No, It's Not OK To Adopt Black Culture If You're Not Black

No, It's Not OK To Adopt Black Culture If You're Not Black

And no, it does not make me feel comfortable.

Black History Month, Marvel's "Black Panther," constant success across the country from young artists and go-getters all around, what isn't there to enjoy about black culture in today's society? It seems that almost now more than ever having pride in just being a black individual is at an all-time high, with seemingly no sign of that dropping anytime soon. Now I know I've literally said the word "black" about 4 times in the first paragraph of this piece and it may be a bit uncomfortable, but culture is something we should all be open and willing to talk about with an open mind.

As a 20-year-old minority, born and raised in NYC, trust me when I say I've had my fair share of strife with who I am as an individual in this ever-growing world. Throughout middle school and high school, I had a constant battle going on in my mind about whether I wanted to embrace who I was or deny it and try to fit in with most of society's standards. Gladly at age 20, I can now say that I'm glad I took the time out to learn and embrace my culture because, at the end of the day, it's who I am.

That's not to say that every day, myself and many others still don't encounter problems with people either underestimating, undermining, or just misunderstanding black culture. Whether it comes to hair, clothes, music, or language, it's important to know that black culture is exactly that. BLACK culture.

Now before I start, I want everyone to know that this piece is not, and never will say that everyone no matter what race, gender, preference, or ideal, cannot partake in enjoying and supporting black culture. UNDERSTAND, that there is a huge difference but a very thin line between understanding a culture and undermining it. It almost becomes second nature of minorities all across the U.S. to ignore microaggressions and continue with everyday life like nothing ever happened.

What happens when someone asks to touch your hair? Or when someone who isn't black says the n-word? Whether it's calling me your "brotha" or just blatantly yelling Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow" because you automatically assume I know the lyrics, know that these things ARE NOT OK within the black community.

Excuse me if I rant a bit (as I'm really trying my best to make a good impression here) but as a young African-American, I should not have to tell you that these things make me uncomfortable. It's one thing when it's coming from someone who you know has gone through the same struggles as you, but it becomes a different and more hostile story when the n-word or anything along those lines comes from someone who you know has no clue what your specific culture has gone through. If I wouldn't dare do something specific to your culture in an attempt to make you feel comfortable when we both know I have no clue what I'm doing or saying, what makes you think it's ok to do the same towards me?

No matter how popularized a certain phrase is, or how much of a "bop" that new Migos track is, it doesn't mean it's OK for you to say it in front of my face in an attempt for you to fit in with who I am. Diversity and sharing of certain cultural traits is a beautiful thing. Food, art, language, and ideals are only a few things that join us as humans together and make us beautiful. Before you say that word though, get that henna tattoo, wear that dashiki, ask that girl if you can touch her hair, or even assume that guy can just automatically speak Spanish because of how he looks, think about how it makes that person feel. I know the headline of this article says 'Black Culture,' but know that these rules (for the most part) are universal, across almost all cultures.

I can't begin to tell you how uncomfortable I've felt around people who feel like they need to acknowledge my culture in order to make me feel comfortable. Whether it's at school, work, or just on the street, a day seems to never go by without somebody pointing out indirectly that I'm black.

I work at the NHL store in New York City. I've been a fan of the National Hockey League since I was about four (which has been a struggle in and of itself). Seemingly every day, a fellow co-worker of mine never fails to acknowledge me as his "brotha." Note, that co-worker is not black. Actually, I don't think I'd be wrong if I said I believe he gets a little on edge every time a black person walks into a hockey store just to check out some apparel. Of course, after a couple days I called him out on it, but that's not the point. The point is, my strife is felt from people of all cultures across the world because for some reason certain individuals feel the need to identify me with who they THINK I am based on how I look.

Do not adopt my culture because you think it'll make me like you more.

Do not adopt my culture period, UNLESS you've taken the time to study, understand, and acknowledge it.

Even then, tread lightly.

I know I sound like an angst-filled young minority at this point, but I write this with good meaning. Please understand that it makes people uncomfortable when you acknowledge them based on their race. Please understand that it is not your right to adopt black culture, or any culture for that matter, because you feel it's the new fad or it'll make me like you more.

Take those cornrows out of your head.

Please take off that dashiki.

Don't get that henna tattoo.

No, that sari and/or bindi is not for you.

A Native American is not a Halloween costume.

Addressing a Hispanic person as Señor does not make them comfortable.

Do not dread your hair if you have no trace of a natural curl pattern.

Take the time to understand those around you. One less micro aggression or act of appropriation makes the world a much better place.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay / Pexels

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6 Shows That Have Fabulous LGBT Representation

We all need a little rainbow sometimes.

In today's society, the LGBT community has way more representation than we would've ever thought possible a few decades ago! Here are my top six shows that have fabulous LGBT representation.

1. "Pretty Little Liars"

One of the main characters in this show comes out in the first season whenever she ends up falling for the new girl. It shows the struggle she had coming out and the difficulty her mom had accepting it at first. It handles the situation very well and very accurate, in my opinion. Throughout the show, there are many more characters to represent the LGBT community—including one girl who shows that sexuality can be fluid by never actually labeling herself.

2. "Orange Is The New Black"

Anyone who's seen this show knows it's probably one of the gayest things ever. It really does show every part of the rainbow, though! There's tons of lesbian characters, one who may possibly identify as bisexual, a male guard who's gay, and a transgender woman. They even mention the Kinsey Scale, which is basically something that shows there are grey areas of sexuality. It's not just you're either this or that.

3. "RuPaul's Drag Race"

For anyone who expects a show about cars racing...well, I guess you'll be getting a big ol' surprise. This show is a competition for drag queens for who will become the next drag superstar. So as you might've guessed, it's pretty darn gay. I love the art and entertainment of drag, though! It's a way for these people to explore and show their individuality and creativity. There are even a few transgender queens to represent the T in LGBT!

4. "Grey's Anatomy"

Calzona represents the lesbian and the bisexual communities! On top of having a lesbian couple in the show, they get married and have a baby, too! It shows that gay couple is just as normal as other couples. They have the right to be married and have a family just like anyone else.

5. "The L Word"

It's all in the title, honestly. This show has lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender representation...lots of it. There are gay families, a family with a transgender father, and a few other quirky couples.

6. "Shameless"

The main character in this show is gay, and there are a few others! There's one guy who's a "manly man" who happens to be gay, which shows that masculinity has nothing to do with sexuality. There's transgender characters in later seasons, too!

Have fun binge watching!

Cover Image Credit: Instagram/@abercrombie

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7 Modern Civil Rights Activists We Should Appreciate

Voices that are shaping our generation.

Although Black History Month has come to a reluctant end, I think it is appropriate that we still highlight the prominent leaders and figures of our current generation that are following the steps of the past GOAT’s to pave an easier path from African American’s in the future and bringing light to social injustices.

These great minds will eventually shape our future generations, and lead our country to true equality. They provide our dark world seemingly full of hate, malice, and not enough love with hope and inspiration. And while challenging the overwhelming adversity from nay-sayers and other supporters that oppose any forward-thinking movement that seeks to advance the entire African American community, these individuals are ruthless in their approach to assure that justice is served.

These seven activists have a lot to prove and have already impacted masses on a global level. It is only right to celebrate them and their valiant efforts.

1. Jesse Williams

This actor from Grey’s Anatomy is more than just a pretty face and pair of blue eyes. Along with protesting the heinous acts of police brutality, this man sits on the board of directors for the “Advancement Project” which is a nonprofit founded by civil-rights attorneys, dedicated to racial justice issues. He’s also produced the documentary, “Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement.”

2. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi

A fearless and brave young woman who was arrested in South Carolina for removing the Confederate flag from a Confederate monument at the Statehouse. During this time, much controversy rose about the Confederate flag being a symbol of racism, while others thought of it as a symbol of victory over war. Nonetheless, Miss Newsome was not having it.

3. “Black Twitter”

Although not a person, the Black community on Twitter is highly supportive of each other, and they work together to expose racists, get them fired, and basically cope with each other in these trying times when the media means to expose and propagandize African Americans as inhumane.

4. Quanell X

Despite the derogatory statements about him, he is the leader of the New Black Panther party in Houston, TX. He is renowned for his faceoffs with white supremacists on Fox 26 News.

5. Michelle Alexander

While there are those who are more radical in their approach for reform, Alexander, a scholar and civil rights lawyer has written a book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness.” This book, which is about the alarming numbers of African Americans in jail, has become the Bible for modern civil rights activists and is a touchstone for activists on the rise.

6. Colin Kaepernick

We could never forget this former 49er quarterback who sparked the #TakeAKnee protest. During his career, Kaepernick refused to stand during the National Anthem because he did not believe in priding a country that ultimately despises and systematically abuses African Americans. Since being a free agent, Kaepernick has inspired many athletes to stand (or not to stand) for what they believe in.

7. Kendrick Lamar

It’s quite evident that this rapper’s striking lyrics such as “DNA” and “Alright” provoke the struggle and truth behind Black America. Lamar’s bold lyrics and activism in the black community provide hope awaken young African American’s to own their identity and begin to seek and enforce radical change of the system.

These are few of the many activists that stream from many walks of life and inspire Black America in their own, very unique way. Yet, these individuals continue to work outside of Black History Month to achieve racial equality every single day.

Cover Image Credit: Andy Omvik

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