I see cultural appropriation as a form of oppression. People of color have been marginalized for centuries by the White population and culture is one of the few things that has been preserved by these marginalized groups. Since I am a Black American woman, my main focus is on the appropriation of Black American culture.
Black American culture is viewed as degrading. It has been described as dangerous, illegitimate, trashy, and many other negative adjectives. This negative image of our culture has been fed to people around the world through American media.
Black culture is seen as degrading until a non-Black person decides to imitate it. It could range from rapping, using AAVE, singing R&B music, or wearing gold grillz. Suddenly, it is no longer considered our culture. It becomes “American” culture or the usual excuse, “No one owns culture!” Can you imagine how frustrating it is for you to create something no one respects, just for someone else to come around and take credit for it?
Black American culture is used by people to appear “cool” or “edgy”. That’s why people like Iggy Azalea, Bhad Babie, and Awkwafina use it to make themselves seem more interesting than what they really are. Mainstream media eats it up. They love seeing people put on their best Black American impression. The more offensive, the better. Sadly, the Black community enables people like that as well. We see imitation as a form of flattery and not for what is really is: Non-Black people being caricatures of Black Americans and profiting immensely off of it. Non-Black Americans are guilty of this as well. People like Drake and Luvvie use Black American culture as masks and have profited off of it as well.
Black Americans need to start gate keeping their culture like others do. We’re the only ethnic group who sits back and allows everyone to come into our culture while degrading us. Too many people have made a profit from being caricatures of Black Americans. We have a problem with seeking validation from non-Black people, which is why culture appropriation can be seen as flattering to some. We must learn to love, appreciate, and protect the beauty of our culture.