In light of the recent DeRay McKesson interview of Katy Perry discussing her past appropriating atrocities, I’ve been thinking about the trend of cultural appropriation, particularly as it pertains to “melanated” people. Appropriation obviously is not a new phenomenon, as all cultures of individuals have been replicated and borrowed by people all over the world. For example, I enjoy watching hip-hop dance crews from Japan or Russia. They’re dope! Or when I go out and I dance to Latin infused Afro rhythms, I have a fabulous time. People are influenced by other people. It’s as simple as that. It’s part of human nature, and it’s bound to happen.
What is problematic about the appropriation of Black culture, is when “members of a dominant culture adopt elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.” It’s problematic when people like Katy Perry, and the whole Kardashian family, morbidly appropriate a culture that does not belong to them, for profit and/or notoriety, that leads to financial and societal gain—and totally act unaware of said actions. This kind cognitive dissonance is so troubling, and a smack in the face to the people that live, breath and walk in the black skin that is gaining non-black people so much glory. Granted, in Perry’s interview, she stated that she had no idea about the “power in black women’s hair…” In her amplified, yet soft apologetic voice, she boo hoo’d about her ignorance. “I won’t ever understand some of those things because of who I am. I will never understand, but I can educate myself and that’s what I’m trying to do along the way.” Well you’ve been around for quite some time Katy, and it’s funny how you have just been “put on” to what you have been doing in every album you’ve put out. It was cringing to watch her attempt to dance to a Migos song during an awful performance just a few weeks ago, then flash forward to watching her apologize for her whiteness, right around the time she is promoting a new album. Has anybody ever asked Katy Perry, Iggy Azalea or Justin Timberlake why they make the music they make, and if they think they would sell as much as they do if they didn’t appropriate black culture?