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Is This Cultural Appropriation or Nah?

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Recently, the Grapevine TV caused quite the sensation online for its content related to cultural appropriation and Bruno Mars. In my humble opinion, this has been the best discussion about appropriation/critique of Bruno Mars that I have seen across the internet. Whether you call it appropriation or not, I think we all can agree that at the very least, Bruno absolutely swagger-jacked the entire New Jack Swing sound prevalent in 1990s music. Teddy Riley, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis should definitely be cashing in on Bruno’s recent fame.

But I digress.

I will be honest, while I agree that cultural appropriation exists, I really don’t understand why some people are appropriators and some aren’t? It’s like our faves are appreciating and our not-so-faves are appropriating. What are the rules and regulations?

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Here is my question – what do we call it when a major media outlet (usually owned and operated by the racially dominant group) inserts themselves in some Black shit and tries to spin it? Is that appropriation?

Recently, The Washington Post published this article online – “How White Nationalists are Trying to Co-Opt Black Panther.” Even though Black Panther is Blackity-Black, the Washington Post has managed to marginalize the beauty of that, while centering White Nationalists in a moment that distinctly ignores their existence. The fact that this is published in the Washington Post, which is still considered a “legitimate” news source, gives credibility to a ‘thing’ that I honestly don’t think is a ‘thing.’ They reference some “research study” but there are no statistics, no methodology, and nothing that even remotely feels like a fact. But, it’s on The Washington Post, so it must be real, right?

What do we call it when a major media outlet (usually owned and operated by the racially dominant group) inserts themselves in some Black shit and tries to spin it? Click To Tweet

What is cultural appropriation? It is the representation of cultural practices or experiences by those considered cultural outsiders; this representation or cultural borrowing is usually performed by members of the dominant group. Appropriation usually comes in one of three forms:  the performance of culture by cultural outsiders, the cross-cultural borrowing of artistic styles (as in Bruno Mars doing the wop to his 1990s New Edition-esque song), and the possession of cultural objects by outsiders. Cultural appropriation strips away the cultural autonomy of marginalized groups. The morally objectionable quality of cultural appropriation lies within the disregard of the rights of the cultural group to share and shape the origin and history of their culture. Within this context, cultural appropriation is only morally objectionable when the dominant cultural group appropriates from oppressed groups because the very nature of the dominant group is to dictate and force its culture on others while oppressed groups are often required to assimilate for protection and acceptance.

 

So, the question is – Is this Washington Post article cultural appropriation?

Think of it in terms of Beyoncé. Remember when she broke the internet announcing her pregnancy and subsequently, several articles popped up all over the internet (written by White women) critiquing her pregnancy announcement – ManRepeller, NY Post, and Refinery 29? In this way, they leeched off of Beyoncé’s media power, and profited it from it. Even though they don’t belong to the culture and they clearly don’t understand it, they all, in some way, inserted themselves and took ownership over the narrative. It’s exploitative.

I feel like this Washington Post article did the same thing.  But again, I have to ask – is this cultural appropriation too?

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Bullying Works: Halle Berry Decides Trans People Should Play Trans People

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Halle Berry was on an Instagram Live stream with Christin Brown, where she announced that she was considering a role as a transgender male. If her being a cis woman wasn’t problematic enough, she also spent much of that conversation misgendering the character!

She was promptly dragged until today, July 6th, when she announced that she was backing out of the role.

There’s not a lot to say here that trans people have yet to say. I think it’s worth extracting a few key factors in the outrage. Halle Berry is not just a cis woman, she’s a light-skinned biracial woman with a habit of slipping on a shake-&-go wig and taking up space that should be reserved for women who are marginalized within our community. Instead she continues to do things likes this. You might argue that she wasn’t aware, but it’s not hard to see trans people as human beings who deserve to tell their own stories.

To add insult to injury, Halle Berry isn’t the first person to be publicly called out for this. Scarlett Johansson was dragged for something close to a year for deciding she wanted oh-so-badly to play a trans male sex worker. Infamously in 2019, she told As If magazine that she “should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal.” So, it feels really hollow when Halle Berry hangs up her dreams of a buzz-cut when those dreams should never have come close to fruition in the first place. Trans people deserve to tell their own stories. I personally don’t believe she didn’t know that.

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Jada Pinkett-Smith Declares She’s Bringing Herself to the Infamous “Red Table”

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When I heard Jada Pinkett-Smith may have had an inappropriate relationship with August Alsina, I said “No! Not Jada!” Justin called me, a tear falling from his third eye, and he was like “Not Jada!” We meditated, aligning our spirit energies with Willow’s, before we decided it was time to write this article.

Twitter erupted when a video of August Alsina was published, wherein he spoke of an alleged, Will Smith-cosigned, affair he had with Jada Pinkett Smith.

It didn’t take long before people started to voice their concern around the nature of their relationship. In the video, he explains that their relationship was so passionate that he could “die right now and… be okay, knowing that I truly gave myself to somebody.” This, alone, is enough to make anyone cringe who isn’t willing to validate relationships that center a peaceful death as their logical conclusion, but the math here… well, it’s mathing. And not in a good way.

Alsina mentioned the “years” in which he and Jada were allegedly coupled, and the Twitter Detective AgencyTM got suspicious.

See, August claims he was introduced to Pinkett-Smith in 2015. That means he was between the ages of 21 and 22-years-old. No, he wasn’t a minor, but given that he was brought into this space by Pinkett-Smith’s son, there’s reason to question Jada’s actions. Adding to the inappropriacy is the fact that August has been rather public about his drug-abuse history and the series of traumatic losses he endured in that time. Some expressed that this alleged affair indicates a predatory mindset on Jada’s part.

The Smith family are known for their ability to manage social media backlash. About a year ago, we reported on the Jordyn Woods situation and the hand the Smiths played in managing that narrative. In usual form, Jada has declared that she will be “bringing [herself] on The Red Table.” Though we’re unclear how this will bring the “healing” she claims is needed, we will be watching to see for ourselves how that goes.

One thing that we’ve already seen is Adrienne Banfield-Jones, Jada’s mother, posting a rather cryptic image to Instagram.

Maybe the spin has already begun. Maybe this had absolutely nothing to do with the Alsina situation. Either way, the internet has it now, and it’ll be watching.

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BET Awards 2020 | REVIEW

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