Understanding Cultural Appropriation Part 2: Black Music

Out of every part of Black American culture, our music has definitely proved to be the most profitable. From Rock n’ Roll to Hip Hop, Black American music has made a huge mark on American music and music worldwide. That should be a compliment, right? It would be if anti-blackness wasn’t prevalent globally. It would be if we got the credit we deserved. It would be if our music wasn’t always being whitewashed over time. It would be a compliment if people didn’t diminish our culture to just being Hip Hop music. At what point do we start seeing it less as flattering and more of what is is? Which is the hijacking of Black culture.

Globally, different cultures have their own forms of hip hop music. You have Korean hip hop, Brazilian hip hop, U.K. hip hop, Nigerian rap, Latin trap, etc. Just like America, a lot of these countries have anti-black or anti-black American views. As we all know, anti-blackness is global. How you can have an issue with black people or Black Americans while simultaneously imitating them? Some people would rather die before they even give us credit for the music we created. They’d rather say, ” Music has no color,” or, “You can’t own music!” No one said Black Americans owned music. But, you always give credit to the people who inspired you. You know the way you’d do in a speech or an essay? Hip hop has influenced music everywhere, and you have people like Gene Simmons throwing a fit for Black rappers being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hip hop isn’t even the only music Black Americans have created. There are plenty of others genres like: House and Rock n’ Roll. Both of these genres have a following globally. There’s European house and Latin House. Then there’s Rock n’ roll, which became whiter over time. White artists were inspired by Black Rock n’ Roll artists like Little Richard and Chuck Berry. (I’ll explain a little bit of that in the next paragraph.) These artists hardly ever receive credit. Black people have to ask for more black artists to even be nominated at popular music award shows.

Right now we are witnessing the white washing of r&b and hip hop music, the same way it happened with Rock n’ Roll music . There are people who don’t even realize that the first Rock n’ Roll artists were Black. Our favorite classic rock artists like: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Eric Clapton were influenced by Black Rock n’ Roll and Blues artists. The Beach Boys were sued by Chuck Berry for sampling his music. Led Zeppelin was sued by Willie Dixon. They didn’t even pay or give credit to these artist. they were stealing from them. People think that Little Richard is crazy when he tells you that he never received the credit he deserved for being the pioneer of Rock n’ Roll. He’s not crazy. Artists like: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley are the pioneers of Rock n’ Roll music. We’d also have to give credit to Blues artists like: Howlin Wolf, Willie Dixon, and Muddy Waters. Without these artists, your favorite rock bands wouldn’t exist. What makes it worse is that Black artists were barely paid for the music they made. Elvis Presley was influenced immensely by black artists and expressed that. He often recorded covers of songs by black artists, as well.

Now onto the whitewashing of Hip Hop. Artists like 6ix9ine, Lil Pump, and Bhad Babie who are currently considered some of the most popular rappers right now. White and Latinx rappers have been around since the 80s. The only problem now is that they are not talented and caricatures of black people. We have rappers like: Bhad Babie and Iggy Azalea using, “blaccents.” Iggy Azalea is an Australian woman with an Australian accent, who sounds like a Black woman from the South when she raps. Iggy also has the stereotypical body of a black woman: a big butt and big lips. She just so happens to have a history of racist tweets, as well. Then you have Bhad Babie, the white teenager who got famous for disrespecting her mom on Dr. Phil. She slips in and out of her, “blaccent,” from now and then. Now she’s a rapper who beefs with other caricatures like Vicky and Lil Tay. 6ix9ine and Lil Pump are Latinx rappers, who I’m assuming are non-black Latinx, that comfortably use the n word in their music. 6ix9ine and Lil Pump also both happen to have rainbow colored dreadlocks. Miley Cyrus attempted to be a Hip Hop artist at one point too. We all remember her twerking on Robin Thicke at the VMAs and recording songs with popular rappers. A reminder that mainstream media was trying to credit her with popularizing twerking, even though black people had been twerking for years. Miley wasn’t even doing it right. A few years later, she denounced Hip Hop. She used and discarded black culture like trash. In 2018, White America openly embraces Hip Hop culture. Everyday there are more and more awful white rappers popping up like acne. At one point, white people wanted rap music banned. It was a “bad influence”. It was too “violent”. Ironically, these are the same people who worship the ground Eminem walks on. Eminem is also not the, “King of Rap”, by the way. You will not name a white rapper as the King of a genre created by black people.

The last genre I’m going to cover is R&B music. If I named every genre that was hijacked from black people, I’d be typing this post for days. There are always non-Black R&b artists who are clearly imitating the way Black R&B artists sound. Then everyone praises them and puts them above the Black artists they’re imitating. The first few artists that come to my mind are: Bruno Mars, Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Robin Thicke. Now, I do like these artists and their music. But, the truth is the truth. They are or were just doing the same thing R&B artists have been doing for decades, and being praised for it because they aren’t Black. It seems that America enjoys Black art and style more when there isn’t a Black face attached to it.

It is upsetting seeing Black American music slowly being watered down and made acceptable for White America. It’s upsetting to see cultures that are notoriously anti-Black making our music their own. It’s upsetting when our music is used by everyone, but no one wants to give their credit where credit is due. I have no issue with people enjoying our music. I don’t have a problem with non-Black R&B artists and rappers. The problem is the lack of respect that people have for Black Americans and our culture. I can’t control what people do with our music. But, best believe I will call it out.

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What Janelle Monáe means to Me

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Janelle Monáe is an inspiration for me. From her defiant lyrics to her thought-provoking style, I love Janelle Monáe. Since the beginning of her career, Janelle has been all about being unapologetic. She is unapologetically queer, unapologetically feminist, and unapologetically carefree. Janelle is a multi-talented artist. Everything about Janelle inspires me. 

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I started listening to Janelle when I was in the tenth grade. I was always weird and felt like I didn’t fit in with any of my peers. Hearing songs like, “Queen,” “Electric Lady,” and “Ghetto Woman,” would give me chills. I’d tear up from her lyrics because I could really identify with what she was saying. I lived by lines like, “Categorize me, I defy every label,” and, “Let love be your guide, you were built to last through every weather.” There weren’t many artists who’s lyrics made me feel the way Janelle did. 

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The first time I think I really noticed Janelle was watching her dance during her Prince tribute at the BET Awards. She was wearing her signature pompadour with her white shirt and black bow-tie. From her dancing to her outfit, Janelle was carefree. People would complain about the way she dressed and say that she wasn’t “feminine” enough. But, she didn’t change for anyone else. The way Janelle dressed also had a deeper meaning to it. It was a tribute to her parents and the working class. 

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Her latest album, “Dirty Computer,” provokes even more emotions from me. Janelle dives into subjects like sexuality, pro-blackness, and feminism. I felt like she was speaking to me once again. Songs like, “Pynk,” and, “Make Me Feel,” spoke to me as a Pansexual woman. Lines from, “I Like That,” like, “Even with the tears in my eye, I always knew I was the shit,” and “I don’t care what I look like, but I feel good.”  Let’s not forget the beautiful visuals and story she provided with the emotion picture of the same name. 

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Janelle deserves accolades for her artistry. She is a talented singer, songwriter, actress, and music producer. Janelle even has her own record label for other innovative artists like herself. She’s never afraid to experiment with her music or her style. You know she’s the real deal if Prince named her as one of his favorite artists and supported her. 

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Janelle Monáe means a lot to me as a pansexual Black woman, who is also an unapologetically black creative. I’ve listened to Janelle from being a awkward girl dying to fit in, to becoming an ambitious woman who learned to love her uniqueness. Janelle Monáe is an inspiration for me. 

Is the Pro-Hoe Movement toxic?

People hear the phrase, “Pro-Hoe,” and their mind automatically jumps to something negative. I’ve heard people assume that it promotes a reckless lifestyle for women. That’s not true. The Pro-Hoe movement is about sexual liberation. It’s about getting rid of the stigma surrounding women and sex. I’ve seen men and women try to reduce this movement to, “women just being proud to be hoes.” The word “hoe” is just a misogynistic term used to slut shame women. The pro movement involves taking the shame out of that sexist word. It is about reclaiming a derogatory term that has been used against women who don’t fit misogyny’s view of what we’re supposed to be. This movement also shines more light on rape culture in our society. 

This movement has made women more comfortable with publicly discussing sex. Women are taught that sex is a taboo subject. It shouldn’t be mentioned outside of the bedroom. If it wasn’t for women being more open about it now, there’s plenty I wouldn’t even know about sex. A lot of schools, including mines, did not have sex education. People are getting their sexual education from pornography. The same pornography that is geared towards men and their pleasure. Pornography can also be sexist and promote rape culture. There are adults who have no idea how the female genitalia works. They actually believe that a vagina stretches by the number of men a woman sleeps with. There are people who have no clue where a clitoris is. If sex education isn’t in schools, then women should at least be able to educate each other and themselves on their bodies. 

The Pro-Hoe movement teaches women not to uphold misogynistic views on female sexuality. We are taught that sex revolves around a man’s pleasure, not our own. Some women know nothing about their own sexual pleasure. They don’t understand female orgasms or masturbation. Women are also shamed into thinking that casual sex is a bad thing. We aren’t supposed to enjoy sex the way that a man does. The same way body count isn’t as important when it comes to men. But, we feel that a woman’s character can be judged by her body count. We are taught that we should only be sexual on a man’s terms, not our own. 

Many are also working towards getting rid of the stigma around sex work. There is this constant debate about whether sex workers deserve respect. Of course, they deserve respect. The fact that we wonder if sex workers deserve respect, but not the men who pay for their service, is misogynistic. Sex workers are not hurting anyone. They do not deserve to be disrespected the way they are. Sex workers also do not deserve any form of violence towards them.

I’m thankful for the Pro-Hoe movement. It has helped me unlearn the misogynistic views I grew up around. I learned things that I should’ve learned in sexual education at school. I learned more about the female body and sexual pleasure. I even learned more about consent. I no longer see sex as something that is a taboo discussion for women. You’ll never learn if you don’t ask. There’s nothing wrong with casual sex, as long as you’re safe. Body count is also immature. There are people who view this movement in a negative light, while I see it as the complete opposite. I feel like it’s a step in the right direction. It opposes misogyny and rape culture. It’s only viewed as bad because it challenges views that has been instilled in may of us. 

Feminism isn’t Destroying the Black Community

Misogyny is so ingrained in our minds, that we think any challenge to it is detrimental to our way of life. That is the complete opposite. Feminism isn’t destroying our community. Our upholding of patriarchy is. Racism and misogyny is destroying our community. Mass incarceration is destroying our community. Lack of funding in our neighborhood is destroying our community. Assault and abuse is destroying our community.

This idea that the black community should only focus on racism, not misogyny or homophobia, is not helping us move forward. If we want to liberate the black community, then we have to listen to everyone’s grievances. All of our issues matter, not just straight cis black men. The gaslighting and silencing of Black women has to stop. Our experiences with Misogynoir are valid. We’re not trying to “tear black men down,” because we expect better from them. We also need to put an end to the homophobia and transphobia running through our community. Why are we shunning our own people based on their sexualities and gender expression? We are encouraging discrimination in our own community. How is this acceptable?

Please, kill the idea that mainstream media has an agenda to, “turn black men gay,” and “make black men feminine.” I don’t know if people realize this, but gay black men have always existed. Gay black men have even been apart of fighting for us to have equal rights in this country.  Bayard Rustin and James Baldwin are two examples. When you complain about black men being “feminine,” that is toxic masculinity. Teaching black men that there’s a certain ways to be “real” man, like holding emotions in and being overly aggressive, is not good. You are also helping enforce the stereotype that black men are “aggressive” and “wild”. That stereotype is dangerous. It has been used as a way to justify innocent black men being murdered by police officers.

Black women are also not door mats for Black Liberation. Stop teaching Black women that in order to help our community, we have be silent when we are hurting. Instead of shaming Black women for speaking out against their rapists and abusers, shame the rapists and abusers. Black people are not obligated to protect predators because they are black. Black victims are the ones should be protected. You make us feel unloved in our own community and we have done nothing wrong. The fact that it is common to have known child molesters and rapists in our families, should disturb you. The fact that it’s common for us to put the responsibility on little black girls to “cover up in the house,” and “stop being fast,” should disturb you. Protect black victims. Protect little black girls. Protect little black boys too.

The disrespect black women receive in this community while simultaneously being expected to do all the labor is exhausting. Respectability politics are enforced on black women. Single black mothers are constantly being disrespected. Why are women being disrespected for raising their children, instead of the men who do not take care of them? We pick and choose which black woman is worthy of praise. Black woman who is sexually liberated? Not worthy of respect. Black woman who wears weave? Not worthy of respect. Black woman who is “unattractive.” Not worthy of respect. Do not say you love and appreciate black women, when you pick and choose which ones to show love to and appreciate. It is disheartening seeing black women internalize these misogynistic beliefs, as well. Supporting those views does nothing to help us.

The Black community is also selective when it comes to which Black life matters and which one doesn’t. There is little outrage for the high rate of Black trans women being murdered in the U.S. According to The New York Times, 25 to 28 trans people were killed last year. The majority of the them were trans women of color. Their life expectancy is 35 years old. The only ones who speak about Black female victims of police brutality are other black women. Koryn Gaines and Sandra Bland deserved better than the black men who were justifying their deaths. Black sexual assault and domestic violence victims do not receive the support they deserve, not even from our own community. According to a study done by CDC, Black women had the highest homicide rates from 2003-2014. It was said that more than half of the women killed were murdered by a current or former partner. We show a huge amount of support for black male victims of violence until we find out that the black man is gay. Anthony Wall and Gemmel Moore deserved more attention than they received from us.

Feminism is not destroying the black community. The toxic views that we continue to pass down from generation to generation is destroying it. If we really want to liberate the Black community, we should start by dismantling the sexist and homophobic beliefs that we uphold. If we say that Black lives matter then we need to act like it.

Do Black Women Only Like Thugs?

I’ve been hearing this stereotype that black women prefer thugs for years. Donald Glover has been a big topic of discussion this week. Topics ranging from his music, comments about his racial preferences, and his current partner. I’ve seen many responses about black women not having a preference for “nerdy” black men. Donald has even mentioned this in one of his older songs. This has brought the question back up. Do black women only like thugs? Let’s talk about it.

Ok, I often hear black men who date interracially use black women not liking “nice” men as one of their reasons for dating outside of their race. I think that’s an ignorant statement to make. Not all black women are the same. It’s wrong to be generalized, especially by people of your own race. It also reeks of male entitlement. You didn’t get the women you wanted because you’re such a “nice” and “intelligent” guy, huh? Well, guess what? Every woman you want is not going to want you. You are not entitled to their time because you’re a self-proclaimed “nice” guy. And if you think that you’re entitled to a woman, you’re not as nice as you think. You don’t necessarily know if it was because you were “nice”. Maybe she wasn’t attracted to you. Maybe it was just you in particular she didn’t like.

I just think that “black women don’t like nice or nerdy men” is a lame excuse. I was a nerdy girl in school. I got rejected by men I liked. It could’ve been because I was nerdy. It could’ve been because they didn’t find me attractive. But I don’t go around saying that “black men don’t like nice women”. I know that all black men are not the same. I also know that I am not everyone’s type and that’s fine. I don’t feel entitled to anyone. I’ve even liked “nice” guys and was disappointed to find out they weren’t really as nice as they seemed. But do I label all black men? Nope.

I notice that this stereotype of black women is also used as an excuse for some black men to bash black women. You had a hard time attracting black women you liked, so now you use it to justify being anti-black? It’s kind of similar to a racist using a bad experience that they had with black people to justify being racist. You have no other reason to bash black women, other than the fact that they are black. That shows when you go around labeling black women as “only liking thugs,” “being too loud,” or “too ghetto.” You can’t say that because all black women are not the same and you know better. You don’t even know all black women to say that. I’m pretty sure you’ve met black women who were the opposite of that. You’re just basing it off of skin color and it reflects back on your own internalized anti-blackness.

So next time you say “black women only like thugs,” check yourself. Your self hate isn’t justified because black women you wanted didn’t want you. Look in the mirror. Maybe you aren’t as “nice” as you say you are.

What “Black Panther” Means to Me

 

Black Panther has now passed the $1 billion mark globally. It is one of the highest grossest films of all time. I saw this movie a few weeks ago with my family and we all loved it. I honestly felt like tearing up. The movie was great, but the representation was even better. It meant a lot to me.


When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being an actress. As I got older, I outgrew that dream because I considered it impossible. Not only is it hard for aspiring actors, it’s hard pursuing that career as a black woman. I didn’t see many people who looked like me on television or in movies. It honestly broke my heart as a child. Seeing this blockbuster film with a majorly black cast touched me. It gave me hope now as a black creative. I know that there’s a little black girl out there who watched “Black Panther” with dreams of being in movies.


It took me years to be fully comfortable with my natural hair and dark skinned tone. That was something else I didn’t see much of on television or movies. Even with many black tv shows and movies now, I still don’t see a lot of dark skinned women. Seeing “Black Panther” where a majority of the actors were dark skinned made me so happy. I felt so much joy seeing Lupita’s Bantu knots and Letitia’s braids. The other hairstyles shown in the movie were beautiful as well. I know there are little black girls out there right now who are struggling with loving their hair and their skin tone because I had that struggle too. I hope that seeing “Black Panther” helps them love their skin tones and hair more.


“Black Panther” portrayed black people in a positive light instead of one-dimensional stereotypes. There were black scientists, kings, queens, and warriors. The film also included various African customs and fashions. We don’t learn much about African cultures in America and they are often portrayed in a negative light. It is important for black children to see positive representation. Teach them that they can be more than the negative stereotypes used to describe us.


The cultural references were also important. There was a huge focus on the oppression black people have and still continue to face globally. King T’Challa realizes that he cannot take back what black peoples have suffered through over the years, but he does his part to help. He invests in a science program with his sister, Shuri, to help black kids in Oakland, California. T’Challa buying the old apartment building, where Erik once lived at, is a reference to gentrification. He explains that the building was going to be torn down, meaning that the low-income residents would have been displaced.


Some people don’t understand why this movie was so important to us and that’s fine. Everyone does not have the same struggles in life. All I know is that I’m proud that this movie is breaking records because it is well deserved. Thank you to everyone who worked on “Black Panther”. It was an amazing movie. The movie meant a lot to me as a black woman. I hope it has that same affect on the black kids who see it. They need it the most.

Black Victims Matter



Why do I have to say that black girls matter? Why do I have to make a separate hashtag? It’s the fact that black women’s lives are disregarded even in our own community. It’s the fact that a boycott against R. Kelly and wanting to hold him accountable for the twenty years (and still going) worth of allegations against him has received backlash from other black people. It’s the fact that Kenneka Jenkins was raped and murdered but the first thing other black people did was harass her friends but not the men suspected of raping her. It’s the fact that black people made jokes and memes about her death. It’s the fact that pictures of her dead body were passed around all over social media like it was entertainment by other black people. 


Black girls are sexualized from a young age. We call little girls “fast” for their bodies developing as if they have any control over it. I remember my first time being stared down by grown men was around the age of ten or eleven. I didn’t ask for that. We call little girls “grown” for receiving attention from grown men while never confronting those grown men about it. I knew girls in school who had relationships with adults, no one batted an eye. My mother grew up with girls who had relationships with adults, no one batted an eye. There were boys in our school who were sexually assaulting and harassing girls. Explicit videos and pictures of girls were often distributed. Nothing was done about it. We figured it had to be the girl’s fault. She probably deserved it. And when things like that happened to me, I got the same response.


Another example, Chris Brown. Chris has abused Rihanna and he has been accused of abusing his ex-girlfriend, Karreuche. She even has a restraining order against him. But, he’s still making music and he’s still touring. Black people defend him. I’ve heard, “oh well, Rihanna hit him first.”. “Well that was back in 2009.”, ignoring the fact that he was accused of abusing Karreuche. The rapper, XX (I don’t care about him enough to type out his whole name) was accused of beating up his girlfriend. Everyone’s defense is that she lied on him and some other people did it, but who really knows? All I know is people were quick to make memes about her being beat up, the same way people made jokes about Rihanna. Because it’s a big joke to people for some reason.


We’ve conditioned ourselves to coddle and protect black men even when they hurt black women. We know that racism is a real issue that affects many of them, but misogyny is an issue that affects many black women. Misogyny is dangerous and it has hurt black women. It’s time to start calling it out.