November 19, 2018
Originally posted 2018-11-19 11:19:55
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In this episode, we discuss cultural appropriation or “Doing it for the Culture.”
“I’m not tone deaf to where I don’t get it.
I do get it.”
~Kim Kardashian West
Hello and welcome to the IS MY BRAND PROTECTED? podcast. I am Aurelia Mitchell Durant, your host for today and today we’re going to talk about doing it for the culture. In other words, cultural appropriation. The lead-off quote for today is from Kim Kardashian West and the quote is I’m not tone deaf to where I don’t get it. I do get what she’s talking about is the recent flack about her decision to wear Fulani style African breeds. Cultural appropriation is the concept of dealing with the adoption of elements of the minority culture by members of the dominant culture. So, this applies to fashion symbols language music. The most outward expression of it is in terms of the hairstyles that women wear braids are traditionally considered an African element of culture. But is there any ownership of that particular piece of culture when you think about it in the context of building a brand. Some of you if you’re old enough are willing to admit that you are old enough remember Bo Derek in the movie 10 where she was running along the beach with these long flowing braids in her hair with beads at the end African-Americans like myself. No, that one of the reasons why she had beads at the end is because her hair didn’t have the same level of kink to be able to hold the braids so they needed to be something at the end to hold the beads.
But was that considered cultural misappropriation. When you think about it cultural misappropriation is where you take ownership over that particular element of the culture when you know it’s not part of your culture. So, I came across this interesting article that went over the do’s and don’ts of cultural appropriation. The article is from the Atlantic and was published a couple of years ago. Number one don’t dress up like an ethnic stereotype. So, what that means is blackface is never ok is never all right. And you think of the things that are considered stereotypes, think of the Washington Redskins. And there was controversy about the use of the word Redskins because it was considered a slur towards Native Americans. So, one of the main things to do when you go to appropriate the minority culture which minority is kind of fleeting these days but when you go to use something that’s not an element of the dominant culture is it makes sure that you don’t bolster a stereotype too. It’s important to pay homage to the artists and ideas and knowledge where they came from. That’s why my opening quote from Kim Kardashian West is so demonstrative. Because what she’s saying is that she’s not taking on the element of the culture as part of her personal brand. This is something that she’s paying tribute to because she recognizes the origin.
As an African-American with verifiable Native American roots. I can say that number three is of utmost importance. Do not adopt sacred artifacts as said sarees. I have some artifacts that come from my Native American ancestry and one of the things that must not ever happen is to be able to use it as a fashion accessory. Those are things that I have framed that I keep sacred because they’re special to me and it’s an insult. If you take something that’s considered an artifact by the minority culture or any culture and use it as a fashion accessory. For you cannot freeze culture into a moment in time culture changes based upon what’s going on in that particular decade. So, what was considered cultural in the 60s is not the same as what’s considered cultural today. Diversity is still important and cultural appropriation does not replace diversity. We used to talk about having a notion of tolerance for people that were different from yourself. But if I can engage in a little bit of psychological political babble I would venture to say that tolerance is not enough. These days you need to go beyond tolerance and into something that is acceptance or mimics acceptance or something beyond just tolerance because no one and no culture wants to feel like they’re being tolerated.
If you get my drift.
Since we went down a more political path. Number six is gonna provoke some dialogue and that is engaged with other cultures on a more than aesthetic level. So that means that you can’t really pick and choose which elements of the culture are important to you although you can. But in terms of understanding how things become culturally significant, it would be a good idea if you yourself a little bit more to understand the why for example there is a cultural notion called Epic memory. We act out things that happen to our ancestors even if they haven’t happened to us in particular. And one of the cultural significant elements of epic memory is why black men tend to stroll and I learned about this when I was a student at Temple University in a class taught by Dr. Molefi Asante. The theory is that the tendency of a black man to stroll if you can kind of envision what a stroll looks like.
This tendency was to drag one foot in a cool manner and was prevalent in the 70s. The theory is that epic memory is at play because epic memory says that you act out things that didn’t happen to you. What happened to your ancestors drew some sort of historical recall. So, when you look at a stroll from the 70s what that mimics is what it felt like to have shackles on your ankles.
In terms of understanding and engaging with other cultures understanding is the most important thing. I mean so if you venture to cultural appropriate try to do it on a more than superficial level. So, I hope this episode gave you something to think about when you think about elements of cultures that are not your own culture that you like and you want to adopt that you really dig and you can think about giving credit and actually making sure that you do the culture right. So, when we talk about doing it for the culture that means representing the culture and keeping the culture integral to who we are as a people. This has been the is my brand protected podcast. Thank you very much for listening. Be sure to like comment subscribe and be sure to follow us on the web at www.ismybrandprotected.com. Safeguarding your dreams by protecting your brand.