion. In today’s society it is more evident than ever. Young white males are crafting their styles after what is popular through the urban black youth and by what they see on music videos (we’ll dive a little deeper into that later). In an article about appropriation, by “The Scarlet Woman”, she explains how someone like Justin Timberlake had to change his entire image if he wanted to continue his career past the N’Sync days. He had to begin wearing more urban clothes including baggy jeans and gold chains, and basically anything that Pharrell Williams was wearing at the time. This isn’t where appropriation of black fashion has stopped though. This continues to happen in today’s social world. It is easy for a young white male to be looked at as “fresh” or “dope” by simply wearing the latest in urban youth fashion. This appropriation is also evident in high fashion. Many high fashion designers including Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta, and Burberry designer Christopher Bailey have designed lines that are directly influenced by African textiles which they called “tribal”. Also while appropriating black fashion these designers are...
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