African American culture in the United States constantly faces tremendous scrutiny over its obscene “black-ness” while simultaneously falling victim to cultural appropriation from the very population that ridicules it.
When you think about cultural appropriation, black culture wouldn’t typically be the first thing that comes to mind and that’s because of the peculiar way, in which, we are used to viewing this issue.
In today’s society, most of us don’t realize that popular trends and fashions don’t originate from the main stream outlets we see them on, rather they are influenced by cultural norms that were created and spread throughout the black community.
“It does bother me sometimes when I see women like Kim Kardashian or Iggy Azalea glamorizing curves and big butts or Kylie and her lip challenge,” said Charlotte Emetom, graduate student here at TSU, “people don’t realize that curvy women have been a thing in the black community forever. You wouldn’t see these features on the winner of Miss Universe yet for some reason, when one of the Kardashians does something a black woman has already done it’s automatically acceptable for everyone else to do it. I don’t get it.”
Today’s pop culture is almost completely mirrored after the culture of the black community but brands itself as new and original because people refuse to credit these trends back to the original creators.
Trends, such as music, dances, fashion, and even physical features gain general popularity because they are picked up by someone outside of the black community and then exploited for use on a broader scale.
Rapper Marshal Mathers, commonly known as Eminem, is considered one of the best rappers there is and has paved the way for mediocre white performers like Post Malone and Mac Miller to gain popularity while black rappers of the same, or higher, caliber aren’t given near the same acknowledgement. Even singer Jazmine Sullivan is said to be under-appreciated despite having the same singing ability as Adele who is exceedingly praised for her strong vocals and emotional R&B hits.
“When Macklemore won the Grammy for Best Rap Album over Kendrick Lamar I was in disbelief” said TSU sophomore, Bryan Cooksey, “nobody knows any of his songs other than Thrift Shop and Same Love and he wins a Grammy? That’s a slap in the face for Lamar and our black people because rap is ours and we can’t even get proper acknowledgement for that.”
Until the nation acknowledges the harsh way in which they view and treat the black community, we’ll continue to be robbed of our culture and scrutinized for it at the same time.
“America criticizes black people but admires black trends and it’s something that will always happen,” said Travis Edwards, Stephen F. Austin alum, “we’ll never get the credit we deserve because, ultimately, we’ll never be the dominant culture in this country.”
America continually fails to provide African Americans with the recognition they justly deserve for enhancing beauty, entertainment, and fashion in this nation. As bad as this is, though, the bigger problem lies in the persecution of our way of life, if America treated us with the same level of respect that it treated white Americans, then not getting credit for advancing American culture wouldn’t even be viewed as a problem because we’d view American culture as black culture.