Cultural Appropriation is somewhat a mystery to me. As a Black British man, born to Nigerian parents both exquisitely dark in complexion, I find the fact that there are people in this world who purposely choose to aggressively leech a particular culture for reasons I could only describe as monetarily driven, absolutely baffling. What shocks me even more is that some of these vultures steal from cultures they don’t particularly like, nor have a mutual respect or even affection for. It must be said that not all Appropriation is harmful, however negative Cultural Appropriation is essentially an arrogance that is birthed from racial supremacy. It’s a pompous mindset, which carries the belief that one race can pick and choose elements of another race for its own greedy desires and gain.
Sadly, this dispensation has created cultural monsters, who rather strangely have been given a public platform to further showcase and support their madness. An example of this is Rachel Dolezal, a former civil rights activist who is a Caucasian female. Rachel has chosen to identify as a black woman even though both her parents are white. Dear Rachel has told the world that although she could never completely understand the struggles black people had to face and still do face in society today, she still earnestly believes she’s a black female and has chosen to identify this as her race because she’s always had a deep affection for our culture.
Should I now identify as a Chinese man because I have a deep love for a hong king style sweet & sour chicken meal? Do I change my ethnicity on the forms that I sign to Indian because I devour a curry every Friday night? Furthermore, even If i one day wake up and come to the conclusion that I want to be classified as another race, do I now automatically understand the obstacles that race has faced over several centuries, in a matter of months? To think as such would be a massive insult to that culture regardless of how genuine my feelings are.
“Racism does not have a good track record. It’s been tried out for a long time and you’d think by now we’d want to put an end to it instead of putting it under new management. ”
― Thomas Sowell
The idea that race can be considered “trans” is a clear example that our world has taken a huge step backwards in the fight against racism. Race is not merely a social construct designed to keep us locked to governmental boundaries, it is actually a part of our very DNA and an important part of the makeup of our genes. It helps us identify who we are and provides us with a sense of belonging but it was never intended as a method to measure which race is greater. Our ethnicity doesn’t give us supremacy over one another, but rather the ability to celebrate and honour the culture we have been birthed into, and whether you believe it or not, it is not something that you have a choice about, you simply have to just accept this extremely basic concept.
Accepting established concepts is almost unheard of in our day and age. Society has chosen to challenge nearly every stem of belief without any substantial evidence to disprove that particular idealism and rather than take time to actually study and understand why this concept exists in the first place, they choose to base their entire argument on emotion and sensationalism. Challenging the status quo is not a bad thing but without balance we can easily fall into the trap of throwing the baby out with the bath water and failing to realise there are things that have been tried and tested for a reason.
Nevertheless, the main reason for my sadness and ultimately anger is that In the year 2017 black men and women are being forced to demonstrate to the world that we are in fact human beings. We’re constantly being asked to show and prove that we feel, love and hurt like everyone else, in an effort to prove the myth that black people, because of the colour of their skin are somewhat different to every other race.
Black people are not a commodity. We are not prizes you win at a raffle, nor are we trophies to be placed on a mantle place. We are not mutants that are to be hunted and caged, neither are we experiments to be dissected and discovered. We are not subjects of inspiration porn, paraded across social media to be commend on how good we are at being human. We breathe the same air, bleed the same blood and produce the same secretion as other homo sapiens. We don’t desire documentaries to be produced to further explain our incredible abilities and we don’t need countless think pieces to break down the majesty of our sacred ethnicity. We do not march on the streets screaming ‘black lives matter’ because we just want to make a scene. We’re not in search of special treatment but rather equal rights. The fact we choose to make a stand at any given moment is not because we haven’t moved on from past atrocities, it’s because we are still fighting for the very basic necessity of life itself, and that is equality. Our women don’t need to be quieter and our men don’t need to be more effeminate so that we will finally be accepted. Black people just need to be treated like everyone else, and although you might that is such a simple notion, it is an extremely rare thing to see nowadays.
It’s clear to me that there are people in our society who are somewhat trying to make amends for the injustice black people were subjected to during the years of slavery and while there are some who do not intend to offend they have unfortunately done so in the process. Being black has now become a fashion statement and quite frankly it is painful to watch. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t what the majority wants, in fact, our ‘demands’ are actually rather simple. We want to be seen in the same light as every other ethnical member on this planet. We want the same opportunities as our neighbour next door. We want our culture to be celebrated just as much as another, no more and no less. Rachel, as well as countless others are part of the problem, and while in their mind they make think they are somehow helping, they are literally making the situation worse. If you see yourself adopting any aspect of this mindset, please stop and think about the damage you could be doing.
Thankfully, the remedy for this disease is quite straightforward. Simply take a moment to consider how dangerous it is to entertain such thoughts, think first before you open your mouth and most importantly stop trying so hard.
Respect and love us not because we’re black but because we are human, just like you.
Words by db