I have a huge problem with the way the term “cultural appropriation” is flung around, and the declaration in this video is why. This woman who has an intelligent voice is tearing down an artist—who is also a successful “minority” person—rather than addressing the real problem which is that “black music” hasn’t been getting the awards through the years that it deserves.
First, I cannot say for sure, but I have never heard that Bruno Mars perms his hair to look black. I am pretty sure that is his natural ‘fro, so his look is just his look. Second, rhythm and poetry and music and how it moves the soul is an individual conversation. I refuse to allow somebody to tell me that I cannot enjoy a sound or make sounds that feel good to me because they’re hung up on some sort of cultural identity crisis. My goal is to celebrate and appreciate diversity in this country and to teach my kids that a person’s value is not tied to their color, but to who they are in this life. Kindness and consideration is the key to humanity.
“Cultural appropriation” in my mind is taking the experiences of another culture and behaving as though they are your own. Example: a white person can hear the horrors and heartache of black slavery in America; but we cannot begin to understand the depth of that pain. A white person can feel compassion for a black person in America who pulls up short in front of a Confederate monument, but we cannot hear the history that is being recalled in their mind or the images that might be passing through them while they stand there.
We can and should feel compassion and empathy, but we cannot, nor should we claim to understand the depth of what exists. To be a white person and to espouse the pains of the African and African-American community as though we personally experienced them: that to me is “cultural appropriation.” A white girl with braids in her hair? It might be awkward, but please, that’s a complement. Groovin’ to Motown sounds? That’s also a complement and in my opinion, we should celebrate, as Charlie Wilson did in his Tweet, the fact that Bruno Mars has brought back the sounds that make me dance out loud. Our nation cannot be unified or become the beautiful, diverse nation that we claim to want without embracing cultural differences. THAT is what will make America great again. I call B.S. on this woman’s divisive view.
I don’t have time to cite properly – my apologies! But below is the link to a CNN article that includes the video and the tweet from Mr. Wilson.
Signed, Ponytail Mama, mother of three who’s trying to put out good in this universe.