Culture Vultures(They want to be just like you)

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Cultural appropriation is when somebody adopts aspects of a culture that’s not their own.

But that’s only the most basic definition.

A deeper understanding of cultural appropriation also refers to a particular power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.

That’s why cultural appropriation is not the same as cultural exchange, when people share mutually with each other – because cultural exchange lacks that systemic power dynamic.

It’s also not the same as assimilation, when marginalized people adopt elements of the dominant culture in order to survive conditions that make life more of a struggle if they don’t.

JustinBo Derek

For many people, barriers like classism, racism, and xenophobia mean they don’t have the right look, language, or position of privilege to earn income with their culturally specific tools – and yet oftentimes, white people can turn those same culturally specific tools into profit, thereby hurting the community they’re borrowing from.



38 thoughts on “Culture Vultures(They want to be just like you)

  1. I blame black people too. Many of us want love from whites so badly that we think the appropriation is cool (especially as of late with white women appropiating Black Womanhood). I’m just tired of it all.

  2. Thanks for this explanation.
    I would like to add, that until African Americans and throughout the diaspora claim their culture, embrace their culture, uphold their culture, then it is a lost abandoned culture, left for anyone to pick up.
    I have been working with this for over 40 years now. Why is it so diffiicult for African folk to accept African culture, here and on the continet and throughout the diaspora? Our Culture has been made an orphan by the people who get angry when someone else embraces it. We have left our culture on the doorstep, abandoned, like a baby and yet we get angry if someone outside of our culture wants to take it.
    I am a performing artist in the African Cultural arts. I can count on one hand, out of the 25 years I have been performing, how many black organizations called us to perform!! Why is that? We have traveled the country from one little white town to another bringing African Culture to these little white children who probably don’t know anything about black folk, much less African Culture. Yet, not one HBCU has had us come to their campus, why? Because they prefer hiphop, and poetry and sports, not African Culture.
    African Artists take the hardest blow in the arts, we have to go to white organizations to get funding, why, cause black folks don’t fund African artitsts.
    The sad thing about it is, if maybe more white folks got into African Culture maybe black folks will appreciate it more and claim it as their own.
    And yes, I have dressed little white children in African Garb and fed them African food and taught them African songs and dances and languages, why, because they wanted to learn about it. How can we be upset when we don’t honor where we came from, who we are and how beautiful our culture is?? Whose fault is that in 2015?
    Sadly, it ain’t just us Black folk in the diaspora, it’s folks all over the world, who think the Western look, style, food and culture is better than their own. So they are all throwing their cultures away, abandoning them, and Westernizing themselves, just look outside.
    I’m a pioneer, but I know it ain’t easy. I have been doing it so long, I don’t think about it, but it will take a major paradigm shift for the average black person to take that step.
    In the meantime, I think calling these folks culture vultures is disingenuous. They are not eating off the carcass of our Culture, our Culture is alive and well, they ain’t kidnapping our Culture because our culture was released, and they ain’t stealing our culture because we left it in the public domain.
    In fact, they have enough sense to see the value of our culture and are abandoning theirs while black folk are doing all they can to run away from who they are and the rich wondrous culture that is our heritage.
    I will end my rant on this topic right here.
    Meanwhile, let me see all you folks who have a problem with what “them” folks are doing, let me see you wearing African garb, let me see you eating African food, let me see you listening to African music, let me see you give your children African names, let me hear you name 5 African Gods, identify 5 African countries and their major export…….and I will rest my case!

    • “Meanwhile, let me see all you folks who have a problem with what “them” folks are doing, let me see you wearing African garb, let me see you eating African food, let me see you listening to African music, let me see you give your children African names, let me hear you name 5 African Gods, identify 5 African countries and their major export…….and I will rest my case!”
      You make a good point. have been saying the same thing on social media for over ten years. I’ve done it on Youtube,Twitter and my own blog. I have said hundreds of times that we should embrace our culture and take pride in our heritage. You’re preaching to the choir here. I think many of us have made to feel ashamed of our African heritage. That’s why my blog always talks about the beauty of African people and it’s culture. I understand what you’re saying about the HBCU. Many of these blacks have been brainwashed to hate anything African. This is a white dominated society so of course they push anti-blackness whenever they can. Those white kids you’re teaching maybe somewhat curious about African culture but that doesn’t mean they truly care about our well being. Loving black culture is NOT the same as loving black people. Let’s not get it twisted. When have these people ever cared about us? When have they ever seen us as full human beings? Just because some people put on some African garb and eat some African food doesn’t mean anything? These people have always stolen from us and imitated us and we get nothing in return. It is not an equal exchange by any means. Yes these people are culture vultures. Or culture bandits,whatever you want to call them. I’m not letting them off the hook just because we have some stupid brainwashed negroes who hate themselves….doesn’t mean I’m going to let whites off the hook. Black people created hip hop,jazz,gospel,rock &r roll and R&B. Yet he don’t own or control any record distribution company. We create it..they promote it. We don’t even benefit off the fact that hip hop is a billion dollar industry. Yes we have rich rappers but we don’t control any of it. This is my problem with whites “borrowing” from us. Besides they can experience African culture and when they’re bored with it they can just take all the garb off and go back to being white. We don’t have that luxury. While I do agree with some of what you. As far as us embracing our heritage and culture. But that still doesn’t mean we have to give whites a pass on what they do and their motives behind it. There’s a bigger issue here.

  3. I concur with tiredsista, many of us are too easily flattered by this flim-flammery that we don’t see the deeper agenda beneath the surface….

  4. they tried to snatch up our beats, son
    & steal our culture
    like roman cath’lics
    whitewashin’ roman sculptures
    kidnap the truth and destroy the black evidence
    -The RZA, Jah World

  5. I seems that also it is used as a small way to appease the defeated. The Romans let the Jews keep parts of religion and adapted parts of it to themselves, corrupted it even further, then made it the law. What part of black culture was kept by the whites? I’m thinking you can help me out here. Thanks, and intuitive post again

    • People borrow from other cultures all the time. That’s not the real problem.One of my main issues is that blacks don’t benefit from all this borrowing(stealing) of our culture. Black people created most popular music today. Everything from jazz,rock & roll,R&B,reggae,gospel,blues and rap music. Even country music has it’s roots in bluegrass. But most Jews/whites own all the distribution record companies. Hip hop is a billion dollar business but we don’t control it at all. How can blacks create something yet another group reaps most of the money from it? We don’t even control what direction hip hop will go?There is not ONE black person that distributes records in the world. What we want is POWER and CONTROL over what we create. It’s all about economics and self empowerment. We could rebuild our neighborhoods and transform our condition. But since rich whites have a monopoly on it the music,television and film industry…we just get to be actors and rappers. Being an entertainer will not free black people. We need real control over our creations and then we wouldn’t care so much about who “borrows” from our culture.

      • I guess historically that is a long standing practice. How many blacks control or profit from the African continent. Not too many I would guess. Thanks for the follow up.

      • The US and China are both in Africa too. That’s why America created Africom to get more land and resources from African soil. It’s just colonization and land grabbing. It’s the same playbook. Nothing as changed. Just like all the whites in South Africa are doing. The are not indigenous to that land. Neither are the Arabs for that matter. They all go over there and exploit the Africans and impose their will. White supremacy is global problem for black people. It’s not just here in the USA.

      • not only that they always look for the ‘great white hope’ remember the Bee Gees in the 70’s? suddenly disco was ok when before it sucked

  6. I notice how Whites typically want all the the gains but none of the responsibility when it comes to appropriating Black culture. Often they express interest in our culture but disregard its history, where it came from, or why it was created. Essentially, they want Black culture but only if it’s without Black people.

    That last picture with Katy Perry is interesting because Whites around the world seem to have this fanatical obsession with co-opting ancient Egypt imagery. Next year, a film called Gods of Egypt will be released starring Gerard Butler who will play Set.

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