To recognise BLM, you have to recognise how you appropriate black culture every day
Is it a bird? Kind of, it’s a rare one called a culture vulture
Think back to when pre-drinks actually existed and imagine what a standard one would look like at your uni. J Hus, MoStack and Stormzy on the playlist? Tan on real bronzed? And you just can’t get enough of a few slang words once you’re mega tipsy? Well, here’s the thing: You could be participating in the art of the culture vulture. Yes, I’m talking about cultural appropriation.
Some say that ignorance is bliss but when it comes to acknowledging that black culture is there to be enjoyed not extracted, it’s not blissful at all. I find that amongst young people, many fail to understand the problems to why cultures can’t be there to be picked and consumed like fruit on a tree. With it flaunted on a Snapchat video or that latest Insta pic, the culture exists for a purpose and possesses a rich history that needs to be accepted and appreciated.
Take the braids that you wear when you’re playing sports or chilling at home and sitting in your loungewear. Black women, like myself, wear them as protective hairstyles as self-explained, to protect our natural hair. Whether that be cornrows or a full head of box braids, black women have worn braids dating back to 3500 BC. In the times of slavery, black female slaves used their braids as food storage, in order to preserve rice for themselves after working tiresome and exhausting hours on the fields. They are not ‘boxer braids’, they are a historical art form that has a practice within itself when created, with us placing ourselves in a cushion or chair for hours at end, as mothers, grandmothers, black women of all kinds, braid with delicacy and intricacy so that it lasts for six to eight weeks and helps with growing our coils and curls.
How about that beloved RnB room you just have to spend the whole night in at the Students’ Union? The music that saturates the room possesses a powerful history, one that is neglected by many for just it being trendy or great for the drive-bys. As Amanda Seales said, ‘you cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues’. Many music genres originated out of the griefs of slavery, where slaves composed music as a way to ease the pain just for a moment. Even the beloved ‘oontz-oontz’ and beat drops of house music, a now white-dominated genre stemmed from the 1980s disco tunes that rocked through the nightclubs of downtown America.
As the acclaimed rapper and lyricist Dave said his song ‘Black’, ‘they take our features when they want and they have their fun with it’. He exposes the reality of black bodies being desirable when, in honesty, it was first seen to be a curiosity of science. Having plump lips and a perked bottom didn’t originate from the Kardashian family nor did the hips and a snatched waist. The first image of a black female figure was from a South African Khoisan woman, Sara Baartman, in the 19th century, whose unique figure deemed as exotic, was subject to scientific racism as French naturalists poked and prodded her body like she was a figurine. With her large buttocks being the trend of the ‘gram for white women now, the black feminine body has always been objectified and sexualised.
Black culture is vibrant and fascinating in history, but there needs to be more cultural acknowledgement rather than a blind eye to its creation. Being black is beautiful, but I’ve observed that many want to be black until it’s time to be black, and that has heavily been shown now. The silence of the struggle is amplified by the celebration of our joys and there needs to be an understanding that they go hand in hand.
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