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December 09, 2005


Cal Ulmann

"I am hip-hop" - KRS-ONE


These objections to cultural appropriation seem to be predicated on the idea that culture is genetically passed down, which is an inherently ridiculous idea when you think about it. Still, let's not forget how power fits into these ideas. Black is seen as lesser than white or Japanese, therefore white or Japanese people who become enamoured of black things are seen as being perverse and degenerate.

Conversely, many black people (who are all too aware of how they are seen as possessing a lesser culture) see cultural appropriation by usually more powerful outsiders as being an attempt to deny the realities of racial stratification: "I love hip hop, so I totally understand black people, even though I've never been looked at suspiciously in convenience stores or paid less than my white colleagues or been harrassed by police officers because of my skin colour."

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