Friday, May 15, 2009

ON THE RADAR: racialicious



Latoya Peterson over at Racialicious and started a dialogue about "global hip hop culture" vs. cultural appropriation" and launched it with a number of videos, starting with the one above as an example of Korean hip hop.  I'm a big fan both of LDP and the quality of commenters over at Racialicious, so feel free to check them out.



My favorite initial response to the argument comes from commenter (and recent contributor) atlasien:


  1. atlasien wrote:
    Personally, I don’t like abstract definitions of cultural appropriation.
    It’s a concept like “art”, or “fetish”… impossible to define everywhere, any time, for every possible circumstance.
    I think it’s much better to define cultural appropriation based on the people it affects. Does it hurt them in some way? If so, it’s probably cultural appropriation. If not, it’s probably just cultural borrowing or cultural drift.
    There’s never going to be a 100% sure way of deciding that something is cultural appropriation, because the people being stolen from/borrowed from aren’t always going to agree. But you can make decisions informed by their arguments and weight of numbers.
    There was a good conversation about this a while back at Rachel’s Tavern… someone who didn’t believe in cultural appropriation came up with the example “what about cooking Italian food if you’re not Italian?” The counterargument was that there’s nothing wrong with cooking Italian food if you’re not Italian… but if you go to Italy and start lecturing Italians that their way of cooking food is inferior to your more authentic Italian cooking style, then yes, you’ve crossed the line and turned into a rude and obnoxious cultural appropriator.
    If you use this standard for global hip-hop, you could ask a series of questions… how is it hurting the group of people from the originating culture? How are these people being damaged or insulted or disrespected or taken away from, and to what extent? Are the people who view it as appropriation versus borrowing a minority opinion, or a majority opinion? And what is the level of power disparity between the originating culture and the appropriating/borrowing culture… the power disparity that determines the relative attention being paid to people who complain?
    Posted 12 May 2009 at 11:19 am

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