The Art of Appropriation: The Age of the Culture Vulture

Urban Dictionary defines a culture vulture as someone who steals traits, language and/or fashion from another ethnic or social group to create their own identity. This has been a long-standing trend running rampant in the music industry, White artist transitioning into Black art forms and denouncing it when it no longer serves a purpose.
The most recent example of this is Miley Cyrus, who recently gave an interview explaining why she has decided to move back to the doe-eyed, blond-haired, sweetheart America knows as Hannah Montana; but, ONLY after stepping into her Jordan Retro 23’s, twerking on ever awards show that would let her, and stealing everything Black she could lay her hand on.

However, Miley Cyrus isn’t the only culprit of this appropriated “come up”, this approach to self-promotion is seen in Iggy Azalea, Vanilla Ice, the Kardasian’s, the Jenner’s, Elvis Presley, Brian Austin Greene, Kesha, Riff Raff, Kreayshawn, Justin Bieber and the list goes on; white artist and celebrities have for decades built their names on the identity of Black culture.

But I beg the question, who is truly to blame for this continuation of unwanted “appreciation”. I may ruffle some feathers here with this one; but, we are – Blacks are the greatest contributing factor. Blacks continue to allow Whites with no ties or love for our culture and craft to “have a seat at the cookout” without giving consideration why they are stepping in plate in hand.

We without question embrace these names – only crying foul after we’ve been used, abuse, and dismissed – we buy their albums, we download their music, we watch their shows, and we make stealing who we are… okay. Blacks continuously grant passes to those we think have an appreciation for our culture – easily bringing into the fold those disingenuous. While Miley twerked alongside of Juicy J and got high – we were with it, as Kim K. continues to enhance her thin-framed physique to look Blacker – we are with it, while Iggy Azalea sounded Black – we were with it.

Why? The answer is simple, it gives Blacks the delusion that we can have a seat at the table of acceptability. If White America can embrace these White examples of Hip-Hop than it would only be logical that the art form and those who are a part of it, Black people, will follow in the same footsteps. Essentially, if Miley can twerk and wear Jay’s and White America says okay than the same will apply to Blacks.

Here’s the reality, appropriators aren’t here to make Black culture more acceptable, they simply are modern day acts of blackface. Their only intention is to “come up” and move on, so it is our responsibility to disallow White artist to step into the fold, come to the cookout, make a plate and leave with the benefit of our hard-work. Blacks need to learn the difference between artist who truly admire our craft, such as Eminem and The Beastie Boys, and those who are just using it for their own climb to success in the guise of a fad or phase.

Hip-Hop was spawned from out pain and struggle and true Hip-Hop continues because we still fight against the same impoverishment and injustices. Hip-Hop is Black relativity, a connector, an ongoing story line of our existence and it is more deserving of our love and appreciation. It is about our willingness to bring forth our issues and hardships and not be silenced, to speak and be heard – our platform. Hip-Hop is not submissive for acceptance; nor, is it going to bow for a seat at the table.

Hip-Hop is ours and we must stand against that which uses it to make a name for themselves, to craft a new image out of rebellion, or to “come up” off its existence.

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