Category Archives: cultural appropriation

No Malice & Pusha T on CNN

Several casual observations:

– Bill Weir, CNN reporter seems manipulative, disrespectful and really entitled.

– Both spend some time trying to not incriminate themselves.  It is Pusha who makes the most blatantly inconsistent statement when he refuses acknowledge drug profits in part 2.  “No, I’m a really good rapper.”

Probably worth juxtaposing with “King Push” first track from his most recent album:

– I have a little more clarity about the difficulties of No Malice.  I think he makes some of the most explicit justifications for why he refuses to perform violent drug rap music any more.  I appreciate that he gives up obvious financial gain to be real to his family and his beliefs.

– Pusha T’s segments are basically Pusha T advertisements.   The exchange where he tells Weir how much publicity he’ll get from being on CNN is awesome.  Pusha is phenomenally media savvy and makes it clear that he wouldn’t be on CNN if it didn’t benefit him.

– No Malice’s argument about white consumption of violent black-performed drug rap is pretty compelling.

– When asked by Weir why he doesn’t take the money to perform Clipse songs, No Malice gives the best exchange of the series:

“Brother, that money, that money at one time, was out for my life.  They can’t invent a dollar amount to get me out there to tell . . . look at what’s at stake? I can’t tell anybody about selling drugs any more, I can’t even make it look cool anymore.  There are people that are dying, look at what is going on in Chicago.   And I like I said earlier, your race can enjoy it!  And laugh and joke and enjoy it . . . and then get back to business.  I have a message and I have to share it.  Then I have to let you do what you want with it.  You know, you do what you want with it.  But, I’ve got enough blood on my hands.  Enough.”

– No Malice, CNN.

Leave a comment

Filed under capitalism, communication, cultural appropriation, drugs, hip hop, juxtaposition, media, music, race, representation, vulnerability

Power, autonomy, body and twerking: Kimari Brand

Brilliant breakdown of twerking and bodily representation.  Smart insights from Kimari Brand about power and the significance of the dance form (film by Irma L. Garcia).  Brought to me by the ever-on-point Feministing.  Good preview of the video by Sesali Bowen in Feministing:

Utilizing multiple experiences — including a course on performance, feminism and social justice, a trip abroad to study Afro-Caribbean culture and politics, and her experiences as a Black girl at an institution of higher education that prioritizes white supremacist “credibility and status” — Brand has reframed the dialogue about twerking.

via “Twerk It Girl” examines twerking for autonomy and resistance.

I think twerking is at the heart of a lot of the moral panics about young women’s sexuality.  More particularly the moral panic attached to twerking is represented along racial and/or sexual and/or class lines depending on the expected audience (Miley Cyrus).  Worth discussion and re-presenting which Brand and the filmmaker Garcia do really well.

Leave a comment

Filed under academics, art, class, cultural appropriation, dance, documentary, feminism, hip hop, race, representation, resistance, rhetoric

Food, authenticity and cultural appropriation

Thanks to Bitch Media for the comic frame.

Shing Yin Khor has a wonderful comic about cultural appropriation and food at Bitch Media.  Five stars.

Leave a comment

Filed under art, colonialism, cultural appropriation, food, representation

Consuming Natives: Kevin Durant Nike edition

I came across this Kevin Durant shoe that seems to scream cultural appropriation to me.

Thanks to the sportingnews.com for the image of Nike Kevin Durant shoe.

The shoe raises money for Nike, Kevin Durant and some Native American athletic programs (I assume in that order).  But the description is a toxic collection of generalizations and stereotypes mashed together.

 

The bold Nike N7 KD VI features the repeating pattern of arrows that first launched on the Pendleton Woolen Mills Nike N7 blanket last month. The arrow print  symbolizes energy and forward motion and has reflective built in for a surprise effect when worn in the elements.  The bold colors used on the KD VI have significant meaning in Native communities. Turquoise is used often as a color symbolic of friendship, and red is one of four colors—yellow, red, black and white—featured on the traditional Native America medicine wheel, representing movement and the four directions. The KD logo appears on the heel and the N7 logo is on the tongue.

via NIKE, Inc. – Nike N7 and Kevin Durant Collaborate to Support Native American Youth.

That is amazing!  Red is a color significant for Native Americans!  Whoa!  It is good to know where that stuff comes from (sarcasm).   How about vague ambiguity when it comes to so-called native symbols and precise articulation of the Kevin Durant logo?

Nike has also developed a wide shoe, the Air Native N7, for Native North American’s supposedly wider feet (they measured 224 indians feet to justify this claim!)  While criticizing the marketing of this shoe, we can lay some of the News from Indian Country analysis against this Kevin Durant shoe press release.

Some vocal opponents of the Air Native N7 believe the shoe line indeed fosters stereotypes because, along with the company’s trademark swoosh, the footwear features feathers, arrowheads, sunset designs and circle of life motifs. Nike officials have said the product is designed to “deliver sustainable innovation,” and the “N7” portion of its name is meant to encourage “a seventh generation ethos.”

“In my opinion, the whole idea is racist,” says Eugene Johnson, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, who’s paid close attention to the development of the shoe line. “This is a branding scheme of advertising that Nike is known for… I have no doubt that the sales folks are hoping that Indian sympathizers and the general public will be thinking of how Nike is so charitable in thinking of the Indians, thus, increasing sales through the usual brand of Nike branding advertising.”

via Does the Shoe Fit? Native Nike footwear raises concerns – Indian Country News.

I happen to agree that the dual marketing benefit of being seen as charitable  to anonymous poor indians helps to sell the shoe as does the appropriation of cultural symbols.  I think the same might be said about this Kevin Durant shoe.

Leave a comment

Filed under cultural appropriation, fashion, health, Native, race, representation, sport

Otherizing culture through food

Soleil Ho has a nice critique in Bitch Magazine of some trends of cultural simplification and racism in food culture.  I like her salty tone.  She kicks off the discussion with the one directional consumption/service relationship of immigrant cultures reduced to food.  Wondering what to reply when someone mentions to the author ‘Oh you’re Vietnamese, I love pho’:

What can one say in response? “Oh, you’re white? I love tuna salad!” It sounds ridiculous, mostly because no one cares if a second-generation immigrant likes American food. Rather, the burden of fluency with American culture puts a unique pressure on the immigrant kid. I paid attention during playdates with my childhood friends, when parents would serve pulled-pork sandwiches and coleslaw for lunch. (It took me a long time to understand the appeal of mayonnaise, which, as a non-cream, non-cheese, non-sauce, perplexed the hell out of me.) From watching my friends, I learned to put the coleslaw in the sandwich and sop the bread in the stray puddles of sauce in between bites. There’s a similar kind of self-checking that occurs when I take people out to Vietnamese restaurants: Through unsubtle side glances, they watch me for behavioral cues, noting how and if I use various condiments and garnishes so they can report back to their friends and family that they learned how to eat this food the “real way” from their real, live Vietnamese friend. Their desire to be true global citizens, eaters without borders, lies behind their studious gazes.

via Craving the Other | Bitch Media.

Ho seems insulted by the notion that you might be able to get at something essential or authentic in the culture by eating take-out food.  She makes a strong argument here.

Like a plague of culture locusts, foodies, Chowhounders, and food writers flit from bibimbap to roti canai, fetishizing each dish as some adventure-in-a-bowl and using it as a springboard to make gross generalizations about a given culture’s “sense of family and community,” “lack of pretense,” “passion,” and “spirituality.” Eventually, a hole-in-the-wall reaches critical white-Instagrammer mass, and the swarm moves on to its next discovery, decrying the former fixation’s loss of authenticity. The foodies’ cultural cachet depends on being the only white American person in the room, braving inhumane spice levels and possible food poisoning in order to share with you the proper way to handle Ethiopian injera bread. But they can’t cash in on it unless they share their discoveries with someone else, thereby jeopardizing that sense of exclusivity. Thus, happiness tends to elude the cultural foodie.

via Craving the Other | Bitch Media.

She is particularly good at pointing out the harms of reducing a culture to food.

Over time, you grow to associate nationalities with the quaint little restaurants that you used to frequent, before they were demolished and replaced with soulless, Americanized joints. You look at a map of the world and point a finger to Mongolia. “Really good barbecue.” El Salvador. “Mmm, pupusas.” Vietnam. “I love pho!\” When you divorce a food from its place and time, you can ignore global civil unrest and natural disasters (see: Zagat declaring Pinoy cuisine the “next great Asian food trend” this past fall as deadly floods swept through the Philippines), knowing as you do that the world’s cultural products will always find safe harbor in your precious, precious mouth.

via Craving the Other | Bitch Media.

Leave a comment

Filed under colonialism, cultural appropriation, food, representation

Brasilintime: culture and syncretism

Hip hop syncretism — the aggressive combinations of sounds and players from many cultures.  Here visible in the nice B+ film — Brasilintime w/ a cadre of great drummers and DJs.   It includes:

–> One of the best examples of cultures appropriating culture ad infinitum when Jay Rocc cuts up “Apache.”

–> The Brazilian parallel with “Comanche!”

–> Not enough Nelson Triunfo.

–> Babu’s scratch session which seems the most inspired and flexible — connected to the music.

–> Paul Humphrey and Ivan “Mamao” Conti seem to jam exceptionally well together.

–> The inspired chaos of the polyrhythms made when six drummers get down and DJs cut on top of each other is a little much at times.  Maybe my ears aren’t big enough . . .

–> The graphics seem excessive in the first half.

–> Hip Hop’s version of the colonial lens includes shopping for rare records in the field.  American learning is commensurate with getting a bargain or getting something that other people can’t as easily get.  In this case we get Paul Humphrey, Derf Reklaw and James Gadson shopping for out-of-the-ordinary percussion instruments and Cut Chemist, Egon, Madlib, Jay Rocc, and Babu shopping for records.

In some ways we can call this syncretism — where distinct cultures inform each other – exchanging language, food and music.  The nod to difference that comes when the American DJs and drummers acknowledge they don’t know something about Brazilian music is matched by the assumption that they can buy and lift chunks of that music for western audiences.

I don’t have any problem with people traveling to other nations — there is something funky about this particular narrative — hunting for nuggets of music seems so crass at points.  Like Egon getting the group price for all the records the crew was buying.

I dislike it when the specifics of the culture blend into the background and I like the moments of the film where the details pop out.  The interviews with Brazilian drummers make this film (despite my linguistic inabilities to get chunks).  I’ll probably mark some cue points in the video and chop it up — take the parts that I like and leave the rest on the digital scrap heap.

Leave a comment

Filed under colonialism, cultural appropriation, funk & soul, hip hop, music