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.
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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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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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Analyzing The Infamous 'U Up?' Text

Men still haven't come up with anything better.

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Late at night men gain a confidence that no one can quite explain. The dry spell of Monday through Thursday finally ends as Friday approaches and women's phones start going off with the "u up?" text.

The explanation could be that men are doing this just to use you, but if we dig a little deeper and ask why do men suddenly gain the confidence to text women late at night versus during the week or during the day, then maybe we will have a better understanding of the man behind the "u up?" text.

The term "Saturdays are for the boys" has become wildly popular and men have taken it quite literally until all of their boys have left the bars with their girlfriends or other girls and now he is sitting there alone feeling like the only guy who didn't go home with a girl. You pop into his mind, but it's desperate "u up?" text. He isn't texting you to see you because he misses you or because he wants to get to know you better at three A.M.

Men are nervous and don't want to be rejected so once the weekend rolls around and a little liquid confidence hits their system they may feel compelled to finally reach out to you if they have been nervous to do so all week. The "u up?" text may be the first thing his nervous thumbs can type out before he decides it's a bad idea and doesn't send anything at all. If you don't respond he may instantly regret it in the morning when he realizes he may have blown his chances with you for good.

Ultimately any man that decides to send you a "u up?" text should probably not be your first choice to bring home to mom, but you can't be truly sure of his motives until you analyze the situation. Don't judge a book by its cover or a man by his "u up?" text.

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