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EXTRA! EXTRA!! DO NOT APPROPRIATE MINORITY CULTURE!!!
Ladies and gentlemen,
Boys and girls,
I have heard a lot of bullshit in my life on why culture vultures (people who steal from other cultures) always appropriate the cultures of minority groups (like black, Latina, Native American cultures etc.) and believe me, it's a lot of bullshit (my next article will talk about one of them). On the other hand, I've had a lot of people (who happen to be white) ask me how they can appreciate rather than appropriate culture. My white colleagues often tell me that they listen to rap music and enjoy it very much (I don't know why they feel the need to tell me but...okay). The follow up is often a question asking me if they are appropriating black culture just by listening to rap music. First, the answer is no. Second, my humble self would like to give you some tips on how to appreciate rather than appropriate minority cultures.
TIP 1 — Hire the Creators of the Culture!
This tip is especially for the media and big companies (with their marketing departments). If you have a big company right now or are building one, this right here is for you boo. There have been so many incidences of big magazines and small blogs whitewashing the fuck out of minority cultures (and it gets really irritating). That's why I say, HIRE THE CREATORS OF THE CULTURE! I am so tired of white models on Cosmo or Vogue having their skins darkened with an afro wig. Why do that when you could just hire a dark skin black model (instead of doing blackface)? Why would you put corn rows, braids and dreadlocks on white models like Gigi Hadid, when you could just hire black models who created and often wear the hairstyles? Hiring the creators of the culture does two main things: It accurately represents the culture (without whitewashing) and it creates job opportunities for minorities that are often ignored by the media and big markets. Killing two birds with one stone.
TIP 2 — Give Props to the Creators of the Culture!
Remember back in college during orientation, when they told you to never plagiarize other people? Yeah, that shit applies when appreciating minority cultures. The constant thing about culture vultures is that they try to pass off cultural symbols as their own (as if they created it or started the "new trend"). Media (like big fashion magazines) often doubles down on this by citing culture vultures as the creators of the cultural symbols or "new trends" i.e Kim Kardashian apparently created some imaginary hairstyle called boxer braids (Yes, I said imaginary). So let me say it again, GIVE PROPS WHEN IT IS DUE AND GIVE IT TO THE REAL CREATORS OF THE CULTURE. Black people created the hairstyles braids, dreadlocks, and cornrows, so why not give props to black people? Black and Latina women have been (and are still) wearing bamboo earrings and "ghetto" fashion for the longest time. So why do magazines say that the Jenner clan started the trends? Giving props to the creators of culture does two main things: It avoids whitewashing and puts culture vultures at risk of extinction (Hallelujah!).
TIP 3 — Do Not Christopher Columbus the Culture!
Honestly, I think this is the most important tip you can take away from this entire read. When cultural symbols (and cultural artifacts from minority cultures) have been around for hundreds of years, just because you finally know they exist doesn't mean you "discovered it." It damn sure does not mean you can take it, rename it and do whatever you want with it. In other words, DO NOT CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS IT! If you read the history of Columbus, you would understand the reference (he thought he was going to India and ended up in America and called the indigenous people, Indians, blah blah blah). For example, there is no such thing as "Boxer Braids" or "Hair Tattoos." They are called Corn Rows not "Boxer Braids", they are called Bantu Knots not "Mini Buns." It's not a cute little red dot accessory for Coachella, it's a Bindi. These cultural symbols are not new or somehow elevated just because white people started wearing them. Call the cultural symbols by the names that the creators gave them. This avoids whitewashing of minority cultures and is actually another way to give props to the creators of the culture (in tip #2).
Hope this helps y'all out.