When Cultural Appropriation Isn't Acceptable

I’ve written several blogs about self-image, love, worth, respect, appreciation, value and other things that I have often felt we are disconnected from because of the world that we live in.  I always say that this happens specifically because the media takes away from the way someone is born by enhancing it on levels far beyond what’s possible with just a little lip gloss and squats in the gym.  As the younger girls grow up they are seeing the world through Photoshopped lenses and for young Black Girls it’s even worse.  They are seeing what they are born with, what’s a part of their history, what is embedded into their culture…………taken, manipulated and sold as though it belongs to someone else.  Heart-breaking to say the very least.

There are a million perspectives on cultural appropriation and I understand why.  Everyone doesn’t see eye to eye on what it means, why it happens and how we should feel about it as Black women in this country.  No matter what others feel, the most important part about it all is that people have long stifled, coveted, stolen and taken credit for all of the features that a Black woman possesses by birth.  The genetic makeup of a Black woman has been admired secretly by other races of people for so long that it probably isn’t even documented how far back it actually dates.  Full lips, thick hips, thick hair, beautifully tanned skin, even our strengths and attitudes are bought and sold on the market to the point that the world has completely disconnected it from being a part of who we are.

It’s bigger than these “boxer braids” that are so popular because of the Kardashians or the locs that are so talked about because of Justin Bieber.  It is a misconception that things are only cool and acceptable if someone other than Black people are doing them.  We have been braiding our hair since the beginning of time.  It is a part of our culture stemming back long before people of color were transported here.  How is it realistic or reasonable for the world to decide when African Culture is acceptable and popular?  Just because we aren’t the ones that are making it so?  So how are we supposed to feel when we see something so basic and normal for us be exploited and advertised as if it's this new thing that everyone should try?  The list is growing for things we should receive compensation/reparations for don't you think?

Like some other African American women, I’m just simply irritated (I know that some don’t care but that means I’m not talking to you).  I was listening to The BrilliantIdiots podcast the other day and Charlamagne was pretty much hinting around to us having to understand when it’s appropriation and when it’s appreciation.  I might actually agree with that if people appreciated it when we were doing it before someone without melanin was.  It’s hard to believe that the world can accept our beauty and fashion because no matter how long we may be doing something, it doesn’t seem to blow up as much until it’s no longer us who is rocking it.  Music is another example of the “We Create It…..Then It’s Stolen” epidemic.  From Rock-n-Roll to Rap, we do it first and then they are the ones who become known for it.  I’d be flattered if they didn’t ALWAYS participate in the thievery of Black culture because it shows they immolate us since we obviously do things so well, we are so creative, we are just so damn lovable that they want it no matter what it is.  Period. 

Ideally we’d live in a world where everyone would accept people regardless of their race, ethnicity and gender.  However, we don’t live in that world no matter how much the millennials want to believe that color, gender barriers, discrimination and separation aren’t real.  As we make adjustments to that, my fear is that the Black culture will continue to be broken down into sections and pushed off as purchasable pieces by others who will put it on as their own.  That we will continue to be minimized and never be noticed for what we naturally have brought to the table of this diversified life.  That people will never value the God Given Beauty of Black Women which doesn’t allow them to value the beauty in themselves.  That the world will always take light off of us and shine that very light on someone else who injected, plumped, stuffed, braided, and manipulated what we naturally walk into the room with.  It’s a much bigger problem that continues to plague only the Black community.

There are those who are withdrawn from how this issue affects those of us who are unhappy with the enslavement and open-market selling of our culture and features, but that is only because they do not understand.  Someone once told me never to call everyone a hater because some people are just ignorant to the facts.  That just makes them uneducated and unaware. We have a right to feel the way we want to because for so long we have been pulled apart by other people and made to feel inadequate only to see others buying the very things they have shunned us for having.  That doesn’t mean that we have patents on the features that are natural for us, but the media and the world should stop pretending that when a person of non-color goes out and purchases these features, they are doing something new.  It should not become popular because it is marketable.  We are not new to this!  That’s the only point that I would like to make to those who think we are silly for bringing this up as an issue.

Everything I said makes it painfully clear that the world perpetuates the disconnection to beauty and power that many Black women feel around the world.  Internally we are often unsupportive of one another and it reflects in how we move on our own and with one another.  That’s why I love the movements I see where we are creating organizations and online groups that promote cohesiveness among us.  Those things encourage self-love no matter our shape or size, our hair texture or style, where we come from, our level of education, where we work or how we dress.  We love on one another and show each other that we are special regardless to what Black Men say about us, what other women say about us, what we say about ourselves and what they all try to steal from us.  I absolutely adore it because the most important lesson of all of this is that we must without question start from within our own circles. There is no need for us to support tearing each other down and taking away from ourselves because it only feeds into what is being imposed upon us already.  It’s a movement well deserved and long overdue.  #Blackgirlmagic at its best.

Until Next Time Lovies!

Miss B

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