Cultural Appropriation Of African American Culture

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Culture Appropriation of African American Culture Have you ever taken offense when you saw someone dressed in traditional garments from your culture? In America, this happens quite often. Some people may not recognize it and some refuse to acknowledge that it even exists. Cultural appropriation is a situation in which a dominant culture steals aspects of a minority culture’s, such as hair, clothing styles, and music.
“Cultural appropriation refers to picking and choosing elements of a culture by a member of another culture without permission” (O’Reilly). For example, white people steal certain parts of African American culture. They exploit it, misuse it, and whitewash it. “Exploiting a culture deprives the culture of the credit they rightfully
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White artists have been taking these genres of music and changing it. They rid the music of its black feel, sound, and color. Jazz is a type of music genre that was created by African Americans in the 1910s. “Yet when jazz gained mainstream popularity in 1917, its face was neither black nor Creole. The first jazz record released to the masses was that of the self-proclaimed ‘Original Dixieland Jazz Band,’ a group of five white musicians” (Ainsley). When jazz grew in popularity, white artist were giving the credit for originating this form of music. When artists talk about taking away the color of genres like jazz and rock-n-roll, this means getting rid of the African Americans sound. “When appropriating black musical forms, white artists such as Paul Whiteman often reshape and redefine the styles to “minimize their association with ‘Blackness’” (Hall qtd. in Ainsley)”. One artist that was known for appropriating African American music was Paul Whiteman. Then another famous musician, Elvis Presley, started doing the same with his music. “In the early 1950s, Sam Phillips—the Sun Records executive who helped Elvis rise to stardom—proclaimed, ‘If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars’” (qtd in Ainsley). Popular music artists like Paul Whiteman and Elvis Presley took these genres and made it into own style. They take…show more content…
However, that is not the case. White artists are taking the styles and genres of African Americans and turning them into a mockery, and on top of all that, they are being rewarded for it. When said they turn these styles into mockery, it means that they change up the style into something completely different than what it originally was. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are prime examples of artists appropriating hip-hop. “During the 2013 MTV’s Video Music Award, artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won an award for best hip-hop video, beating popular African American hip hop artists. Two white men won an award for appropriating hip-hop. Hip hop originated from African Americans, and having a two white artists win an award for misusing our culture’s music is not acceptable” (Cadet). In hip hop, African American artists talked about their plight as African American men and about the struggles growing up. However, these white artists won an award for just taking the style and talking about anything important. They do not talk about their plight because they do not have one comparable to African Americans. They do like musicians did in the past: take the music from African Americans, and then take away the color. “But we cannot blame individual white artists for the inequitable way they are received by the American public—the way their performance of black cultures is
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