Cultural Appropriation: How White People Steal from Everyone Else
Cultural Appropriation in Portland
I drive for Lyft in order to make ends meet. I’ve met a wide variety of people in the 5000+ rides I’ve completed yet, over the years, very few stand out. I don’t think I’ll ever forget Allie from last weekend. Her ignorant abuse of black cultural music is one of the most egregious examples of cultural appropriation I’ve ever seen. It was obscene, embarrassing, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
How Allie Pissed Me Off
Allie is a young white girl. I’d say in her early twenties. Even though I picked her up from a mansion in the hills of Portland, she was dressed in clothing that would be best described as urban or street.
When she got into my car, along with her five other friends, she immediately asked to change the music. Sure, no problem. A lot of people like to play their own music. I don’t care. Next thing I knew, she put on Drake. For those of you who don’t know, Drake is a black rapper. He drops the n-word repeatedly. His music is aggressive, often violent and IT’S NOT WRITTEN FOR WHITE PEOPLE.
Try telling Allie that. Not only was Allei listening to Drake, she was pumping her fist and singing along including the n-word. She could see that her behavior was bothering me so she sang louder and begin to glare at me in a challenging way. Meanwhile, her other five rich white friends hollered in the background and complimented her playlist.
So why is Allie’s behavior so bad? First let’s define cultural appropriation.
Defining Cultural Appropriation
Cultural appropriation is defined as:
“the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.”
In the case of the United States, white people are the dominant culture. Drake is a black artist who writes his music for black people. Allie is committing cultural appropriation because she is using Drake’s music and singing along to it as if it were her own.
This self serving, privileged attitude that white people have toward other cultures is one of the biggest problems we have in our country. Not only do white people frequently use and abuse the music of other cultures, they steal their dance moves, fashion, catchphrases, and their identities. No, it’s not okay for white people to wear necklaces with Japanese characters on it. No, it’s not okay for white people to wear Native American headdresses to concerts. No, it’s not okay for white people to dress in traditionally African patterns and designs. The list goes on and on.
To Allie, the whole world is just her play toy. She only respects whatever impulse she has next. Anything she sees is hers. She does what she wants without regard to others. She tramples on the rights and identities of other cultures only because she finds it entertaining.
A Much Larger Problem than Allie
Idiot young white women are just the beginning of the cultural appropriation problem. It appears virtually everywhere else as well. For example, Disney steals anything they can from other cultures to make the next hit movie. How many times has Disney stolen from the Hawaiian culture? Did you ever think that buying a doll that is grossly in the style of a Hawaiian princess might be offensive to the Hawaiian culture? White people DID steal the Hawaiian islands from Hawaiians. That was their home!!!
Does Disney donate any of their profits to these victims? Of course not.
Other corporations follow suit by using rap music, street style clothing, traditional styles and sounds, and really anything else they want in order to sell cars, candy bars, soda pop, or anything else they want to sell.
It all adds up to a privileged dominant white culture continuing to abuse and embarrass other cultures for money, entertainment, or really any other reason they like.
Cultural Sensitivity Training NOW
It’s time for cultural appropriation to stop. Cultural sensitivity needs to be taught at the very beginning, especially for white people. And the white ruling class needs to be dismantled once and for all. I’m tried of old white men in suits attending boards meetings and deciding everything for everyone.
Allie was an absolute embarrassment last weekend. But she is not alone. This white arrogance and privilege is a poison throughout the world. White people need to learn respect and boundaries. It’s fine to share one’s culture with another. It’s not okay to steal another’s culture for your own benefit. If white people can learn this important distinction, then maybe young girls like Allie won’t grow up so self-serving, ignorant and arrogant. And maybe one day we can we can all meet as equals.