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Cultural Appropriation: The Exploitation of Black Culture

What is cultural appropriation and why does it affect the black community?

In the media, we often see many individuals, particularly in pop culture, being accused of cultural appropriation.

But what is cultural appropriation?

The term cultural appropriation refers to “the use of objects or elements of a non-dominant culture in a way that doesn't respect their original meaning, give credit to their source, or reinforces stereotypes or contributes to oppression” (Cuncic, 2022)

In other words, cultural appropriation is taking something that is not yours without giving it credit. This is usually based on someone’s ethnicity, race or even religion.

Black culture is often shown to be the most appropriated culture in pop. We see it in music, fashion, dance, makeup, etc.

In my opinion, folks who usually do this do not understand the cultural importance of a particular aspect of a culture they are stealing. They also do not understand, nor appreciate the historical context of what is being taken.

The Kardashian family has a long history of black cultural appropriation with little regard for the communities from which they steal from. From the way they style their hair, to accentuating their curves, and plumping their facial features through Botox and cosmetic procedures.

The most recent example is when Kim Kardashian pointed out that her daughter, North West, often asks her to wear “matching hair”.

Appropriating black hairstyles.
Kim Kardashian and daughter North West

Non-black women adopt styles that are typically used and created specifically by black women, including:

● Fulani Braids

● Bantu knots

● Weaves

As of 2020, more and more people are calling out celebrities such as the Kardashians and accusing them of appropriating black culture. But this is not something new.

Even in the early 2000s, singers such as Fergie and Pink used and stole aspects of black culture that is not their own for personal gain, both artistically and monetarily.

In addition to this, cultural appropriation also enforces stereotypes of what people think black culture or features are. An example is putting on a ‘blaccent’.

When cultures have been oppressed, stereotypes often add to their negative experiences.

Sadly, what's even worse is that once a person is done with said culture, they immediately dismiss that culture. For example, when Miley Cyrus was done with her Bangerz era, she disowned hip hop stating that it was not for her, and she doesn't like the genre despite taking part in it.

This is a prime example of making money from a culture that is not yours and dismissing it once you're done with it. Almost like a costume; you put it away once you have finished wearing it, and that’s how it usually is with people wanting to take a piece of something that does not belong to them.

And it is unfortunate that celebrities and those in the entertainment industry will continue to profit from a culture that would normally be disrespected when worn by its own people.

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