Black Culture is Pop Culture.
Meaning that whatever Black people do, be it with fashion, slang, or music, non-black people will quickly copy it to seem "cool" or "edgy". This happens everywhere. A company using slang in their tweets to seem funny. Artists wearing cornrows and chains to "give off a certain look". Your white friend who uses slang when they're mad to seem more aggressive. Every aspect of Black culture is dissected and mimicked by non-Black people and the media to turn into a dollar sign and a new "look". I can go on for paragraphs and paragraphs about all of this, but I will only focus on one category of the appropriation of our culture in this article. The appropriation of Black culture in music.
Slang and Storytelling in Rap
Rap is notoriously known for creating new slang, using old phrases and storytelling. It is truly something when a culture of people create enough words and phrases for a dictionary, but that isn't the case for black people. There have been studies proving that non-Black people believe that if a Black person speaks in ebonics, they are dumb and aggressive. So when the majority of people think like this, how are black rap songs and artists viewed in society? People perceive rap music to be extremely aggressive and offensive. Sean Hannity, Fox newscaster, even went as far as to say that rap music is more offensive and promotes more hate than the confederate flag. People have been saying the same derogatory comments about Tupac's "When Thugs Cry" all the way to Kendrick's "DNA".
But there are a couple of rappers who the majority favor. Rappers like...
Do you see what's happening here? I'm not discrediting any of the white rappers, but they are making songs about the same stories we tell with the same slang we use but are labelled as lyrical geniuses while we're violent thugs. It's completely ironic how people are astonished by our lingo and storytelling, but see us as inferior when we use it. Isn't that something?
Fashion and music are usually a package deal. It isn't rare for artists of one genre to have similar styles with one another. Also, because some genres are heavily embedded in one race or community (like R&B, Rap and Pop with the black community), cultural styles such as clothes and hairstyles will be associated with the genre. This sounds like a nice free for all with culture, but it is anything but. Artists such as Solange, Zendaya and The Weeknd have had their afros, dreads and curls called messy and unwanted by the media and society. This is extremely ironic since the media and society act completely different when a white artists embraces "natural hairstyles".
Magazines and paparazzi loved Miley Cyrus' "dreads".
But they were ready to criticize the cleanliness of The Weeknd's hair until a Black person had to educate them.
This struggle goes overseas. In South Korea, K-pop is heavily influenced by American music, especially Black music. This leads to many K-pop artists to wear dreads and box braids when they release a pop or R&B song. And when I say many K-pop artists, I mean MANY K-pop artists.
John says he and his friends are sometimes barred from public places like bars and clubs. He says he has learned that "no foreigners allowed" can often mean no black foreigners are allowed, while white people can enter just fine. - Dave Hazzan
America and Korea are two different countries, but they share similar views on Black culture and black people.
Will Black Culture Always be Considered Pop Culture?
People will always watch us for our next move. What we say. What we wear. How we sing. For centuries, our culture has been "used" to produce big dollar signs through inauthentic, cheap replications. To stop this dehumanization of our people and greed to profit from our culture, we must say stop! We must understand that our culture is not a trend, but the physical definition of what and who we are. So until we stand up for ourselves, not caring about the hurt feelings of our non-Black neighbors, our culture will not receive the respect that it deserves. If we fail to meet this challenge, Black culture may always, always be considered as pop culture.
Leading Image Credit: Twitter