[Sorry, I know we all hate the epic essay-length posts, but I need to get this off my chest.]
Why is African American culture so disrespected on this blog?
In the past few months that I’ve been following this blog in hopes of reading some interesting, intriguing arguments and viewpoints on a variety of topics, I’ve come across so many hurtful, ignorant, and disrespectful posts towards African Americans, and I just don’t understand.
I am a young African American woman. I graduated high school with over a 4.0 GPA because I took numerous AP classes, and I am close to earning a bachelors degree in nursing.
I believe people deserve to have pride in their racial/ethnic culture, as long as they are not asserting that pride above others. Culture is what binds us to others and in many ways defines our identity. I am proud to be the descendant of strong people who survived the hellish middle passage and also survived the tragedy of slavery in America. My ancestors were stripped of most of their African identities, but were able to establish a new, unique culture here in America. This is African American culture, a culture built upon our [West] African roots, but also a distinct American identity. It is a culture just like any other, and deserves to be respected.
But yet, with so many posts, all I see is disrespect and dehumanization. Why?Breaking down the topics I see most often discussed:
AAVE / “the ‘n’ word”
African American Vernacular English (also known as Black Vernacular English and/or Ebonics) is a unique cultural dialect among African Americans. It is NOT the “ghetto talk” that so many people make it out to be. Speaking in AAVE is also NOT necessarily indicative of education. I know many people who are highly educated that choose to speak in AAVE among the presence of fellow Blacks. It is a form of special communication between people of like culture, it binds us!
AAVE is also blended with elements of Southern American English, but how come AAVE gets all the hate, but not the way White Southerners speak?
Would you disrespect a Mexican for speaking in the Mexican dialect of Spanish, just because it’s different from traditional Spanish? Would you disrespect someone for speaking Spanglish? If not, then you have no reason for disrespecting the cultural concept of AAVE.
Going off the concept of AAVE, yes, the cultural reclamation of “the 'n’ word” is something unique in African American culture. Cultural reclamation (also called cultural reappropriation) refers to a group reclaiming a word in their community that used to be used to hurt them. For many Black people, reclaiming the n-word takes the power away from it. As another example, did you know that a few decades ago, the word “queer” to describe homosexuals was considered highly derogatory? Nowadays, many members of the LGBTQ+ community self identity as “queer”.
However, Black people culturally reclaiming the n-word is NOT an invitation for non-Blacks to say it. You can’t reclaim a word that doesn’t apply to you.I live close to an American Indian reservation, so I have come into contact with and befriended many Indigenous American peoples. Behind closed doors, they have expressed that they are comfortable playfully referring to each other as “redskin” and “injun”. Since I understand and respect the concept of cultural reclamation, I would never call one of them a “redskin” or “injun”; I am not of their cultural community, therefore it is not my word to reclaim. It’s not that hard of a concept to grasp, people!
In the case of “what if my Black friend gave me permission to use it?”, as much as I personally disapprove, that only gives you “permission” to use it in the presence of that one Black friend.
And just to consider the feelings of other African Americans, not ALL Black people use the n-word. So the “argument” of “But Black people say the n-word all the time” is invalid. Don’t assume; don’t over-generalize; don’t invalidate the legitimate opinions of actual Black people to defend your racism.
Twerking is more than what Miley Cyrus and modern American society has made it out to be. And yes, it does have roots in Black culture.
First of all, twerking has been around way longer than most people think. It is nothing new. The modern concept of twerking originated in several tribal dances practiced in West Africa, and blossomed in America via African American culture in the late 80s/early 90s. Yeah, twerking has been around in America for a couple of decades, people!
In its African roots, twerking is practiced as a means of celebration, expressing joy or happiness. It was not necessarily a sexual dance. Not all societies have sexualized the human body the way Americans do.
No, I personally do not think a non-Black person twerking is automatically “cultural appropriation”. However, it is rather disrespectful to deny and ignore the origins of the dance.
Tell me people, what exactly is SO funny about a Black person enjoying Black ethnic/cultural food?
Fried chicken is popular in the African American community because during slavery, chickens were one of the few things our ancestors were allowed to raise on their own. They had to work with what they had, and in the process, improved recipes for preparing chicken, and made it delicious! Foods such as watermelon and pigs feet also have similar significance in African American culture; our people made a cuisine from resourcefulness, and it is damn delicious.
A Black person eating Soul Food is just about as funny as a Chinese person eating noodles or a Native American eating fry bread. (That meaning, it’s not funny.)
And before anyone tries to write off anything I’ve said as “citation needed, bro”, here is some information on the origins of twerking: http://www.xojane.com/issues/the-origins-of-twerking
Significance of AAVE: http://mclucas.org/wayback/AAVE/
And a brief history of Soul Food: http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/soul-food-brief-history
(I’ve provided some basic resources to be nice, but I’ve always found the “citation needed, bro” dismissal to be very immature. You obviously have the internet, open up Google in a tab and do your own research if you are genuinely interested.)
All I’m saying is, it’s quite angering and saddening to see the amount of anti-Blackness and disrespect that is thrown towards African American culture. We are people; a distinct and unique ethnicity, with a culture and history that deserves to be respected just as any other.
You cannot take your individual experiences with a select group of Black people and speak for the entire community. We are so much more than your anti-Black stereotypes. We are more than your criminals, mammies, slaves, Uncle Toms, gang bangers, drug dealers, and hoodrats.
I am an African American, and I feel that the culture of my people deserves to be respected, not because of “lol sjws and their political correctness” but because we are PEOPLE. And that is my unpopular opinion.