Hands Off My Culture
"Everybody wants to be a nigga but nobody wants to be a nigger." - Paul Mooney
Picture this if you will, a crowded symposium filled with the most brilliant minds in America. Suddenly the house lights go dark and a lone bright light bathes the stages podium. A man smartly dressed in all black approaches behind it, smiles and looks directly into the crowd and says, "Today will mark the greatest day in scientific history, for we have discovered a great power. A force so immense and deep, that without it we would fly around the room. Today ladies and gentlemen in 2016 we have found gravity!"
You could imagine how loudly the record would skip at that exact moment and the smartly dressed man being tossed out on his ass never allowed to speak again. No one in their right minds would ever be as stupid as to make claims over something that already exists. Well I'd like to formally introduce you to cultural appropriation, where Rick Owens can put a durag on white models in Paris during Fashion Week (2014) and Marc Jacob's can reply to his critiques with "I don't see color or race" in response to accusations of appropriation. Things do not begin nor end with the fashion industry, White America as well as other cultures have profited off of our flesh, slang, music, and even our movements. One can only look towards the formation of the NAACP, or the billionaire financiers of the Black Lives Matter movement to see how people constantly have their fingerprints on not only our culture but also our struggles.
And while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no one wants to actually BE Black. You see being Black comes with heavy interest, an interest our racial counterparts do not want to pay but rather profit from. Our biggest export to America and the rest of the world is our culture. Which is why a man like Marc Jacobs can be so disconnected with our struggles with hair while he prances around porcelain models with faux dreads. Not too long ago Giuliana Rancic once was quoted saying, "I feel she smells like patchouli oil and weed" in reference to then 18 year old actress Zendaya Coleman and her faux locs. Locs being of Egyptian and Caribbean culture (Haile Sellasie) we can see how such harmful acts can be deemed unacceptable yet the beat goes on.
A federal appeals court ruled back in September that banning an employee from wearing their hair in locks is not racial discrimination. So while folks can profit and openly mock our culture we cannot even embrace our own culture in day-to-day life.
I highlight the above to simply say it's time we tell people to keep their hands off of our culture. Until we are allowed to freely express ourselves not a single dollar or smidgen of who we are shall pass through the hands of others. Yes, culture is a thing we should all share and learn from one another but not the expense of our wallets and ourselves.