Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Appreciate, Not Appropriate.

Hip hop is for everybody. All ages, shapes, and colors of people. It is a wide art form with many levels of devotees,  and we all come together in clubs and at shows to appreciate beats and lyrics. That being said, as white folks, hip hop is not historically our art form. It's important to respect, and not appropriate, the culture.  As somebody that works Monday-Friday in a field where cultural appropriation is a daily discussion, I often question how shit like hip hop karaoke is culturally sensitive. Even if you avoid shit like the 'n' word, the margin of error is so large up on that mic that it's just better to avoid it all together. Having said that, there are artists that are Caucasian, and are able to pay respectful, careful homage to hip hop's roots. Writers, musicians, b-boys, DJs, and graffiti artists of all races, ages, and backgrounds share a love of urban art. Here how to keep your respect of hip hop AND respect the inventors and the creators.

1. You do not have a "hood pass". Ever. Not even once.

2. You can use the slang, but know what it means, use it correctly, and you are 100% not allowed to adopt a "black-ccent" if you didn't have one the day you started speaking.

3. You might understand part of "the struggle", but not all of it. You can sympathize, but never empathize, so maybe stop trying.

4. White girls. No cornrows/braids. Instead of looking fresh, you look like you just got back from Cancun.

5. White dudes. Stop scream-rapping the following tracks at the club: Dead Prez's 'Hip Hop', The Pharcyde's 'Passin' Me By', Mobb Deep's 'Shook Ones', and obviously, Biggie's 'Juicy'. We get it, you know the lyrics. So does everyone in the room.

No matter who you are, you can love and respect hip hop so long as you all remember: Miley Cyrus did not invent twerking, it's never okay to paint your face a darker color to emulate anyone (even someone that you like or respect), you are only allowed to tell racist jokes about your OWN culture (What's the scariest thing about a white man in prison? You know he did it.), and Iggy Izalea should probably just return those VMAs and keep her damn mouth shut.

~sarah p.

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