🎶 My name is Humpty, pronounced with the umpty, Oh ladies, oh how i’d like to funk thee. 🎶
Digital Underground Synopsis:
A.K.A : D.U, Digital, Tha Underground’s, D-Flow
Origin: Oakland, California 🌅🌞🔥
Genres: Hip hop, alternative hip hop, west coast hip hop, funk.
Years Active: 1986-2008
Past Members: TOOO MANY which includes 2Pac, Shock G, Iggy, and Mystic.
On cultural appropriation, cultural "engagement" and capitalism
When we think about capitalism and how it operates under white supremacy and patriarchy, we see it sometimes most vividly in motion when cultural appropriation occurs. Capitalism makes things into products to serve the appetite of the consumer, and operates as a tool of conquest as well- subduing and conquering all that which is deemed “consumable” in a given area (including resources and people -e.g. slaves- as well). White supremacy allows us to reduce an entire people to the level of commodities, and patriarchy operates to make this twice as biting for women, whose bodies then become an area of additional conquest under imperialist structures like the natural resources of that locale.
When cultural appropriation occurs, all of these three spheres of domination operate together in tandem. Cultural appropriation is an act of dominance and requires power. If you have power, aspects of your culture may be commodified but under white supremacy, it will not strip those aspects of your culture of context and meaning, and reduce your entire culture and people to said object.
Cultural appropriation is also an act of control which provides the illusion that one is “engaging” with a culture, when all you really are doing is engaging with one dimensional narratives about a culture mediated by the imperialist, white supremacist, patriarchal gaze. It is not an accident that the only forms of hip-hop (an incredibly rich and varied genre that has functioned as a space for artistic resistance against white supremacy and patriarchy) that find mainstream success are those which glorify a violent, over sexed, hyper masculine black maleness and demean and brutalize the black female body in particular. Certain narratives get elevated in the market as the “sellable” product and are used to reinforce and reinscribe systems of oppression, because that is “what sells.”
One cannot meaningfully engage with a culture when it is a commodity shaped by the imperialist, white supremacist, patriarchal gaze under capitalistic structures. Cultural engagement requires that we go much further than “consuming” a culture, and build communities founded in mutual understanding and respect. This requires an engagement with the actual people of a place and culture and not just “engaging” with them in commodified form.
Rather than forming bonds of meaningful engagement and respect, though, cultural appropriation permits the following:
A non-Korean kpop or k-drama stan who ostensibly engages constantly with aspects of Korean culture, but when they see a Korean person, they proceed to pillory them with questions about kpop or said dramas, since that is the totality of what “Koreanness” represents to them.
A non-desi suburban mom who goes to yoga class in the US and feels like they are engaging with “south Asian spirituality” while squatting and doing “up-dog” in an all white class with a white instructor.
A white suburban male who listens to Tupac, and all other number of famous or underground black hip-hop artists, wears hip-hop inspired clothing and posits themselves as an “expert” on hip-hop culture but shows the same racialized fear of black people when they encounter black men on the street.
Non-native people who dress up as native “savages” and “princesses” on Halloween but when pressed on the actual meanings of the symbols they are wearing and their relevancy to certain native traditions, draw a blank stare.
Cultural appropriation is all of these things and more, and, at the end of the day, is just a destructive function of control under imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.